Native Organizers Alliance
Yesterday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Chairman of the Natural Resource Committee, and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced two House and Senate companion bills aimed at strengthening protection and advancing co-management of tribal cultural areas — the Tribal Cultural Areas System Act and the Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands Act. The following statement from Judith LeBlanc (Caddo), director of Native Organizers Alliance, an organization dedicated to driving policy change in Indian Country, can be quoted in-part or in-full.
“For thousands of years before settlers arrived, our Native ancestors protected and cultivated our lands. We pray for the earth as a living being, and understand we must work together to maintain balance with the natural world. Our lands are sacred.
But for too long, our sovereign nations have been excluded from decision-making processes at the federal level. Failure to consult with tribes on sacred sites, and gain their consent on land development and use of resources, has led to their desecration and destruction.
The Tribal Parity Act rights a historic wrong by recognizing the right of tribal governments to consult with the federal government on public lands that include tribal cultural sites. State and local governments already hold these rights in regards to federal public lands, but tribes have been left out of any decision making, in total disregard for their rights as sovereign nations.
The Tribal Cultural Areas Act would designate a Tribal Cultural Areas System made up of culturally significant sites on public lands. This designation empowers tribes to act as co-managers, and to protect and use these areas to practice their culture.
These bills are a critical step towards strengthening the protections of our sacred sites. The legislation would enable tribes and Native organizations to co-manage and better protect these cultural places where we have harvested foods, gathered medicines, prayed, and lived, since time began.”
About Native Organizers Alliance
Native Organizers Alliance taps into the political power of our people, and the wisdom of our ancestors, to drive change in Indian Country. We provide Native peoples with the training, resources, and connections that are needed to transform policy, strengthen community, and protect our sacred places.