Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 29, 2013

Ponca Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp Protecting Land from Keystone Pipeline

Ponca Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe will host a Spiritual Camp in Nebraska from Nov. 8-11, to draw the line against the Keystone XL pipeline's potential destruction and disrespect to the sacred sites along the Trail of Tears of the Ponca Nation.
Invited are descendants of the Ponca Tribe and all allies who wish to preserve the significant history of this sacred site against tarsands development. All faiths are invited to come pray with the Ponca descendants and allies for the preservation of Mother Earth for four days during this spiritual camp. The sacred fire will be lit at 2:00 p.m. on Friday and burn until sunrise on Monday. The spiritual camp is hosted by Ponca Tribal families, Brave Heart Society, Oceti Sakowin supporters, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, and Bold Nebraska. More information also available at
Visitors are welcome to camp overnight at the spiritual camp, on land near Neligh, Nebraska on the KXL pipeline route. (Many thanks to Art and Helen Tanderup for graciously offering their land for the camp.) There are also nearby accommodations that include the Delux Motel (402-887-4628) and West Hill View Motel (402-887-4186), and additional options in Norfolk, NE about 40 miles away. If you're unable to join us this time, other Spiritual Camps will rise up in November, December & possibly January, hosted by the Sicangu (Rosebud); Ihanktonwan (Yankton); and Minneconju (Cheyenne River).
Please use the form below to register to attend the Spiritual Camp. The exact location will be provided by email to those who complete the registration form. For any questions, contact Faith Spotted Eagle at or (605) 481-0416.
November 8-11, Neligh, Nebraska 
  • FRIDAY, NOV. 8
    • 2:00 p.m. — Opening Fire, setting up tipi, opening prayer songs.
    • 12:00 p.m. — Communal meal.
    • 1:00 p.m. — Welcome visitors, tribes, ranchers. Share stories of the land all afternoon. 
    • EVENING: Shared dinner at ranchers conference in O'Neill, NE.
  • SUNDAY, NOV. 10
    • 12:00 p.m. — Communal meal.
    • AFTERNOON: Speakers to include spiritual leaders, tribal leaders, ranchers & allies. Prayer Ceremony for Mother Earth.
    • EVENING: Communal meal.
  • MONDAY, NOV. 11
    • SUNRISE: Close of fire, sending prayers to Mother Earth for protection of the land from the tarsands, Keystone XL and destruction. 
 Registration required.

In response to the rising tide of tribal and landowner opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to destructively cut through numerous sacred sites and compromise the safety of land and water for all citizens, several tribes and allies of the Ponca Nation will participate in a Spiritual Camp on the Ponca Trail of Tears near Neligh, Nebraska on Nov. 8-11, 2013. The State Department and the Nebraska DEQ reports failed to study the impacts and risks of the pipeline to this culturally significant area.
The Keystone XL pipeline cuts a swatch through the historic Ponca Trail of Tears — the forced migration route for the Southern Ponca who were exiled from their homelands in Northern Nebraska during the 1800s. The famous Ponca leader who challenged the government and eventually returned to his homelands was Chief Standing Bear, now buried near Niobrara.
With this new erosion of tribal rights, this time at the hands of a foreign company, tribal families are saying "enough." The entire KXL pipeline path cuts through Treaty and aboriginal lands without respect to water rights, sacred sites, and threats to the environment. Landowners feel the same way, their scared land and water is being taken against their will. The Ponca Spiritual Camp — the first of four tribal spiritual camps scheduled for the fall and winter of 2013 — will send a strong message to President Obama, Congress and TransCanada that this pipeline and tarsands development will not be allowed, is not wanted and is not in our national interest.
The Ponca Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp is hosted by Ponca Tribal families, Brave Heart Society, Oceti Sakowin tribes, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, and Bold Nebraska.

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