Amidst the dust and set into the backdrop of the San Francisco Peaks, the Navajo Medicinemen’s Association held a weekend long ceremony over April 21 through 23 for the safeguarding and continued protection of the sacred San Francisco Peaks.
The San Francisco Peaks have been under siege recently by Snowbowl, the ski resort that is located on the San Francisco Peaks, to develop the already established ski trails and to start making artificial snow using reclaimed water. This issue has sparked heated protests from over 13 different tribes living in northern Arizona and surrounding areas.
The Snowbowl issue has recently made headlines because of the controversy surrounding the culturally and environmentally destructive development plans. The two tribes that are spearheading the issue are the Hopi and Navajo.
The Hopi holds the Peaks at the center of their religious beliefs. This is the place where the sacred Katsina beings dwell.
The Navajo Nation holds the Peaks sacred because it is one of the four sacred mountains that define Dinebikeyah, or the ancestral home of the Navajo people.
They along with several other tribes have filed suit against continued development of the Snowbowl Ski Resort.
The process has now led to the tribes being forced to openly discuss privileged information particular to each, as it is dissected and forcefully put to the forefront of trials that will determine the fate of the tribes involved. The Snowbowl issue has now gone to the appeals process, after a disappointing loss for the tribes at the district court level. The tribes hope for a higher court to overturn the ruling and determine that the development plan that Snowbowl put forth is not viable and that along with the environmental concerns, there is a much larger issue of the protection of ancient cultures.
The Medicinemen’s Association has pledged continued support in the effort to protect the sacred mountain. Over 80 different families, not to mention hundreds of community supporters, gathered at the ceremony site at the Peaks Ranch to join in the prayers conducted by the hataali (medicine men). The event was largely to bring together the people to pray and to bring awareness to the issue.
This article first appeared in the Navajo-Hopi Observer