Hopi Tribe optimistic March Peaks decision will be reaffirmed

A seldom seen view of the sacred San Francisco Peaks revealing how nature’s beauty is scarred by downhill ski runs (Photo by Rebecca Schubert/NHO).

A seldom seen view of the sacred San Francisco Peaks revealing how nature’s beauty is scarred by downhill ski runs (Photo by Rebecca Schubert/NHO).

KYKOTSMOVI-The Hopi Tribe was pleased in March when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the religious significance to Hopi and other tribes of Nuvatukukwi'ovi (San Francisco Peaks) when it ruled in favor of the tribes' objections to the use of reclaimed wastewater for production of artificial snow for the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort.

The Peaks are sacred to Hopi and many of the surrounding tribes. This is the home of the Katsinam, spirits of the Hopi ancestors.

"Now we are disappointed to learn of the court's decision to re-hear the case en banc, with a larger panel of judges. We understand and respect the legal process of the federal courts and are confident that the panel will confirm the earlier decision because any other decision would result in a violation of the tribe's right to freely exercise its religion-a right that is assured by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978," Chairman of the Hopi Tribe Benjamin H. Nuvamsa said.

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the tribe's Office of Cultural Preservation added, "We are confident the tribe proved its case and confident the en banc panel will uphold the initial decision."

For more information about the Hopi Tribe's position concerning the ski area operators' intent to produce artificial snow for skiers by using reclaimed water, please contact Bonnie Secakuku at (928) 734-3100, or by email at bsecakuku@hopi.nsn.us.

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