Native Americans Win Appeal on 'Sewage' Snow

March 14, 2007

Source: Saturday Star

San Francisco - An Arizona ski resort's plan to use treated sewage to make snow on a mountain sacred to several Native American tribes violates religious freedom laws.

This was the ruling on Monday of a United States federal appeals court.

"We hold that the Forest Service's approval of the proposed expansion of the Snowbowl, including the use of treated sewage effluent to make artificial snow, violates RFRA," a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, holds that the federal government may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion".

The dispute is one of the most prominent in recent years, pitting the religious beliefs of Native Americans against local economic interests.