February 25, 2013

Pit River Tribal Office 530.335.5421


BURNEY, CA – On February 15, 2013, The Pit River Tribe unanimously affirmed a resolution opposing geothermal and other industrial developments in the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands.
The resolution affirms that geothermal development would threaten the underlying aquifer and would result in the injection of toxins into the atmosphere and waters. Further the Tribe maintains that the construction and development of even a single geothermal power generation plant would result in irreversible impacts to the sensitive cultural resources of the highlands and devastate the habitats of plants and animals. The Tribal resolution calls upon the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to reject all proposed geothermal development in the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands.

The Pit River Tribe has been in court since 2002 over proposed development of geothermal energy in Medicine Lake Highlands. The Tribe has successfully challenged the extension of leasing of their sacred areas in decisions in the 9th Circuit Court in 2006 and 2010. The lease holder, Calpine Energy, must reapply for extensions of the leases that the Tribe maintains were illegally issued by the BLM in 1988. Such applications for lease extensions are expected to trigger an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. In the mean time, the applicant has scrapped the original plan to build a 48 megawatt power plant and is reported to be leaning towards building several 100 megawatt plants in the sacred highlands.

The Pit River Tribal resolution indicates that the new proposals are incompatible with the use of the Medicine Lake Highlands as a sacred area. Geothermal development in such a sensitive hallowed place will despoil the environment and harm the Pit River Tribe. The resolution invokes the responsibilities of the federal agencies under federal law, regulations, agreements, executive orders and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to remind the decision makers of their responsibilities to protect sacred places and the people.

“Medicine Lake is our church. It is there we heal our bodies and our spirits. Would you want a power plant in your church?”- Cecelia Silvas, Ilmawi Band Elder


Arizona Snowbowl Starts Making Fake Snow from Treated Sewage… and it’s Yellow


Monday, December 24, 2012

Contact: Rudy Preston
Email: info@truesnow.org
Phone: 480-382-5288

Arizona Snowbowl Starts Making Fake Snow from Treated Sewage… and it’s Yellow

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (San Francisco Peaks) — After a decade of legal battles and opposition from environmental groups, concerned citizens, and Indigenous Nations, Arizona Snowbowl ski area has started making fake snow from Flagstaff’s treated sewage effluent.

Photo credits: Katie Nelson and Rudy Preston

Surprise… it’s yellow!

“My parents always told me not to eat yellow snow, this is absolutely disgusting,” said Katie Nelson, longtime resident of Northern Arizona. “ Will parents tell their kids it’s OK to play in it? I used to be a skier and snowboarder, but I am boycotting Snowbowl because they obviously don’t care about my health or the environment.” stated Nelson.

Snowbowl is set to be the only ski area in the world to make snow from 100% treated sewage effluent. This action has raised serious concerns from community and environmental groups due to potential risks to human health and the sensitive mountain ecosystem.

“Snowbowl is clearly disregarding public health by not fulfilling their requirement to have signs posted that the fake snow is made from treated sewage and that it must not be consumed. I checked the entire area where kids ski and learn to ski and I could not find any warning signs.” stated Rudy Preston, former board member of the Flagstaff Activist Network. “There were none posted on the childrens ski lifts either,” he continued.

Although Snowbowl manager JR Murray has stated that treated sewage would be “…cleaner than the snow falling out of the sky” the yellow colored snow clearly indicates that something is wrong.

State law mandates that it is illegal for anyone to consume snow made from treated sewage effluent. Ingestion pathways include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. Additionally, any “direct reuse” cannot even have the “potential for ingestion.” While Snowmaking is considered legal, the “direct reuse” of this treated sewage effluent is in fact “skiing” and ADEQ is ignoring their own laws when it allowed Snowbowl to make snow (Arizona Administrative Code: R-18-9-704).

Read more »

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Sues to Stop Casino Development on Sacred Burial Grounds

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Sues to Stop Casino Development on Sacred Burial Grounds

Press Release PDF

Federal Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on December 12, 2012 (PDF)

(Montgomery, Alabama) December 12, 2012 – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a federal lawsuit to stop the construction of a casino on its historic ceremonial and burial grounds, known as Hickory Ground, located in Wetumpka, Alabama. Filed on December 12, thhe suit claims that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians excavated approximately 57 sets of human remains and relocated the burials in April of this year to develop a $246 millino casino on sacred land.

Hickory Ground is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was the last capital of the Creek Nation before forced removal to Indian Territoria (now Oklahoma), and because previously undisturbed Muscogee burials are located there.

The federal complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, asserts that:

  • Poarch Band acquired Hickory Ground under the false pretense of preservation.
  • Poarch Band promised to protect the archeological remains at Hickory Ground against excavation and received a federal historic preservation grant to acquire the property in 1980.
  • Poarch Band violated a preservation covenant by developing a casino on Hickory Ground.
  • the lineal descendants of the exhumed ancestors-who are known as “Hickory Ground Tribal Town” orOcevpofvin the Muscogee language-never consented to the excavation, and such consent is required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
  • ceremonial and burial grounds should be protected under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which also requires consultation with traditional religious leaders, theOcevpofvleaders, in this instance.
  • Auburn University contracted with Poarch Band to excavate the remains.
  • U.S. Interior Department failed to fulfill statutory and fiduciary duties to protect the burial grounds.

The lawsuit is filed against Poarch Band and its officials, construction contractors Flintco, LLC and Martin Construction, Inc., Auburn University, and the U.S. Department of Interior.  The lawsuit seeks preservation of Hickory Ground, and does not seek money damages.

“From the beginning, it has been our stance that the remains should be put back where they were excavated,” said Mekko George Thompson, who has served as a traditional Muscogee Chief of the Hickory Ground Tribal Town for 42 years.  “The ceremonial ground is sacred, so it is not a proper place for a casino,” Thompson added.

Read more »


Peaks Supporters Face Federal Charges in ‘Politically Motivated Attack’ Forest Service attempts to ‘Ban’ them from the Peaks to Prevent Further Protests

Peaks Supporters Face Federal Charges in ‘Politically Motivated Attack’
Forest Service attempts to ‘Ban’ them from the Peaks to Prevent Further Protests

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — On December 11, 2012 three Peaks activists peacefully turned themselves over to U.S. Marshalls in response to allegations of federal charges and “sealed” warrants resulting from a civil protest at a Forest Service building on September 21, 2012.

“It is obvious why these court documents were sealed, the Forest Service wanted to arrest and make an example out of us to deter further protests for protection of the Holy San Francisco Peaks.” stated Klee Benally a Dine’ (Navajo) activist. Benally has been advocating for Indigenous religious freedom and protection of the holy Peaks for more than 14 years, “This is a politically motivated attack that was clearly timed to send a message to anyone who cares about the Peaks from protesting Snowbowl snowmaking with treated sewage effluent.”

Benally declared to a crowd of supporters at the Marshall’s office, “The Forest Service lied in the Environmental Impact Statement, they lied in court, they are lying about these charges, and they are lying about their sacred sites policy. We are being arrested today because we are not afraid to stand up and speak the truth!”

The three Peaks activists were kept in shackles around their waists, hands and feet and caged for nearly 5 hours while waiting to appear before a judge. While in custody, plain clothed U.S. Forest Service agents attempted to individually interrogate the Peaks activists without lawyers present.

Read more »

Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Interior Sign Memorandum to Collaborate to Protect Indian Sacred Sites

Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Interior Sign Memorandum to Collaborate to Protect Indian Sacred Sites

Release No. 0354.12

USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Interior Sign Memorandum to Collaborate to Protect Indian Sacred Sites

“The President is insistent that these Sacred Sites be protected and preserved: treated with dignity and respect. That is also my commitment as Secretary of USDA,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I know my fellow Secretaries share in this commitment. We understand the importance of these sites and will do our best to make sure they are protected and respected.”WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012—Four cabinet-level departments joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation today in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve the protection of Indian sacred sites. The MOU also calls for improving tribal access to the sites. It was signed by cabinet secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior. It was also signed by the chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

“American Indian service members are fighting to protect America on distant battlefields,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. “I’m pleased this new agreement will help protect Indian sacred sites here at home.”

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USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations: Indian Sacred Sites

2012 Forest Service USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations:Indian Sacred Sites


Urgent Action Needed to Protect the San Francisco Peaks

Urgent Action Needed to Protect the San Francisco Peaks

For additional info contact: Shawn Mulford @ smulford@comcast.net

Dear San Francisco Peaks Protector,

After more than a decade of working for the protection of the sanctity of the San Francisco Peaks it is time for our voices to unite and be heard.  We must speak out to convince the President, Secretary of Agriculture, and Secretary of Interior to comply with Federal law.  Below are email addresses to send the following letter to and a link to the White House website to submit your comment.  After you send your letter please forward this message onto your friends, colleagues and family.  We need all organizations and individuals that have worked tirelessly over the last decade to speak out to protect the San Francisco Groundsel and the last of our natural environment from preventable corporate-made ecological disasters.

Thank-you for your efforts!

Read more »

Tribes Reach $9 Million Goal and Purchase Sacred Site of Pe’ Sla

November 30, 2012

In a historic culmination of events leading up to the PeSla purchase deadline of November 30, the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin has managed to raise the $9 million necessary to secure the sacred land in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In a private affair between the Reynolds family and representatives of the Great Sioux Nation, the contracts have been signed and the land is now in the hands of the nation.

Read article on Indian Country Today

Hopi Tribe Files New Lawsuit To Protect Endangered Species on San Francisco Peaks

 Hopi Tribe Files New Lawsuit To Protect Endangered Species on San Francisco Peaks

Case 1:12-cv-01846-RJL  Document 1  Filed 11/14/12  Page 1 of 12



THE HOPI TRIBE, a federally recognized Indian Tribe,1 Main Street Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039

Plaintiff,vs. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – FOREST SERVICE, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC 20250

The Honorable THOMAS J. VILSACK, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC 20250

THOMAS L. TIDWELL, Chief of the United States Forest Service,1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC 20250

M. EARL STEWART, in his official capacity as Forest Supervisor for the Coconino National Forest,1824 S. Thompson St. Flagstaff, AZ 86001-2529


Civil Action No.: 1:12-cv-01846



Plaintiff, the Hopi Tribe, a federally recognized Indian Tribe, by and through undersigned counsel,  for  its  cause  of  action  against  the  Defendants,  the  United  States  Department  of Agriculture, the Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack, its Secretary, and M. Earl Stewart, the Forest Supervisor of the Coconino National Forest (collectively “USDA-Forest Service”), alleges the following:

Case 1:12-cv-01846-RJL   Document 1 Filed 11/14/12    Page 2 of 12



1.        This is a civil action arising from the imminent application of manmade snow from reclaimed wastewater to environmentally sensitive areas at and around the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort (“Snowbowl”) near Flagstaff, Arizona.  The proposed snowmaking is going to occur even though the United States Forest Service (“Forest Service”) has initiated a consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (“USFWS”)  under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §1536, in order to evaluate the potential impacts of  the application ofthat snow on the endangered San Francisco Peaks groundsel.  Nonetheless, the Snowbowl has announced plans to begin making and applying snow from reclaimed water this winter.

2.         The Hopi Tribe brings this action under provisions ofthe Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. The Hopi Tribe seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, including:  (a) to require Defendants to stop snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort unless and until such action complies with all federal law and requirements; (b) to require Defendants to take all other actions necessary to protect from endangerment any endangered or threatened species at or around the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort; (c) to require Defendants to take all actions necessary to comply with applicable federal laws and their implementing regulations; and (d) to require Defendants to reimburse the Hopi Tribe for all costs incurred or to be incurred by the Hopi Tribe in connection with this action.

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Petroglyphs stolen from sacred Calif. American Indian site

BISHOP, CALIF.Rock carvings that graced a sacred American Indian site in California’s Sierra Nevada for thousands of years have fallen prey to modern thieves armed with power saws.

At least four petroglyphs — some 2 feet wide and located 15 feet above the ground — were hacked from lava cliffs in the Eastern Sierra, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Visitors to the area, known as Volcanic Tableland, discovered the theft and reported it to the federal Bureau of Land Management on Oct. 31.

“This was the worst act of vandalism ever seen” on the 750,000 acres of public land administered by the BLM field office in Bishop, BLM archaeologist Greg Haverstock told the newspaper.

Read full article at CBS News