indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Leaders of Northern Cheyenne Tribe slammed (5/4)
Dana Lone Elk: Oglala Sioux Tribe goes back on its word on vote (5/4)
Camaray Devalos: Colonial mindset continues to destroy tribes (5/4)
Amalia Rubin: Adam Sandler portrays Native people as savages (5/4)
Opinion: Join 'Long March to Rome' to support indigenous rights (5/4)
Opinion: Take a modern approach to land-into-trust in Alaska (5/4)
Court rebuffs Cherokee Nation in Indian Child Welfare Act case (5/4)
BIA not planning hearing for Miccosukee Tribe land-into-trust (5/4)
Winnebago Tribe works on plans for big housing development (5/4)
Marathon on Navajo Nation draws large number of participants (5/4)
Mashantucket Tribe sued over 'transition pay' for ex-councilor (5/4)
Eastern Cherokees maintain close relationship with university (5/4)
How Custer's rise and fall was covered by The New York Times (5/4)
Kialegee Tribal Town declines to submit brief in casino litigation (5/4)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe pleads guilty in casino case (5/4)
Rivals outspend Tohono O'odham Nation in urban casino battle (5/4)
Poarch Creeks question plan to authorize casinos at racetracks (5/4)
Seminole Tribe renews bid to negotiate Class III casino compact (5/4)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux man debuts tattoo shop (5/1)
Mark Trahant: Budget plan means deep cuts for Indian programs (5/1)
Terese Mailhot: Still proud to serve as that 'angry Indian' woman (5/1)
Cara Cowan Watts: Make your voice heard within Cherokee Nation (5/1)
Oglala Sioux Tribe struggles with increase in suicide among youth (5/1)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe cites treaty in bid to oust Keystone XL firm (5/1)
Change to Oglala Lakota County becomes official in South Dakota (5/1)
Makah Nation mounts strong defense of whaling at public hearing (5/1)
Northwest Indian College in Washington attracts NASA's attention (5/1)
Officers for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe start using body cameras (5/1)
Eastern Cherokee elder Jerry Wolfe proud of Beloved Man status (5/1)
Death of five-year-old member of Hoh Tribe under investigation (5/1)
Tribes seek consultation on status of Yellowstone grizzly bears (5/1)
Leaders of Fort Peck Tribes vote to banish school superintendent (5/1)
Editorial: Russell Begaye faces hurdles as Navajo Nation's leader (5/1)
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe aims to draw in tourists with new business (5/1)
Seminole Tribe secures listing for historic oak tree on reservation (5/1)
Historians join movement to eliminate NFL team's racist mascot (5/1)
Column: Tribes fought English settlers in bloody King Philip's War (5/1)
Lawmaker slammed for comment about Pokagon Band casino bid (5/1)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe set for plea in casino dispute (5/1)
Arizona tribes send another $25.2M in gaming revenues to state (5/1)
Draft bill calls for a Class III gaming compact with Poarch Creeks (5/1)
Acoma Pueblo awaits BIA approval for Class III gaming compact (5/1)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe seeks enforcement of ban on gaming devices (5/1)
Opinion: Bid for more Connecticut casinos comes down to money (5/1)
Native Sun News: Juvenile center offers services to Native youth (4/30)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud walk raises awareness of autism (4/30)
Clara Caufield: Off-reservation Cheyenne need a voice with tribe (4/30)
Vince Two Eagles: The top 10 influential people in Indian Country (4/30)
Allison Renville: Inviting President Obama to Sisseton-Wahpeton (4/30)
John Barrasso: More work needed to address reservation roads (4/30)
Jay Daniels: There's a whole lotta shaking going on in Oklahoma (4/30)
Brian Young: This Navajo filmmaker won't be walking off Netflix (4/30)
UNITY hosts Empower Your Lakota Story event in South Dakota (4/30)
Interview with attorney about marijuana for tribes in Oklahoma (4/30)
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.