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Notre Dame and the Fight for Sacred Lands

Notre Dame and the Fight for Sacred Lands

Jacqueline Keeler

“Part of our slogan has been ‘what part of sacred don’t you understand?’ Essentially we’re saying, why isn’t it enough for us to say a site is sacred and should be set aside and protected and respected because it’s integral for our spiritual practice to be continued.”

Klee Benally, Navajo activist, in an interview for NPR


This article resonates deeply with me and I thank you for it.


Excellent points. Notre-Dame, as the Vatican, or other similar religious structures, are of course superb architectural and artistic achievements of man, but they also are a display of highly concentrated power and wealth.


Thank you for this poignant, truthful piece.

I do not know how any human created space can be considered “sacred” and a “brilliant work of art” when:

"The main spire—750 tons of oak lined with lead.
The trees that made up the roof’s wooden structure were cut down around 1160, and some sources estimate that the beams accounted for 13,000 trees, or about 21 hectares of Medieval forest, many of which had been growing since the 800s or 900s."

and . . .



Hi Caroline, I thought about the trees too and also when I read of how many and how old the trees were. That’s what I thought first—it will never be the same building, because the ancient trees are burnt and gone. It’s almost as if the history has turned to ash. But true too, that giant buildings are revered and very often the people, whether the poor of the city, or those whose worshipping is done outside —these people and beliefs are often neglected and Nature is forgotten. : (


Different yet similar, consider the October 2018 cover story for the National Geographic: Last Tribes of the Amazon. Poor little NG, tsktsk, has no notion that it is an industrial tool. Like Hell! It reinforces the colonizing dehumanization essentially saying “they don’t matter - they’re virtually extinct anyway” . As agribusiness, transnationals raze the lungs of the forest and the exquisitely diverse sacred stewardship.

A print “iconic publication” as colonizing as they come. Photographers for centuries have “prided themselves” upon having their work published between its covers while adding to the denial of actual ‘dignification’ of the subjects .

The meaning of “culture” needs to be critiqued from start to finish. This has been an exercise of thinkers throughout the timeless intersecting run of parallel realities. The domination suppression programing claiming that life cannot exist without it is one itsy bitsy shattered fragment infusing its poison into everything it touches. Never stop working on the inoculations and reparations.


The land—the entire planet—is sacred, period. Anything that humanity builds or creates on Gaia is at best icing on an already magnificently complete place in the universe. As I write this, the thought comes up: Do termites, or beavers, or birds, well known for their building skills, ever enhance their work by deeming it “sacred”? Or is it simply, “home,” part of a greater whole?


I think one of the things that “Civilization” brought us is a loss of the sense of the Sacred. If one reads all of the old myths all of the elements of nature were seen as “sacred” protected by spirits whom if crossed would visit a punishment on the trangressor.

I am certain many of us here, when in the wilds and in nature can sense that sacredness if we pay attention. It a type of Sacred that does not exist in the man built Temples on Churches and the one the author alludes to.

It a long way down from seeing a bubbling brook coming from the side of a hillside and providing us with cool clean water as a sacred thing to what Humankind seems to see it today , that being someones property.


Like comparing the Amish to the free masons. Well, power and money do follow one another back and forth don’t they?
The poor have skill sets too, but would have be in a cooperative to put enough dough together to buy building materials.

I come at this from many different angles and levels. Humphreys Peak of the San Francisco Peaks is named after General Andrew Atkinson Humphrey, my Great Grandfathers brother-in-law. I currently live at the base of Apache Leap which is the western end of Oak Flats, where the mining company is trying to take away scared native lands. I spent my 16th summer on the Navajo Rez at Rough Rock and it is the only place I ever felt at peace or at home. Many times I feel bifurcated, cut in 2, 1/2 in and 1/2 out. The power of the Rez and what it did to me that summer I cannot explain. Only if you spend time there, not just drive through, will you maybe come to see. I know people get moved by being in a place like Notre Dame but the sand and rock of the Rez gets ingrained in such a way that it calls, it haunts, it seeks you out, calling you back, to be one with something you cannot put into words, something nameless and refuses to be named.


Hi Ditton ,
Sounds like a fascinating place to live . So much Native American history in those sacred lands . I just read up on some of what happened there at Apache Leap and the dreadful massacre of 50 or more Apache and those that jumped to their deaths not wanting to die by the hands of the white man , so sad .Have you found any of the Black Stones ?
The force is calling to you…


The “black stones” are called Apache Tears. As a kid I had a few, everyone did but I’ve changed my ways. Years ago I had someone, a native, tell me not to pick up feathers off the ground because they are sign that a prayer as been answered. I apply that to must things now that have a reverence to them. I think the Apache Tears fit the bill. There is the thinking that you are where you are for a reason and maybe there is a force calling me. Last month I met someone in my apartment complex and we share the same birthday. I am 11 hours older than she. She was born on the east coast and I in Denver. I have been here over 2 years and have yet to visit Oak Flats, I can feel it from below Apache Leap, the power. It’s like seeing the end of the road from way down the street. I will rest there, someday.
For more Native American info you might like the page, enjoy.



“… every bit of land is a holy land and
Every drop of water is a holy water”
– Michael Franti


i don’t mean to be rude, but i do not care about Notre Dame church. The entire ecology of the living Earth is being dismembered. Let’s get right with life.


This hit where I live if you know what I mean.


This is a brilliant piece and I’m so grateful to CD for carrying it. I’ve thought many of the same things during the lastest display of “grief porn” the media alway foists on us as “News”, but without the clarity and devastating exposé of the hypocrisy of this grief over an imperial building, while indigenous people’s spiritual values are buried under dollars. Btw, read Tony Hillerman’s mysteries for a wonderful intro to Navajo religion. I think his work has even been approved by Dineh leaders.

Hi Ditton, thank you for the pictures and the video. I knew about the Arawak from “The
People’s History of the United States,” and Howard Zinn—but the real terror from then to today, is that the United States military and government----are more often a horror than anything wonderful.
As I think about all the wars and all the treaties that America signs and ignores—Trump is what the government has always been—but now it’s getting worse, because Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams are as awful as the Bushes, the Clintons, and ICE and the Border People. It seems like things have changed—but they really haven’t W the People are ALL Native people and Palestinians now. : (

This is why it is so critical the Lone Wolf vs Hitchcock be over-turned. These people need to be set free. There is talk about reparations for blacks who’s families were slaves, I get that, it needs to be discussed but Native Americans need to be set free. It’s hard to counter the propaganda of amurika with reality, it can cause pain. But as Rep. E. Cummings says, we are better than this and it is worth fighting for. This is why I push, all of our shadows are the same. It helps lift the spirit, as least mine :-)))

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