Sacred Ground

  1. The priests prayed for the land and for the well-being of all living things that dwell there. Later they told us the pilgrimage had clearly been successful. Almost everywhere we had gone, it had rained the next day. So much rain fell around Grand Canyon Village after we passed through there that authorities had to close all the roads for 24 hours.

    But the place where we sat on Woodruff Butte that sun-filled day long ago no longer exists. A bulldozer scraped off the top of the privately owned volcanic remnant in the 1990s. Much of sacred Woodruff Butte was ground up and is now part of the pavement of Interstate 40. What might well be the longest-running pilgrimage route in North America has had one-eighth of its stops lopped off.

    Sadly, this is not an isolated act--there is a long history of heedless despoliation of sacred Native lands. Indeed, for most Native peoples of this continent all land is sacred, and much of the ancestral lands of the tribes are now smothered by cities, housing tracts and highways or fouled by strip mines, chemical plants, clear-cut forests and polluted streams.

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