Support Indigenous Human & Civil Rights in Nebraska (US)

Support Indigenous Human & Civil Rights in Nebraska (US)

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LJ Dance started this petition

On Monday, April 25, 2022, the Lincoln City Council (Nebraska, U.S.) voted 5 to 2 in support of the Wilderness Crossing development project, which would significantly encroach on sacred Native American purification/sweat ceremonies and disrupt an existing pristine nature park. The ceremonies require the maintenance of undisturbed nature in their immediate surroundings. The development would eliminate this and encroach upon the Human and Civil Rights of Indigenous Peoples by disrupting cultural gatherings on Indigenous ancestral lands and threatening the continuity of their religious freedom. The ancestral sites that will be threatened have been sacred to the Oto-Missouria, Ponca, Pawnee, UMÓⁿHOⁿ (Omaha), and many other Indigenous Peoples who have been stewards and inhabitants centuries before this city was called “Lincoln.” Other Indigenous inhabitants of the state now known as “Nebraska” include Dakota, Lakota, Arapaho, Tsististas & Suhtai (Cheyenne), and Kaw Peoples as well as the relocated Ho Chunk (Winnebago), Iowa, and Sac & Fox Peoples.

Only a week prior to April 25th, the City Council held a hearing and dozens of opponents to the project spoke up. As opposition grew during that week (including opposition letters with signatures approaching 200), Lincoln City Council rushed through a decision in favor of the development. Native activist and leader Kevin Abourezk (Rosebud Sioux), described how only two council members even mentioned the sweat/purification lodge’s significance: “That’s a total slap in the face. It’s Native erasure, is what it is. They want to forget about us. They don’t want us here” (Lincoln Journal Star). 

On Monday, May 2, 2022, several Native leaders and spiritual advisors, including Kevin Abourezk, Linda Sue White Eyes, Susan Roan Eagle, Renee Sans Souci, and their allies, established the Niskithe Prayer Camp with requests for respect, visibility, and protection for the land, Indigenous ceremonies, and Indigenous Rights. They established this prayer camp in direct opposition to the planned development.

We, the undersigned, call the city leaders of Lincoln, Nebraska (including the Mayor and City Council members, the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, and Manzitto Construction) to honor, respect, and protect the land, ceremonies, and Religious Rights of local Native peoples as elaborated on niskitheprayercamp.com. We call particular attention to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which affirms that (emphasis added): 

• “Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites” (Article 12.1).

• “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights” (Article 18). 

• “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples […] in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them (Article 19).

• “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters […] and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard” (Article 25).

Please join with Native leaders and many others in supporting Indigenous rights and maintaining their sacred purification lodges. Sign and share this petition to support the people and community of Niskithe Prayer Camp and their requests for structural and institutional equities, dignity, visibility, and other Human, Civil, and Religious Rights.

Say no to the Wilderness Crossing development project! Say yes to Indigenous Peoples and their right to exist, thrive, and engage in spiritual and cultural practices on their own terms. 

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