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National prayer days to protect sacred places from June 20-26

The eleventh National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places will be observed across the country between June 20 and June 26.

The prayer days highlight the dangers posed to sacred places like the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. A ski resort in a national forest uses reclaimed sewage to make fake snow over the opposition of several tribes in the Southwest.

“Native and non-Native people gather at this Solstice time for ceremonies and events to honor sacred places, but everyone can honor these precious lands and waters all the time by simply respecting them and not allowing them to be harmed,” said Suzan Shown Harjo, the president of The Morning Star Institute, which organizes the National Sacred Places Prayer Days. “Observances are necessary because Native peoples are engaged in myriad struggles with developers that endanger or destroy Native sacred places.”

Harjo said tribes face unique challenges in seeking to protect their right to practice their religions. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 said it is up to Congress to ensure tribes and Native people have a cause of action in the federal courts.

“Native Peoples are the only people or group in the U.S. who do not have a door to the courthouse to protect sacred places or site-specific ceremonies,” said Harjo. “That must change as a simple matter of fairness and equity. Sadly, the Obama administration has backed developers that are desecrating sacred places and has done little to protect sacred places. The very least it can do is ask Congress to enact a statutory right of action.”

As part of the call to action, Harjo is hosting an observance this morning at 8:30am on the United States Capitol Grounds, West Front Grassy Area. More information about other observances can be found at www.indianz.com/boardx/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=46189.

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