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Native Americans Bring Giant Totem Pole to Washington, Urge Biden to Protect Sacred Sites

© AFP 2021 / Nicholas KAMMNative Americans listen to US President Barack Obama address the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington. (File)
Native Americans listen to US President Barack Obama address the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.07.2021
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WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) - Native American tribes from across the US brought a 25-foot totem pole to the nation's capital and urged the Biden administration to take action to protect sacred sites, Native Organizers Alliance Director Judith LeBlanc told Sputnik on Thursday.
"The Red Road to DC totem journey has brought together over 17 tribal nations who have been struggling and organizing and praying since the beginning of time to protect their sacred places," LeBlanc said. "Why we brought these 17 nations together is that we need urgent action by the federal government, we need policies that - because each sacred site is very different - we need policies that will protect all of the sacred sites."
The totem pole, crafted by the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers earlier this summer, will stand in front of the National Museum of the American Indian until the end of July. The President of The National Congress of American Indians, Fawn Sharp, as well as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland participated in a welcome ceremony for the totem pole.
Many Native sacred sites across the US are under threat of being destroyed by resource extraction and industrial development initiatives if the federal government does not intervene.
LeBlanc said that they have collected over 75,000 signatures over the last two weeks for a petition supporting the right of Native American organizations to be at the decision-making table.
"We believe that the best way to solve the problems that we face in this country and in Indian country, our territories, is... with us sitting at the decision table and we are part of decision making, not waiting for the federal government to make a decision after consulting us," she said.
Each sacred site, Le Blanc added, is in a different stage of negotiations or in legal fights or are just being totally ignored.
"For each sacred site it is a separate solution," LeBlanc said. "We want an immediate action."
LeBlanc added that the Biden administration has been on a "good path" when it comes to protecting the sites, although they are still encouraging them to remember their "ancestral responsibilities" to upholding the right to freedom of religion by continuing to take action to preserve them.
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