Arizona’s sacred Oak Flat is threatened with mining by a multinational corporation.
Unique in the modern world, Mongolia has ten sacred mountains protected by Presidential Decree. Honoring sacred mountains has been integral to both shamanic and Buddhist practice in Mongolia, and the country has some of the oldest officially and continuously protected sites dating back to the 13th century.
The Pirá Paraná forms the heart of a large sacred landscape afforded some protection and self-government by the 2,000 indigenous inhabitants. Employing community-driven initiatives has preserved and strengthened traditional knowledge, protected sacred sites, ensured intergenerational cultural transmission, and in the political realm secured indigenous autonomy and rights to administer state resources within Colombia.
Where the life-giving Rio Grande enters the Gulf of Mexico south of Port Isabel, Texas, you might expect to find land sacred to Native Americans, and indeed, the Garcia Pasture has burials, discrete shell working areas, and contact period artifacts of the Esto’k Gna, the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. Garcia Pasture is considered one of the premier prehistoric archaeological sites in Cameron County by the National Park Service and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Carmichael Coal Mine is a proposed development of six massive open-cut pits, five underground mines, a coal handling and processing plant, and associated infrastructure, in central Queensland, Australia. If developed as proposed, the mine would be among the largest in the world. Not only would the emissions from burning coal from this mine contribute to global climate change, which is already harming the nearby World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, but the mine would also destroy the ancestral homelands and sacred sites of the Wangan and Jagalingou.
Juristac lies at the heart of the ancestral lands of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band near Gilroy, California. For thousands of years, the Mutsun’s ancestors lived and held sacred ceremonies at this location in the southern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, above the confluence of the Pajaro and San Benito rivers.
Mes Aynak is home to an ancient Buddhist city and the largest undeveloped copper deposit in the world. Of historical, cultural and spiritual importance to Afghans and Buddhists alike, the copper deposit beneath the 20 ruin sites is now under threat of mining.
Weatherman Draw in southcentral Montana is a valley that contains the largest collection of Native American rock art on the continent.
Woodruff Butte is a volcanic cinder cone that is known as Tsimontukwi to the Hopi. It is one of nine major pilgrimage shrines that encircle Hopi traditional territory, and was for many years the site of nine clan shrines, until eight were destroyed by mining.
While many threats to sacred places come from natural-resource extraction and development, a different sort of battle continues in Wyoming, at a place the Lakota call Mato Tipila (The Lodge of the Bear), better known as Devils Tower.