In a movement that could change the course of U.S. land management, Native Americans are pushing for laws that would give them veto power over development projects on historically sacred sites. Despite fierce opposition to granting Native Americans such power, especially on non-reservation land, the legal push has made some headway: A bill is nearing passage in California, support is growing for similar legislation in Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court ruling prohibiting logging on a sacred site of the Hoopa tribe in Northern California — even though the land is privately owned by a non-native person. The trend has been spurred on by fears among Native Americans that the Bush administration’s emphasis on maximizing domestic energy sources could lead to drilling and digging on sacred lands. Among the threatened lands they hope to protect: the Zuni Salt Lake in New Mexico and sacred trails on what was once Quechan tribal land in Indian Pass, Calif.
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