FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lincoln, NE, 5/16/2022 – The Niskithe Prayer Camp releases a statement and defines next steps. On Tuesday they will begin to take down the tipis; on Wednesday they will lead a prayer march with the final tipi from the camp to City Hall and the Cathedral. Their work will continue after the tipis come down as they pursue legal protections for the land, coalition-building, advocating for structural change in the city government, and engaging in ongoing direct actions.
Official Statement: Our Next Steps
Fourteen days ago under the cover of darkness, we raised seven tipis on Snell Hill and established the Niskithe Prayer Camp. With those lodges we stated unequivocally that we will not tolerate erasure in our city government, and we will not accept exclusion from conversations that impact our sacred ceremonial sites. With our camp, we declared we are still here, we are strong, we will remain.
In the two weeks since, we have held many ceremonies, praying for our community, for our Mother Earth, and for hearts to open. We engaged in near constant education, as we shared who we are, how we pray, and why we rise. We shared our story with hundreds of visitors at camp, and thousands more through social and news media. We advocated to city leaders for our ceremonial sites, for the land, and for our religious freedom. We shared our stories of ancestral resistance with the Bishop of the Lincoln Catholic Diocese. We gathered around rocks, fires, and drums. We sang. We endured terrific storms, near freezing temperatures, and blistering heat. We grieved and we laughed. We were given a glimpse into a more connected way of living. We listened to each other’s stories of heartache and rebirth and experienced profound moments of enduring kinship. In all things, we were Spirit led.
Today we have better, stronger relationships with our city leaders and our community. We have the beginnings of a plan toward more meaningful representation of Native voices in city government, and we have a commitment from the Mayor to continue to work with us to honor our culture and protect our ceremonies. Yet there is so much more work to do.
We will continue to strive for structural change in our city. We plan to engage in coalition building with faith leaders and environmentalists to strengthen our advocacy for the land and for the places in which we pray. We will deepen our understanding of our treaty rights, and pursue legal avenues to protect our sweat lodge and the sacred land on which it stands. We will seek the rematriation of land in this region to Indigenous stewardship. And we will continue to engage in direct actions so no one ever forgets: We are still here.
To do that work, Niskithe Prayer Camp must evolve and enter a new phase of its life, one that is more integrated into the fabric of our community. We will take down the tipis from Snell Hill beginning tomorrow. On Wednesday, to demonstrate our continued commitment to our work, we will lower the last tipi, the anchor of our camp, the lodge made by our brother Leo Yankton, known now by his spirit name Hoksila Luta. We will march in prayer with his tipi from Niskithe to City Hall, and then on to the Cathedral of the Risen Christ. At each stop we will invite the leaders inside to pray with us. Then we will return the tipi to the place Hoksila Luta called home while on this earth. We invite the public to join us on this walk and to commit to an ongoing relationship with us. We offer our commitment to you in return. As long as the grass shall grow and the water runs, the spirit of Niskithe Prayer Camp will endure.
To everyone who came to the camp and to all those who supported us, we thank you. We are overcome with gratitude. Your prayers and solidarity are deeply appreciated. As we evolve, we ask you to evolve with us. We need your solidarity and support now more than ever. We ask that you continue to walk with us, that you continue to see us, and that you continue to advocate for a better world for the generations to come.