Simon Moya-Smith: Tribal sacred sites desecrated by Christians
"So the controversy – for the moment – is over the mosque slated to be built near the site of the World Trade Center bombings in New York City. Don’t you worry, we’ll get back to that ugly immigration debate momentarily.

I feel compelled to share some not-widely-known wisdom with my mosque-naysayers, for if there’s one thing citizens in this country get instantly aroused by it’s some good old American Indian wisdom.

So here you go, folks.

Since time immemorial, the Black Hills in South Dakota have been a holy place for the Lakota Sioux – my people. And to the Lakota, the Black Hills is where life began. Although the story of creation significantly differs between Sioux and Christians – our messenger from the Creator came in the form of a woman – Paha Sapa is not unlike Christianity’s Eden in its significance.

But here is where today’s debate over the mosque and my peoples’ sacred site come together: It didn’t matter to the Christians, those innumerable settlers who came West seeking gold, land, riches and religious freedom (ironically) that the Black Hills was our holy site, our sacred location, our Jerusalem. No. What mattered was that their monument – Mount Rushmore – be chiseled into it.

And the key word here is “on,” not “near.” The American Muslim community wants to build their 13-story mosque near the World Trade Center bombing site, not on it. If only we – American Indians – were lucky enough to have seen Christians build their religious institutions and monuments near our holy sites, and not on them."

Get the Story:
Simon Moya-Smith: Mosques and Mount Rushmore: The debate over what’s sacred (Indian Country Today 8/31)

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Jim Kent: You wouldn't put church across from sacred Bear Butte (8/30)