by Scott Theisen
from ABC News–Minnesota
The Obama administration on Monday began reaching out to Native American political and spiritual leaders to address concerns over the protection of sacred sites on federal land.
Tribal leaders said they’re frustrated. Some feel consultation between the federal government and tribes has become just a formality despite promises by the administration to improve discussions.
About four dozen tribal leaders from New Mexico, Arizona and elsewhere packed a meeting room in Albuquerque for the first of a few listening sessions planned by the U.S. Interior Department.
Pointing to the importance of sacred sites to religious and cultural practices, the department is aiming to develop some kind of uniform policy for addressing the protection of such sites. That could mean a consultation policy specific to sacred sites or changes in law that would allow for greater protections, officials said.