indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Protections for sacred sites called inadequate
THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2003

Citing threats that include a shooting range, a highway project and a power plant, Indian advocates called on the federal government to ensure the highest protections for sacred places.

Despite the existence of laws, executive orders and other safeguards, witnesses at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing yesterday said important sites remain under attack. Lack of consultation, lack of sensitivity and outright disrespect are common, they said.

"Housing developments, drag strips, campgrounds, a biker bar and other development are located within a five mile radius of Bear Butte," a small mountain in South Dakota held sacred by more than 30 tribes, said Charmaine White Face, director of the Defenders of the Black Hills, a grassroots Lakota group fighting a proposed shooting range.

Several laws are designed to protect Native remains and artifacts and other cultural resources. But witnesses said government agencies often ignore these and other mandates.

"Even though we've had existing legislation in place and administrative procedures, federal agencies often take off on a tangent and do things on their own," Steve Brady, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member, told the committee. Brady is working on ensuring continued access to federal lands that tribal members still use for ceremonies.

Native people are treated unfairly when it comes to their own religious beliefs, said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute. She called on Congress to create a right to sue when sacred places are threatened.

"We need a way to get into court if only to avoid going there," she said. "Without a cause of action to protect sacred places we have no way of getting around a negotiating table. We don't have any leverage."

William D. Bettenberg, a Department of Interior official, agreed that legislation was needed but for a different reason. He said that confidential information sometimes has to be kept from prying eyes. "You don't want people to know about the site for fear of looting," he said.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the committee, has introduced a bill, S.288, that could address consultation and other sensitive issues. It would allow tribes and tribal organizations to enter into contracts with the Interior to identify important cultural sites.

On the House side, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has introduced the Native American Sacred Lands Act to enforce an executive order signed by former President Bill Clinton. It would allow tribes to petition to have federal lands excluded from development.

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) recounted five examples this year alone that have caused confusion and even litigation over sacred sites and burial grounds. "This really does involve a profoundly consequential matter," he said. "As Native people find over and over again, their most sacred sites [and] sacred remains [are] being treated in a way that would be considered utterly intolerable in any other community."

Relevant Documents:
Written Witness Testimony (June 18, 2003)

Relevant Bills:
Indian Contracting and Federal Land Management Demonstration Project Act (S.288) | Native American Sacred Lands Act (H.R.2419)

Related Stories:
S.D. tribe loses burial site case (6/19)
List highlights threats to sacred and historic sites (05/30)
Federal funds used for shooting range near sacred site (03/25)
Tribal school project on 'endangered' parks list (01/15)
Sacred site bill increases tribal voice (7/19)
Interior has few answers at Senate hearing (7/18)
House clears sale of sacred site to church (6/18)
N.M. tribe challenges coal mine approval (6/3)
Input sought into sacred sites (6/5)
Congress considering sacred sites (5/21)
Tribes push action on sacred sites (3/21)
Tribe prevails on sacred site case (3/19)
Norton denies politics played role in drilling (6/7)
Norton hit on exploration of sacred site (6/6)
Myers reversing sacred site opinion (10/25)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
Obama signs law for settlement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (9/29)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide (9/29)
Migizi Pensoneau: Behind the scenes at a Washington NFL game (9/29)
Donna Ennis: Ancestor starting asking about trust fund in 1900s (9/29)
Steven Newcomb: Indigenous conference yields power to states (9/29)
Kyle Mays: Rejecting narrowminded views of indigenous studies (9/29)
Brian Pierson: Tribal preference ruling strengthens sovereignty (9/29)
Thousands missing out on share of Cobell settlement payments (9/29)
Navajo presidential candidate in doubt over fluency in language (9/29)
Oneida Nation repeats history with women in top leadership jobs (9/29)
Al Jazeera: Tribes working together to restore bison to their land (9/29)
Indian Time: Oklahoma Indian museum expected to be big draw (9/29)
Column: Washington team should be worried about FCC petition (9/29)
Opinion: NMAI exhibit finally puts federal-tribal dealings to light (9/29)
Gun Lake Tribe hails new law that protects casino from litigation (9/29)
Former mayor remains hopeful on Los Coyotes Band casino bid (9/29)
Chumash Tribe awards $112M contract as part of casino project (9/29)
Documents show Seminole Tribe was close to new gaming deal (9/29)
Column: Taking a gamble in Louisiana - What's legal and illegal? (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tex Hall ousted in North Dakota tribal primary (9/26)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.