WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - On Dec. 6, the Intergovernmental Relations Committee (IGR) passed legislation requesting support from the Council of Large Land Base Tribes in protecting Dook'o'oslííd, the San Francisco Peaks, which are held sacred by a number of local and area tribes. The Council of Large Land Base Tribes was to have considered the legislation at its annual meeting held in Las Vegas, Nev., on Dec. 9-10.
Legislation sponsor Delegate Thomas Walker Jr. said his legislation is an effort to garner support from the Council of Large Land Base Tribes, which would help in obtaining a Letter of Allegation from the United Nations against the U.S. to uphold its human rights obligations as a U.N. member-state.
"The Council of Large Land Base Tribes ... works cohesively on addressing issues near reservation lands," Walker said. "From time to time, the Navajo Nation gets resolutions passed by the Council of Large Land Base Tribes ... [Their support] would add to the Indigenous support we have from throughout the rest of the world in helping obtain a Letter of Allegation from the U.N. against the U.S."
The Council of Large Land Base Tribes includes the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Northern Arapahoe Tribe, Chippewa Indian Tribe, Crow Nation and Shoshone Bannock Tribes, among others.
On May 17, the IGR Committee passed legislation authorizing the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission to submit communication to the United Nations on the human rights violations and fundamental freedoms of Navajos and other Indigenous peoples, as it pertains to the proposed desecration of the San Francisco Peaks.
In August, the Navajo Nation, along with the Hopi Tribe, Havasupai Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Hualapai Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and many other tribal nations stood strong and unified against the Arizona Snowbowl's proposed contract amendment to have the city of Flagstaff sell potable water to the ski resort for snowmaking purposes on the sacred peaks. The united tribal front ultimately made a significant difference in the Flagstaff City Council's decision to disapprove the substitute water sale agreement to make artificial snow at the Arizona Snowbowl.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia of Arizona ruled Dec. 1 in Save the Peaks Coalition, et al v. U.S. Forest Service that snow made with reclaimed wastewater is safe to ingest, ruling against the Save the Peaks Coalition, and nine other plaintiffs. The Save the Peaks Coalition was established in an effort to address environmental and human rights issues caused by the proposed ski development by Arizona Snowbowl on Dook'o'oslííd.
The Navajo Nation, among other tribes, maintains its stance against any desecration to the sacred peaks, including artificial snowmaking.
Leonard Gorman, Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Executive Director, said Judge Murguia's ruling indicates that the court favors federal agencies over indigenous peoples.
"I believe that it's up to the scientific community to determine scientific claims, not the courts," added Gorman. "It is interesting to learn that a federal agency makes note that data exists contesting the health risk, but finds it appropriate to continue with the development at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort."
Lawrence T. Morgan, Speaker of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, said the decision of the court is disappointing to indigenous peoples throughout the world, particularly the plaintiffs in this case, which includes the Navajo Nation.
"The court's decision essentially means that the U.S. continues to ignore the worldviews and religious freedoms of indigenous people in this country, as well as allowing the desecration of sacred sites of the First Americans," Speaker Morgan added. "This is a significant issue that has gained global momentum all the way to the United Nations. As indigenous people, we will continue our unified front in fighting for our fundamental rights. The court's decision will not hinder our efforts, we will keep fighting on."
In addition to the San Franciso Peaks issue, the Council of Large Land Base Tribes will receive reports from the Navajo Division of Health and Health and Social Services Committee regarding the "Changes, Challenges and Opportunities with the Health Care Reform."
They will also receive a report from the Transportation and Community Development Committee regarding Indian Reservation Roads, as well as reports from other tribal nations.
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