Environment | Law | National | Politics

Defense measure opens sacred site in Washington to the public

A view of Rattlesnake Mountain in Washington. Photo by Umptanum / Wikipedia

The controversial National Defense Authorization Act that's headed to President Barack Obama for his signature opens a sacred site in Washington to the public.

Section 3081 is a tiny part of the 1,648-page package that cleared the House and the Senate. It requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow tours on the sacred Rattlesnake Mountain over the objections of the Yakama Nation and other tribes.

"Laliik is our Mount Sinai,” Chairman JoDe Goudy said in a letter to lawmakers, using the Yakama word for the mountain, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported. “When our Long House leaders feel that a young adult is ready and worthy, Laliik is where they are sent to fast and to have vision quests. This is not a place for Airstreams and Winnebegos.”

The tribe sued the Obama administration in hopes of stopping the tours. A federal judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order but has not ruled on the merits so it's not clear what will happen when Section 3081 -- which doesn't mention the litigation -- goes into effect.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation v. USFWS.

Get the Story:
Yakamas unhappy with defense bill provision to open Rattlesnake Mountain (The Yakima Herald-Republic 12/14)
Tribes Object To Forced Opening Of 'Sacred Mountain' To Public (NWPR 12/9)

Related Stories:
Yakama Nation sues to put a stop to tours on sacred mountain (4/24)
Editorial: Open sacred Rattlesnake Mountain for public access (08/03)

Join the Conversation