Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bulldozing the Holy Land

This just in! WTF News reports that they have bulldozed parts of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to make gravel for the new trans-Israel highway! Jews, Christians and Muslims have complained loudly, but since part of the Mount is held in private ownership, they're pretty much screwed. But that'll be one sacred highway.

What? Not true? Ridiculous, even? Well, maybe and maybe not.

Woodruff Butte, AZ is a sacred place for the Hopi, Zuni and Navajo. But because parts of it were sold off to private non-Native ownership, it has been bulldozed and turned into gravel to make roads. The tribes complained and to the state of Arizona's credit, they revoked Dale McKinnon and his company's license to sell his gravel to the state for state road projects. He is, it seems, still allowed to sell it to private companies to the tune of millions of dollars.

Mr. McKinnon sued the state and lost. This week his appeal reached the Supreme Court, where it was rejected. So the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling holds. In it's ruling, the judge says two things that caught my attention:

"Because of the unique status of Native American societies in North American history, protecting Native American shrines and other culturally-important sites has historical value for the nation as a whole, much like Greece's preservation of the Parthenon, an ancient Greek temple of worship."

and

"Native American sacred sites of historical value are entitled to the same protection as the many Judeo-Christian religious sites that are protected on the National Registry of Historical Places, including the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C..."

Indeed they are, judge. And while such sentiment may seem obvious to us Indians, it's good to hear those words coming from a federal judge.

As to my Temple Mount fake news example from above, I was inspired by a line from the documentary In the Light of Reverence, which features the destruction of Woodruff Butte as one it its stories:

"For Most Americans the Holy Land exists on another continent. But for Native Americans, the Holy Land is here."

Will we as a country allow our holy sites and national treasures to be turned into gravel, or will we work to preserve something as sacred, besides the American dollar?

3 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

I really never looked at it that way. Very good post. Turn your cell phone on.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I heard that conservatives think that the 9th Circuit Court is too liberal and are too fond of citing international law. Some have even suggested using their current power in congress to eliminate it altogether. Although this may never come to pass, it is scary that this could even be possible.
I am very glad to hear that this court was there to set things straight. I just don't understand why something like this is so difficult for other Americans to understand.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous ladysekhmet9 said...

The thing about bulldozing sacred sites isn't just an American problem, I'm afraid. Have you heard of the big fuss in Ireland about wanting to build a highway through Tara, one of Ireland's most important historical sites? http://www.protect-tara.org/Background.html

7:12 PM  

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