To the editor:
One of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment is the free practice of religion. Before Columbus, there were at least 700 indigenous nations in North America. People had places they considered sacred where they worshiped for the safety of their people and the bounty of agriculture.
The Troyville mound where I grew up in Joneville, La., was such a place. It was massive and it was destroyed in 1931 to build a bridge over the Ouachita/Black River. In recent times, people there have tried to re-create the mound realizing the mistakes their forebears made. Such isn’t the case for the Spiro Mound, where many Caddoan artifacts were stolen and are now in museums.
Why is it that social justice only exists for Euro-American people and Christian churches? Why is it that federal laws like the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978 are gutted by Republicans and highway interests? Don’t think we don’t worship. I participate in pre-Christian Stomp Dances that Christian missionaries tried to wipe out that wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere in the vicinity of the Haskell campus except the wetlands back then, which is the point that the Euro-American academics and courts ignored.
There are many other practices that are tribe-specific. Also remember your laws banned our religions in public until the 1970s. I find it troubling that the United Methodist Church who ran Haskell at the beginning has meaningless reconciliation ceremonies for affected Kansas tribes on the Baker campus and is not putting pressure on Baker to not infringe on indigenous first amendment rights. Who is justice for?