Sacred Prayer Days mark Summer Solstice - Many sacred sites remain endangered

ICT editorial team

Solstice and the days before and after it mark the 2018 National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places

News Release

The Morning Star Institute

Washington, DC (6/20/18) -- Observances and ceremonies will be held across the land on the Summer Solstice, which is June 21 this year.

The Solstice and the days before and after it mark the 2018 National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places. The observance in Washington, D.C. will be held on the Solstice at 8:30 a.m., on the U.S. Capitol Grounds, Senate East Front, across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court on First Street, Northeast, at Constitution Avenue. (See details under Washington, D.C. in the listing by state on the following pages.)

Images from the Solstice in Washington DC

Descriptions of certain sacred places and threats they face, as well as times and places for public commemorations are listed in these pages. Some of the gatherings highlighted in this release are educational forums, not ceremonial, and are open to the general public. Those that are both educational and ceremonial usually are open to the public. Most ceremonies are conducted in private. (See listings on next pages or contact those listed for specific guidance.) In addition to those listed on these pages, there are myriad observances and prayers being offered at sacred places that are both under threat and not endangered at this time, but where privacy is needed.

“Native and non-Native Peoples gather at the Solstice and other times for ceremonies and events to honor sacred places. Everyone can participate in the National Prayer Days as a reminder to honor these precious lands and waters all the time by simply respecting them and not allowing them to be harmed,” said Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee). She is President of The Morning Star Institute, which has organized the Sacred Places Prayer Days since 2003.

“Observances are necessary,” she said, “in order to call attention to Native Peoples’ struggles with developers and others that are desecrating and harming Native sacred places.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that the First Amendment and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act do not provide a right of action for Native Peoples to protect sacred places in court, and said that Congress would have to enact a statute for that purpose.

“Developers and many federal agencies have taken the Supreme Court ruling to mean that the steal sign is on and they can run roughshod over Native Peoples’ collective and individual rights and responsibilities to protect sacred places and site-specific ceremonies,” said Dr. Harjo. “Native Peoples have had to cobble together laws and regulations to protect sacred places on a piecemeal basis. While courts often find these solutions to be insufficient, some courts have prevented development or held desecrators accountable under these and other laws.

“Today, shamefully, development seems to trump Native sacred places, and health, well-being and safety are being treated as expendable. Some of the strongest protections are being withdrawn or overrun unlawfully; consultation and other legal requirements are being ignored and undermined; and other available administrative and legislative strategies are being opposed and blocked.”

The Morning Star Institute – together with the Native American Rights Fund, the premiere Native legal organization, and the National Congress of American Indians, the largest national Indian and intertribal organization -- have called for a statutory cause of action, as well as a strengthened Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites, and have provided details to federal agencies on how they can maintain mission consistency and use existing laws and policies to protect Native sacred places. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has called on the U.S. to consult with and return sacred places to Native Peoples.

The NCAI membership and other Native Nations have called on federal agencies to review the manner in which they acquired jurisdiction regarding Native sacred places and whether such jurisdiction was taken with or without Native Peoples’ free, prior and informed consent. “This is the standard set by the world community of nations, when the United Nations approved the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Dr. Harjo. “An orderly process for protecting sacred places -- by returning them, jointly stewarding them or using agreed-upon methods to prevent desecration and repair damage -- would go a long way toward instilling confidence that the justice system can treat Native sacred places as well as it treats non-Native churches, which are fully accommodated, even on the public lands.”

Alabama: Wetumpka -- Hickory Ground Ceremonial and Burial Grounds

The Hickory Ground Tribal Town and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma are in urgent need of prayer to protect the Hickory Ground and surrounding sacred areas along the Coosa River in Wetumpka, Alabama.

Hickory Ground is a sacred ceremonial, historical and burial ground. Hickory Ground was the last Capitol of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation before forced removal along the trail of tears to Indian Territory (now, Oklahoma), where it continues to exercise its inherent sovereignty for the benefit of the Mvskoke.

Historic ceremonial grounds, burial grounds and individual tribal graves are located at Hickory Ground. Using its newly acquired federally-conferred sovereignty as a weapon, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians excavated over 60 known sets of human remains from Hickory Ground in order to develop its casino resort on the sacred land. Poarch is a group that was federally recognized in 1984 and falsely promised to protect Hickory Ground. Poarch has admitted that it lacks cultural or historical ties to the area or to Muscogee ways.

Due to its historical significance and the undisturbed human remains located there, Hickory Ground is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by the National Historic Preservation Act. The Native American human remains and cultural property also are subject to protection under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

On December 12, 2012, the Hickory Ground Tribal Town and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to protect the sacred Hickory Ground. Despite a Poarch motion for dismissal, the case still is pending before the court.

In February of 2013, at Poarch instigation, three citizens of Hickory Ground Tribal Town and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation were arrested while trying to access the ceremonial ground to pray for the Ancestors and charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. (Poarch wanted to add terrorism and other charges to the indictment, but those were not returned, and video evidence showed the Poarch claims to be unfounded. Two of the citizens were forced to accept plea agreements, while one continued through the legal system.)

On January 14, 2015, an Alabama jury did not agree with Poarch’s claims, dismissed a judge’s guilty verdict and upheld Hickory Ground Warrior Wayland Gray’s rights under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which guarantees access to sacred sites and the exercise of traditional Muscogee rights. The trial took place in the Elmore County District Court in Wetumpka, Alabama. The jury deliberated for less than one hour and returned a verdict of not guilty on both charges.

Continued prayer is needed to:

1) End to the desecration of Muscogee Ancestors and the sacred Hickory Ground.

2)Support Hickory Ground Tribal Town and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in their efforts to protect the ceremonial and burial grounds of their Ancestors.

3)Stop anyone from impeding the exercise of Ocevpofv Muscogeetraditional rights and access to sacred places.

4)Support Ocevpofv Muscogee citizens who may be persecuted for praying at Hickory Ground in the future.

For more information, contact: Roman Powell, Hickory Ground Warrior, at

Alaska: ANWR(See case update at Colorado - Native American Rights Fund, below

Arizona: Mount Graham, Dzil Nchaa Si An

Mount Graham is sacred to the Western Apache people and is known to the San Carlos Apache as Dzil Nchaa Si An. It is a holy landscape where Gaan or Mountain Spirits reside and ancestral Apache rest. It is a place of ceremonies and medicine plants, and home to the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel.

The Pinaleño Mountains or Mount Graham is a unique ecological treasure. It is the tallest mountain in southern Arizona and encompasses six different life zones from the valley floor to its peak at 10,720 ft. Called a "Sky Island" ecosystem, the old growth forests on Mount Graham's summit are the Arizona equivalent of rainforests. The abundant springs and high altitude meadows have offered sustenance and a source of healing to Apache people who live in the desert. The cool moist characteristics of the Mountain have nurtured 18 different plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

In the 1980s, the University of Arizona and its partners at the time, including the Vatican and the Smithsonian Institution, chose Mount Graham as the site to construct an observatory with seven large telescopes known as the Columbus Project. Beginning in 1988, the Arizona congressional delegation succeeded in gaining exemptions for the project from endangered species, environmental, historical preservation and other laws.

In 1989, the University of Arizona was granted a 20-year special use permit by the Coronado National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service, and appropriation riders kept the project flush with public benefits without having to abide by federal laws or regulations, including federal Indian laws intended to protect religious freedom, burial grounds and cultural properties. Vatican spokesmen stated that Mount Graham was not a religious or sacred place. University employees and lobbyists attempted to undermine the reputations of Apache religious leaders and practitioners, and retained at least one San Carlos tribal official to testify that the Mountain was not sacred or significant to the Apache Peoples.

For decades, Apache Peoples, scientists, conservationists and university students have resisted the University of Arizona's decision to build the telescopes on the Mountain's summit. Even though frequent cloud cover makes telescope viewing marginal and Mount Graham was ranked 38th in a study of astronomical sites in the U.S., the Arizona congressional delegation and the University have persisted with the project. Today, the construction of telescopes and resulting federal closure of the Mountain’s top are desecrating the Mountain and its irreplaceable relationship with Apache Peoples.

The struggle continues to protect the natural and cultural heritage of Mount Graham from the precedent-setting destruction still being caused by the University in building its observatory on Mount Graham. The efforts of cultural protection and environmental organizations and affected Tribes to protect the sacredness of Mount Graham continue unabated. The University of Arizona’s 20-year federal permit expired on April 19, 2009, although under federal law, once an applicant files a request for renewal, the permit stays in place until the agency makes a decision. As the expiration date approached, the Forest Service gave some indication that it might categorically exclude the renewal from written environmental analysis.

The Mt. Graham Coalition filed extensive comments and next heard that preparation of an EIS was under consideration. Indeed, preparation of an EIS was more than warranted. The conditions of Mount Graham have changed substantially since the permit was granted and the observatory is even less compatible with the religious and ecological importance of Mount Graham. Since the permit was granted, the “shape” of Mount Graham has been deemed eligible for placement on the national list of historic places. In addition, the Forest Service now acknowledges that Mount Graham is a Traditional Cultural Property to Western Apache people and has taken steps to consult (although it has a long way to go) with traditional Apache about the sacred nature of the Mountain and how to protect it.

After 20 years of construction, the large telescope project is still not complete and very serious questions remain about its importance, utility and function from an astronomical perspective. What is NOT in question is the continued offense to the Western Apache Peoples. Equally clear is the perilous status of the native Mount Graham red squirrel.

Further, several fires devastated the top of Mount Graham in past years. They were fought to protect the telescopes more than the ecosystem and, as a result, much damage was done to the Mountain that could have been avoided. The Forest Service has decided to thin the forest and otherwise manipulate the ecosystem to try to protect what remains and to restore what has been damaged.

Rather than doing the right thing and preparing an EIS to seriously study the question of renewing the permit for the observatory, the Forest Supervisor, on the eve of his departure this spring to assume a higher position in the agency, renewed the permit without any public process or, so far as is known, environmental analysis, let alone proper government to government consultation with the Western Apache Peoples. After some effort, the Mt. Graham Coalition obtained a copy of the permit.

In June of 2017, the Fry Fire burned thousands of acres on Mt. Graham. After the fire was put out, scientists could only identify 35 Mt. Graham red squirrels on the mountain, the only place they exist in the wild. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expressing concern that they may go extinct. This would be tragic; it is even more tragic that the Service did not do everything it could do earlier to protect this unique species and the mountain.

Prayers and diligence are needed now more than ever for Mount Graham. The ecosystem is under serious threat from climate change and other patterns of destruction; the sacredness of Mount Graham continues to be challenged and, while the Mountain is able to protect itself, supporters can help to protect it and the living beings and spirits who cherish it.

For more information, contact the Mount Graham Coalition, Roger Featherstone, President, at, or Dinah Bear, Secretary, at

California: Berkeley West Berkeley Shell Mound and Village Site

The Ohlone Family Bands are engaged in a struggle to protect their sacred West Berkeley Shellmound. The Shellmound and Village site has been threatened by development of a five-story commercial and residential building, six-story garage and parking lot spread over 2.2 acres. The construction, increased population and traffic, greater demands on water and the noise, air, water and ground pollution would desecrate the Ohlone Shellmound and Village site. The Shellmound and Village site is the oldest known settlement in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has been a Berkeley city landmark for nearly 20 years.

“We oppose any desecration of our sacred site,” read a December 2017 statement from the Ohlone Family Bands. “Our sacred sites are not for sale. We will not allow our ancestors to be disturbed.”

The Ohlone Family Bands are the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, represented by Corrina Gould; the Himre-n-Ohlone, represented by Ruth Orta; and the Medina Family, represented by Vincent Medina Jr. The Bands rejected an unacceptable offer from the developer, saying they “stand together to oppose the development,” including a “limited” or “alternative” development of the sacred place.

“The West Berkeley Shellmound is the site of the oldest Ohlone village around the shores of San Francisco Bay. It has been archaeologically dated to be more than 5,700 years old. This is the very first place along the Bay shores that Ohlone people lived and made their home. This site is older than the pyramids in Egypt and it is older than Jerusalem.”

Explaining that Ohlone People are “traditionally organized politically, genealogically and socially into kinship groups or family clans,” they stated that the “families used Indigenous protocol in this process and they collaborated and consulted with each other….our collective opposition to the project was clearly communicated earlier through our respective public comment letters on the draft Environmental Impact Report. These letters were sent to the City of Berkeley Planning Department earlier this year….If any other families, or clans are in consultation with the developer, we want to unequivocally state that they are doing so without (our) communication” or “consent.”

The developer’s Native consultant on the project is President Andrew Galvan (Chochenyo Ohlone) of the Ohlone Indian Tribe Inc., a non-profit organization that owns the Ohlone Indian Cemetery in Fremont, California. He declined public comment on the Ohlone Family Bands’ position at the time.

The developer attempted to have the project fast-tracked this year by the City of Berkeley, but the application was denied on June 5. Ohlone Elder Gould shared news of the Ohlone Family Bands’ victory in this way:

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to THANK all of you for standing with us in the campaign to #SaveWestBerkeleyShellmound. Today the City of Berkeley Denied the SB35 fast track application that would have desecrated the West Berkeley Shellmound. I want to thank the City of Berkeley for their commitment to honor Indigenous peoples. To all our supporters, I want to thank you for your strong prayers, faith and commitment to Protect the West Berkeley Shellmound. I know that this small victory from the City of Berkeley is because of all the faith, strong prayers, and hard work that so many of you have shared so generously with us throughout the years. I hope that we can all take a breath and recognize the MIRACLE that we have all been part of creating. So grateful to the thousands of you that sent in letters of support, painted signs, created maps, shared research, organized events and fundraisers, attended Ceremonies, brought traditional medicines, donated money, shared food, attended public meeting and testified in public meetings…took photographs and shared your photographs on social media etc., etc. The Lisjan/Ohlone peoples sincerely thank you for standing with us on this struggle. Although this battle is far from being over, we should CELEBRATE our win today and congratulate one another. Lastly, I want to thank our Great Creator and the Ohlone Ancestors for loving us and for standing with us on this fight and we know that they will continue to stand with us as we continue to protect the Sacred. Thank you again and many blessings to all of you and your families. #WeWillWin,#WeAreStillHere,

#AncestorsHaveOurBacks#ProtectWestBerkeleyShellmound, #Lisjan#Ohlone.

Morning Star appreciates Dr. Able R. Gomez assembling this information. For more detail and updates, visit:

California: El Cajon,Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Host of the

World Peace and Prayer Day Honoring Sacred Sites

June 18-21, 2018

California: NeedlesFort Mojave Indian Tribe

Observance at the Topock Maze area

Saturday, June 23, 2018, 6:00 a.m.

Meet at the AhaMakav Cultural Society Office

10225 S. Harbor Avenue, Suite #7, Mohave Valley, Arizona

At 5:30 a.m., and carpool from there to the Maze site

The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe remains in urgent need of prayer to protect the Maze and surrounding sacred areas along the Lower Basin of the Colorado River. The AhaMakav “People of the River” are the keepers of the River. The Colorado River is the origin of our peoples. The River is sacred, water is life. The River is spiritual.

There is a timeless flow of oral traditions and cultural connections to the River. The River must be viewed holistically, there needs to be a balance between our traditional lifeways, reliance on the River and the economic uses of the River. There are many threats to the River: climate change, resource depletion, over-allocation and contamination. As a result, those that depend on the River -- animals, plants, fish, tribes, farmers and communities – are suffering.

Tribal traditional values must be taken into equal account, along with western science in relationship to the management of the River.

This trajectory of increasing anguish must be changed. The Maze area -- in connection with the Colorado River, landscape area and all things above and below ground -- is both a physical manifestation and a spiritual pathway for the afterlife. It has always been and will always be, an integral and significant part of the Mojave way of life, beliefs, traditions, culture and religion now and into the future.

The Mojave people will observe the Prayer Day at the Topock Maze site. We will meet at the AhaMakav Cultural Society Office, 10225 S. Harbor Avenue, Suite #7, Mohave Valley, AZ 86440 at 5:30 a.m., and carpool from there to the Maze site.

Pacific Gas & Electric, by its ownership and operation of the Topock Natural Gas Compressor Station near Needles, California, over the last 50 years, has polluted the groundwater under and around the Maze with hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical that can cause numerous human and ecological health problems. The station was placed in this sensitive location long before tribes had input into the management of their sacred areas.

The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe has been fighting for 14 years on several fronts.

First, to see that the Interim Measures to protect the River, the Groundwater and Soil Remedy design and other actions at the sacred area are done through consultation with affected tribes and in as culturally appropriate a manner as possible. The Tribe has had to file two lawsuits (2005 and 2011), now both settled, to enforce its rights and protect the area during the remediation. Through the settlements, the Tribe has been able to return part of the sacred area to tribal ownership, receive independent technical support, and build tribal project staffing capacity, among other provisions.

Second, the Tribe has fought to see that the lead agencies accord the area the respect and recognition it so richly deserves. In 2007, portions of the project site were designated as a Riparian and Cultural Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and the Topock-Needles Special Cultural Resource Management area (SCRMA) was designated, under the BLM Resource Management Plan 2007.

In 2011, the Department of Toxic Substance Control made a finding that the Topock Cultural Area is an historic resource under state law and the BLM determined that a Traditional Cultural Property or property of traditional religious and cultural significance within a 1,600-acre Area of Potential Effect is eligible for listing on the National Register under Criterion A, as part of what tribes have identified as a larger area of tribal traditional and cultural importance.

Over the past four years, the Tribes have gone through a series of design reviews for the Groundwater Final Remedy -- 30%, 60% and Final 100 % design -- and a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report was needed to address the increasing impacts that were identified during the design process. The Final SEIR was approved on April 23, 2018. With this approval, this will allow the Regulatory Agencies -- California State Department of Toxics Substance Control and the U.S. Interior Department -- to direct PG&E to move forward with the mobilization and start of construction of the final remedy to clean up the toxic plume at Topock.

This construction will be done in three phases and will take approximately five years to complete. The 1st phase is scheduled to mobilize in June 2018, with construction to begin in October 2018, altering the landscape and sacred area forever.

Past, current and proposed remedial actions, taken together, create continuing cumulative adverse impacts to the Mojave people, sacred landscape and tribal religious beliefs, which cannot be fully mitigated. In addition, development of a Soil Remedy design was completed in August 2015 and a third addendum is being developed along with a risk assessment, which will be completed in August 2018. This third addendum will determine what other remedial actions will take place to the sacred lands at Topock, in addition to the Groundwater Final Remedy construction.

Continued prayer is needed for:

  1. Tribal Spiritual Vigilance -- participating Tribal Governments: Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Chemehuevi Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes and Cocopah Tribe.
  2. Forgiveness for any continuing desecration that will occur during construction activities and until the offending facilities, including the interim measures treatment plant finally is removed and until other required restoration of the landscape occurs.
  3. DOI and DTSC to exercise their continued independent judgment and inclusion of the interested Tribes in the construction, operations, maintenance and restoration phases of the Topock project and continued funding for tribal participation. (Cleanup to take an estimated 30 years or longer during the groundwater and soils remediation.)
  4. BLM to improve its management of the area and secure funding to complete necessary land management plans, such as the ACEC Management Plan, completion of the TCP designation, and to uphold its trust responsibilities to the participating tribal governments in protection of their trust assets, protection of cultural resources and ongoing meaningful inclusion during 106 Consultation for the duration of the cleanup.
  5. Additional sacred lands in this area to be repatriated to the Tribe and/or co-managed.

This issue is national in scope: the Maze has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978 and is formally recognized as nationally significant. Moreover, the failure of state and federal agencies to fully consider direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to Native Sacred Places during pollution remediation activities remains a national problem requiring oversight by Congress. Pray that attention and action occur at the highest levels.


For more information, contact: Nora McDowell, Fort Mojave Topock Project Manager at (928) 768-4475 or by Email:

Colorado: BoulderNative American Rights Fund

1506 Broadway, Front Lawn

Sunrise Ceremony

Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 7:00 a.m.

National Day of Prayer for the Protection of Native American Sacred Places

As part of its mission, the Native American Rights Fund has long advocated for sacred site protection, religious freedom efforts, and cultural rights. NARF’s current work to protect sacred places includes actions on behalf of Bears Ears National Monument and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge**.

Bears Ears contains hundreds of thousands of objects of historic importance including many cultural objects and sacred places. Tribes in the region continue to travel to Bears Ears to collect plants, minerals, objects, and water for religious and cultural ceremonies and medicinal purposes. In fact, Bears Ears is so culturally and spiritually significant that some ceremonies use items that can only be harvested from Bears Ears. It is in every way a home to the region’s Native peoples.

President Trump has declared his intention to remove the designations in place to protect this most important place. NARF fights for the Native nations who have spent years working to protect their sacred, ancestral lands. We will not allow the rights of our Native nations and our local people to be willfully pushed to the side for the benefit of corporate interests.

Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit—the sacred place where life begins. That is what the Gwich’in people call the coastal plain in the Arctic Refuge that is their home. The untouched region is a gift from the Creator. Long an area of conflict, the Gwich’in Steering Committee has worked tirelessly for decades to protect this sacred place. Despite these efforts, recent legislation opened the area for oil and gas development. NARF is serving the Gwich’in Steering Committee as they determine how to best continue to fight this battle for their most sacred place and home.

Please show your support for the protection of sacred places and join us for a sunrise ceremony that will be held June 21 at 7:00 am, on the front lawn of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Boulder, Colorado. Speakers will include Native elders and spiritual leaders as well as NARF attorneys involved in sacred places work. Speakers will be followed by a moment of silence in honor of the many sacred places that are being threatened, damaged, and destroyed today. The program will last about one hour and will be followed by a potluck breakfast. We ask you to please bring food and/or beverages to share at the completion of the program. Sharing of nourishment together is part of the ceremony.

If you have any questions about the ceremony, please contact Katrina Mora at (303) 447-8760) or visit the NARF website ().

Hawaii:Hawai’i IslandMauna Kea/ Mauna A Wakea, Hawai’i Island

Big IslandSolstice, June 21, Thursday

\*Mauna Kea Anaina Hou Asks for People to:\*  

Blow Your Conch at 9:00 a.m. (Hawaii time)

Send Prayers throughout the Solstice Day

9:00 a.m. (HST), Oral Argument in Telescope CaseSupreme Court Courtroom, Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor

417 South King Street, Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii

June 21 is this year’s Solstice, a time for many Native Peoples’ summer ceremonies at and for sacred places. It also is the day when the Hawaii Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on permitting a gargantuan telescope to be constructed on the sacred Mauna Kea, a presently dormant volcano on the Island of Hawai’i, which is expected to erupt in the future. The oral argument will start at 9:00 a.m. in Honolulu on the Island of Oahu.

The Thirty Meter Telescope -- named for the distance across its intended giant lens -- is proposed by TMT International Observatory, Hawaii and the University of Hawaii as the largest, most costly telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. The Hawaii high court blocked the construction permit in 2015 for the failure of the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources to follow proper procedure.

“What an auspicious day to be assigned to come together for Mauna Kea,” said Pua Case (Kanaka Maoli), who describes herself as a mother, teacher, chanter, dancer and cultural practitioner with Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, which is a party to the lawsuit opposing a conservation district use application for TMT construction. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Sierra Club and others also are parties opposing the TMT.

Pua Case explains that they are guardians, caretakers and protectors who stand for Mauna A Wakea (Mountain Connected to Sky), which is known as Mauna Kea (White Mountain). In the spirit of the Solstice ceremonial time, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou asks for “prayers and support as we present the oral arguments addressing the decision of the (Board) to grant the construction permit to build the 18-story (TMT) on the Northern Plateau of the mountain.” Those contesting the TMT permit are gathering at 8:00 a.m. (Hawaii time) at the Kamehameha Statue and asking for people to “blow your pu (conch)” at 9:00 a.m., when the oral argument is scheduled to begin, and to pray during the Solstice Day for Mauna A Wakea.

Mauna Kea, one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawai’i, makes up more than 20% of the Big Island. It has not erupted in 4,600 years, but few deny that eruptions will occur. Mauna Kea rises 13,800 feet above sea level and, if measured from its base on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, it is the tallest mountain in the world, at more than 33,000 feet high. Once covered by glaciers, it holds Hawaii’s only alpine lake, the sacred Lake Waiau at its summit, which is sometimes snow-capped when it is summer below.

“What I think is very important and fascinating for people to know today is that the glacier is still here,” as Kealoha Pisciotta (Kanaka Maoli) of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou is quoted at from the film Mauna Kea – Temple Under Siege.. “It’s just, just below the surface. It’s the source of our aquifer for Hawai’i Island.” She and others share knowledge of the sacred mountain’s kapua (water deities for snow, mist and lake), as well as about efforts to stop desecration and vandalism of spiritual shrines and burial markers; to restore over-grazed indigenous plant species; and to maintain the traditional knowledge and cultural integrity of Mauna A Wakea.

Pua Case asks “all who participate in Solstice ceremonies to send a prayer and intention our way. Please stand with us for Mauna Kea from wherever you are. Mauna Kea is sacred and we are still here! We are thankful and all in this together.”

For more information, contact: the Mauna Kea Legal Defense Fund at

Montana: Tsistsistas Solstice-Equinox Seasonal Celebrations

Noavose (Holy Mountain, Giving Medicine Mountain)

Rosebud Creek Battlefield, June 17

Northern Cheyenne White River Celebration, June 24

Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument Memorial, June 25

The Summer Solstice marks the start of a ceremonial season for the Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) and other Native Peoples. It is the time when the Tsistsistas begin sacred pilgrimages to Noavose (Holy Mountain, Giving Medicine Mountain). Naovose has been recognized for centuries as hallowed ground to many Native Nations, and all are instructed in their own histories and traditions to leave any weapons or ill-will at the bottom of the Sacred Mountain and enter in peace.

Known today as Bear Butte (Mato Paha, in Lakota), it is in Oceti Sakowin Treaty Territory, under the 1851 Horse Creek Treaty -- also known by the U.S. as Fort Laramie, a military post near the Horse Creek that was too small for the thousands who gathered to make Treaties with each other and then with the U.S. The Native Nations were Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, Sioux and Shoshone (the latter made Treaties with other Native Nations, but not with the U.S.). The 1851 Treaty also is called the Great Smoke, because there were so many prayer offerings in the Treaty Camps that the smoke from burning cedar, sage and other medicines could be seen from a great distance.

Bear Butte is designated as a South Dakota State Park, and is inadequately protected. Desecration, interference with ceremonies and damage to the sacred place, including its lake, springs and medicines, have led to several Native Nations adopting a strategy of buying parcels of Bear Butte land as they become available. Today, deeds to some acres of Bear Butte are held by the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana and the Lower Brule, Rosebud and other Sioux Tribes in South Dakota.

Morning Star appreciates Dr. Leo Killsback (Northern Cheyenne), who has written the following about activities at Noavose and other sacred places from the perspective of ongoing Northern Cheyenne traditions: The summer solstice is a time of celebration. It signifies the start of the ceremonial cycle, which lasts until the autumnal Equinox. Traditionally, this season was celebrated with the communal buffalo hunts and buffalo dance ceremonies. Here, at Noavose, the Cheyennes conduct rituals and fasting ceremonies. Today and locally on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, the Cheyennes host annual events, ceremonies and dances at the White River Cheyenne Indian Days celebration located in Busby, Montana. This celebration commemorates the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho victories at the Battle of the Rosebud Creek of June 17, 1876, and at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

Rosebud Battlefield State Park is a National Historic Landmark and located 38 miles south of Busby, Montana. The battle is known to the Cheyennes as Where the Girl Saved Her Brother. It is remembered as the place where a young woman by the name of Buffalo Calf Road Woman rode into the heat of battle to save her brother Chief Who Comes in Sight. The battle ensued when a coalition of Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho warriors rode 38 miles south from the location of their camp in present-day Busby to intercept 1,000 soldiers and 200 Crow and Shoshone scouts under the command of General George Crook. Today, the Northern Cheyennes host a run from the campsite, Busby, to the Rosebud Battlefield in honor of the warriors who defeated General Crook and his soldiers and scouts. This year the run from Busby to the Rosebud Battlefield is sponsored by the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Historic Preservation Office: contact Goldstein Little Eagle at (406) 477-4832 or The event hosts speeches, traditional ceremonies and a feast.

Little Bighorn National MonumentMemorial is located 27 miles west of Busby. The battle is known to the Cheyennes as Where Long Hair was Wiped Out. First, horseback riders from the Oglala Lakota, Rosebud Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux nations make their way through South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana to participate in the events along the Little Bighorn River. They are joined by the Northern Cheyenne horseback riders. The second group is the Northern Cheyenne Little Bighorn Runners, who begin their relay run from the sacred site, the Deer Medicine Rocks. The Deer Medicine Rocks is a National Historic Landmark and is remembered by the Cheyennes for a number of reasons. It is a series of sandstone rocks that were struck by lightning. It has numerous rock art images and petroglyphs dating as far back as 4000 years ago. The Deer Medicine Rocks is also the location of a camp of the Cheyenne, Lakota, Arapaho alliance that took part in the Battles of the Rosebud and the Little Bighorn. At this camp, the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Arapaho people held a grand Sun Dance where Hunkpapa Chief Sitting Bull had a vision of their victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Each year a group runs from this sacred place, following the historic Warrior Trail to the Little Bighorn National Monument. Tribal elders and leaders conduct prayers and rituals throughout the trek, and conclude their event at Little Bighorn. The run was previously sponsored by *Yellow Bird Programs; (*406) 477-8781;

The largest event of this season is the Northern Cheyenne White River Celebration, which is held at the powwow grounds in Busby, this year on June 24. The event includes horseraces, footraces, a horseshoe tournament, a basketball tournament, hand games, a fun-run and walk, and traditional dances including victory dances, scalp dances, war bonnet dances, war dances, gourd dances, buffalo dances and contest dances. The event also holds a community feast. Please contact Teanna Limpy at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Historic Preservation Office at 406) 477-4839 or by email

Busby, Montana is the location of several sacred places. Two sites in particular include the Two Moons Monument, which stands atop a hill overlooking the village of Busby. This same hill is the location of the burial site of repatriated remains of the Northern Cheyenne men, women, and children who were killed at Fort Robinson in 1879. Another site is the location of a monument dedicated to the Northern Cheyenne spiritual leader and medicine man named Ice. The Cheyennes remember Ice as a remarkable person with near supernatural powers. For this reason, the village of Busby is also known as Magic City.

Nevada:Calico BasinSunrise Prayer for Southern Paiute Sacred Places

\*Solstice, June 21, Thursday, Calico Basin\*  

*Red Rock Conservation Area*

*Meet at 5:00 a.m. (Sunrise is at 5:25 a.m.)* *Hike at 6:00/6:30a.m. – 7:30/8:00 a.m.*

Nevada:Los VegasPrayer Gathering at Nu Wav Kaiv

Friends of Gold Butte

\*June 24, Sunday, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.\*  

*Community Picnic*

*Spring Mountain Visitors Center*

2525 Kyle Canyon Road, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Sacred Places Prayer Day will be observed with a Sunrise Prayer at Calico Basin on the Solstice, June 21, starting at 5:00 a.m., to be followed by a hike and discussion.

The Sunrise Prayer for Southern Paiute Sacred Places and the following activity will focus on “our sacred places here in Southern Nevada,” said Fawn Douglas (Las Vegas Paiute), organizer of the Sunrise Prayer on the Solstice, and a Member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Gold Butte. “Our Prayer also is for all Native Nations’ Sacred Places,” she said, “and we stand in solidarity with Bears Ears and all that are under attack at this time.“

Among the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) Sacred Places to be honored are: Gold Butte, Basin and Range, Gypsum Cave, Tule Springs, Red Rock, Sloan Canyon, Desert National Wildlife Refuge and Valley of Fire.

The Friends of Gold Butte will host a second event, a Prayer Gathering at NuWav Kaiv and a Community Picnic, on June 24, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., “consisting of prayer, songs and teachings about these lands.” The Friends of Gold Butte asks people to “please bring a dish to add to the fun. This event is family friendly.”

The Friends of Gold Butte also made the following statement: We first and foremost recognize that we are on the Indigenous land of the Nuwuvi, the Southern Paiute. We are hosting a gathering in the place of the Nuwuvi creation, Nu Wav Kaiv (Snow Mountain), also known as Spring Mountain.

As many prayer events are happening across the nation, we are gathering to pay respect to this time and promote the protection of the lands around us. This month also marks the anniversary of the Antiquities Act, which was put in place by President Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. The Antiquities Act established the first legal protection of cultural and natural resources in the United States. The Act was used to designate Nevada’s newest monuments: Gold Butte and Basin & Range.

For more information about the Sunrise Prayer and hike on the Solstice, June 21, or about the Prayer Gathering or the Community Picnic,June 24, contact*:* Jaina Moan, Director, Friends of Gold Butte, at or at (702) 208-8377.

New York: LiverpoolOnondaga Lake

\*Willow Bay at Onondaga Lake Park\*  

*Picnic Ground*

*Thursday, June 21, 6:00 p.m.*

Traditional Onoñ da'ge'ga opening

The public is invited to gather for an observation of Sacred Places Prayer Day at Onondaga Lake at 6:00 p.m. on the Solstice, June 21.

“We will be gathering at a sacred place where the world of Peace was brought to our People,” said Awhenjiosta Myers (Onondaga), who is organizing the event. “All are welcome to join us in a prayer for Peace.”

The Traditional Onoñ da'ge'ga opening will begin at 6:00 p.m.

For more information, contact: Awhenjiosta Myers at

New York: New York CityCeremony for Sacred Places

Thursday, June 21, at Noon

Hudson River at Bethune & West Streets

The Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective invites the public to gather at Noon on the Solstice, June 21, for a Ceremony for Sacred Places, at the Hudson River at Bethune & West Streets.

In addition to the Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective, the gathering is sponsored by the LaMaMa's Indigenous Initiative (Consultants - Safe Harbors and Spiderwoman Theatre), the First Nations Theatre Guild and the Silvercloud Singers*.*

For more information, contact: Safe Harbors’ Managing Director Kevin Tarrant (HoChunk and Hopi) at and Artistic Director Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna/Rappahannock) at

New York:VictorGanondagan State Historic Site

GanondaganAt the Great White Pine Tree of Peace

 \*Solstice, June 21, Thursday, at Noon\*   

At Ganondagan we will observe the Summer Solstice and Sacred Prayer Day, continuing to honor and protect this Sacred Seneca Onӧndowa’:ga:’(people of the great hill) site..

We gather under the Great White Pine at the head of the Trail of Peace at Noon, Thursday, June 21, Solstice. The Great White Pine is a symbol of the Hodinӧhsӧ*:ni’* evergreen’s everlasting four white roots growing in the four cardinal directions. In some of our artists’ renderings, they place an eagle at the top of the tree, indicating it will warn us of the approach of danger. The eagle is our messenger from our Creator.

The words we use are referred to as Ganӧnyok (Gaw -nonh-nyonk) often referred to as the words that come before all others. The words are greetings and thanksgiving to our relatives for all life on earth and in the universe. Ganӧnyok is used to open and close all of our ceremonial gatherings, at the beginning of a ceremony they are used to bring our minds together.

We opened the Seneca Art & Culture Center in 2015. Our new building includes a gallery, auditorium, classrooms, orientation theater, caterer’s kitchen, office and gift shop. Our newest exhibition is “Hodinӧhsӧ*:ni’ Women from the Time of Creation”*

Morning Star appreciates G. Peter Jemison (Seneca), who wrote the good words above. For more information, contact:

Ohio:OregoniaFort Ancient Earthworks

Solstice Sunrise

Thursday, June 21, at 5:45 a.m.

Ohio:Peebles Serpent Mound Park

Feast of the Setting Sun: A Solstice Dinner and Celebration

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ohio:Chillicothe Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

Ohio:Newark/Heath Newark Earthworks

The world-famous Serpent Mound is one of two effigy mounds in Ohio, and the largest known serpentine mound anywhere in the world. Nearly a quarter of a mile long, the unwinding snake is made of earthen walls that are three feet tall and form the Serpent from its spiral tail to its mouth wide open and preparing to swallow a large egg, which some think represents an eclipse. Serpent Mound is aligned to the summer Solstice, when the sun sets directly in front of the earth snake’s head. A “crypto-explosion” crater cradles the valley where Serpent Mound lays on a sandstone bluff -- a visitor may walk down toward the Brush Creek and look back up at the point where Serpent Mound ends, and see a snake headed prow of stone jutting out over the water below. For more information, see: At Serpent Mound Park on June 23, there will be a Feast of the Setting Sun: A Solstice Dinner and Celebration of Serpent Mound. For directions and registration details, contact:

Along with Serpent Mound, there are three major earthworks in Ohio that represent Indigenous genius, accomplishment and outstanding universal value: Newark Earthworks in Newark, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe and Fort Ancient Earthworks in Oregonia. Native Peoples are actively participating in the efforts to attain global recognition of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as preparations continue for the Earthworks to become the next U.S. World Heritage Site in a serial nomination consisting of the Fort Ancient, Hopewell and Newark Earthworks. These last remaining earthworks in Ohio are being considered for designation as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and a proposal is being prepared. For more information, visit:

Two thousand years ago, Indigenous People living in the Ohio Valley region built more than 600 spectacular complexes of earthworks consisting of several precise geometric shapes each with specific meaning and purpose. The people constructed enormous earth architecture, carefully designed and landscaped, situated near creeks and rivers on high ground and built to the scale of the physical world around them. Many of the earthworks had walls varying from 3- to 30-feet tall, so that once inside the earthworks, people experience a level horizon. Earthen walkways connected the earthworks in purposeful, meaningful ways. The earthworks were built in precise geometric shapes. Some earthworks circles were more than 1000 feet in diameter, with entryways facing the northeast. Other shapes include squares with rounded corners and polygon earthworks made up of circles and squares (). Many had long ceremonial walkways of earthen walls up to 300-feet long, originally connecting distinctive earthworks to each other. Two known earthworks sites are built in the shape of octagons, with entryways and barrier mounds standing at the entrances. These ceremonial earthworks are earthen architecture, and not burial mounds. These mounds varied in size; some were large conical mounds and others were huge flat-topped rectangles.

These stunning earthworks were clustered in the Ohio Valley, making it a sacred landscape, with several uses: as ceremonial centers, for stickball and other sacred games and as gathering places. Distances between Newark Earthworks can be measured in multiples of 1,054-feet, the diameter of several of the large circles. Earthworks were situated and designed in alignment with the seasonal cycles or the moon. The earthen enclosures described below, as well as the thousands of effigy mounds, earthen architecture and burial mounds that Indigenous Peoples built elsewhere, were intact and undisturbed for thousands of years, under the stewardship of Native Peoples. This is documented in surveys of many of these places in the mid-1800s, and findings were published in 1848 in the Smithsonian Institution’s first volume of Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. () One of the implications of this documentation is that the Native Nations, which were in Ohio until their forced removal in 1840, were the last good stewards and protectors of the earthworks landscape.

By 1900, most of these sacred places had been destroyed by American settlement and excavations.

Today, Native Peoples who were wrenched from their homes, some on the Trail of Death, are returning to their ancestral lands and resuming stewardship of their ancestral homes and these ancient places. Most earthworks groups that have been plowed down can be recovered through new technology and the sites preserved for future generations, such as the Junction (Earthworks) Group:

The Newark Earthworks consists of four separate earthworks built over a four-square-mile area connected by wide walkways bordered with three-feet-high earthen walls. The two still standing are the only two original geometric earthworks in Ohio that have been preserved. Waterways border the site on three sides. The Octagon Earthworks is made up of a circle with an area encompassing 20 acres, and a flat, open-corner octagon with an area of 50 acres, shaped by smooth, straight or gracefully curving six-feet-tall walls with a 20-foot base, connected to each other by a straight ceremonial walkway. The Octagon Earthworks is an astronomical calendar observing the “Metonic cycle” – the 18-year and 219-day lunar cycle, marking the lunar standstill moonrises, observed at ancient places around the globe. The “octagon” actually has seven external entryways and one leading to the ceremonial walkway connecting the earth octagon and circle. Two miles away, the Great Circle is 1200 feet in diameter, and had a clay-lined 14-foot deep ditch, which may have held water. The Ellipse was a walled burial ground. An enormous square with rounded corners and entryways toward the other earthworks stood between the Great Circle and the Ellipse. The Ellipse burial ground was cleared for canals, railroads and heavy industry, and the Ancestors were deliberately excavated, although what happened to them remains undocumented. The Newark Earthworks are acknowledged to be sacred places. The Great Circle is a state park, open to the public. The Octagon Earthwork is leased to a private country club and open to the public four days per year; visitors may walk the perimeter of the Octagon, and can walk onto the site only on days when golf can’t be played due to weather or greens maintenance. The Ellipse burial ground has been split into several parcels and privately owned and zoned for industrial use. A community grassroots effort led to an historical marker to inform the public; there continue to be advocates for preserving the creek side of the Ellipse as green space. Today, only two Newark Earthworks remain standing: the Octagon Earthworks and the Great Circle. Several large conical mounds have been preserved ().

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is made up of six sites in and around the city of Chillicothe, where once existed the largest concentration of earthworks complexes anywhere in the world. Enormous geometric earthen enclosures were placed twelve miles along the Scioto River. The six sites are: Hopewell Mound Group, Mound City Group, Hopeton Earthworks, Seip Earthworks, Spruce Hill Earthworks, and High Bank Earthworks. Some of the Hopewell mounds and earthen architecture have earthen walls up to 12-feet high and circles 1000-feet across. An astronomical alignment along three of these mounds, pointing towards a southwestern corner entryway of the central enclosure, is a dramatic view, casting the entire complex into vivid contrast. Mound City is the name for the central enclosure, a rounded-cornered square that was one of the burial grounds alongside the River. Almost entirely destroyed during World War I by the construction of training camps and industrial sites, it was rebuilt from the original foundations and above surviving parts of mounds during the 1930s and in another major effort during the 1960s and 1970s. Most of what is documented about the Hopewell Culture has been derived from the cultural items found during the excavations of rectangular burial mounds from the 1890 through the 1950s.