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WASHINGTON Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Del Laverdure today announced that the US Department of the Interior will conduct a series of listening sessions with federally-recognized tribes regarding American Indian sacred sites located on federal lands.
Mount Taylor, Tsoodzil, the turquoise mountain, is sacred
to the Navajo Nation, Hopi Nation and
the Pueblos of Zuni, Acoma and Laguna.
“It is critical that we listen to tribal people about sensitive and significant cultural issues concerning sacred sites,”
“Our nation to nation relationship is one that is based upon mutual respect, and that includes an ongoing dialogue about places central to Indian identity and cultural ways of life.”
The Obama Administration recognizes that the protection of sacred sites on federal lands is integral to traditional religious practices, tribal identities and emblematic of sovereign tribal nations. These sacred site listening sessions are intended to assist in developing policies that result in effective, comprehensive and long-lasting federal protection of, and tribal access to, the places that are so important to the fabric and culture of tribal nations.
To address tribal concerns regarding sacred sites issues, Interior will conduct listening sessions on sacred sites in general, as well as knowledge relating to specific sites on Interior-managed tribal trust and other federal lands. The Department will be better equipped to make decisions that are sensitive to the ceremonial use and physical integrity of sacred sites through the benefit of tribal input and views on such matters.
“We invite recognized leaders of tribal governments and, if a tribe so elects, extend the invitation to designated spiritual leaders granted authority by the recognized tribal leadership to participate as tribal officials.”
“Tribal leaders have worked very hard with Interior in the past on these issues and we acknowledge their tireless efforts and hard work.”
Interior is seeking input regarding sacred sites, including:
The Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs will conduct the sacred sites listening sessions at the following dates and times:
Sacred Sites Session, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
BIA Southwest Regional Office
Pete V. Domenici Building
1001 Indian School Road
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104
Sacred Sites Session, 9 am - 12 Noon
Holiday Inn - Grand Montana Billings
5500 Midland Road
Billings, Montana 5910
Prior Lake, Minnesota
Because many Indian tribes have belief systems that discourage or even prohibit the disclosure of the location or other information about sacred sites and places, Interior will respect tribal requests that information about such locations be kept confidential and only share this information with appropriate agency personnel.
For all those unable to attend any of these listening sessions, you can send your input/suggestions by September 21st to:
US Department of the Interior,
Attn.: Mr. Dion Killsback, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240.
Should you have additional questions, telephone Mr. Killsback at 202.208.6939
The Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs discharges the duties of the Secretary of the Interior with the authority and direct responsibility to strengthen the government to government relationship with the nation's 566 federally recognized tribes, advocate policies that support Indian self-determination, protect and preserve Indian trust assets, and administer a wide array of laws, regulations and functions relating to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, tribal members and individual trust beneficiaries. The Assistant Secretary oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education.
posted August 1, 2012 7:20 am edt
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