‘We’re going to continue to fight this’: Native group in legal battle with City of Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – In April, the Lincoln City Council members voted to rezone an area near Wilderness Park to build a 500-home development.
Now, the city and the Niskithe Prayer Camp is in a legal battle over the controversial plans.
“Native people have been continually pushed aside for, as they say, ‘land development’ and capital acquisition of everything,” said Renee Sans Souci, co-leader of Niskithe Prayer Camp. “We’re not just going to stand by. We’re going to continue to fight this.”
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 because they have a sweat lodge there.
The land owner where the sweat lodge is located submitted an appeal on the rezoning and got over 2,300 signatures on a petition in hopes that the city would change their decision.
On Sep. 22, the city submitted a complaint to the Lancaster County Court to block the appeal.
Sans Souci said they have tried to set up discussions with city representatives, but they were denied.
We did reach out to the City of Lincoln and the mayor’s office, but they weren’t able to speak with us.
“We’re trying to live here, too, and we have our spiritual practices. We have everything that is tied to this land,” Sans Souci said. “This is what we’re fighting for. Why continue to fight us for something that goes against even their own city codes?”
Sans Souci said they would continue to pursue legal action and raise awareness despite the setback.
“Letting the world know what is happening here, that such a decision that the city has made against Niskithe Prayer Camp is one where our voices are again continually being silenced,” Sans Souci said.
She says the city’s complaint wasn’t a surprise to them, but it’s still disheartening.
“It’s all about money,” Sans Souci said. “Someone is making a lot of money and that comes before anything else.”
The appeal hearing to overturn the zoning decision is scheduled for next week.