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National Sacred Places Prayer Days Starts June 16

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Observances and ceremonies will be held across the country from June 16-24 as part of National Sacred Places Prayer Days.

“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 and Hodulgee Muscogee, 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.”

Over the coming days Indian Country Today Media Network will be featuring some of these sacred places.

“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,” Harjo said in a release. “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.”

The first prayer service is being held on the Quad at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California by the California-Pacific Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) of The United Methodist Church on June 16 at 7:15 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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A World Peace and Prayer Day will be held on June 16 at Gray Horn Butte (Devil's Tower) in the Black Hills of Wyoming and on June 17 at Medicine Wheel. On June 18, the gathering will move to Grand Teton National Park, which will begin a four-day event to bring attention to the need to protect the remaining wild buffalo. "They are in constant danger of being massacred when caught off park property," says Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation keeper of the sacred white buffalo calf pipe.

Then on June 21, the group will join in prayer with thousands in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

On June 19, the National Congress of American Indians will hold a Sunrise Ceremony during its Mid-Year Session.

Throughout prayer days, prayers will be offered at 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.