Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Two Hualapai girls hold up a poster with the simple request, "SAVE THE PEAKS", save them from what? A resort that has and continues to pump artificial snow.

In the view of the American Indians here, the spirits that inhabit the San Francisco Peaks, certainly did not appreciate it when a ski run was built a quarter of a century ago on one slope. Now, treated wastewater is being piped up from Flagstaff and sprayed on the mountain so the resort can make more snow to ski on. Operators of the Arizona Snowbowl said it could go out of business without making snow because winter precipitation is so erratic in the high desert here. The resort, which has proposed the snowmaking under a plan to expand the ski runs, and the Forest Service, which approved the plan, both say the water would be cleaned to the highest degree, A-plus in the industry vernacular, though falling short of potable. This plan interferes with many of the tribe's religious practices, including the gathering of mountain water and herbs that the artifical snow would taint. The Sierra Club, who has backed the tribes unsuccessful attempts at stopping the resort, accuse the defendants, the resort and the Forest Service, of not adequately studying whether the effluent could harm people, especially children who consume artifical snow whether on purpose or not. This water is essentially treated sewage which they call reclaimed water. The resort balked at using fresh water since it is so scarce in Arizona to begin with. Mr. Mapatis, the Hualapai spiritual leader told the court that he gathered plants and flowers for use in healing ceremonies and that after a woman gave birth he brought the placenta to the mountain to ensure the newborn has a healthy life. Members of his tribe use water from the mountian in sweat lodge ceremonies and apart from the environmental aspect, these peaks are prominent in the Hualapai creation story. "It would be like putting death on a mountain," Mr. Mapatis said. To show their sensitivity to the tribes, the resort hired someone to close down a pumice mine used to make stone-washed jeans. Yet the snow-making resort is still in full-operation part of the year.


Recent Comments

[+/-] Blog Archive