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Prayer camp brings down protest teepees, continues work in community

Niskithe Prayer Camp taking down teepees
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 9:52 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -About two weeks ago, seven tepees were put up near wilderness park protesting a planned Lincoln housing development. All but one of those tepees came down on Tuesday, with the last one making its way through Lincoln Wednesday morning.

The seven teepees were assembled on Snell Hill, right across the street from Wilderness Park earlier this month. Protesters are moving back into the community, where they will continue their work.

On May 2, Native American community members and environmental activists came together to assemble the teepees to protest a measure passed by the Lincoln City Council, giving a green light to a 500-unit apartment and housing development near Wilderness Park. On Wednesday, May 17, the final teepee will come down.

“We’re here because we were not engaged in any part of the planning that led up to this action being taken by the city to green light this development,” said Erin Poor, a coordinator for Niskithe Prayer Camp.

The Niskithe Prayer Camp opposes the housing development because they’re concerned about increased traffic and noise near the location of Native American sweat lodge ceremonies. In response to the council’s approval, the Niskithe Prayer Camp was formed, but members now want to move the fight back into the community.

“We want to signify to the community that Niskithe prayer camp is not over we are not giving up, there’s just so much work to do and we want to do that more connected with the city,” Poor said.

Wednesday morning, protestors will hold a prayer walk to bring the last standing tepee to several locations, including City Hall. The day will start on the hill to bring the tepee down, with hopes of educating the community about the land along the way.

“Not enough people know who we are how we pray and why the land is so important to us so,” Poor said. “We’re gonna be building coalitions with environmentalists and other faith-based organizations so we can all work together to advocate for a more inclusive community. One that is more aware of Native issues and Native ceremonies and where we can protect the lands here in this community.”

Days after the camp was set up, Lincoln’s mayor released a statement on why she approved legislation supporting the development, saying “as our city grows, new neighborhoods will continue to be built”, and that “the city will continue to listen to community concerns to help people live and grow together.”

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