Lincoln native group continues legal battle over development near Wilderness Park

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A legal battle over a housing development project near Wilderness Park continues between the City of Lincoln and Native American leaders.

On Monday morning, supporters of the Niskithe Prayer Camp delivered a petition that has over 7,000 signatures to Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.

This was part of the group’s plans ahead of a court hearing set for later this week. 

The petition asks city leaders to respect and protect Native American land and religious rights.

In April, the Lincoln City Council members voted to rezone an area near Wilderness Park to build a 500-home development.

SEE ALSO: Lincoln mayor will approve housing development near Wilderness Park

The Niskithe Prayer Camp has led several protests to protect the environment close to the park, which is located near U.S. Highway 77 and Pioneers Blvd.

A part of the park is considered sacred to the Niskithe, as a sacred sweat lodge is located there.

“The people need to be heard and the city needs to work with the developers to protect the cultural artifacts and to show how much they value our Native relatives who live here in Lincoln,” Stephanie Bondi said.

Native American advocates submitted an appeal on the rezoning to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

But the city submitted a complaint to the Lancaster County Court to block the appeal.

“That opportunity to be heard in the appeals process was taken away,” Bondi said.

Supporters of the Niskithe Prayer Camp said it seems like history is repeating itself.

“We haven’t learned anything from what we’ve done in the past and we need Native ways of seeing the world,” Fran Kaye said. “The material ways have not worked”

Camp leaders and allies said the hope is to be able to have a seat at the table for city planning moving forward.

A hearing at the Lancaster County Courthouse is scheduled for Friday.

SEE ALSO: ‘We’re going to continue to fight this’: Native group in legal battle with City of Lincoln

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