By Shelby Howard, Megan Christy, John Cho, and Edna Kilusu, IV Form
Sacred Places in Conflict
Editor’s Note: In the course “Sacred Places: Sites of Spirituality,” the students chose either visual or written methods to demonstrate the following: an understanding of the concepts used in the course (not explicitly, but analytically); an understanding of the conflicts between differing world views with regard to sacred land; a discussion of an action that, as global citizens with an understanding of sacred places, the students could engage in.
Google Sites: Sacred Sites in Conflict in the United States (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; Winnemem Wintu; Hopi Tribe) Shelby Howard
Google Sites: Conflict in Our Sacred World (Phiphidi Waterfalls, South Africa; Mt. Girnar, India; The Western Wall, Israel) Megan Christy
Google Slides: Sacred Places of the World Calendar: January 20-27 John Cho
Speech by Edna Kilusu:
Through my understanding of sacred places from this class, I would stand to protect sacred sites from being destroyed by government allowances or tourist behavior.
PROBLEM #1: Government Allowances
In the United States, the Dakota Access Pipeline has destroyed ancient burial sites, places
of prayer, and other significant cultural artifacts belonging to the Sioux Tribe at Standing
Rock. How unfair to the Sioux tribe! The Government has allowed the construction of the pipeline without ever asking permission from the Sioux Tribe to build on their sacred land. The government has chosen not to protect this sacred land because the government is more interested in transporting oil than maintaining the sacredness of the site or the safety of the drinking water for this Native American tribe. Students could join the online protest in an active solidarity with this Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. They could also physically attend the protest at the reservation. Students could also use the power of their written voice to write an article or write a letter of protest to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Problem #2: Insensitive Tourist Behavior
At Uluru in Australia, tourists have not been following the rules and reading the signs. The tourists’ paths over the sacred rock formation are contributing to erosion that is changing the face of Uluru. A lack of toilets and bins at the top of Uluru also means that the waste left behind by tourists is affecting nearby waterholes. A sacred place is a significant area chosen by a culture that should be respected by all people, no matter if you believe in the sacredness of the place or not. A quote from Aboriginal people living near Uluru says, “The climb is not prohibited, but we ask you to respect our law and culture by not climbing Uluru. We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. The climb can be dangerous.” If you travel to a sacred place as a tourist, be respectful and do not discard waste carelessly or disobey native requests.
I have learned to respect people’s cultures and beliefs. I have also learned that a place is sacred when it has a religious meaning to the people who believe in it and should be respected. As a global citizen, I stand and will stand to protect the sacred lands.