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Sacred Sites: Prayers for All Victims of the Wallow Fire, Man or Beast


The Wallow Fire, the largest in Arizona history, has been burning for 20 days and scorched nearly half a million acres of pine forest in the White Mountains, according to Reuters.

On June 18 the more than 4,400 firefighters who are battling the blaze will get some spiritual help from neighboring New Mexico, which borders the Wallow Fire. Members of Rain Cloud, a grassroots group dedicated to enhancing the well-being of off-reservation Indians in and around Albuquerque, will send up prayers on Saturday for the 2011 National Day of Prayer to Protect Native Sacred Places.

“Unity Through Integrity” is Rain Cloud’s motto, and that’s the spirit with which members of this organization that serves off-reservation Indians will immerse themselves in prayer for “the Wallow fire in Arizona and for all the lives, two legged, four legged, winged creatures, the flora and the fauna that are affected by this fire,” the group said in a release.

Group members and others are invited to gather at 6 p.m. at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 505-268-9557, to pray for both victims of the fire and to “honor the sacred connections between Indian people and Mother Earth,” the release states. Refreshments will be served after the ceremony.

Rain Cloud, founded in 2009, took its name from the American Indian “universal symbol for potential, growth, nurturance and life sustainability,” the group says on the website of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.

American Indians comprise 11 percent of New Mexico’s population, according to Rain Cloud, with about 60,000 Native people living in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. The group’s overall goal is to seek culturally appropriate alternatives to medication and incarceration for people with “behavioral health issues,” the group says, in answer to the fact that “racism, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, alcohol and substance abuse, and violence—along with a lack of resources and the absence of a united community—have had a disastrous impact on Indians in Albuquerque.”