Manataka American Indian Council

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Manataka Council Fire


Manataka IS a Sacred Site:

By Lee Standing Bear Moore and Takatoka


Over the past eight months, we published eight official documents in the Manataka Smoke Signal News from recognized spiritual leaders in North, Central and South America who proclaim Manataka a sacred site. 


Together, they compose an unprecedented gathering of spiritual elders for a single purpose: To declare Manataka a sacred site.


All of the documents, except one were sent directly to the United States Department of the Interior at least ten years ago.  In January, a packet containing dozens of documents was delivered to the Department of the Interior for a response. 


To date, the National Park Service has wrongfully ignored these and other esteemed indigenous spiritual elders. 


August 2015 - Chief Arvol Looking Horse

September 2015 - Peter V. Catches Lakota Spiritual Elder

October 2015 - Xielolixii, Council Chief Salinan-Chumas Nation

November 2015 - Rev. Dononlus A. Otto, Saginaw Chippewa

December 2015 - Boe Bushpo Awa Glasschild, Choctaw

January 2015 - Great Confederation of Councils of  Principal Mayan

February 2016 - Holy Mother Marie Paul says Manataka is predestined

March 2016- Confederation of Elders Council Original People of Abya Ayala

Why are federal bureaucrats refusing to acknowledge the good words of indigenous spiritual elders and why do they not grant "Sacred Site" status to the oldest national reservation?    Why do federal bureaucrats snub esteemed leaders who represent millions of indigenous people?   


The Hot Springs National Park Service pays to monitor this website, emails and social media 24/7.   They are very well aware of our reasoning and they spend a great deal of time and taxpayer dollars devising ways to impede our search for religious freedom.


Recognition of Native American Sacred Sites

The Recognition of Native American sacred sites in the United States could be described as "specific, discrete, narrowly delineated location on Federal land that is identified by an Indian tribe, or Indian individual determined to be an appropriately authoritative representative of an Indian religion, as sacred by virtue of its established religious significance to, or ceremonial use by, an Indian religion".  The sacred places are believed to "have their own 'spiritual properties and significance'".


Ultimately, Indigenous peoples who practice their religion at a particular site, they hold a special and sacred attachment to that land sacred land.


In the case of Manataka, many nations made sacred pilgrimages to pray and give thanks in its circles.  No tribe ever claimed Manataka as its own because it belonged to all tribes who came in peace.  Here, they found healing and the Spirit of the Great Mystery. The significance of Manataka is that it represents the religions of all tribes, of all peoples.  For longer than our stories can recall, generations came here to be at peace.  The Spirit came into those who joined hands in the Great Circle of Manataka.   Why do local federal bureaucrats plot to destroy that beautiful world... again.?


Among multiple issues regarding the human rights of Indigenous Peoples is the protection of these sacred sites. During colonization, Europeans claimed governance over the lands of numerous native tribes. After decolonization, Indigenous groups still fought federal governments to regain ownership of their ancestral lands, including the sacred sites and places. This conflict between the Indigenous groups has risen in the United States in recent years and the rights to the protection of sacred sites has been discussed through United States constitutional law and legislature.


On May 24, 1996, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13007. Under this order, executive branch agencies are required to: "(1) accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by religious practitioners and (2) avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such  sites". This order holds management of Federal lands of taking the appropriate procedures to ensure that Indigenous peoples governments are involved in actions involving sacred sites.


Since 2004, Jose Fernandez, Superintendent of the Hot Springs National Park, refused to acknowledge Clinton's Executive Order 13007 and our RIGHT to access and ceremonial use of Manataka (Hot Springs Reservation).  Before 2004, those who gathered here were not harassed, arrested or defamed.  Since 2004, hundreds of American Indian cultural artifacts have disappeared from public view.  Historic plaques are gone.  The people are strong-armed and intimidated at our events.  Why?


The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) is procedural law that a implements "a program for preservation of historic properties across the United States for reasons including the ongoing loss and alteration of properties important to the nation's heritage and to orient the American people to their cultural and historical foundations". (Ruscavage-Barz, Samantha (2007). "The Efficacy of State Law in Protecting Native American Sacred Places: A Case Study of the Paseo Del Norte Extension". Natural Resources Journal 47 (4): 971).


Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs Reservation (Manataka) is specifically protected under the National Historic Preservation Act, yet millions of dollars have been misspent by federal bureaucrats altering the sources, flow, appearance and chemical content injected into the otherwise pure sacred and ancient spring waters.  Moreover, Interior bureaucrats have "engineered" a collapse of the geological ecosystem producing the hot springs.   


In 2012, Fernandez authorized the commercial production and sale of alcohol beverages using the sacred hot springs waters inside one of the bathhouses.  The use of sacred waters for this purpose is an abomination, a sacrilege with evil intent of great proportions.    The federal government is now profiting from the sale of sacred water alcohol that ravages the body instead of healing it as the Creator intended.


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a national policy that promotes better environmental conditions by preventing the government from damaging the environment. This Act relates to the sacred sites protection because it promotes and encourage a "harmonious" relationship between humans and the environment.  Furthermore, because this Act is a procedural law, those who bring a suit to the law must "allege a legal flaw in the process the agency followed to comply with NEPA such that the agency's final decision was reached without a complete understanding of the true effects of the action on the quality of the environment. (Ruscavage-Barz, Samantha (2007). "The Efficacy of State Law in Protecting Native American Sacred Places: A Case Study of the Paseo Del Norte Extension". Natural Resources Journal 47 (4): 971).


A horrific desecration of the sacred lands of Manataka began shortly after the federal government gained control of these grounds in 1832.     Continuous misdirected physical alterations throughout the years, compounded by serious flaws and misunderstanding of the environment has led to a gigantic ecological disaster.    The number of legal flaws in the ever-fluctuating processes used by the Department of the Interior with regards to the sacred hot springs fills a file cabinet and fails to comply with National Environment Policy in a dozen or more instances.  


American Indian Religious Freedom and Restoration Act

The American Indian Freedom and Restoration Act, or the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), was passed by congress in 1978. The act was passed to recognize Indigenous people’s religious practices by not limiting access to sacred sites. The AIRF also obliges federal agencies to administer laws to "evaluate their policies in consultation" with Indigenous groups to assure that their religious practices are protected. Nonetheless, Arizona Democrat Representative Morris K. Udall a cosponsor of AIRFA asserted that the Act does "not create legal rights" and "'depends on Federal administrative good will'" for it to be applied. Consequently, Indigenous groups are not able to effectively use AIRFA in their fight against public land management agencies.  (Linge, George (2000). "Ensuring the Full Freedom of Religion on Public Lands: Devils Tower and the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites". Environmental Affairs 27 (307): 307–339.)


To date, no official with the Department of  the Interior has consulted with local indigenous groups in Hot Springs to assure their religious practices are protected.  It appears they simply do not care if our rights are trampled. 


Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) prohibits the federal government from restricting or burdening a person's exercise of religion. Under the RFRA, a plaintiff can present a case by showing that the federal government's actions burdens his ability to exercise his religion. Still, although the law is not a procedural law and protects the free exercise of minority religion, it does not protect religious activities conflicting with government's land use.


Regardless of the apparent difficulties in bringing a law suit against federal bureaucrats for numerous violations of our religious rights, there is ample just cause at Hot Springs National Park (Manataka).   


Article VI of United States Constitution

While the Religious Clause may put limits on the actions of the federal government with regards to sacred sites protection, Article Six of United States Constitution require Congress to treat “’Indian affairs as a unique area of federal concern’”.  Any legal relationship between both parties is treated with special consideration in the basis that Indigenous peoples have become dependent on the United States government after the land was taken from them.  As John R. Welch et al. states, “the government ‘has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust’”.  The federal government has a responsibility to maintain the agreements it made with the Indigenous peoples through the treaties. The federal government should “manage Indian trust lands and their bounties in the best interests of beneficiaries”. (Welch, John R.; Ramon Riley; Michael V. Nixon (2009). "Discretionary Desecration: Dzil Nhaa Si An (Mount Graham) and Federal Agency Decisions Affecting American Indian Sacred Sites". American Indian Culture and Research Journal 33 (4): 32.).


Religion Clauses

Indigenous peoples in the United States argued that they have the right to protect sacred sites on the grounds of religious freedom. The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment have been two main documents discussed in the dispute of sacred sites protection. (Ruscavage-Barz, Samantha (2007). "The Efficacy of State Law in Protecting Native American Sacred Places: A Case Study of the Paseo Del Norte Extension". Natural Resources Journal 47 (4): 971).


United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations in 2007. The declaration emphasizes the right of Indigenous peoples, some of which include the protection of sacred sites and their religious practices. Articles 11, 12, and 25 of the Declaration specifically addresses these rights.


Article 11 of the Declaration states:

1.    Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature United Nations (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of IndigenousPeoples


2.    States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs. United Nations (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Article 12 of the Declaration States:

1.    Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains. United Nations (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

2.    States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned. United Nations (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Article 25 of the Declaration states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard. United Nations (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples



When an abused population has little recourse open to them, save expensive and lengthy legal court battles that often produce little resolution, those people will seek redress.  It is vital in our long-term struggle to redirect the anger, distrust, and pure disgust felt from the actions of an over-bloated federal bureaucratic political system.  We must focus on positive, peaceful and loving ways to change false perceptions, inept bureaucrats and abusive policies and laws.  We must educate and appeal to their higher moral-self and always be good stewards of these sacred grounds.


The fact is, we do not require the permission of the federal government to declare Manataka a sacred site.   


Indigenous spiritual elders across this continent have eloquently expressed that loving sentiment.   Its ancient and colorful past silently makes its own powerful declaration.  Our hearts and minds know truth and we do not ask the federal government to confirm a spiritual concept they do not understand.   However, we strongly demand that our religious freedom be respected. 


We do not ask permission of the bureaucrats at the Hot Springs National Park Service to pray daily at Manataka.  We do not ask permission to conduct ceremonies or commune with the beautiful and powerful spirits who populate these sacred grounds.  We will never ask their permission to gather and walk among our brothers and sisters on the mountain.  Never shall we bow down to the insanity of federal over-reach into the private and personal lives of its citizens, on public or private land, and especially not on sacred land.


American Indians have been voting citizens in most states since 1924 and some did not gain full citizenship until 1965.        


To stop the continual desecration of the sacred hot springs we must make our voice heard.    First and foremost, we must lift our voices of thanks to the omnipotent Great Mystery.  Then, we shall follow the Spirit as it presents itself leading all indigenous cultures towards its Original Instructions and freedom.    Manataka is here to remember the past today for the sake of our children tomorrow.    We will not fail.   ~Lee Standing Bear Moore and Takatoka