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What We Do To The Mountain


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In Flagstaff, AZ there is a ski mountain on National Forest land that’s considered sacred to 13 regional indigenous tribes. The ski resort (the Snowbowl), proposed using reclaimed waste water to make artificial snow. While awaiting the 2nd adjudication by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011 I approached artists, indigenous activists and community members and asked them their feelings about the Snowbowl proposal. Whatever they said was written onto their faces, they were photographed and a mural of these responses was made in downtown Flagstaff. Indigenous activists Klee + Princess Benally responded with a message of environmental stewardship stating “…what we do to the mountain we do to ourselves.”

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In Flagstaff, Arizona, there is an effort on the part of the Navajo and Hopi tribes to not use reclaimed waste water on a local ski resort, the Snowbowl. Thirteen surrounding tribes hold the San Francisco peaks, where the ski area is to be, a sacred mountain. The tribes believe that deities within their respective cosmologies reside there. To use reclaimed waste water is considered a desecration in a place where Indigenous people go regularly to pray, collect herbs and to be in the presence of the holy ones.

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. These screenprints are based on that project.

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.”

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