Piss on God?

On Sunday, 10/23, the New York Times covered a court case involving Native American tribes and developers. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/national/23peaks.html. The subject of A SNOWBALL EFFECT, a documentary by Blackfire's Klee Benally, Native Americans believe Kuchinas--spirits--live the San Francisco Peaks, 12,000 feet up, on top of the mountains. Although it's on federal land, not reservation, the mountain is considered holy ground for 13 tribes. Twenty-five years ago, developers decided Arizona needed a ski run on one slope. How does the Arizona Snowbowl make snow for skiing in Arizona? With treated wastewater---a euphemism for reclaimed piss & shit water piped up from Flagstaff to the mountain.

To the tribes united around the law suit, this action is like a Priest watching someone take a leak in a confessional in the name of recreation and free enterprise. Even Christianized Native Americans---many of whom survived the brutality of the boarding school system a generation ago, and have few ties to the old ways---view the peaks as living deities. For the devout, even speaking about their rituals is forbidden; hearing one's sacred spirituality analyzed and picked apart in a federal courtroom in Prescott, Arizona, by agents of a forked-tongued conqueror is soul-killing, sorrowful and profane.

At issue in Judge Paul Rosenblatt's court is the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" amidst claims by the Forest Service and Arizona Snowball that the piss-snow does not constitute a "substantial burden" on the tribes because it only impacts a small area of the mountain. To an unfractured Native American psyche, the Peaks are a whole entity, an organic totality---i.e. you cannot subdivide (rent, buy, sell, or own) the Great Spirit. Any contamination would violate the sacredness, and nullify crucial rituals. Moreover, as Navajo activist (and Blackfire bass player) Jeneda Benally argues, to the Hopi tribe, the "reclaimed" faux snow threatens to drive the Kuchinas away---the spirits make snow & rain. If "man" is now making it, the people fear their deities will depart. For more on the trial, the Peaks and the cause, go to: www.savethepeaks.org




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