Tomales Point

Tomales Point and Point Reyes, the Farallon Islands and the West Berkeley Shellmound, all in northern California’s Bay Area, are sacred places. Their entirety forms an immense ceremonial and mortuary complex for the Coast Miwok and Ohlone, indigenous to the San Francisco Bay Area. These coastal sites are evidence of early Polynesian settlement in the Americas.

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Juukan Gorge

In May 2020, while clearing the way for a mine expansion, the transnational mining company Rio Tinto set off explosives that destroyed a site sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people in Western Australia. The site included the Juukan Gorge Rock Dwellings, which have evidence of human habitation dating back 46,000 years. The mining company placed their explosives meters from the rock shelters with full permission of the Australian government—and after misleading Traditional Owners.

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Onondaga Lake

Centuries of industrial waste and sewage rapidly have poured into Onondaga Lake, destroying its ecosystem. It was designated a Superfund site in 1994 beginning efforts to clean it up. But there is a long way to go and the Onandaga want to see it returned to a fishable, swimmable state.

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Monument Hill & Quitobaquito Springs

Trump’s U.S.–Mexico border wall threatens multiple sacred sites of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona, including the sacred Quitobaquito Springs and burial and ceremonial grounds on what is known as Monument Hill in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

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Yaghnob

When Soviet forces forcibly relocated the Yaghnobi from their mountain valley in what is now Tajikistan, the Russians were unable to crush the spirit of the people. Their cultural lifeblood remained in their homeland and they returned to create the Yaghnob National Natural Park to protect their ancient cultural landscape.

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Bdote in Mni Sota

Minnesota, known as Mni Sota Makoce to the Dakota, is “the land where the waters reflect the skies.” The Dakota word Bdote means “where two waters come together,” representing the spiritual and physical place of creation for the Dakota people.

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Panhe

For more than 10,000 years, Acjachemen people thrived on the coast of what is now Orange County in southern California. They lived in several villages, but Panhe or “place at the water,” at the mouth of San Mateo Canyon, was the most significant.

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Cholula

In Cholula, Mexico stands the largest pyramid ever built in human history. This ancient temple could easily be mistaken for a church-on-a-hill scene, as its body is now buried in greenery, and a Catholic church sits on its top.

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Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Known for its towering stone statues, the island of Rapa Nui holds immense cultural value to its native clans. With more than 100,000 visitors annually, tourism threatens the traditional rights of native people to own land and protect their sacred sites, including more than 900 moai statues, burial sites and ceremonial grounds.

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U’wa Territory

The indigenous U’wa who live in the foothills and forests of northeast Colombia’s Andes perpetuate all life by protecting it. The U’wa believe that their homeland is where the world began, and that everything—land, trees, river and sky—is alive and therefore sacred.

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