To the editor:
In the spring semester of 2008, I taught a class on political economy, using the Snowbowl case as an example of the interplay of politics, religion and culture in financial decisions. We invited two speakers to the class: Howard Shanker, lawyer for the Navajo Nation, and a spokesperson from the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, which supports snowmaking on the Peaks.
The class, composed of students ranging along the right-left political spectrum, came to the following conclusions:
1) The case against the U.S. Forest Service, essentially constituted a challenge to U.S. occupation laws, developed to legalize the illegal seizure of territory from its rightful owners. Therefore, the case on behalf of the religious rights of Native Americans, despite the RFRA, was doomed to failure.
2) Mr. [Eric] Borowski could have dropped his case for reasons that extend beyond his personal wealth for two reasons: a) he has created bad relations with a substantial proportion of the local and indigenous populations, even though he himself does not live here; b) this was an opportunity for business interests to extend a hand to Native Americans, given the tragic history and aftermath of colonization in the region.
3) The city of Flagstaff failed to show that the expanded Snowbowl would bring extra income to the city such that warranted expenditures on snowmaking.
I think many skiers will consider boycotting Snowbowl in the future.
Philippa Winkler, Phd
Northern Arizona University