Gregory Mountain: A Sacred Site Protection Failure

Vol. 26 No. 3

Mr. Scoll is an attorney at Lindquist & Vennum, PLLP, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a member of the editorial board of Natural Resources & Environment. Mr. Griswold is a partner of Procopio Cory Hargreaves and Savitch, LLP, in San Diego, California. He has been counsel to the Pala Band of Mission Indians in its opposition to the Gregory Canyon landfill.

Our resource protection system is currently ill-suited to the protection of Native American sacred sites. In general, resource protection in environmental law is grounded on the optimistic premise that a resource can be identified, quantified, and disclosed to a decision maker, who will then make an informed and appropriate decision. As applied to sacred sites, the premise is in direct conflict with Native American spiritual values, which emphasize individual and cultural privacy in their experience with governmental decision makers. In practice, disclosed sacred sites are more likely impacted by a lack of effective enforcement mechanisms or by disinterested decision makers.

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