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Protest delays debut of Vatican telescope.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Apache and environmentalist protesters disrupted the Sept. 18 dedication of the controversial Vatican Observatory telescope on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona. At least 10 protesters were arrested.

Luxury buses carrying scope donors and other American and Italian dignitaries up the mountain were delayed almost three hours as protesters locked themselves by the neck to cattle guards along the narrow road.

The Apache Survival Coalition has been battling for years, in court and out, to stop what it believes is the desecration of sacred land at the Mount Graham International Observatory project site.

In July, the San Carlos Apache tribal council voted to remain neutral on the project. Vatican officials lauded the vote, but coalition sources said it was a 4-to-2 decision with five council members absent Ola Cassadore Davis, a tribal elder and fierce opponent of the observatory, was attending a conference in Norway at the time. A resolution passed by the full council only two weeks earlier opposed the observatory.

Speaking for the Apache at the dedication ceremony was former tribal council chairman Buck Kitcheyan, who is under federal indictment for embezzlement of tribal funds. Last year, a tribal court convicted Kitcheyan on 14 counts of embezzlement. Some tribal members, traditional Apache, have accused him for years of being in the pocket of the University of Arizona, sponsor of the Mount Graham project.

Right now, UA pockets are not deep. Funds are short for a projected $60 million binocular telescope and the university has admitted, in a leaked report, that the site chosen is astronomically inferior. Of the five sites studied on the mountain, the Vatican's was the worst, the UA report said. N
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Title Annotation:Mount Graham, Arizona
Author:McCarthy, Tim
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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