indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Comanche Nation battles Army over sacred site
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Filed Under: Environment | Law

A federal judge has blocked the U.S. Army from starting a construction project at Fort Sill in Oklahoma out of concern for the religious rights of the Comanche Nation.

The tribe says it wasn't consulted about the development of a training service center near the foot of Medicine Bluffs, a sacred site at Fort Sill. Work was scheduled to begin on Monday until Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti issued a temporary restraining order.

"The court finds that, given the nature of the interests which plaintiffs in this case seek to protect, irreparable harm will result if the construction project commences," DeGiusti wrote in the five-page order.

The decision only blocks work until September 1 so the tribe still has to plead its case for a permanent injunction. Briefs from both sides of the dispute are due today.

Medicine Bluffs is one of the more prominent landmarks within Fort Sill, which was built during the Indian wars of the late 1800s. The site a place of immense healing and spiritual medicine for the Comanche people.

"As a Comanche man, Medicine Bluffs is the spiritual center of my religious beliefs and the heart of the current Comanche Nation," Jimmy Arterberry, a tribal member, said in a court declaration. "The Medicine Bluffs site is an extremely important sacred place to me as a Comanche man."

The Army plans to build a warehouse for the training service center at a place where Arterberry goes to pray and hold ceremonies. He believes any development would stop him from viewing Medicine Bluffs and practicing his religion.

In an August 2006 environmental assessment, the Army says it contacted nine tribes, including the Comanche Nation, about development but didn't receive a response. "The construction will have no adverse effect on Native American traditional, cultural, or religious sites," Fort Sill said in a statement to KSWO-TV last month.

The tribe's briefs cite the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Congress wrote after a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving practitioners of the Native American Church. The law bars a federal agency from taking actions that "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless the agency can cite a "compelling governmental interest."

A recent case involving RFRA shows that meeting the test can be difficult for tribal practitioners. In an August 8 decision, a full panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the presence of artificial snow at a sacred site in Arizona doesn't violate RFRA because tribal members aren't prevented from going to the San Francisco Peaks for ceremonies and other activities.

According to the court's 8-3 ruling, the artificial snow only impacts the tribes' "feelings" about their religion and the "fervor" in which tribal members practice their religion.

In court briefs, attorneys for the Comanche Nation acknowledged the ruling in Navajo Nation v. U.S. Forest Service. But they said the Fort Sill case is different because construction of the warehouse would physically impair tribal members from practicing their religion.

The tribe also notes that the Army could build the warehouse elsewhere in the 94,000-acre Fort Sill without affecting Medicine Bluffs, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Fort Sill itself is a National Historic Landmark.

Temporary Restraining Order:
Comanche Nation v. US (August 18, 2008)

9th Circuit Decision:
Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service (August 8, 2008)

Related Stories:
Appeals court reverses course on sacred site (8/12)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Native youth work to bring relatives home (2/12)
Native Sun News: Young runners invited to compete in Australia (2/12)
Mark Trahant: Native voters are true outsiders in 2016 elections (2/12)
Lorraine Loomis: Help treaty tribes with salmon recovery efforts (2/12)
Vincent Schilling: I'm not ashamed to be a sexual assault victim (2/12)
Tara Houska: Stop stealing cultural traditions from Native people (2/12)
Burns Paiute Tribe to help assess damage from armed takeover (2/12)
Obama weighs tribal request for Bears Ears National Monument (2/12)
Study looks at rates of binge drinking among Native Americans (2/12)
President of Navajo Nation to sign bill for veterans department (2/12)
Winnebago Tribe faces opposition to Nebraska gaming initiative (2/12)
Kialegee Tribal Town stays quiet as failed casino sits unfinished (2/12)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community eyes off-reservation casino (2/12)
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation sees gaming revenue gains (2/12)
Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead (2/11)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Town repays Oneida Nation with racism (2/11)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (2/11)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe battles opponents at every turn (2/11)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law based on invented realities (2/11)
Native basketball tournament bars player who lacks Indian blood (2/11)
Armed occupation of wildlife refuge in Oregon ends with arrests (2/11)
Native activists ask Obama to help with liquor sales in Whiteclay (2/11)
South Dakota lawmakers kill bill to support return of land to tribes (2/11)
Miami Nation agrees to forfeit $48M from online lending business (2/11)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation creates $1.2M endowment at ASU (2/11)
Colville Tribes issue citation for death of rare owl on reservation (2/11)
Fort Independence Indian Community cheated by former partner (2/11)
Paskenta Band donates $125K to buy new vehicle for firefighters (2/11)
Man pleads guilty for dealing meth on Mescalero Apache Nation (2/11)
Public high school gives up racist mascot in response to new law (2/11)
Morongo Band and San Manuel Band question fantasy sports bill (2/11)
Former Sac and Fox Nation casino employee charged with theft (2/11)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians celebrates 3rd birthday of casino (2/11)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation again told it can't accept casino bids (2/11)
Editorial: Measure stops Lytton Band from pursuing new casinos (2/11)
Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (2/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (2/10)
Lakota Country Times: Indian lawmakers oppose drug testing bill (2/10)
Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story about treaty-making in US (2/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in state of emergency (2/10)
Chase Iron Eyes: Real sovereigns don't disenroll their own people (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: African and Native Americans fought for their survival (2/10)
Albert Bender: Tribes should reclaim land from unratified treaties (2/10)
John Lavelle: Supreme Court weighs key tribal sovereignty issue (2/10)
Women take top three leadership positions at Menominee Nation (2/10)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.