The sacred San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. Photo:Tyler finvold
Environment | National

Mountain Protector Prayer Walk calls attention to sacred San Francisco Peaks

A prayer walk and run will call attention to efforts to protect the sacred San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.

Tribes and their citizens battled the expansion of a privately-owned ski resort located on federal land within the peaks. But lawsuits and protests failed to stop the use of reclaimed wastewater at the facility, a practice that tribes say desecrates one of their most important places.

"The Navajo Nation remains opposed against reclaimed wastewater for the purposes of creating artificial snow on the San Francisco Peaks," Vice President Jonathan Nez of the Navajo Nation said last year after the city of Flagstaff reached a settlement regarding its decision to supply treated sewage to the Arizona Snowbowl.

The Snowbowl has already begun producing fake snow for the upcoming season, boasting that it is the first in the nation to do so. Although the water has been treated, tribes and activists say its mere presence disturbs the sanctity of the peaks, which are home to spiritual beings and are used for ceremonies, gathering of plants and herbs and related activities.

While the legal cases are over, activists aren't giving up hope as they prepare for the Mountain Protector Prayer Walk on October 8. Participants will walk and run to the Snowbowl and hold a prayer ceremony there.

The Snowbowl is located within the Coconino National Forest. The snowmaking plan was approved by the U.S. Forest Service and survived a lengthy court challenge filed by more than a dozen tribes. A second lawsuit filed by activists was thrown out of court as well.

Related Stories:
Hopi Tribe loses lawsuit over reclaimed wastewater at sacred site (August 16, 2016)
City delays settlement over wastewater at sacred site in Arizona (March 10, 2016)
Activists protest use of reclaimed wastewater in sacred peaks (November 19, 2015)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred site (March 27, 2015)
Navajo Nation files human rights petition to protect sacred site (March 4, 2015)