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March 4, 2013
U.S. Government Acts to Protect Sacred Sites
Posted by: Toby McLeod
Posted in:

Four Obama Administration Cabinet secretaries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on sacred site policies over the next five years — pledging to improve protection of sacred sites.

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February 4, 2013
Thank You! We Met Our Goal of a $25,000 Matching Donation!
Posted by: Toby McLeod
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Thank you to everyone who contributed to our year-end funding appeal! Thanks to YOU we reached our $25,000 matching donation goal! We appreciate your continued support of Standing on Sacred Ground. Your contribution enables us to continue with the post-production of our four-part documentary series on sacred places in the United States and around the world. With your help [...]

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November 1, 2012
Feds Drop Charges Against Winnemem
Posted by: Lynn Brown

Month after month in early 2012, the Winnemem WIntu organized protests and letter-writing campaigns demanding the closure of a stretch of the McCloud River in California. They were requesting the river closure from the U.S. Forest Service so the tribe could hold a coming-of-age ceremony for the young woman

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September 28, 2012
IUCN Approves Sacred Natural Sites Motion
Posted by: Toby McLeod

On September 12, delegates attending the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea, voted overwhelmingly to approve a motion aimed at strengthening protection for sacred places.

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September 15, 2012
Taos Pueblo Tribe Regains Ownership of Sacred Hot Springs
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

As the sun set on the annual Taos Pueblo Powwow in Taos, N.M., on July 14, representatives of the Taos Land Trust, surrounded by dancers and tribal members from across the country, officially returned a sacred hot springs property to the Taos Pueblo Tribe.

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January 26, 2012
Tibetan Village Stops Mining on Sacred Mountain
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

In the face of threats and violence from a Chinese mining company and local authorities, a small village’s year-long effort to stop a gold mining project on the slopes of one of Tibet’s holiest mountains finally paid off, perhaps with a little help from the mountain.

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December 1, 2011
UNESCO Recognizes Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Colombia, Peru
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

The annual Qoyllurit’i pilgrimage of Peru’s Q’eros and other indigenous groups and the traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí in Colombia are among the cultural heritage “elements” added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage lists.

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September 9, 2011
Satish Kumar on “What Is a Sacred Place?”
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of “sacred place.” For Satish, a UK-based writer, pilgrim and editor of Resurgence magazine, all of the Earth is the home of a divine, life-giving force so vast, mysterious and expansive that it is incomprehensible.

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August 10, 2011
Researchers Map World’s Sacred Forests
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

About 15 percent of the world’s surface, much of it forest, is “sacred land,” according to a team of Oxford University scientists working on a project to scientifically measure the coverage of religious and sacred land around the globe and assess its biodiversity and land-use values.

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July 21, 2011
Victory at Sogorea Te/Glen Cove
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

After a 98-day on-site prayer vigil, the Committee to Protect Glen Cove yesterday announced a victory in its struggle to protect the sacred burial grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove.

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June 21, 2011
Grand Canyon Mining Ban Extended
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday announced a six-month extension of a temporary moratorium on new uranium mining claims in a million-acre buffer zone around the Grand Canyon, while the Interior Department considers implementing a 20-year ban.

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May 19, 2011
Q’eros Resist DNA Sampling, But Larger Threat Looms
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

Earlier this month, leaders of Peru’s indigenous Q’eros people effectively blocked geneticists from collecting DNA samples from their community as part of National Geographic’s ongoing Genographic Project, which has been gathering DNA from people around the world.

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March 20, 2011
Voices From the Altai
Posted by: Toby McLeod
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When we filmed in the spectacular Altai Republic of Russia in 2007, U.K. native Joanna Dobson kindly helped us with translation. Joanna is fluent in Russian and has moved to the Altai to work on various projects to help preserve traditional culture and protect sacred sites. Joanna reports on her work via a great website [...]

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March 7, 2011
Mapping Environmental Solutions
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie
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In February, an SLFP team attended a two-day workshop led by Google’s Rebecca Moore and the Google Earth Outreach team aptly titled, “mapping environmental scenarios & solutions with Google technology.”

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March 1, 2011
Brazilian Judge Halts Belo Monte Dam
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

Citing environmental concerns, a Brazilian judge has halted construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in the Amazon rain forest. If constructed, it would destroy a vast area of forest and displacing tens of thousands, including tribal people.

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December 21, 2010
U.S. Endorses U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie

Last week the US joined the international community and became the last nation to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Australia ratified the declaration in 2009, New Zealand ratified it earlier this year, and Canada followed in November.

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November 10, 2010
Aborigines Celebrate Uluru Hand Back, Still Waiting for Benefits
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

A crowd of 200 Anangu traditional owners, along with tourists and officials, recently gathered at the base of Australia’s iconic sandstone monolith Uluru to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its return to the traditional custodians.

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October 1, 2010
Taos Pueblo Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Return of Sacred Lake
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo community recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the return of their sacred Blue Lake after 64 years under federal government control. Hundreds gathered Sept. 17 and 18 to commemorate this precedent-setting victory for religious freedom and sacred-land protection.

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September 14, 2010
Hawaiian Site Gets UNESCO World Heritage Designation
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

A Hawaiian marine national monument known for both its abundant and unique aquatic species and its significance to Native Hawaiians has become the United States’ first new UNESCO World Heritage site in 15 years and its first to be recognized as a mixed cultural-natural property.

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September 3, 2010
Successes and Struggles for California Tribes
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

In one of the largest repatriations of Native American ceremonial artifacts in U.S. history, the Smithsonian Institution has returned 217 sacred items to California’s Yurok tribe. Meanwhile, the Ohlone people are seeking to protect their sacred sites around a proposed redevelopment project in San Francisco.

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August 31, 2010
India Halts Controversial Mine on Tribe’s Sacred Lands
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie

In a major victory for indigenous land rights, India’s environment minster on Aug. 24 struck down a controversial mining project in eastern Orissa state that would have threatened the survival of the 8,000-member Dongria Kondh tribe.

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July 15, 2010
Court Halts Construction at Phiphidi Waterfall
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

After a two-day court hearing, the traditional custodians of Phiphidi Waterfall last week won an injunction to halt the construction of a tourist resort at their sacred site for 20 days, allowing them to prepare for further legal action. The Ramunangi clan, in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, has been waging a years-long battle to protect [...]

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April 2, 2010
DOE Terminates Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump Program
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

With the U.S. Department of Energy’s March 3 withdrawal of a license application to build a high-level nuclear waste dump under Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the long-contested project is at last on its way to being closed.

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February 12, 2010
U.N. Issues First-Ever “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples” Report
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie

In January, the U.N. released its first-ever report on the “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” which presents a global view of the current situation of indigenous peoples, examining poverty and well-being, culture, education, health, human rights, environment and emerging issues.

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January 26, 2010
Court Blocks Mount Tenabo Gold Mine
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

Reversing an earlier U.S. district court decision permitting Barrick Gold Corp. to proceed with plans for a massive open-pit gold mine at Nevada’s Mount Tenabo, a federal appeals court ordered a preliminary injunction against the mine.

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January 6, 2010
Peabody’s Black Mesa Permit Revoked
Posted by: Toby McLeod

A Department of Interior administrative law judge has overturned Peabody Coal Co.’s life-of-mine permit for operations at Black Mesa on Navajo-Hopi land in Arizona. The controversial permit was granted by the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining in the final days of the Bush administration and was appealed by native activists and environmental organizations. [...]

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December 1, 2009
Statement on Protecting Sacred Sites
Posted by: Toby McLeod
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Guardians meeting at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October 2008 issued a statement on protecting sacred sites. After review and editing, the final version is now available for download.

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November 13, 2009
Events Honor 40th Anniversary of Alcatraz Occupation
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes, perhaps one of the most significant acts of activism conducted by Native Americans to date. Led by Mohawk activist Richard Oakes,  Indians from diverse tribes across the country occupied Alcatraz for 19 months from Nov. 20, 1969 to [...]

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October 29, 2009
Read Our Latest Sacred Site Report Updates
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

In recent months we’ve been hard at work bringing some of our older site reports up to date, and we’re pleased to report that a few of these sacred sites have come a step closer toward preservation

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October 15, 2009
Stonehenge To Be Freed From Car Traffic
Posted by: Amberly Polidor
Posted in: ,

A decades-long effort to save Stonehenge from the damaging effects of automobile traffic and restore the integrity of its surrounding landscape is now a significant step closer to fruition.

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October 14, 2009
Australia Establishes Two Major Conservation Reserves
Posted by: Marlo McKenzie

Australia has established two globally significant conservation reserves on indigenous lands in the Northern Territory. Spanning nearly 1.4 million hectares on the Arnhem Land Plateau, Warddeken Indigenous protected area adjacent to the Kakadu National Park was declared Sept. 24. A day later, hundreds gathered at Rocky Point on Boucaut Bay about 310 miles east of [...]

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September 30, 2009
PacifiCorp to Remove Klamath River Dams
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

The utility company PacifiCorp has agreed to a proposal to remove four hydroelectric dams that for decades have blocked salmon migration on the Klamath River in Oregon and California. The Sept. 30 announcement marked a major step forward in a sometimes bitter decade-long negotiation process between PacifiCorp, federal and state governments, Native American tribes, fishermen, [...]

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November 19, 2008
Native Youth Filmmakers Release Environmental Documentary
Posted by: Amy Corbin

SLFP congratulates youth filmmakers from the Swinomish Tribe for the national debut of the documentary film March Point on PBS November 18, 2008. Cody Cayou, Nick Clark, and Travis Tom worked with the Native Lens program to document the impact of oil refineries on their ancestral land in Washington state. Tribal members continue to fish [...]

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September 15, 2007
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Posted by: Toby McLeod
Posted in:

We applaud the United Nations’ passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and congratulate the many, many indigenous elders and activists who collaborated over decades to enshrine these fundamental human rights in international law. However, in the spirit of dialogue and debate we offer these thoughts on the removal of the words [...]

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September 13, 2007
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Passes After Thirty Years of Struggle
Posted by: Toby McLeod
Posted in:

The UN General Assembly passed the controversial Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by a majority vote of 144 to 4 with 11 abstentions. The Declaration protects the rights of indigenous peoples to determine their own social and economic development and practice their cultural and religious traditions. It prohibits discrimination and political disenfranchisement of [...]

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September 1, 2007
Federal Court Supports Forest Service’s Ban on Climbing Cave Rock
Posted by: Toby McLeod
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A Federal Court of Appeals has upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s ban on climbing Cave Rock, a sacred site on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Cave Rock is a 360-foot high, 800-foot wide dome sacred to the Washoe as a home for spirits that have medicinal powers. The area supports many recreational uses, including hiking [...]

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August 30, 2007
Yanawawa People of Brazil Secure Rights to Sacred Land with Help of Business Partner Aveda
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Today, Brazil formally set aside 125,000 acres of richly biodiverse rainforest as Yanawawa native territory, protecting the sacred land from deforestation and further resource development. The land is sacred to the community, not least because several burial sites are located in that swathe of pristine forest. Aveda Corporation, an American cosmetics and health products company, [...]

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July 1, 2007
NCAI Passes Resolution Endorsing “Native American Sacred Lands Act”
Posted by: Toby McLeod
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The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) endorsed new sacred land protection legislation at their mid-year meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, which was held June 10-13. Resolution #ANC-07-020 calls for a strong “cause of action” to allow Native American tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to litigate in court to protect threatened sacred sites, and calls on [...]

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March 12, 2007
Appeals Court Overturns Ski Resort’s Snowmaking Permit
Posted by: Toby McLeod

The operators of Arizona Snowbowl ski resort on the sacred San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona, cannot use treated sewage water to make snow, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. In a unanimous decision, the judges said there is no evidence that denying the operators of the Snowbowl the ability to use [...]

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September 7, 2004
Woodruff Butte Lawsuit Affirms Sacred Site Protections
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Opponents of sacred site protection have failed again. In our film, In the Light of Reverence, we told the story of an Arizona butte that is sacred to the Hopi and Zuni where mining for gravel has destroyed nine Hopi shrines. The owner of Woodruff Butte teamed up with Mountain States Legal Foundation to argue [...]

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August 20, 2004
Sacred Sites Bill Passed by California State Senate
Posted by: Toby McLeod

The California State Senate yesterday passed SB 18, a sacred sites protection bill entitled Traditional Tribal Cultural Places. The vote was 30 to 4. On August 20, bill was sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature. If he does not veto or sign the bill within 30 days it becomes law. SB 18 requires consultation [...]

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July 7, 2004
Western Shoshone Land Claim Settlement Signed by Bush
Posted by: Toby McLeod

President George W. Bush today signed into law H.R. 884, the federal government’s long-standing attempt to extinguish aboriginal title to tens of millions of acres of disputed lands in Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California for 15 cents an acre. The land at issue is the third largest gold producing area in the world and is [...]

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June 26, 2004
City of Eureka Hands Over 40 Acres of Indian Island to Wiyot Tribe
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Eureka – (Times-Standard): “On Friday, nearly 500 people attended the official deed-signing ceremony between the city of Eureka and the Wiyot tribe. Last month, the Eureka City Council unanimously voted to return a portion of the island. Eureka made history by becoming one of only a small number of cities in the United States to [...]

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May 18, 2004
Eureka City Council Returns Wiyot Land
Posted by: Toby McLeod

In northern California, the Eureka City Council voted by unanimous consent to approve the return of a portion of Indian Island north of the Samoa Bridge on Highway 255 to the Wiyot People of the Table Bluff Reservation. At a very emotional meeting, United Indian Health Services representatives Jerry Simone and Maria Tripp spoke of [...]

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April 2, 2004
Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Reject William Myers
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Thanks to everyone who contacted their elected representatives to oppose the nomination of William Myers to the 9th Circuit. Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Myers out of committee for consideration by the full Senate by a vote of 10-9. All nine Democrats on the Committee voted against the nomination. While the party line vote [...]

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March 23, 2004
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Protection of Rainbow Bridge
Posted by: Toby McLeod

In another victory for sacred site protection on National Park lands, a federal appeals court ruled that non-Indians seeking access to Rainbow Bridge cannot sue the National Park Service for violation of constitutional rights. On March 23, 2004, a three-judge panel for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the plaintiffs did not show [...]

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February 10, 2004
Phone Calls Needed to New Mexico Governor Richardson
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Activists won a huge victory in October 2003 when citizens of Albuquerque voted down a street bond measure by a 55-45% margin (see below). This vote ensured that there would be no money available for the construction of Paseo Del Norte and Unser Blvd., which threaten to bisect Petroglyph National Monument. Now, New Mexico State [...]

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December 1, 2003
World Bank Grant Program
Posted by: Toby McLeod
Posted in:

The World Bank recently launched a new facility to provide small grants ($10,000 to $30,000) directly to indigenous peoples. The deadline for the first round of grants is December 15th 2003, and proposals will be reviewed in January 2004. Sacred sites, intellectual property rights and the mapping of indigenous peoples’ territories are all mentioned in the [...]

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October 29, 2003
A Victory for Petroglyphs!
Posted by: Toby McLeod

This just in from the SAGE Council in Albuquerque: “We won! We’re still in shock, as we’ve lost so many battles, but this was a HUGE victory for all of us and for sacred places across this earth. The final count was 52% – 48% against the Street Bonds. Thank you to all who’ve sent [...]

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August 4, 2003
Zuni Salt Lake Has Been Saved!
Posted by: Toby McLeod

The Salt River Project (SRP) of Phoenix, Arizona has announced that it will relinquish all permits and coal leases for the proposed Fence Lake coal stripmine, which threatened to devastate the sacred Zuni Salt Lake and surrounding Sanctuary Area in New Mexico. SRP claims in a press release that it has found a cleaner, more [...]

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July 11, 2003
Rock Climbing Banned at Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe
Posted by: Toby McLeod

The U.S. Forest Service announced it would ban rock climbing at Cave Rock on the southeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, calling the site a cultural resource worthy of protection. The decision, eight years in the making, was signed by Maribeth Gustafson, forest supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. The Washoe Tribe [...]

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June 5, 2003
California Coastal Act Amendment Passed by State Assembly
Posted by: Toby McLeod

In the first step towards reactivating a state sacred lands bill, the California State Assembly passed AB 974. The bill provides for the planning and regulation of development within the coastal zone, and would require an area containing a sacred site identified in consultation with the Native American Heritage Commission and appropriate local Native Americans, [...]

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August 28, 2002
Sacred Land Bill Passes California Assembly!
Posted by: Toby McLeod

The California State Assembly today voted 53-12 in favor of SB 1828, the sacred lands protection bill authored by State Senator John Burton (D, San Francisco). It was a strong bipartisan vote-with 10 Republicans voting for the bill-and it shows that lawmakers are serious about protecting the sacred places of California’s indigenous people. Governor Gray [...]

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July 29, 2002
Sacred Land Protection Bill Making Waves in California
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Readers of the San Francisco Chronicle awoke Monday morning to a front page headline “Tribes Wager Newfound Clout on Sacred Land,” and Tuesday morning they drove to work and heard KQED-FM’s Forum program devote an hour to a sacred land protection bill that passed the California State Senate in June and will be considered by [...]

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July 18, 2002
Legislation Introduced to Protect Sacred Lands!
Posted by: Toby McLeod

Rep. Nick Rahall (D, WV) has introduced The Native American Sacred Lands Act (H.R. 5155, to counter growing threats to holy places like Quechan Indian Pass and Zuni Salt Lake. The bill would create a process by which Native Americans can petition federal land management agencies to withdraw sacred lands from development, and go to [...]

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April 30, 2002
Valley of the Chiefs/ Weatherman Draw is Saved!
Posted by: Toby McLeod

A landmark agreement between a corporation, a nonprofit agency and the federal government has been reached that will protect Weatherman Draw from current oil drilling leases. The Anschutz Exploration Corporation has turned over its leases to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which will hold the leases until they expire, and the Bureau of Land [...]

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August 28, 2000
San Francisco Peaks’ White Vulcan Mine to Close
Posted by: Toby McLeod

On the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, a 100-foot deep mine pit yields volcanic pumice, a soft white rock used to make stonewashed jeans. For the last three years a determined coalition led by the Sierra Club and thirteen Native American tribes who hold the Peaks sacred have waged a [...]

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