Dr. Grace Augustine: Those trees were sacred to the Omaticaya in a way you can’t imagine.
Parker Selfridge: Oh, you know what? You throw a stick in the air around here it’s gonna land on some sacred fern, for Christ Sake!
Attorneys for several Northwest tribal elders argued in federal court in Portland on Monday that the destruction of a spiritual site along Highway 26 near Oregon’s Mount Hood nearly a decade ago violated their religious freedoms.
Members of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, as well as the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, say they can no longer practice religious ceremonies at the site because it no longer exists.
They’re asking a federal judge to rule that the government violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. -snip-
During the expansion, burial grounds and a stone altar were destroyed, and old-growth trees were cut down. The tribal elders argue the area was a place of worship.
Today the site — about 13 miles west of Government Camp — is a grass-covered berm. But it was once “the place of big, big trees,” said plaintiff Carol Logan, an elder with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
I’m not qualified to figure out who is the bad guy. This situation mirrors the Na’vi and the Dakota Access Pipeline in another important way:
During oral arguments Monday, Schifman also said the tribal members didn’t engage with the public process during the highway expansion, making it difficult for the government to understand the significance of the site.
You must engage — even if you are not willing to compromise. In fact, especially if your position is right and correct. You must engage. You can’t just skip the process which you knew about, then sue later. Well, can’t is a strong word. Shouldn’t.
Unless the highway was a secret, or the highway planner’s didn’t know about how sacred the site was…I’m still unwilling to blame anyone. Or, I’m willing to blame them all.
Just one more pop culture reference:
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
By the way, I mean no disrespect to Native Americans or their culture by comparing it to Avatar, the film which recreates the American indigenous history with the subtlety of a hammer.