Sacred Places-A little late
Jun 21, 2008 11:14 PDT
JUNE 20-21 SET FOR 2008 NATIONAL SACRED PLACES PRAYER DAYS
Washington, DC (6/16/08)—Observances and ceremonies will be held across
the country on June 20 and 21 to mark the 2008 National Days of Prayer
to Protect Native American Sacred Places. Times and places for public
commemorations are listed in the following pages. Some of the gatherings
highlighted in this release are educational forums, not religious
ceremonies, and are open to the general public. Others are ceremonial
and may be conducted in private. In addition to those listed below,
there will be commemorations and prayers offered at sacred places that
are under threat at this time.
“Native and non-Native people nationwide gather at this time for
Solstice ceremonies. We honor sacred places, with a special emphasis on
the need for Congress to build a door to the courts for Native nations
to protect our churches,” said Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee
Muscogee). She is President of The Morning Star Institute, which
organizes the National Sacred Places Prayer Days. This will be the sixth
of the National Prayer Days to Protect Native American Sacred Places.
The observance in Washington, D.C., will be held on June 20 at 8:00 a.m.
on the United States Capitol Grounds, West Front Grassy Area (see
details under the Washington, D.C. listing below). The first National
Prayer Day was conducted on June 20, 2003, on the U.S. Capitol West Lawn
and nationwide to emphasize the need for Congress to enact a cause of
action to protect Native sacred places. That need still exists.
“Many Native American sacred places are being damaged because Native
nations do not have equal access under the First Amendment to defend
them,” said Ms. Harjo. “All other people in the United States have the
First Amendment to protect their churches. Only traditional Native
Americans cannot get into the courthouse through the Freedom of Religion
Clauses. That simply must change as a matter of fairness and equity.
Native nations today have to cobble together protections based on
defenses intended for other purposes. Those may permit lawsuits, but
they do not provide a place at the table when development is being
contemplated, and there is no guarantee that a lawsuit won’t be tossed
out by the Supreme Court for lack of a tailor-made cause of action.”
The Supreme Court told Congress in 1988 that it had to enact a statutory
right of action, if it wanted to protect Native sacred places. “Twenty
years have passed without Congress creating that door to the courthouse
for Native Americans,” said Ms. Harjo, “and some of these places cannot
withstand many more years of legal and physical onslaughts.
“Native and non-Native people are gathering, again, to call on anyone
who will listen to help protect these national treasures and to do
something about this national disgrace that threatens them.”