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Canadian Review of American Studies Volume 24, Number 1, Winter 1994, pp. 63-80 The New [Tele] Scope of Columbus: San Carlos Apache, et al. vs. Mt. Graham International Observatory RandelD. Hanson We have entered a period of major changes. National identity is in crisis everywhere. And for the indigenous people, identity has too long been submerged by artificial borders. A lot of Berlin Walls are going to fall. 63 (Rodrigo Contreras, World Council of Indigenous Peoples, cited in Chartrand 1991,26-27) On 10 December 1992,United Nations Secretary General Boutros BoutrosGhali welcomed over 200 indigenous peoples from across the world to New York City for inaugural ceremonies and meetings to mark 1993as the "International Year of Indigenous Peoples." According to Bill Means of the International Indian Treaty Council, it was the first time that Indian peoples of the Americas were allowed to address the United Nations (UN). In connection with these meetings, a draft of a "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People" was circulated for reviewing.1 If adopted by the UN General Assembly, this declaration would accord indigenous peoples worldwide the right of self-determination pursuant to international law,extend to them the set of human rights recognized in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws, and protect them from discrimination based on their indigenous identity. Coming shortly after the quincentenaryof the Columbian voyages,these UN actions were both timely and long in delay. They are a response to demands by indigenous peoples 64 CanadianReviewof American Studies of the world for representation within the system of nation-states, a system that has systematically denied their self-determination. Important as it is, adoption of the declaration represents only one among many tactics in the broader struggle for American Indian sovereignty. Among the people attending the UN ceremonies in December, 1992, were the chairperson, Ola Cassadore Davis, and other members of the Apache Survival Coalition (ASC). Formed in May, 1990 by followers of traditional Apache religious practices, the main concern of the ASC is in working to maintain the sanctity of dzil nchaa si an (Big-Seated Mountain) or as it is commonly known in English, Mount Graham. Mount Graham, located in Graham County in southern Arizona, is the highest peak in the Pinalefio Mountains. Long a part of Apache territory, Mount Graham was included in the Apache Reservation until 1873,at which time it was wrested away by presidential executive order when white settlers in neighbouring Safford, Arizona, requested greater access to surrounding areas. The mountain was eventually incorporated into the Coronado National Forest in 1902.2 Despite changing "ownership," and changing notions of ownership, the sacred mountain has remained central to the ongoing traditional religious practices of the San Carlos Apache, and is home to many burial grounds and ceremonial sites. As coalition members explain, Traditional Apache people believe that the Mountain Spirit was sent by the Great Spirit from Big Seated Mountain to give instructions to the Apache people. He came to teach the Apache people special spiritual words and songs which would give them power to become medicine men and women. The Mountain Spirit taught medicine men and women how to heal the sick through song and prayer and through the application of special herbs and plants. Many of the ceremonial plants and healing herbs are found on Mount Graham .... Today, Medicine Men and traditional Apache elders continue to visit the summit of Big Seated Mountain (Mount Graham) for religious activities. (Apache Survival Coalition n.d.) Randel D. Hanson I 65 In the early 1980s, an idea for a new astrophysical development was generated by astronomers working at the University of Arizona's Steward Qbservatory.3 Roger Angel, director of the Steward Observatory's Mirror Laboratory, had recently succeeded in his goal of designing a new, inexpensive method of spincasting telescope mirrors; the method allowed him to produce mirrors nearly twice as large as any ever made for a portion of the cost. Within the international astrophysical community, interest in his new technology quickly grew. The University of Arizona, sensing a chance to become a "world-class power in astronomy," as Peter Strittmatter, chief astronomer, put it, needed to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 63-80
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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