(exerpt from article by Glenn Philips in Site Saver Fall 1998)
Magnificent Mount Shasta, the dominant landmark of Northern California, rises 14,162 feet into the sky, looming high above the surrounding landscape,
Since 1978, the entire geographical, cultural, and spiritual integrity of Mount Shasta was threatened by a proposed $22 million ski resort and adjacent condominium development complete with shopping center and golf course. Developers had promised to set aside Panther Meadows, a traditional ceremonial site for the Wintu tribe. Since the natural relationships of the mountain’s environment constitute a holistic sacred pattern, to put commercial graffiti on any of its walls or spires, would be equivalent to the desecration of a temple. The spiritual nature of the mountain could not be preserved by protecting isolated pockets of land and creating islands in the middle of a commercial ski resort.
Over the mountains are 200,000 acres containing the great trees in the Red Fir Belt; trees such as these once encircled the upper slopes of Mount Shasta between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. The mountain’s wildlife includes eagles, black bears, and wolves. Bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and antelopes which were present in the 19th century are only legendary now, remembered in Native American stories. The mountain creates weather, holds moisture and brings fertility to Northern California’s Sacramento Valley. Mount Shasta is also the source of waters that flow as far as the San Francisco Bay.
Sharon Heywood, supervisor of Shasta Trinity National Forest, made history by making a draft recommendation to revoke the Mount Shasta Ski permit. She cited the two historic properties that have been found eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of their Native American significance: the area from 8,000 feet to 14,162 feet and Panther Meadows. It should be noted that the entire mountain was originally accepted on the National Register until business interests convinced the Keeper of the Register to reverse his decision.
Regional forest supervisor, Lynn Sprague, signed a final decision on the matter on July 22, 1998 revoking the permit for construction and operation of the $22 million ski resort development on the mountain. This historic decision was based principally on the adverse impact the resort would have on Native American cultural properties. Mount Shasta is regarded by members of the Shasta Nation as the birthplace of the Earth. Other Northern California tribes, the Klamath, Modoc, Pitt River, and Wintu, also feature the mountain in their creation stories. Now, thanks to the efforts of Indian activists and environmentalists, the mountain may stand honored for its sacred importance without threat of development.
To learn more about ongoing preservation efforts to restore the habitats of plants and animals on the sacred mountain, please contact:
Save Mount Shasta
P.O. Box 1143
Mount Shasta, CA 96067
See Site Saver newsletter, Winter 1996, for further background information.