Forest Service Threatens Legal Implications and Assault of Sacred Fire at Sacred/Holy Peaks Ceremony
*Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement attached.FLAGSTAFF, AZ — U.S. Forest Service officials have threatened Indigenous spiritual leaders, medicine people, and elders with legal implications if they keep alive the sacred fire at a ceremony on the sacred/holy San Francisco Peaks.
Although a voluntary closure order for the Traditional Cultural Gathering was previously granted by Coconino Forest Supervisor M. Earl Stewart, Stewart apparently changed his position and issued the threat as the four day ceremony was initiated on July 4th, 2012.
When confronted by Forest Service officials, members of the Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council, the group hosting the Traditional Cultural Gathering, invited Forest Service officials to sit with elders to resolve the Forest Service’s concerns with the ceremonial fire. Coconino Forest Supervisor Stewart stated in a letter dated July 5, 2012, “non-compliance will result in citations for having a fire during restrictions and/or camping in a closure area without a special use permit.”
Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council had worked to inform the Coconino National Forest of this ceremony since December 2011 and again met with Coconino Tribal Relations on February 27 and June 21 of 2012 to answer questions and to make sure the Forest Service was fully aware of the Council’s activities.
On May 17, 2012, the Forest Service was notified that a sacred fire was central to the Traditional Cultural Gathering.
The Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council is calling for support to address this serious disruption and violation of the Traditional Cultural Gathering. Please call and email the following Forest Service officials and urge them not to assault and desecrate the sacred fire:
M. Earl Stewart Coconino Forest Supervisor
Phone: (928) 527-3600
U.S. Forest Service, Southwest Region
333 Broadway SE Albuquerque, NM
Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs
Online Comments: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
See Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council_Formal_Statement_7_6_2012