indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Judge blocks construction at sacred Comanche site
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Filed Under: Environment | Law

A federal judge today sided with the Comanche Nation and ordered the U.S. Army to stop construction near a sacred site in Oklahoma.

In a 34-page decision, Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti said the tribe demonstrated that it will be harmed by a $7.3 million warehouse at the foot of Medicine Bluffs in Fort Sill. He said the U.S. Army failed to consider alternatives that would not obstruct ceremonies at the site, a place of immense healing and spiritual medicine for the Comanche people.

"The construction of a permanent structure on a site considered sacred by the Comanche people, and the substantial burden the presence of the structure would impose on their traditional religious practices as detailed ... would constitute irreparable harm," DeGiusti wrote.

The preliminary injunction, which can be appealed, will stay in place until the case is resolved. The tribe alleges violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

DeGiusti said the tribe demonstrated a "substantial likelihood of success" on the merits of the case, so the injunction represents a big victory. Tribal leaders say they weren't properly consulted by the U.S. Army about the construction.

"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."

Arterberry told the court that the warehouse, if constructed, would prevent him from viewing Medicine Bluffs as he prays and conducts ceremonies. DeGiusti noted that the construction site is the last remaining place with an "unobstructed view" of Medicine Bluffs.

The U.S. Army calls the warehouse "essential" to the future at Fort Sill, which will be seeing an influx of activity in the coming years. Due to base closures across the nation, Fort Sill will be training more and more soldiers for military operations around the world.

"The United States is now at war," the Department of Justice said in court papers. "Training is the top priority of the Army. It is the cornerstone of combat readiness. Training is what Fort Sill does."

But DeGiusti said the record, so far, is "utterly devoid" of evidence that the U.S. Army considered a different location for the warehouse that would be less intrusive on the tribe. He noted that the timing of decisions affecting construction indicated the tribe's objections were never considered.

The 94,000-acre Fort Sill was built during the Indian wars of the late 1800s. It is a National Historic Landmark and Medicine Bluffs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974

Relevant Documents:
Preliminary Injunction | Temporary Restraining Order

Related Stories:
'War' cited in need for work at Fort Sill sacred site (09/19)
Comanche Nation due in court over Fort Sill work (9/9)
Comanche Nation battles Army over sacred site (8/20)
Appeals court reverses course on sacred site (8/12)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline foes headed to DC (4/21)
Native Sun News: Shoni Schimmel is a role model for youth (4/21)
Michell Hicks: Eastern Cherokees return to gardening roots (4/21)
Kiara Imani Williams: Tribal ID dismissed in nation's capital (4/21)
DOI looks to spend $2.55M on Makah Nation land buy-back (4/21)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe faces a test of jurisdiction under VAWA (4/21)
State Department needs more time to review Keystone XL (4/21)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe cites ruling in gaming lawsuit (4/21)
Column: Cowlitz Tribe casino a bad gamble for community (4/21)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe battles uranium mine (4/18)
Clara Caufield: BIA audits Northern Cheyenne police force (4/18)
10th Circuit affirms conviction for murder of Arapaho man (4/18)
Jay Daniels: Cobell settlement was flawed from beginning (4/18)
Dwanna Robertson: Muscogee Nation returns to homeland (4/18)
Peter d'Errico: Washington team makes colonial invasion (4/18)
Northern Arapaho Tribe receives $157M trust settlement (4/18)
Agua Caliente Band leaseholders seek $7M in tax refunds (4/18)
Oneida Nation sends $11M to county as part of settlement (4/18)
JPR: Klamath Tribes want Congress to approve water deal (4/18)
Judge dismisses Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe election suit (4/18)
ASU News: Navajo students enjoy learning their language (4/18)
Former NFL player jailed for DUI on Salt River Reservation (4/18)
BIA advances off-reservation casino projects in California (4/18)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe reportedly operating casino at net loss (4/18)
Cherokee Nation to break ground on new hotel with casino (4/18)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes not planing to offer poker games (4/18)
Arizona tribes close to $1B mark in gaming revenue sharing (4/18)
Group opposes Catawba Nation casino bid in North Carolina (4/18)
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Governor carries on divisive tactics (4/17)
Navajo president criticizes NIGA for withdrawing from event (4/17)
Crystal Willcuts: NFL trickster speaks with a crooked tongue (4/17)
Opinion: NFL team owner flashes money to defend racial slur (4/17)
Ten reservations account for biggest share of Cobell buyback (4/17)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes megaloads through reservation (4/17)
Indian artists seek more control over popular annual market (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Lynn Valbuena returns to chairman post at San Manuel Band (4/17)
Yale University museum accused of stealing Tlingit artifacts (4/17)
Navajo Nation Council speaker still on leave amid court fight (4/17)
BIA asked to invalidate Shinnecock Nation's new constitution (4/17)
Onondaga Nation is negotiations over tobacco taxation issue (4/17)
Sen. Warren addresses Native American controversy in book (4/17)
Race relations council looking to boost efforts in border town (4/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (4/17)
Opinion: University must eventually eliminate Ute nickname (4/17)
Appeals court in Canada rules for Metis in Indian status caes (4/17)
9th Circuit hears dispute over Redding Rancheria gaming site (4/17)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.