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Desecration of Sacred Sites Is Wrong for All

November 10, 2002

Re: "San Juan Sports Site OKd," Oct. 19:

Perhaps it is time that we "Indians" begin moving out the headstones and "developing" the white cemeteries in such manners that would deny you the ability to visit those burial sites and pay your respects and that would obliterate any trace of who is buried at the sites and where they are buried. How would nonindigenous people react to such desecration of your ancestors' and loved ones' graves? Would you want the graves of your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, sister, brother, husband or wife trampled upon, their grave markers destroyed -- and perhaps their remains broken to pieces and destroyed? Would you want a building erected on top of their graves, forever denying you and your family that comes after you any access to or remembrance of their places of rest?

Maybe nonindigenous Americans do not respect the memories or spirits of their ancestors and deceased loved ones the way indigenous Americans do.

Perhaps you do not believe in an afterlife. Perhaps you no longer value family and spirituality. Perhaps you no longer recognize the eternity of the soul and the importance of honoring your ancestors. If that is so, then I pity you. However, that is not sufficient reason for denying indigenous Americans our rights to honor and protect our ancestors' burial sites and to expect others to respect our rights.

Al Swilling

Founder, Southeastern

Native American Alliance

International, Cleveland

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