(RNS) — U.S. Secretary of the Inside Deb Haaland has introduced a brand new initiative to guard and enhance entry to websites throughout the US thought-about sacred by Indigenous peoples.
Haaland’s announcement got here Tuesday (Nov. 16), on the second day of the Biden administration’s first Tribal Nations Summit.
“Since time immemorial, the Earth’s lands and waters have been central to the social, cultural, non secular, psychological, and bodily wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. It’s important that we do every part we will to honor websites that maintain historic, non secular or ceremonial significance,” she mentioned in a written assertion from the U.S. Division of the Inside.
“The Inside Division is dedicated to defending these sacred websites from desecration, whereas on the similar time collaborating with Indigenous communities to extend entry and guarantee good stewardship of their lands.”
Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the primary Native American to function a U.S. Cupboard secretary.
Eight companies have signed on to a memorandum of understanding aimed toward bettering interdepartmental coordination, in keeping with the Division of the Inside. They embody the U.S. departments of the Inside, Agriculture, Transportation and Power, in addition to the Environmental Safety Company, the White Home Council on Environmental High quality, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The 14-page memorandum directs these companies — that are answerable for the administration of federal lands and waters — to develop constant insurance policies and processes for websites held sacred by Indigenous peoples. It says they need to take a “forward-thinking” method that not solely seeks to keep away from hurt, but in addition to “collaborate with Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to make sure good stewardship of their lands and permit their rightful entry and use to sure public lands via Tribal-agency and co-management agreements, the place potential.”
The memorandum additionally establishes a working group with members from every company to reinforce their collaboration and deal with important points as they come up.
Indigenous peoples have creation narratives tied to websites in each area of the U.S. and past, and sustaining a connection to these locations is important to their non secular apply and existence, in keeping with the memorandum. The desecration of these sacred websites and the relocation of Native People, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians away from them has had traumatic results on the peoples’ non secular well-being, in addition to their social, cultural, psychological and bodily well being, it mentioned.
“Indian Tribes, the Native Hawaiian Neighborhood, and Indigenous peoples share a necessary fact of the interconnectedness to nature and all life,” the memorandum mentioned.
Controversies over using such sacred websites have made headlines lately, beginning with action to halt the development of the Dakota Entry pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2016.
Extra not too long ago, Indigenous peoples have shared differing visions for Bears Ears Nationwide Monument, restored to its unique boundaries in Utah final month by the Biden administration. They’ve additionally organized a “spiritual convoy” to cease the switch of Oak Flat, an Apache sacred website in Arizona, to a mining firm.