Andy Petefish: Andy Petefish is the owner and director of Tower Guides, a rock climbing guide service for Devils Tower. He believes that a voluntary ban on climbing at Devils Tower in June is not fair because he has as much of a claim to the rock as Native Americans to whom the site is sacred. He says that "climbing lifts [his] spirits more than any other activity that [he's] ever participated in" and that when he's on top of the tower he's "fully engaged with nature" (Film Transcript: In Light of Reverence). He derives his livelihood from the tower and thus believes a voluntary ban would result in personal economic injury. He also claims that "land-based religious practitioner[s are]...not advocating strictly the month of June if you talk to them, they don't want climbers...period," thus he fears a permanent plan in the future (Film Transcript: In Light of Reverence). He is an advocate for and member of the Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association.
Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association: BLMUA is a group that aims to protect the public's right to use federal land. It sees a voluntary ban in June as infringing upon this right as well as a violation of the Establishment Clause, which states that Congress can neither prefer one religion over another nor establish a national religion. This group includes climbers Andy Petefish, Gary Anderson, Kenneth Allen, Gregory Hauber, and Wes Bush.
Winnie Bush and the residents of Hulett, Wyoming: Winnie Bush is the Mayor of Hulett, Wyoming, the closest town to Devils Tower. She says, "Our culture is as important as the Indian culture, and we people who have lived here all our lives, we have our own culture that's being invaded by the Indians coming here all the time and taking over" (Film Transcript: In Light of Reverence). She raises concerns that the Indians' presence at the tower for religious ceremonies feels as though they are overrunning the place that she considers home. In addition, some residents fear that a voluntary ban would result in economic injury because of less revenue as a result of fewer tourists who come both to climb the tower and to watch those who climb.
Native American Tribes: The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Shoshone are the principle tribes that consider Bear Lodge (Devils Tower) a sacred site, thus they strongly support the voluntary climbing ban. They journey to the site to perform pipe ceremonies, vision quests and the Sun Dance. At least twenty-three other tribes have an association with the site as well. What the tower is called and the legends that are associated with it vary from tribe to tribe, but the belief in and reliance on its sanctity is shared among the tribes. Many tribes say that an important figure was buried at the tower. The Crow believe the tower was "put there by the Great Spirit for a special reason, because it was different from other rocks" (How is Devils Tower a Sacred Place to American Indians?). Their ceremonies are inclusive of tribal members and do not exclude the public, but rely on peaceful and quite surroundings. A voluntary ban during June allows them to practice their religion more freely because there are fewer distractions and disruptions with a reduced number of climbers, which makes it easier to connect with spirits and perform important ceremonies; the bulk of their ceremonies occur during June because they are connected to the summer solstice. The Native American tribes describe the tower as "vital to the health of [their] nation and to [their] self-determination" (Film Transcript: In Light of Reverence). They also acquire knowledge from the spirits at the tower which aids in preserving their cultural way of life.
Other Concerned Groups:
National Congress of American Indians--http://www.ncai.org/
Native American Rights Fund---www.narf.org
The Becket Fund---www.becketfund.org
The Group of Concerned Scholars
The Medicine Wheel Coalition on Sacred Sites of North America
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