Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Human Rights Commission gathers input on sacred sites

Human Rights Commission gathers input on sacred sites
By Alysa Landry The Daily Times
Posted: 07/18/2010 11:50:35 PM MDT


The Navajo Human Rights Commission is hosting a series of public forums beginning Tuesday to allow Navajo citizens to share testimony about sacred sites on the 27,000-square-mile reservation.
Citizens can provide either oral or written testimony about use, location, need for preservation, conflicts or community suppression of sacred sites.
The forums come after the Human Rights Commission took testimony during 25 public hearings about racism and discrimination in border towns.
From the hearings, four recurring themes surfaced, according to a statement released by the commission. One theme was sacred sites. Other themes were injustices related to unattended deaths, relocation and the environment.
The commission approved this month a 100-page report based on its findings. It will present the report next week to the Navajo Tribal Council, but it released an executive summary ahead of time.
"Sacred sites are the foundation of the Diné Life Way," the executive summary states. "... Since time immemorial the Navajos have held ceremonies, prayers and oral stories that reinforce and define the inherent responsibility of the Diné and their duty to remain on and care for the land."
Among the sacred sites Navajo citizens want to preserve are the San Francisco Peaks, located near Flagstaff, Ariz., and Mount Taylor, located in Northwest New Mexico.
The meetings will be open for citizens to voice any concerns they have about sacred sites, said Rachelle Todea, spokeswoman.
for the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.
"The sacred sites could be individual or collective," Todea said. "Individual sites could be burial plots or other family sites. Collective sites are according to the Diné way of life."
Input will be collected about water issues, weather issues or access and preservation issues, Todea said.
"There are so many sites, and that's what this is all about," she said. "People will talk about any issues they have in regards to sacred sites."
The Human Rights Commission will compile the data taken from the public hearings and issue a report to maintain and strengthen the spiritual relationship to the lands and uphold Diné responsibility to future generations.
Alysa Landry: alandry@daily-times.com


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