Niskíthe Prayer Camp members celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, continues development fight

For indigenous people in Lincoln, it's a day of reflection and a reminder to keep pushing forward amid push back from the city.
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Across the country Monday, people celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day - the second official year of the national holiday since President Joe Biden signed a proclamation last October.

For indigenous people in Lincoln, it’s a day of reflection and a reminder to keep pushing forward amid push back from the city.

10/11 NOW has been following the story of the Niskíthe Prayer Camp. The camp was formed by indigenous leaders following a proposed development near Wilderness Park which they say would impact a nearby sweat lodge.

Renee Sans Souci, a co-leader of the Niskíthe Prayer Camp, said indigenous people are always celebrating regardless of the date on the calendar.

“It’s something that we’ve always recognized,” Sans Souci said. “And we’ve always thought to bring to the attention to the public.”

Sans Souci, other Niskíthe community members, and members from The Black Cat House gathered for an ‘anti-Columbus Day’ rally near 16th and ‘O’ streets on Monday.

“Everywhere you look, it doesn’t matter where you go here in the United States, you’re on indigenous land,” Sans Souci said.

Earlier this year, she and other Niskíthe leaders have been working to protect a native sweat lodge near Wilderness Park after the city gave the green light to a 500-unit apartment and housing development.

“It violates our spiritual and ceremonial abilities to conduct, you know, our way of life,” Sans Souci said.

Just recently, the city filed a lawsuit after the prayer camp and Indian Center filed a zoning appeal with the ACLU of Nebraska and Big Fire Law & Policy Group. According to the lawsuit, the board of zoning appeals is “without subject matter jurisdiction to consider the BZA appeal filed by defendants.”

It’s a fight that Sans Souci said is far from over.

“As Native people we’ve been battling, you know, since day one of colonization,” Sans Souci said. “And I’ve seen many victories, you know, through the court system. And I’ve seen other things that have happened, but it didn’t stop us from continuing to do what we’re going to do.”

The Niskíthe Prayer Camp said they are awaiting the outcome for the city’s lawsuit to see if a hearing will be called for an appeal of the zoning for the Wilderness Crossing Development.