I was invited to be the artist in residence for the Telluride #MountainFilmFestival (#mfilm2016). With assistance from several Telluride rock stars “What we do to the mountain we do to ourselves” was installed on main street in Telluride, CO the weekend of May 13th. (Shout out to the crew!) See a video of the installation below.
The backstory to the piece is this. In Flagstaff, AZ there is a ski resort (Snowbowl), in the San Francisco Peaks. Thirteen surrounding tribes hold the San Francisco Peaks as a sacred mountain. The tribes believe that deities within their respective cosmologies reside there.
Though the winters are cold in northern Arizona there’s not always enough precipitation for the Snowbowl to be a money-making enterprise. Faced with the possibility of bankruptcy the Snowbowl was granted permission by the Park Service to use reclaimed waste water to make snow. The surrounding tribes consider the use of graywater to make snow to be desecrating a place where Indigenous people go regularly to pray, collect herbs and to be in the presence of the holy ones.
While the case was being decided a second time by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals I asked several friends what their feelings are about the sacred mountain slated to receive artificial snow made from reclaimed waste water. With the help of Raechel Running, Stephanie Jackson and Rey Cantil, their words were written or painted onto their faces and the final images were wheat pasted.
Activist Klee Benally (lead singer + guitarist of the punk band, Blackfire), and his wife said “what we do to the mountain, we do to ourselves.”
It’s a universal message that speaks to environmental stewardship where “earth” can be substituted for “mountain.” Think of it as environmental karma. In the meantime the Snowbowl is making snow from reclaimed effluent disregarding the spiritual beliefs of the 13 tribes and concerns from some in the local medical community.
For more info:
Indigenous Action Media