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Indian Times: US Gov't To Help Protect Sacred Sites (Dec 14, 2012)

Protection of sites held sacred by American Indians and Alaska Natives will be reinforced by a memorandum of understanding signed last week by four federal agencies and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  The memo signed by the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior also calls for improving tribal access to sites that are on federal land.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “We have a special, shared responsibility to respect and foster American Indian and Alaska Native cultural and religious heritage, and today’s agreement recognizes that important role.”  The agencies plan to work together during the next five years to raise awareness about sacred sites. That includes developing a website, a training program for federal employees and guidance for managing sacred sites.  The agreement comes just weeks after thieves made off with rock carvings from a sacred site in California’s Sierra Nevada. The site on the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop, Calif., was what land managers called one of the most significant rock art sites in the region. The local Paiute tribe uses the site for ceremonies. Tribal leaders have said they’re appalled at what happened to the petroglyphs, and the Bureau of Land Management is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. 

The Muscogee Creek Nation declines to buy a controversial casino near Tulsa, KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney has this report:

KURT GWARTNEY:   Tribal council members with the Muscogee Creek Nation have voted against taking over a controversial casino near Tulsa initially set up by the Kialegee Tribal Town.  Council members voted 7-2 against the proposal Tuesday night.  If the council had approved the plan, officials say the Muscogee Creek Nation would have received 70% of profits from the Red Clay Casino.  Work on the project was stopped earlier this year at the casino site after a federal judge ruled the Kialegee Tribal Town did not have jurisdiction to build the casino on land in Broken Arrow.  Developers had hoped to finish work on the Red Clay Casino and then sell it to the Muscogee Creek Nation.  Kialegee officials have said it could have bring in $24 million dollars a year.  Several city, county and state officials also objected to the casino’s construction. For KGOU News, I'm Kurt Gwartney.

The Muscogee Creek Nation is also locked in another battle…according to the Native News Network re the battle over protection of an historical ceremonial and burial ground, known as Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama, has caused  the Muscogee (Creek) Nation  filed a federal lawsuit last week  to halt construction of a casino being built by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.  The lawsuit over the ground known  as Hickory Ground is listed on the National Register of Historical Places because it was the last capital of the Creek Nation before forced removal to Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma, and because previously undisturbed Muscogee burials are located there.  The lawsuit is filed against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and its officials, construction contractors Flintco, LLC and Martin Construction Inc., Auburn University  and the US Department of the Interior.  Amongst the claims are that the Poarch Band acquired Hickory Ground under the false pretense of preservation and that they promised to protect the archeological remains at Hickory Ground against excavation and received a federal historic perseveration grant to acquire the property in 1980.  The lawsuit also states that the lineal descendants of the exhumed ancestors–who are known as "Hickory Ground Tribal Town" never consented to the excavation, and such consent is required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. 

Her name is Mary Francis Thompson Fisher but the world knew her by Indian name, Te Ata.  She was born in Indian Territory in 1895 and her parents were members of the Chickasaw Nation.   She was a master storyteller and entertainer who performed at the first state dinner given by President Franklin Roosevelt  for the King and Queen of England.  That very performance will be re-enacted in the Bill Murray film “Hyde Park on Hudson”, the title referring to the hometown of Franklin Roosevelt, whom Murray will portray.  Te Ata was a performer that used her storytelling and dancing to educate people about Native Americans.   She was asked to perform at the state dinner given by President Roosevelt for King George and Queen Elizabeth of England.  She will be portrayed by Kumiko Konishi, who is Choctaw and Japanese.   In 1987 Te Ata was the first person ever to be declared an Oklahoma state treasure.   The film was released last week to mixed reviews.

 The Udall Foundation is looking for Native American and Alaska Native students to apply to their 10-week summer internship program.  Students wanting to learn more about the federal government and issues affecting Indian Country will work in congressional and agency offices in Washington, D.C., where they will have opportunities to research legislative issues important to tribal communities, network with key public officials and tribal advocacy groups, experience an inside view of the federal government and enhance their understanding of nation-building and tribal self-governance.  Complete application packages must be postmarked by Jan. 31 to the Udall Foundation. For more information and for an application visit

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