The 2016 National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places are upon us. There are many places across Turtle Island need prayers.
Here are four more sacred places that need your prayers.
The Medicine Lake Highlands are located northeast of Mount Shasta the mountains of Northern California. They are an ancient and critically important sacred and cultural place to the Pit River Nation and other Indigenous Peoples. Many Natives continue to go there to pray and gather medicinal plants.
In the 1980s, the Bureau of Land Management issued 26 geothermal leases without conducting an adequate environmental review or consulting with tribal governments. The leases have not been terminated even though they are not in compliance with federal rules, and the projects have failed to produce a high enough amount of geothermal steam.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in March 2015. The Pit River Tribe and the other Plaintiffs claim BLM, Calpine Energy Corporation, and other stakeholders of the leases have violated the Geothermal Steam Act; the National Environmental Policy Act; the National Historic Preservation Act; and the Indian fiduciary trust doctrine. The court may make a decision this year.
The Topock Maze area and surrounding sacred areas in California are both a physical manifestation and a spiritual pathway for the afterlife, and the Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe need prayers to protect them. The Topock Maze has always been, and will always be an important part of the Mojave way of life, beliefs, traditions, culture, and religion.
Over the last 50 years, Pacific Gas & Electric, owner of Topock Natural Gas Compressor Station near Needles, California has polluted the groundwater under and around the Maze with hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical that can cause a number of health problems. The station was built here long before tribes has a say into the management of their sacred places.
The tribe has been fighting for 10 years on several fronts to protect this sacred place.
Bear Butte in South Dakota, made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2011.
Bear Butte, or Mato Paha to the Lakota, is in Sturgis, South Dakota and is currently being threatened by encroaching bars and campgrounds. According to the Rapid City Journal, county commissioners in May voted unanimously to approve a 50-acre plat that will relaunch the Full Throttle Saloon, to be built along Highway 79, north of Bear Butte. This brings up issues of septic waste and how it will be disposed of, especially this close to a sacred site.
The Klamath River is just beginning to heal and still needs prayers. The nation’s largest dam removal project is on track under a new agreement that will decommission four dams and open hundreds of miles of the contested Klamath River in Oregon and California to endangered salmon, blocked for nearly a century.
AP Photo/Eureka Times-Standard, Shaun Walker
Dave Blake, born and raised on the lower Klamath River, stands on a gravel bar where several dead salmon float a few miles up river from Klamath Glen, California on October 1, 2002. Environmental groups and the Yurok Tribe, who depend on Klamath River salmon for food, have blamed the Bureau of Reclamation for the fish kill, saying their management plan granting full irrigation deliveries to farmers of the Klamath Reclamation Project this year cut flows into the Klamath River for fish.