FARMINGTON — Tribal leaders on spoke out about the protection of their sacred sites to the Department of the Interior on Monday.

The department kicked off a series of "listening sessions" with tribal leaders Monday in Albuquerque regarding the preservation of the sites, specifically those located on federal lands.

"It is critical that we listen to tribal people about sensitive and significant cultural issues concerning sacred sites," said Donald E. "Del" Laverdure, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, in a press release this week.

The department encouraged leaders to speak about how the department might better oversee sites that still are used for ceremonial use, and also those that are not.

Those unable to attend any of the sessions can submit their comments to the department

They requested input on:

*Meanings of sacred sites and whether the Department should attempt to define the term "sacred site."

*Personal views of existing departmental practices or policies, if any, that should be revised to protect sacred sites and steps necessary to make appropriate revisions.

*Potential development of departmental practices or policies to protect sacred sites.

*How the department should facilitate tribal access to sacred sites.

*How the department should control and grant access to tribally provided information regarding sacred sites.

*Who the department should include (recognized leaders of tribal government, tribal spiritual leaders, etc. al.) in determining whether a site is considered "sacred" by a tribe.

"Our nation-to-nation relationship is one that is based upon mutual respect, and that includes an ongoing dialogue about places central to Indian identity and cultural ways of life," Laverdure said.

The sessions are intended to assist in developing policies that result in effective, comprehensive and long-lasting federal protection of, and tribal access to, the places that are important to the fabric of tribes, which has not always been the case in years past.

Sacred sites long have been battlegrounds between federal and tribal governments when it comes to policies, each wanting to protect the rights of their own people.

The federal government "doesn't see it how we see it, but they are the interpreters of the law," said Leonard Tsosie, a Navajo Nation Council delegate who was unable to attend the session but expressed concern over the issue.

Tsosie recalled the recent uproar over a federal appeals court decision that allowed an Arizona ski resort to use recycled sewage to make artificial snow on Humphrey's Peak.

The peak is the highest of the San Francisco Peaks, and also is the most sacred to more than a dozen tribal nations.

The tribes were offended by the use of the sewage water upon the area.

"They don't spray sewage water on Catholic churches," Tsosie said. "I think the federal courts are writing their own rules. We need to go beyond the federal courts."

Tsosie also mentioned the San Carlos Apache tribe's struggles to protect lands from intrusive mining practices. Similarly, he alluded to the Navajo Nation's struggle to preserve Mount Taylor, a sacred turquoise-rich mountain that also is rich in uranium.

"I've been concerned about it for a long time," said Tsosie.

Responses to "Native Americans speak out to preserve sites"

  1. Anonymous says:

    they have the right to preserve their sacred sites in other words tell the govt. to keep there ----- off of our land

  2. Anonymous says:

    I thank you all deeply, with all my heart for standing to speak for ALL Native peoples of this land as we have been humbly gifted by our Mother Earth to lye down our weary heads.

  3. Anonymous says:

    When is it' going to end. they put the native americans in land where they can't grown things now they are trying to take away their sacred land. If we were to dig up their dead we will be put in jail. I hope they will not do this thing!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    What if a large corporation or our fed gov. dug up and moved your family headstones? Destroyed the cemetary beyond recognition would you not be upset? I know I would be! What if a group of people spray painted on your church or place of worship? Not only is that act illegal but just plain wrong. Just because a Native American's place of worship or burial site may be different than most of America's, we must respect their land, rights, and beliefs. Come on...we know it is the correct thing to do! Why do we keep debating something we already have learned? I hope these sessions lead to a positive solution, once and for all, for all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    native american tribal sacred sites should be under the 14 amendment protected and set aside as reservation lands. nand all rights uner it or above it cant be infringred upon ,except for air trafic that has its flight paths set high up.this is owed for all past atrocities and pain

  6. Unknown says:

    I want to stand beside you and your people to protect your rights and land

Write a comment