Contesting Sacred Peaks
US Forest Service Southwest Region Tonto National Forest, “Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Decision Notice and Non-significant Plan Amendment. Payson Ranger District Administrative Site Sale and Facilities (August 09, 2013).
Case Synopsis: Despite the longstanding recognition that Hopi religion demands an ethic, practice, and commitment toward stewardship of lands both on and off the contemporary Hopi Reservation, repeated attempts by Hopi to practice their religion on US National Forest lands have been thwarted by US officials. Two recent examples of conflict between Hopi and federal officials over the use of public lands reveal how the very laws and policies designed to protect Hopi religion may in fact hinder it. One of these conflicts involves the litigation initiated in the last decades of the 20th century by Hopi and other tribal nations in the region to stop the US Forest service from approving artificial snowmaking at a ski resort in the Coconino National Forest, outside Flagstaff, Arizona. Another conflict considers the circumstances surrounding the 2013 sale of lands in the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona, and the efforts by the Hopi tribe to consult with US Forest Service officials about the significance of archaeological sites discovered within the sale lands. This case module originated in the work of Justin Richland.
Image of Nuvatukya’ovi (San Francisco Peaks, lit trans. “Snow-on-top-of-it”) by Brady Smith, courtesy USDA Forest Service
2001 film that documents efforts on the part of different Indigenous American groups to protect sacred sites
2017 decision from Supreme Court of Canada allowing construction of ski resort on land sacred to First Nations
Bjørn Ola Tafjord, “Indigenous Religion(s) as an Analytical Category,” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 25.3 (2013): 221-243.
Sarah Dees, “Native American Religions,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia on Religion (2018): 1-14.
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, “Imagining ‘Law-Stuff’ at the Newark Earthworks,” in The Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings, edited by Lindsay Jones and Richard D. Siels (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2018), 277-87.