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:
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Indian children exploited for fundraisers (11/28)
House to consider bill to reauthorize Indian housing programs (11/28)
First Nations Development Institute awards grants to colleges (11/28)
Migizi Pensoneau: Sen. Tester betrays our people on Keystone (11/28)
Ned Blackhawk: Remember the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 (11/28)
Steven Newcomb: Leadership and the liberation of our nations (11/28)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Native Hawaiians working for sovereignty (11/28)
Hechinger Report: Tribal colleges see lower graduation rates (11/28)
Native women ask city in New York to find new name for park (11/28)
North Dakota tribe puts oil refinery on pause to review plans (11/28)
Al Jazeera: NMAI highlights jewelry of talented Navajo family (11/28)
African-American lawmakers seek probe into Pamunkey Tribe (11/28)
Colorado River Indian Tribes report armed robbery at casino (11/28)
Wyandotte Nation to debut part of $30M expansion at casino (11/28)
Mashantucket Tribe seeks to expand sale of alcohol at casino (11/28)
Mohegan Tribe still pushing for commercial casino in New York (11/28)
Native Sun News: Urban Indian organization seeks new center (11/26)
Tentative schedule for White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
White House invites youth to DC for Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
Leslie Wheelock: Touting nation-to-nation trading and tourism (11/26)
Kevin Abourezk: A mystery of Indian agents with same name (11/26)
Michael Allen: My ancestor took part in Sand Creek Massacre (11/26)
Dean Suagee: EPA's Clean Power Plan affects Indian Country (11/26)
Mark Rogers: Finding something to be thankful for this holiday (11/26)
Former convicted leader of Crow Tribe seeks to clear his name (11/26)
Blackfeet Nation denies political motive in arrest of ex-leader (11/26)
Appeal set in dispute over Navajo Nation presidential hopeful (11/26)
Judge allows NFL team lawsuit against young Native activists (11/26)
NPR: Alaska Natives put traditional spin on Thanksgiving meal (11/26)
Column: Group helps rescue dogs from Pine Ridge Reservation (11/26)
First Nation offers reward for information about missing man (11/26)
First Nations face loss of funds over failure to submit salaries (11/26)
Santa Ysabel Band responds to state lawsuit over online bingo (11/26)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation to meet over liquor sales at casino (11/26)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe could lose casino's liquor license (11/26)
Mashantucket Tribe looks to shift revenues away from gaming (11/26)
Agua Caliente Band selects planner to revamp land near casino (11/26)
Washington gaming panel cuts jobs as non-Indian revenue falls (11/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe to issue IDs at tournament (11/25)
James Giago Davies: Polygamy and shunning in Lakota culture (11/25)
Ben Shelly: There's a lot to be thankful for on the Navajo Nation (11/25)
Cara Cowan Watts: Share the blessings of the Cherokee Nation (11/25)
Joe Sexton: BIA's 'ugly' land policies stuck in the 19th century (11/25)
Jenny Durkan: Cop who killed Native man wasn't charged either (11/25)
Oklahoma claims Citizen Potawatomi Nation must collect taxes (11/25)
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.