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Training Indians for Trouble By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Some Indian “leaders,” like Alberta Nells and Kelly Nez seem determined that Indian youth should have police records before they graduate from high school, or at least to have their names in the papers for a dramatic encounter with the law. Some police officers do seem willing to cooperate.  Police presence in schools has become common in America today.    

The Flagstaff Police Department’s Gang Division paid a visit to Coconino High School (Flagstaff, Arizona), December 7, 2005. Three female Indian students were asked to leave their classrooms, go to the school office, and answer questions about posters the students had displayed in their school. American Indian students comprise nearly a third of Coconino High School’s student body, so this was a fine moment for Indian image development.  (It’s already global news, archived in the grand “indigenous native” bin of abuses.)

The posters advertised an organized protest against further commercial development of a mountain range called the San Francisco Peaks, said to be sacred by a number of Indian tribes in the region. The CHS students were part of that protest. The Youth of the Peaks and Save the Peaks Coalition groups must have been very proud of their young apprentices.  And the Flagstaff police were no doubt aware of the mammoth network of professional socialist organizations behind such ‘save the environment’ activists, like The Sierra Club, and they probably questioned a lot more than a few high school girls. 


The protestors had planned showing a protest film, The Snowbowl Effect (by Navajo activist Klee Benally) but it was cancelled, and police recognized those posters about it on the high school walls. The police were apparently advised that the film advocated anarchy. Therefore, the police said, they questioned students about the posters. 


This news story is anywise incendiary and the different angles are violently contrary, yet it seems simple enough:  Don’t the students have the right to protest legally? And don’t the police have the responsibility of keeping tabs on professional socialist protesters that are known to be violent, particularly those associated with eco-terrorists?  I don’t see that anyone has done anything wrong in this story, so far anyway. 


And it’s an old story.  The Peaks have been widely used commercially since the 1930’s, beginning with the Snowbowl Ski Resort. Mining is also an issue to Indians. But the Peaks are in the Coconino National Forest, which is not on any Indian reservation.  However, numerous tribes in the region use The Peaks to harvest special medicinal herbs and for other religious purposes.  The mountains are “sacred” to Indians. The Indians vs the Snowbowl is a well-known, major issue now. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt faced a decision in October (2005) about the religious element in the Indian argument, along with the matter of water pollution for which the Snowbowl Resort is challenged.   The decision is not yet handed down.  


The Peaks cover some 3,000 square miles.  It surely can’t be a matter of Indians running out of herbs.  Do the special plants (including wild tobacco) grow only on the 74 acres that the Snowbowl Resort wants to add to its lease?  But then there’s the water issue. The resort wants to use converted waste water (sewage?) to create artificial snow for a new slope. That doesn’t sound good.  And that decision hasn’t been handed down either. 


Such issues are dramatic: it’s religion versus economy, really. The students do well to educate themselves.  But, having a police record before you’re out of high school is not a good thing. Activists like Kelly Nez and Alberta Nells are acting irresponsibly with youth. They should be more concerned about protecting them and their future, than their own professional activist careers.   


But activists don’t care about the groups they ‘activate.’ The groups, Indians especially, are merely tools in their hands.  There is no one to protect Indian youth from the ravages of selfish activists, from the police records they may get, from the critically negative effects that will have. Activists can cripple the youth before they’ve have a chance to make it in this life.   Students are owed an apology, indeed, not from the police, but from the activists.


Well, maybe the Hopi have an ally after all. The Peaks are the home of the kachinas, the spirits of Hopi dead, and of all that exists.  This hasn’t been made a prominent argument to protect the mountains, but it would make the whole mountain range legally “sacred.” 

So let the kachinas do some protesting.

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Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.

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