WE ask you all to join your hearts in prayer for all sacred sites not only on the dates here but on all days.
THE MORNING STAR INSTITUTE
611 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003
For Immediate Release
JUNE 16-24 SET FOR 2012 NATIONAL SACRED PLACES PRAYER DAYS
Washington, DC (6/15/12)—Observances and ceremonies will be held across the land from June 16 through June 24 to mark the 2012 National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places. The observance in Washington, D.C. will be held on Wednesday, June 20 at 8:30 a.m., on the United States Capitol Grounds, West Front Grassy Area (see details under the Washington, D.C. listing in the alphabetical list by state on the following pages).
Descriptions of certain sacred places and threats they face, as well as times and places for public commemorations are listed below. Some of the gatherings highlighted in this release are educational forums, not religious ceremonies, and are open to the general public. Others are ceremonial and may be conducted in private. In addition to those listed below, there will be observances and prayers offered at other sacred places that are under threat and at those not endangered at this time.
“Native and non-Native people nationwide gather at this time for Solstice ceremonies and to honor sacred places, but everyone can honor these precious lands and waters all the time by simply respecting them and the life they support and not allowing them to be harmed,” said Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee). She is President of The Morning Star Institute, which organizes the National Sacred Places Prayer Days. “Ceremonies are being conducted as far too many Native American Peoples are engaged in legal struggles with federal agencies that side with developers that endanger or destroy Native sacred places,” said Ms. Harjo.
“Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1988 that there is no constitutional or statutory cause of action to defend Native sacred places, Native Americans are the only peoples in the United States who do not have a door to the courthouse to protect sacred places or site-specific ceremonies,” said Ms. Harjo. “That simply must change as a matter of fairness and equity. Native Nations have been cobbling together protections based on defenses intended for other purposes. Some agencies may permit a place at the table when development is being contemplated, but most do not and Native Peoples are not taken seriously because the agencies and developers know that the Supreme Court does not appear inclined to hear lawsuits which lack a tailor-made right of action.”
During his presidential campaign in 2008, then-Senator Obama addressed this issue as part of his Native American policy platform for religious freedom, cultural rights and sacred places protection: “Native American sacred places and site-specific ceremonies are under threat from development, pollution, and vandalism. Barack Obama supports legal protections for sacred places and cultural traditions, including Native ancestors’ burial grounds and churches.”
Many Native Peoples endorsed Candidate Obama because of his position on Native sacred places, but have despaired at the growing disparity between what the Candidate supported and what the President’s Administration has done on sacred places. The Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Justice Department and other federal agencies are actively endangering sacred places and fighting Native Peoples who are trying to protect sacred places in judicial and administrative processes.
The National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest national Indian organization, has called for Congress to enact a statute that would provide a cause of action, for the President to update and strengthen the existing Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites and for the Forest Service to utilize existing laws and policies to protect Native American sacred places. At the same time, the Forest Service has touted as an accomplishment for sacred places its draft report, which was roundly denounced in Indian country, and a revised report it is keeping secret, counter to the Administration’s position on tribal consultation.
“The President has been asked directly to call on Congress to create a right of action so we can defend our holy places, to improve the Executive Order for Indian Sacred Sites and to stop the Forest Service and other agencies from continuing their decades-long assault against Native sacred places,” said Ms. Harjo. “I’m still optimistic that the President can and will do these things, even if Congress is unable to make progress in this or any area. Once again, we pray that this will be the last year we are denied justice by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches.”
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has recommended that the U.S. consider withdrawing the federal permit that is allowing a private ski resort to use recycled sewage water to make snow on top of the San Francisco Peaks, which are sacred to many Native Nations in the Southwest. The Special Rapporteur also has called on the U.S. to consult with and return sacred places to Native Peoples.
“Native American Peoples are encouraged that the President changed the U.S. position and endorsed the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and look forward to its application to U.S. law and practice,” said Ms. Harjo.
The Declaration includes the following statements regarding sacred places:
“Article 11, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
“Article 11, 2: States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”
“Article 12, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.”
“Article 25: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”
The 2012 observances are the tenth of the National Prayer Days to Protect Native American Sacred Places. The first National Prayer Day was conducted on June 20, 2003, on the U.S. Capitol Grounds and nationwide to emphasize the need for Congress to enact a cause of action to protect Native sacred places. That need still exists.
Prayers will be offered for the following sacred places, among others:
Antelope Hills. Apache Leap. Badger Two Medicine. Badlands. Bear Butte. Bear Lake. Bear Medicine Lodge. Black Hills. Black Mesa. Blue Lake. Boboquivari Mountain. Bunchgrass Mountain. Cave Rock. Chief Cliff. Coastal Chumash Sacred Lands in the Gaviota Coast. Cocopah Burial and Ceremonial Grounds. Coldwater Springs. Colorado River. Columbia River. Deer Medicine Rocks. Dzil Nchaa Si An (Mount Graham). Eagle Rock. Everglades.
Fajada Butte. Ganondagan. Great Mound (Mound Bottom). Gulf of Mexico. Haleakala Crater. Hatchet Mountain. Hickory Ground. Holy Mountain. Hualapai Nation landforms in Truxton and Crozier Canyons. Indian Pass. Kaho’olawe. Kasha-Katuwe. Katuktu. Kituwah. Klamath River. Kumeyaay Bands Burial and Ceremonial Grounds. Lake Superior. Luiseno Ancestral Origin Landscape. Mauna Kea. Maze. Medicine Bluff. Medicine Hole. Medicine Lake Highlands. Medicine Wheels. Migi zii wa sin (Eagle Rock). Mokuhinia. Moku’ula. Mount Shasta. Mount Taylor. Mount Tenabo. Nine Mile Canyon.
Ocmulgee Old Fields and National Monument. Onondaga Lake. Palo Duro Canyon. Petroglyphs National Monument. Pipestone National Monument. Puget Sound. Puvungna. Pyramid Lake Stone Mother. Quechan Burial and Ceremonial Grounds. Rainbow Bridge. Rattlesnake Island. Rio Grande River. San Francisco Peaks. Serpent Mound. Snoqualmie Falls. Sweetgrass Hills. Sutter Buttes. Tse Whit Zen Village. Tsi-litch Semiahmah Village. Valley of Chiefs. Valmont Butte. Wakarusa Wetlands. Walking Woman Place. Woodruff Butte. Wolf River. Yucca Mountain. Zuni Salt Lake. Sacred places of all removed Native Nations. All Waters and Wetlands.
Arizona: Mount Graham, Dzil Nchaa Si An
Mount Graham is sacred to the Western Apache people and is known to the San Carlos Apache as Dzil Nchaa Si An. It is a holy landscape where Gaan or Mountain Spirits reside and ancestral Apache rest. It is a place of ceremonies and medicine plants, and home to the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel. The Pinaleño Mountains or Mount Graham is a unique ecological treasure. It is the tallest mountain in southern Arizona and encompasses six different life zones from the valley floor to its peak at 10,720 ft. Called a “Sky Island” ecosystem, the old growth forests on Mount Graham’s summit are the Arizona equivalent of rainforests. The abundant springs and high altitude meadows have offered sustenance and a source of healing to Apache people who live in the desert. The cool moist characteristics of the Mountain have nurtured 18 different plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
In the 1980s, the University of Arizona and its partners at the time, including the Vatican and the Smithsonian Institution, chose Mount Graham as the site to construct an observatory with seven large telescopes known as the Columbus Project. Beginning in 1988, the Arizona congressional delegation succeeded in gaining exemptions for the project from endangered species, environmental, historical preservation and other laws. In 1989, the University of Arizona was granted a 20-year special use permit by the Coronado National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service, and appropriation riders kept the project flush with public benefits without having to abide by federal laws or regulations, including federal Indian laws intended to protect religious freedom, burial grounds and cultural properties. Vatican spokesmen stated that Mount Graham was not a religious or sacred place. University employees and lobbyists attempted to undermine the reputations of Apache religious leaders and practitioners, and retained at least one San Carlos tribal official to testify that the Mountain was not sacred or significant to the Apache peoples.
For decades, Apache Peoples, scientists, conservationists and university students have resisted the University of Arizona’s decision to build the telescopes on the Mountain’s summit. Even though frequent cloud cover makes telescope viewing marginal and Mount Graham was ranked 38th in a study of astronomical sites in the U.S., the Arizona congressional delegation and the University have persisted with the project. Today, the construction of telescopes and resulting federal closure of the Mountain’s top are desecrating the Mountain and its irreplaceable relationship with Apache Peoples.
The struggle continues to protect the natural and cultural heritage of Mount Graham from the precedent-setting destruction still being caused by the University in building its observatory on Mount Graham. The efforts of cultural protection and environmental organizations and affected Tribes to protect the sacredness of Mount Graham continue unabated.
The University of Arizona is now operating its observatory without a valid special use permit. Its 20-year federal permit expired on April 19, 2009. The University has asked the Coronado National Forest for a new permit, but, as of June of 2012, a decision on whether to grant the permit has not yet been made. The Forest Service has determined that it needs to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to gather information as to the pros and cons of granting a new permit. The University has objected strenuously to a new EIS. From what little information the Mount Graham Coalition and the San Carlos Apache Tribe have learned, the Forest Service’s and the University’s lawyers are “in discussions” to determine the final form of the permit renewal process.
There are a number of reasons for the Forest Service to deny a new permit. The lapsed permit had a number of terms and conditions that were violated by the University. Many of these conditions should have led to the revocation of the permit but did not. All of these violations need to be studied to determine whether the University can follow the rules of a new permit.
The conditions of Mount Graham have changed substantially since the permit was granted and the observatory is even less compatible with the religious and ecological importance of Mount Graham. Since the permit was granted, the “shape” of Mount Graham has been deemed eligible for placement on the national list of historic places. In addition, the Forest Service now acknowledges that Mount Graham is a Traditional Cultural Property to Western Apache people and has taken steps to consult (although it has a long way to go) with traditional Apache about the sacred nature of the Mountain and how to protect it. The University may go to Congress for yet another exemption to religious freedom and environmental laws and to force the Forest Service to issue a new permit. Supporters of Mount Graham would be the last to hear of any lobbying along these lines and must be ever vigilant to stop this from happening.
For these and many other reasons, it is important for supporters of Apache peoples and Mount Graham to urge the Forest Service to deny the University a new permit and require that the existing telescopes on Mount Graham be removed.
After 20 years of construction, the large telescope project is still not complete and very serious questions remain about its importance, utility and function from an astronomical perspective. What is NOT in question is the continued offense to the Western Apache Peoples. Equally clear is the perilous status of the native Mount Graham red squirrel. The most recent survey conducted by biologists estimated that only about 214 of this unique species, found now where else on earth, remain. It has been identified by biologists as one of the mammals most likely to go extinct in the United States in the foreseeable future.
Several fires devastated the top of Mount Graham in past years. They were fought to protect the telescopes more than the ecosystem and, as a result, much damage was done to the Mountain that could have been avoided. The Forest Service has decided to thin the forest and otherwise manipulate the ecosystem to try to protect what remains and to restore what has been damaged. The current fires burning in eastern and southern Arizona reinforce the danger that further actions will be taken protect structures over wildlife and spiritual values.
Prayers and diligence are needed now more than ever for Mount Graham. The ecosystem is under serious threat from climate change and other patterns of destruction; there is an opportunity for the Forest Service to deny a new permit for the telescopes and require they be removed; and there is a chance to protect the existing ecosystem and restore some of what has been lost. And, the sacredness of Mount Graham continues to be challenged and, while the Mountain is able to protect itself, supporters can help to protect it.
For more information, contact the Mount Graham Coalition, Roger Featherstone, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dinah Bear, Secretary, at Bear6@verizon.net
Arizona: San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to Apache, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, Yavapai and other Native Nations. The San Francisco Peaks are home to many sacred beings, medicine places and origin sites. Myriad ceremonies are conducted there for healing, well being, balance, commemoration, passages and the world’s water and life cycles.
The San Francisco Peaks are on federal land within the Coconino National Forest. Indeed, the U.S. Forest Service has indicated that the San Francisco Peaks are sacred and holy to over thirteen Tribes in the southwestern United States.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Forest Service and the privately owned Snowbowl ski resort, which is located on the San Francisco Peaks, plan to expand the ski area and to use recycled sewage to make artificial snow. The expansion and sewage-to-snow plans could have a disastrous impact on the Native religions and people and on the water and health of the entire region. The creeping recreational development has concerned Native spiritual leaders and tribal officials for decades, but current plans far exceed the past activity at the resort.
Snowbowl’s plans to clear-cut 74 acres of rare alpine habitat that is home to threatened species, make new ski runs and lifts, add more parking lots and build a 14.8 mile buried pipeline to transport up to 180 million gallons (per season) of wastewater to make artificial snow on 205 acres. Despite ongoing protests and hunger strikes, Snowbowl has begun construction of its wastewater pipeline for snowmaking, with approval of and protection by the Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs’ 2011 hearing on the U.S. implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Integrating the Declaration into existing law will focus substantively on the value of sacred sites instead of placing an undue burden on procedure. Also, the Declaration will emphasize international policy instead of relying on domestic policy alone. Legislatively addressing Indian law jurisprudence will repair the dispossession of Native American rights to sacred sites.”
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recommended in 2011 that the “United States Government engage in a comprehensive review of its relevant policies and actions to ensure that they are in compliance with international standards in relation to the San Francisco Peaks and other Native American sacred sites, and that it take appropriate remedial actions….the Government should reinitiate or continue consultations with the tribes whose religions practices are affected by the ski operations on the San Francisco Peaks and endeavor to reach agreement with them on the development of the ski area. The Government should give serious consideration to suspending the permit for the modifications of Snowbowl until such agreement can be achieved or until, in the absence of such an agreement, a written determination is made by a competent government authority that the final decision about the ski area modifications is in accordance with the United States’ international human rights obligations.
“The Special Rapporteur wishes to stress the need to ensure that actions or decisions by Government agencies are in accordance with, not just domestic law, but also international standards that protect the right of Native American to practice and maintain their religious traditions. The Special Rapporteur is aware of existing government programs and policies to consult with indigenous peoples and take account their religious traditions in government decision-making with respect to sacred sites. The Special Rapporteur urges the Government to build on these programs and policies to conform to international standards and by doing so to establish a good practice and become a world leader that it can in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Native Nations and environmental organizations have attempted to protect the San Francisco Peaks in court. The District Court ruled for the development in 2006. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision in 2007 and ruled for the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation and others. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Forest Service violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in allowing the Snowbowl Resort to expand over 100 acres of rare alpine ecosystem, part of the area that is sacred to Native Peoples.
The federal government challenged that decision and petitioned the Ninth Circuit for rehearing en banc. Such petitions are rarely granted, but the Court granted this one. The case was argued in front of the 11-judge en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena in December 2007. The Ninth Circuit issued the decision of the en banc panel on August 8, 2008, ruling in favor of development. The Native Nations submitted a writ of certiorari for the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 8, 2009, the Supreme Court declined to review the decision.
The Tribes attempted to reach some sort of administrative accommodation with the new Administration, but such efforts have not borne fruit. The Save the Peaks Coalition subsequently filed suit against the federal government on the NEPA issue that the Forest Service failed to adequately consider the ingestion of reclaimed sewer water. These were the same law and facts that the prior three judge panel considered in finding that the Forest Service had failed to comply with NEPA. The prior ruling was, however, rendered non-precedential by the en banc court in the Navajo case. Notwithstanding the Ninth Circuit’s prior reasoning, Judge May Murguia of the U.S. District Court ruled against the Save the Peaks Coalition on all counts. Shortly thereafter, her appointment by Obama to the Ninth Circuit was confirmed. The Save the Peaks Coalition appealed the ruling.
An openly hostile three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit not only ruled against the Coalition, but stated that the Save the Peaks Coalition and their attorney had abused the judicial process – with no basis of support for their accusations. Snowbowl is currently going after the plaintiffs and their pro bono lawyer, personally, for damages in the amount of approximately $280,000. The same three judges hear Snowbowl’s motion.
In the interim, Snowbowl is pursuing the prosecution of peaceful protestors and seeking “retribution” from them. Some members of the Flagstaff community have begun a hunger strike. As a legal and practical matter, however, Snowbowl is now free to desecrate the Holy San Francisco Peaks with impunity.
For additional information, contact: Howard M. Shanker, The Shanker Law Firm, PLC, in Tempe and Flagstaff, Arizona, at (480) 838-9433 or email@example.com
California: McCloud River – Winnemem Wintu Tribe Prepares for Balas Chonos
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California prepares for Balas Chonos, the Coming of Age Ceremony, despite opposition by the U.S. Forest Service. The Tribe has asked the Forest Service to close 400 yards of the McCloud River to recreational motor boaters for the four days of the Ceremony, June 30-July 3. The Forest Service claims that it is stymied by the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ federal recognition policy and cannot close the River because the Tribe is not federally recognized.
The Tribe says that federal recognition is only one of the federal relationships with tribal peoples. In California, 90% of the tribes were not included on a very short recognition list, which was issued without warning during the Reagan Administration. Even those with a long recorded historical relationship as tribes with the U.S. government – those that were signatories to the unratified treaties and those on the California Judgment Roll, for example — were excluded from that recognition list. Some 300,000 traditional people and their human rights to ceremony are affected because of this policy. Under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, all federal agencies have an obligation to protect and preserve Native American sacred places and ceremonies, and to consult with Native traditional religious leaders, irrespective of their federal or non-federal recognition status.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe asserts its right to ceremony for Indigenous women under Article 11, 12 and 25 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Winnemem Chief Caleen Sisk is asking for the mandatory closure of the McCloud River for the Coming of Age Ceremony for Marisa Sisk, who will be the next Winnemem Chief. Although the Winnemem Wintu would prefer to focus on the celebrant, the Tribe says it “must continue on the long road to justice, educating the world as about what it is to be traditional in the United States.”
After unsatisfactory meetings with Forest Service officials, Chief Sisk called for a War Dance, or H’up Chonos, a ceremony conducted when there is nothing that can be done except to pray. Over 200 people came from as far north as Olympia, Washington, and as far south as Los Angeles to support the Winnemem with a non-violent closure, communicating with boaters about the fact there was a ceremony and asking them to respect that. One hundred percent of the recreational boaters respectfully turned around.
The Tribe said that the “only interference to this non-violent ceremony was the U.S. Forest Rangers, who daily came through in two vehicles, one being a canine unit, and buzzed us with their boats, backed by the auxiliary Coast Guards; on the third day (the Forest Service) summarily shut down our closure efforts.”
The Winnemem say that the Forest Service denies the closure, even though it has: 1) clear evidence of racial harassment, interference and health and safety endangerment by drunken, speeding boaters who ignore the Forest Service’s “voluntary closure”; 2) the Farm Bill that gives authority to close areas and rivers for ceremony; 3) the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; 4) the California AJR 39 joint resolution, which asserts that the state of California recognizes the Winnemem Wintu and urges the U.S. Congress to recognize the Tribe; 5) an informal poll by the local Redding newspaper, which shows that the public supports honoring the right to ceremony, as well as overwhelming internet support; and 6) resolutions of support from Indigenous leaders at the 2012 U.N. Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Tribe calls the show of force and the federal recognition issue “smoke and mirrors, and when the smoke clears, the Tribe suspects that the U.S. Forest Service under the influence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs may be acting on behalf of special interests — the Bureau of Reclamation and Westlands Water, the largest water corporation in the world, which owns the area that is sacred to the Winnemem.” Westlands wants the Shasta Lake Dam Project, which will raise the dam by several feet. The Tribe says the project “will drown all of the sacred places which currently come out of the water for a few weeks each year, such as the Women’s Healing Place and the Puberty Rock, and they will be lost forever.”
Chief Sisk says the Winnemem plan to “go forward with a dignified Ceremony, shored up by the War Dance prayers and backed by the promise of 300 – 400 supporters returning June 29 to close the 400 yards of the McCloud for four days for Marisa’s Coming of Age. It is important for Marisa to know what she needs to do in these difficult times as a leader. The times are not peaceful, so a peaceful and dignified ceremony cannot be a lost goal. The goal is to do the best one can and never give up being Winnemem.
“The Winnemem Wintu ask for the prayers of all the good people gathered for National Prayers for Sacred Lands for the human right to ceremony without distinction between federally recognized and unrecognized, and specifically for the right for tribal women to ceremony. Women are the sacred center of life. We ask for prayers that the Shasta Lake Dam will not be further raised and for protection of our sacred Winnemem River, the sacred women’s doctoring places, the Puberty Rock and the Children’s Rock, as well as the safe return of the Tribe’s salmon from New Zealand to their home waters above the dam. We ask for prayers that the Winnemem way of life will continue on. Hee Chala Bes-ken!”
Contact: Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk at firstname.lastname@example.org or Misa Joo at email@example.com
California: Medicine Lake Highlands and Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains
Medicine Lake Highlands is a critically important tribal region located northeast of Mount Shasta in the mountains of northern California. The Pit River, Modoc, Shasta, Karuk, Wintu and other Tribes revere the area for its natural healing powers and for its connections to their Tribes’ longstanding histories. For example, the Pit River Tribe believes that the Creator and his son bathed in Medicine Lake after they created the earth, and the Creator imparted his spirit to the waters. Because of the Lake’s sacredness, Tribes from the coast of California to the Rocky Mountains use the surrounding area as a training ground for medicine people. The Highlands is also sought after by geothermal energy companies that have applied for development permits from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which manage the area.
Since the 1990s, the Pit River Tribe, Stanford Environmental Law Clinic and other supporters of the protection of the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands in northeastern California have been challenging the BLM and USFS failure to undertake adequate environmental review and tribal consultation for industrial-scale energy development in the Highlands. On November 6, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the BLM and USFS original extension of Calpine Corporation’s geothermal leases in the Highlands violated both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The agencies should have prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before renewing the leases and should have included a “no action” alternative. Because the agencies violated NEPA and NHPA, both the five-year lease extensions and the subsequent 40-year extensions were undone. The Court also said that BLM and USFS violated their fiduciary duty to the Pit River Tribe by failing to complete an EIS before extending the Calpine leases.
When the case was sent back to the trial court to implement the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the trial judge ruled that, notwithstanding the invalidation of the lease extensions, the 1988 leases were still intact. In response, Stanford Environmental Law Clinic (SELC) filed an appeal challenging the lower court’s interpretation, which went directly against the original Ninth Circuit ruling. At the new hearing on March 10, 2010, the SELC attorneys maintained that the leases, originally issued in 1988 for a duration of five years, and renewed once, expired by their own terms when the 1998 renewals for 40 years were declared null and void by the Ninth Circuit judges.
In August 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court Order indicated that while the Fourmile Hill lease extensions and the project decision remain unacceptable, the underlying leases themselves, granted to Calpine in 1988, continue to be in force. The Federal Agencies (Forest Service and BLM) will need to do a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) involving more environmental review and consultations with the Tribe in order to evaluate whether or not these leases should be extended.
The court ruled that the agencies retain full discretion regarding the Fourmile Hill lease extensions. Therefore, all parties, the Pit River Tribe, BLM, United States Department of Justice and Cal Pine Energy Corporation continue negotiations on how a new EIS will look.
The culturally-important Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains and the surrounding lands in Traditional Pit River Indian Territory are in jeopardy of being destroyed, due to a plan to build 49 monolithic windmill energy turbines and related roads and ancillary, interconnections, operations and maintenance facilities in the heart of this region. Hatchet Ridge Wind Company, an affiliate of RES America Developments and Renewable Resources, is initiating its windmill construction project. The project would significantly and negatively alter over 100 acres of this natural region and include up to 49 turbines on steel towers with a height of up to 503 feet. Ancillary facilities would include a substation, an overhead transmission circuit, a switching/interconnection facility and a control room/operations and maintenance building. Access roads would be built, including 6.5 miles of 20-foot-wide permanent roads, and one mile of additional roads.
The project would have severe negative impact on sacred and cultural places, as well as on the winged and four-legged beings. Native people could no longer access particular ceremonial plants on Hatchet Mountain as part of their cultural practices and they do not support the project. The visual impact of the towers on the ridge destroys the integrity of the setting of this sacred area. Birds traditionally important to the local tribal culture, such as eagles, ospreys, ducks and geese, cross the ridge and would be shredded by the blades. Migration routes of deer across the ridge could be disrupted. Sound quality issues would also affect the serenity and isolation of the ridge, disrupting human experiences in the area.
Bunchgrass Mountain is just north of the area impacted by the project. An ancient trail runs along the top of the ridge top, connecting the Pit River to Goose Valley and sites downriver; in addition to regular travel, this trail is used to reach remote areas during vision quests and such quests continue among some young men. Clearly, the proposed windmill project will have severe negative impacts on the natural world, as well as the well being and cultural rights of Native peoples. Although these turbines have been built and are up and running, we are firm that this project is in violation of federal law and the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites and their allies have protested against the project, will continue to do so and will not sit idly by and allow the destruction of important sacred and cultural regions to take place.
For more information on the efforts to protect the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands and Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains from the building of massive energy power facilities, contact the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites: Radley Davis, Pit River Nation, 530-917-6064; Mark LeBeau, Pit River Nation, 916-801-4422; and James Hayward, Sr., Redding Rancheria, 530-410-2875
California: Needles – Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe, at the Topock Maze area
Saturday, June 23, 2012, at 6:00 a.m.
The Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe remains in urgent need of prayer to protect the Maze and surrounding sacred areas along the Lower Colorado River. The Maze is both a physical manifestation and a spiritual pathway for the afterlife. It has always been, and will always be, an integral and significant part of the Mojave way of life, beliefs, traditions, culture and religion. The Mojave will observe the Prayer Day at the Topock Maze site.
Pacific Gas & Electric, by its ownership and operation of the Topock Natural Gas Compressor Station near Needles, California over the last 50 years, has polluted the groundwater under and around the Maze with hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical that can cause numerous human and ecological health problems. PG&E, BLM and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control proceeded with Interim Measures to contain and investigate the contamination, which included the construction of a new Treatment Plant within the Maze area and the drilling of about 150 wells in California and Arizona, on either side of the Colorado River.
These, taken together, create continuing cumulative adverse impacts to the Mojave people, its sacred landscape and tribal religious beliefs.
In 2005, Ft. Mojave filed a state lawsuit seeking the removal of the plant, total restoration of the sacred area, an environmental baseline of prior to the plant’s construction and any other actions that could serve to remedy the desecration. Settlement negotiations concluded in November 2006 aimed to achieve each of these goals and secure other remedies including repatriation of portions of the sacred area to tribal ownership, sensitivity training for PG&E employees and contractors, a written public apology and reimbursement of past and future Tribal costs.
In 2011, during selection of the Final Groundwater Remedy, DTSC made a finding that the Topock Cultural Area is an historic resource under state law and the BLM determined that a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) or property of traditional religious and cultural significance within a 1,600 acre Area of Potential Effect is eligible for listing on the National Register under Criterion A, as part of what tribes have identified as a larger area of traditional and cultural importance.
Yet, DTSC and BLM failed to consult with the Tribe on the final mitigation measures, assuming they knew what was best for all the Tribal Governments along the Lower Colorado River and how the sacred area could be best protected. DTSC’s failure to complete a legally adequate environment document, and failure to live up to certain terms in its settlement agreement with the Tribe, is the subject of a second lawsuit brought by the Tribe under state environmental laws. In its approval of the Final Groundwater Remedy, BLM has continued to put off dealing with mitigation for the continued impacts of up to 170 new wells and related infrastructure into the Tribe’s sacred area, putting the sustainability of the Tribe’s cultural and spiritual practices of the Tribe at further risk for decades to come.
Prayer is needed:
1) for DTSC and PG&E to swiftly bring to conclusion their settlements with the Tribe, and recognize the sovereignty of the tribal government and the agency’s public policy goals of truly inclusive and transparent decision making,
2) for BLM and DOI to follow through on promises to require meaningful mitigation for tribal cultural concerns during groundwater and soils remedy design and to improve its management of the area,
3) for additional sacred land in this area to be repatriated to the Tribe and
4) to ask for forgiveness for any continuing desecration that may occur until the offending facilities, including the interim measure treatment plant, are finally removed and until other required restoration of the landscape occurs.
This issue is national in scope: the Maze has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978 and is formally recognized as nationally significant. Moreover, the failure of state and federal agencies to fully consider direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to Native Sacred Places during pollution remediation activities remains a national problem requiring Congressional Oversight. Pray that this oversight occurs at the highest levels.
Contact: Nora McDowell-Antone, Tribal Topock Project Manager, at (928) 768-4475, NoraMcDowell-Antone@fortmojave.com, or Courtney Ann Coyle, Tribal Attorney, at (858) 454-8687, CourtCoyle@aol.com
California: Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Luiseño Ancestral Origin Landscape
Pechanga is in need of urgent prayer to continue to assist it in protecting the Luiseño Ancestral Origin Landscape from the Granite Construction Company’s proposed Liberty Quarry. The proposed quarry would be located on a sacred mountain within the Luiseño People’s sacred place of origin. Parts of this Origin Landscape have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 as the Murrieta Creek Archaeological Area (exva Temeeku) and are also listed in the state’s Sacred Lands File Inventory.
After many public hearings before the Riverside County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, the quarry was DENIED this year! However, the Board on a 3:2 margin voted to APPROVE the inadequate environmental document under CEQA, potentially laying the groundwork for Granite to come back in the near future with a revised application to mine. This unusual turn of events means that the Origin Area is still at risk.
Granite wants to blast out the mountain, home to the Kammalam (ancestors in the form of rocks), so that it can produce aggregate. The quarry could operate for 75 years and, even after reclamation, would remain a permanent scar within the sacred landscape. It would also be located at the headwaters of the Santa Margarita River, the last remaining free flowing river to reach the Pacific Ocean in southern California, and be adjacent to the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, which also includes part of the Origin Landscape.
The quarry would kill the mountain and forever disturb the sanctity of this incredibly beautiful and scenic area, located next to the reservation and at the doorstep of the City of Temecula.
In addition, the quarry would also pose environmental hazards to the Pechanga Community: air and water quality, visual and noise impacts, fire and emergency response, as well as sever a key wildlife linkage to and from the reservation. The Tribe was not consulted by the County of Riverside on these impacts during environmental review.
Pechanga respectfully requests prayer that:
1) Efforts to permanently prevent mining in any form at this location are successful and that
2) Tribal efforts to have this Origin Landscape formally recognized and protected will be successful.
For more information on the efforts to protect the Luiseño Ancestral Origin Landscape from the Liberty Quarry, contact Paul Macarro, Pechanga Cultural Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (951) 770.8102 or Jacob Mejia at: email@example.com or (951) 770.2595.
California: Redlands – California-Pacific Committee on Native American Ministries of The United Methodist Church at the University of Redlands, Saturday, June 16, at 7:15 a.m.
The California-Pacific Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) of The United Methodist Church will have prayer for sacred places on the Quad at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California. The public is welcome to join on Saturday, June 16, at 7:15 a.m.
Contact: Suanne Ware-Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (571) 236-7274 for more information.
California: Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians – Burial & Ceremonial Grounds –
Traditional Mourning Ceremony, Saturday, June 23, Ocotillo Area, 7:00 p.m.
For over two years, the Viejas Band has been waging legal, political and public relations battles to save tribal burial grounds and ceremonial sites from destruction by local and federal agencies. Viejas has positive news to report one on front and heartbreaking news to report on another.
Padre Dam Site:
Over this last year, with your help, we made much progress towards protection and repatriation of a burial ground and ceremonial site on Padre Dam Municipal Water District property, which sought to develop a reservoir and pumping station on the site.
Settlement of the litigation is close at hand in which the site would be restored, protected in perpetuity and the land repatriated to the Tribe. Viejas is deeply grateful for the support it has received from the local community, Governor of California, Native American Heritage Commission and the Courts, which have sided with the Band on many different levels.
Viejas respectfully requests prayer for:
1) An appropriate alternative location for the project to be secured by the District,
2) The soils previously taken off site by the District to be returned to the property in as gentle a manner as possible and as quickly as possible, and
3) Forgiveness that the impacts occurred and that they will never happen again.
Ocotillo Express Wind Farm:
Meanwhile, Viejas and other tribes have been forced to defend our ancestors from further attacks and potential destruction of tribal cultural resources, sacred places and burial grounds by a number of major renewable energy and other utility projects in the local mountains and deserts that would forever alter the Cultural Landscape of the Kumeyaay Nation. These include: the Sunrise Powerlink Project, Tule Wind Project, Ocotillo Wind Express Project, Eco Station Project, Imperial Solar Project and others.
Just last month, over the strong objections of Kumeyaay Bands and the Quechan and Cocopah Peoples, local community members, environmental groups, unions, recreationists and state park supporters, the massively destructive Ocotillo Wind Express Facility was approved by the County of Imperial and the BLM. Ocotillo Express (Pattern Energy) wasted no time and immediately began clearing, scraping and destroying the area and would not agree to hold off on construction until a TRO could be heard.
The so called “Refined” Project would include 112 industrial-sized wind towers up to 460 feet high, 42 miles of new roads, 81 miles of undergrounded fiber optic cable, a 31-acre substation and switchyard, operation and maintenance building and other infrastructure such as parking, ponds and laydown areas that were not part of the NEPA and CEQA documents. The project Right of Way is across about 12,000 acres of federal public land and is surrounded by designated wilderness, Cultural Preserves, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and shares a 5-mile border with Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The project is within a valley that slopes from the mountains to the desert, and is mostly undeveloped Class L (Limited Use) lands. One ceremonial site, the Spoked Wheel Geoglyph, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003, long before any wind project was proposed, and includes the whole viewscape from the site. The valley is ringed with sacred mountains — Coyote, Signal, Sombrero and Pinyon — and is used as a teaching area for tribal youth. Over 35,000 person hours were spent surveying and recording the massive amount of physical archaeology present at the site. The BLM relied solely on archeological values during the survey and only at the end of the NHPA Section 106 process acknowledged that the project area is a TCP within a larger TCP. Tribal Values considerations were an afterthought in the environmental documents and consultation was severely rushed due to arbitrary deadlines set by BLM to meet federal wind subsidy deadlines currently set for the end of 2012.
On June 23, Viejas and other Kumeyaay Bands will be holding a traditional Mourning Ceremony in the Ocotillo Area. The ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. and continue through the morning. The tribes will grieve for what has been lost and bring attention to efforts to save what is left of the area where the ancestors are laid to rest.
Viejas respectfully requests prayer that:
1) Preliminary Injunctions will issue to halt the destruction,
2) The BLM accepts historic human remains detection dog teams as a legitimate tool for identifying and avoiding ancestral cremation areas,
3) Subsidies and loans from federal and other entities are NOT granted for the project,
4) The Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is NOT extended by Congress, and
5) That something good for the Tribal Peoples of our region comes out of this experience in the form of UNITY, DOCUMENTATION and RESPECT for traditional religious practices.
For more information, please contact: Robert Scheid, Viejas Public Relations Director, at (619) 659-2316 or by email at: email@example.com
Colorado: Boulder – Native American Rights Fund – Sunrise Ceremony, Wednesday, June 20
Please join us for a Sunrise Ceremony beginning at 7:00 a.m., on Wednesday, June 20, on the front lawn of the Native American Rights Fund, 1506 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado. The program and prayer service will last about one hour, followed by a potluck breakfast. Community members have been invited to speak, as well as other NARF staff. Speakers will be followed by a moment of silence to show concern for the sacred places that are being damaged and destroyed today.
In the United States, Native Americans are more closely tied to the land than any other group, yet the increasing exploitation of natural resources and population expansion has caused previously undisturbed tribal sacred places to become vulnerable to destruction. As part of its mission, the Native American Rights Fund has long advocated for sacred site protection, religious freedom efforts and cultural rights. Recently, NARF’s Board of Directors has asked us to expand our efforts to protect lands that are sacred and precious to Native Americans.
Please show your solidarity for the protection of sacred places by joining us for the June 20 program. We ask you to bring food and/or beverages to share at the completion of the program.
Please join us! If you have any questions please contact Rose Cuny at 303-447-8760.
Kansas: Lawrence – Wakarusa Wetlands, Haskell Medicine Wheel – Open to the Public
Wednesday, June 20, at SUNRISE
Haskell Wetland Preservation Organization (WPO) and Save the Wakarusa Wetlands will observe National Prayer Day at SUNRISE, June 20th, beside the Wakarusa Wetlands at the Haskell Medicine Wheel, south of Lawrence, Kansas. Haskell WPO is a Native student organization. Save the Wakarusa Wetlands, Inc., is an association of local supporters, including Haskell Indian Nations University, Washburn University and Baker University alumni, students and supporters from all parts of the Lawrence community.
The ceremony will be held at the medicine wheel, where participants will erect a lodge pole at sunrise to mark the exact position of the Summer Solstice.
The event is open to all who wish to add their prayers to save this sacred place from the highway builders. Participants will ask for the protection of the Wakarusa Wetlands (aka, Haskell-Baker Wetlands), threatened by an eight-to-ten lane highway project approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, but delayed by a federal law suit filed by WPO and a consortium of supporter groups, including Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Jayhawk Audubon, Kansas University Environs, Save the Wakarusa Wetlands, Kansas Sierra Club and KU EcoJustice.
On January 20, 2012 a panel of federal appeals court judges heard oral arguments challenging the state’s efforts to construct 8-10 lanes of traffic across wetlands that once served as the primary refuge for Native children resisting cultural genocide. The written opinion could come at any time, but may not be released before mid-summer. For more than two decades, Haskell students and their allies have managed to block efforts to pave this sacred place, which was “surplussed” away from Haskell during the Eisenhower termination era. More than two thirds of Haskell’s campus was “given away” by BIA officials at the time.
Last year, Republican Governor Sam Brownback announced that $192 million in Kansas taxpayer funds was being allocated for completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway. The SLT began as a scheme to help local developers turn the southern edge of Lawrence into a regional shopping mecca. In recent years, the SLT project has been hijacked by trucking interests that dream of turning two nearby closed military bases into national hubs for NAFTA product distribution. Thus, the SLT has mushroomed into an eight-to-ten lane behemoth promoted as key infrastructure. This latest version of the old frontier booster fable that the metro area is destined to be “the next Chicago” has all the officials of nearby towns clamoring for completion of the SLT.
Ironically, while in Congress, then-Senator Brownback sponsored a U.S. apology to Native Americans for past egregious actions, but it specifically prohibited Native Peoples from taking any legal action that would provide redress or remedy for any of the actions, causing many Native people to call it a “hollow apology.”
About 600 acres of the Wakarusa Wetlands were located directly south of the dorms at Haskell Institute, the nation’s largest and most tribally diverse federal off-reservation boarding school. This last major remnant of the wetlands was a crucial refuge where Native children from all across the country survived sustained government efforts to exterminate their cultures. Indian students took refuge in the Wakarusa Wetlands refuge — where they could speak their languages, sing their sacred songs and conduct ceremonies and dances that were federally punishable with starvation and jail time — and refused to let school authorities “kill the Indian” in them.
Parents and other tribal leaders camped, sometimes for weeks or months, beside these wetlands on the north bank of the Wakarusa. They were awaiting permission from school officials to let them reclaim or at least visit their children. These elders used the Wakarusa Wetlands as an outdoor classroom to pass on final lessons about healing and other traditional knowledge.
The wetlands quickly became the most essential place where Haskell students could get news about family and friends. The wetlands was where they heard about what was happening back home in the crucial era of allotments and the “surplussing” of their homelands. The wetlands also provided the least censored opportunity to send messages home whenever someone speaking a related language arrived in camp. Otherwise, the children had to learn enough English to send a letter home by way of school censors, and then further screened by the Indian agent when it reached their reservation, and again modified when the interpreter read their message to parents who often could neither read nor speak English. This place is soaked in Indian history, layered with the stories of Native elders and is the last resting place of some who came to Haskell in its darkest days. Spirit release ceremonies and clandestine burials took place in these wetlands. The disappeared and runaways are remembered here.
This sacred wetland, a place between land and water, is the largest intact trace of the original Wakarusa Bottoms, an 18,000-acre prairie wetland environment. It existed for thousands of years before white school officials obtained federal funds to drain it. Before Haskell opened, this place supplied Native Peoples of the region with valuable medicinal plants, important ceremonial items, waterfowl, furbearers and other relatives central to their ways of life.
Elders have said the Creator caused the course of the Wakarusa River to go directly east toward the rising sun, in sharp contrast to the other rivers in the region, as a sign of the abundant gifts to be found there.
Despite massive efforts to drain the wetlands in the early twentieth century — and Haskell’s loss of all but a few acres of this property during the termination era — the Wakarusa Wetlands, like Haskell Indian Nations University itself, has survived and flourished. The entire historic Haskell campus, including the Wetlands, is being considered for designation as a National Historic Heritage area, but should have been declared a Traditional Cultural Property long ago.
Contact: Cleta Labrie firstname.lastname@example.org President of Haskell Wetlands Preservation Organization (WPO); Dr. Dan Wildcat (WPO faculty adviser) at email@example.com; or Michael Caron at (785) 842-6293 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Save the Wakarusa Wetlands, Inc. Friend the Wetlands Preservation Organization on FACEBOOK.
Nebraska: Lincoln – National Congress of American Indians, Mid-Year Session
Nebraska State Capitol Grounds, North Plaza
Tuesday, June 19, Sunrise Ceremony
The National Congress of American Indians will sponsor a Sunrise Ceremony on Tuesday morning, June 19, at the Nebraska State Capitol grounds on the North Plaza. The NCAI is conducting its 2012 Mid-Year Session in Lincoln, Nebraska, June 17-20.
The NCAI Sunrise Ceremony will be held as a part of the observances and ceremonies during the National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places, from June 16 through June 24.
The public is invited to attend NCAI’s respectful observance to honor sacred places, sacred beings and sacred waters, and all those who care for them and protect them from harm. Participants are asked to arrive no later than 7:00 a.m.
For information about NCAI’s Sunrise Ceremony, contact NCAI Deputy Director Robert Holden, 202.466.7767, email: email@example.com
New York: Ganondagan State Historic Site, at the Great White Pine Tree of Peace
Wednesday, June 20, at Noon
At Ganondagan State Historic Site in New York, there will be a Gahnonyoh (Thanksgiving), starting at Noon, on Wednesday, June 20, to protect sacred places and to promote world peace. “We invite spiritual leaders and the general public to join us on that day as we offer words of Thanksgiving or Gahnonyoh in Seneca,” says G. Peter Jemison (Seneca), who is the Caretaker of Ganondagan.
“We will gather before noon near the Great White Pine at the head of the Trail of Peace to offer words of Thanksgiving to the Creator,” says Jemison. “The event is open to the general public and all are welcome, but no photography, please.”
Ganondagan is the site of the seventeenth century town, once the capitol of the Seneca Nation, which was destroyed by the French in 1687
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. Today, it is the only historic site in New York dedicated to a Native American theme. Ganondagan is sacred to the Seneca People because nearby are the remains of Jikonhsaseh the Mother of Nations, who was the first person to accept the message of Peace brought by the Peacemaker, who united the Haudenosaunee or Five Nations: Seneca Nation, Cayuga Nation, Onondaga Nation, Oneida Nation and Mohawk Nation.
Contact: G. Peter Jemison at (585) 924-5848 or by e-mail at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
New York: New York City – Prayer of Remembrance for Sacred Places
Thursday, June 21, 1:00 p.m.
Hudson River at Bethune & West Streets
A Prayer of Remembrance for Sacred Places will take place on Thursday, June 21, at 1:00 p.m. The group will gather at the Hudson River in New York City at Bethune and West Streets.
The event is sponsored by Spiderwoman Theater, The Silvercloud Singers and the American Indian Community House.
Contact: Murial Borst-Tarrant at email@example.com or 551-208-3536.
Ohio: Peebles – Serpent Mound, Wednesday, June 20, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Newark – Newark Earthworks, Great Circle entryway, Thursday, June 21, 6:00 a.m./8:00 p.m.
Chillicothe – Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Mound City
Thursday, June 21, 7:00 p.m.
Oregonia – Fort Ancient Earthworks, Saturday, June 23, 5:30 a.m.
In Ohio, there will be gatherings at the four major remaining earthworks sites to honor the brilliant achievements of the Indigenous Peoples who lived in the Ohio Valley 2,000 years ago and built enormous earthen architecture. Gatherings will occur near Peebles, in Newark, near Chillicothe and near Oregonia to acknowledge the original landscape, what has been lost and all that continues into the future. The public is invited to observe the National Day of Prayer to Protect Sacred Places at these places.
Two thousand years ago, Indigenous Peoples built more than 600 groups of earthworks, each group consisting of several large earthen geometric shapes with specific purposes. The earthworks were built by design, near creeks and rivers. Many of the earthworks are enormous, measuring from 20 to more than 50 acres in area, with walls varying from 3 to 30 feet tall and connected by walled earthen roadways; the design guided the Peoples through the earthworks along a ceremonial road. Large circles with entryways facing the east, squares with rounded corners and entryways, octagons with eight entryways, huge rectangular flat-topped or oval mounds, tall conical mounds and ceremonial roadways mark the Ohio Valley as a sacred landscape. In addition to using geometric forms to convey meaning and purpose, the builders used a standard unit of measure and other mathematical consistencies in the spacing of the earthworks. Distances between earthworks at Newark can be measured in multiples of 1,054 feet.
The Newark Earthworks consisted of four large earthworks built 2,000 years ago over a four-square mile area by the Peoples of the Hopewell Culture. Two remain preserved. The Octagon Earthworks is an astronomical calendar tracking the 18.6-year lunar cycle, marking the lunar standstills in spectacular moonrises. It was built in the shape of a circle and an octagon connected by a walled ceremonial road. The nearby Great Circle is itself nearly 1,200 feet in diameter and possibly had many uses, as a ceremonial center, for formal games such as stickball and as places of gathering. The Ellipse was a walled cemetery with many burial mounds and contained a number of earthen circles open to the east before it was excavated to clear the land for canals, railroads and heavy industry. The Wright Square stood between the Great Circle and the Ellipse cemetery, but has been destroyed by development.
Of the four major remaining sections of the Newark Earthworks, all but one have been acknowledged as sacred places and have become state parks/monuments. However, the Octagon Earthworks are leased to a private country club and open to the public only four days per year. The Ellipse cemetery is owned privately and currently being prepared for sale as an industrial park.
Serpent Mound is one of two effigy mounds in Ohio, and one of the largest anywhere in the world. Its iconic aerial outline is known far beyond the borders of this state. Nearly a quarter of a mile long, the undulating coils made of three foot tall earthen walls curve from a spiral tail to a head pointing across the Brush Creek valley at the point on the southwestern horizon where the sun sets on the summer solstice. Recent scholarly work points to a construction of this unique mound at about 1070 CE, later than many of the more geometric enclosures around Ohio. The landscape is also marked by geological interest. A “crypto-explosion” crater cradles the arc of the valley where Serpent Mound lays on a bluff; the result of a meteorite that folded the crust of the earth when it struck 250 million years ago. This bluff of sandstone also has interest, as a visitor may walk down to creek side and look back up at the point where the “serpent’s head” ends, and see a snake headed prow of stone poke out over the water below.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is made up of five sites in and around the city of Chillicothe, Ohio, where once could be seen the largest concentration of earthworks complexes anywhere in the world. Mound City is the name for the central enclosure, a rounded-cornered square that was one of the ancient cemeteries alongside the Scioto River where the National Park Service has its visitor center. Almost entirely destroyed during World War I by the construction of training camps and industry to support the war effort, it was rebuilt from the original foundations and above surviving parts of mounds during the 1930s and in another major effort during the 1960s and 1970s. An alignment along three of these reconstructed mounds, pointing towards a southwestern corner gateway of Mound City, is a dramatic view, and casts the entire complex into vivid contrast. The possible astronomical alignments for this and other units, such as the Hopewell Mound Group west of the city, are still being studied, using both old maps and surveys, and non-intrusive studies that can trace where walls and their associated clays still can be seen.
Fort Ancient is a vast, irregular enclosure with three miles of wall atop a pair of plateaus next to the Little Miami River valley. Military language was attributed to this location by early European occupants, who named features “North Fort” and “South Fort,” but later studies show that combat and conflict seem to have been entirely absent from this sacred site. Fort Ancient is the archaeological label used for a later cultural phase in Ohio, but much of the site was built around the same time as Newark and Chillicothe. Reflecting pools of water were built into the site to create a sense of place – world above, world below. More recent surveys have shown that four compass aligned stone mounds in the “North Fort,” were built alongside the traces of a circle, perhaps a “woodhenge” where posts in a circle aided in astronomical calculation and prediction. Fires were built on top of stone mounds into the historic era. From one of those stone mounds, on mornings near the summer solstice, a particular entryway to the northeast pours a path of light across the leveled plaza, until it paints the surface of the mound.
Many of the major earthworks in Ohio are now under consideration for designation as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and a proposal is being prepared. For additional information about the Earthworks, see: http://whc.unesco. org/en/tentative lists/5243/. For more information about Solstice events see: www.AncientOhioTrail.org
Tennessee: Muscogee “Creek” Citizens Gathering, The Great Mound of Mound Bottom, Saturday, June 23, 10:00 a.m.
Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area, Lebanon, Wilson County
Sunday, June 24, 2:00 p.m.
A Muscogee “Creek” Citizens Gathering will take place on Saturday, June 23, at 10:00 a.m., at The Great Mound, Mound Bottom archaeological site, in observance of the National Sacred Places Prayer Days. “This gathering will be ceremonial to honor and lift up the Mound,” said Melba Checote-Eads (Muscogee), who is organizing the gathering. “We will observe a day of prayer, singing, gifting and feasting at Mound Bottom, as is Muscogee tradition. Water will be furnished by Muscogee Citizens.”
Ms. Checote-Eads asks people to reserve a space by calling her at 615-765-5854, to bring a bag lunch and beverage, to wear hiking boots and to meet in the picnic area: “We will meet at the picnic area near the Harpeth River beside the Mound. We will walk one mile to the Mound and transportation will be provided for those unable to make the walk.” The group will tour the Mound at 10:00 a.m. with Ranger Gary Patterson.
Mound Bottom is located in Cheatham County along the horseshoe bend of the Harpeth River. Mound Bottom is approximately one mile north of the point where U.S. Route 70 crosses the Harpeth River, on the outskirts of Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The site is managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as part of Harpeth River State Park. The Great Mound of Mound Bottom dates to the Mississippian era (900 AD-1300). Mound Bottom is about 100 acres and is nearly surrounded by the Harpeth River.
The flat-topped embankment that dominates the view from Mace Bluff is the largest of at least 14 Mounds that remain. The Great Mound stands 25 feet tall and 47 square feet in area; the remains of an earthen ramp leading from the plaza to the top of this Mound can still be seen. The entire complex, which is believed to have included hundreds of houses, was surrounded by an earthen wall topped with a palisade of upright logs. Mound Bottom likely began as a ceremonial meeting place around 950 AD and grew to become a fortified city with a population numbering in the thousands. Mound Bottom was part of a vast trade network that extended to Native Peoples in the Great Lakes area, Gulf Coast region and the Appalachian Mountains.
There also will be a gathering at the Sellars Farm on the following day, Sunday, June 24, at 2:00 p.m. The Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area is located in Wilson County: off Hwy-70 left at Poplar Rd., in Lebanon, Tennessee. The group will tour the Mound area and walk the path around the Mound, which is near Spring Creek, a tributary of the Cumberland River. Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch.
Ms. Checote-Eads describes the Mound site as covered with trees, grasses and wild flowers. It was a large village and trade area during the Mississippian Period. In 1939, a farmer dug up four statues, which were made between 600 and 800 years ago. Two of the statues are in the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and have been featured on a U.S. postage stamp.
For additional information, contact: Melba Checote Eads at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615 765-5854.
Washington, DC: United States Capitol, West Front Grassy Area
June 20, Wednesday, at 8:30 a.m.
The observance in Washington, DC, will take place at the U.S. Capitol on the West Front Grassy Area on Wednesday, June 20, at 8:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend this respectful observance to honor sacred places, sacred beings and sacred waters, and all those who care for them and protect them from harm. The observance will take the form of a talking circle.
All are welcome to offer good words, songs or a moment of silence for all sacred places, beings and waters, especially for those that are being threatened, desecrated or damaged at this time.
This observance is organized by The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization founded in 1984 and dedicated to Native Peoples’ cultural and traditional rights, including religious freedom and sacred places protection. The observance will be conducted by Mary Phillips (Omaha & Laguna Pueblo).
Contact: The Morning Star Institute at (202) 547-5531, Suzan Shown Harjo at email@example.com or Mary Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-205-4501.
Washington: Snoqualmie Falls, at the Cedar Tree, Friday, June 22, 11:30 a.m.
Water is universally a Sacred Being, part of sacred ceremonies in all faiths and religions.
Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State is a place recognized as Sacred for thousands of years. For the Snoqualmie and other Tribes of the Puget Sound region, this is the Transformer’s gift to the People.
It is a 268-foot waterfall listed on the Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property. Over two million people come from all over the world to visit Snoqualmie Falls annually. Puget Sound Energy owns and operates a hydroelectric facility there. Snoqualmie Falls is impacted and desecrated by diversion of a significant portion of the water from the river by a hydroelectric facility before it can complete the Sacred Cycle of reaching the base of the falls and creating a healing connection by its transformation to legendary mists that connect worlds, carry prayers, and deliver blessings.
Puget Sound Energy, a public utility, owns and operates a public park located there. A popular hiking trail down to the viewing area near the base of the falls continues to be closed to visitors until sometime in 2013. Access to the base of the Falls, specifically a spiritually powerful location, is blocked.
On Friday, June 22nd, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a gathering, rain or shine, at Snoqualmie Falls.
We welcome anyone who would like to respectfully join together in Spirit for observance of our Sacred Places across the globe that are in need. Join us and others that are gathering to pray, each in our own way for their protection.
“When one is uplifted, we all are uplifted”.
“We give thanks for the teachings of the Sacred. We give thanks that we are still here. We give thanks for the breath of the Spirit”.
We pray for one another.
In the Spirit of Snoqualmie Falls, Lois Sweet Dorman.
Contact: Lois Sweet Dorman, Snoqualmie, at email@example.com.
World Peace & Prayer Days – Gray Horn Butte (Devil’s Tower), June 16
Medicine Wheel, June 17
Grand Tetons, June 18 – 21
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe: “Once again I am sending my voice to all Nations upon Mother Earth, those who can hear my sincerity with their hearts – – unite together at our Sacred Sites creating an energy shift of a great healing on this June 21st. We need to see and listen to the wamakas’ka (the animals) who are more than ever now showing their sacred color of white, there are so many. This color represents the direction of when physical life now goes into the spirit journey. They are trying to warn us to pay attention to our responsibilities as a Global Nation. In order to protect the remaining sacredness that is trying to survive upon Mother Earth, which includes even our own children, we now have no choice but to unify and make positive decisions together.
“To honor the birthplace of World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites where it all began in 1996, we will gather at Gray Horn Butte, aka “Devils Tower” on June 16th. Peace Riders who made the ‘96 journey from Canada to
Gray Horn on horse back, will join us and offer prayers as well and plant a Peace Pole reading “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 4 different languages. We will do the same offering on June 17th at Medicine Wheel. On June 18th we will gather at the Grand Tetons to begin one of the many events of WPPD throughout the world. The Grand Tetons will be the beginning of a four day event to bring attention for the need to protect the last of the true wild Buffalo (bison) that exist in Yellow Stone National Park, they are in constant danger of being massacred when caught off park property.
“On June 21st I will pray with thousands of People at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As part of the various gatherings and celebrations that will be held as part of the Sacred Earth Gathering in Aldeia Nova Terra during the month of June parallel to the conference, there will be a very special ceremony to celebrate World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites along with various representatives of the Brazilian indigenous tribes and spiritual leaders from different nations. The intent is to honor this day not only in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but to also invite the participation of other WPPD activities worldwide to join though simultaneous acts of prayer and song so as to be united spiritually on this June 21st to celebrate the 2012 World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites. Onipiktec’a (that we shall live).”
Contact: Paula Horne-Mullen, Wolakota.org