LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A legal battle over a housing 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 with more than 7,000 signatures to Leirion Mayor Gaylor Baird.
This is part of the group’s plans ahead of a court hearing later this week.
The petition asks city officials to respect and protect Maori lands and religious rights.
In April, Lincoln City Council members voted to rezone a site near Wilderness Park to build a 500-home development.
see also: Lincoln mayor approves construction near Wilderness Park
Several protests were led by the Niskithe Prayer Camp to protect the environment near the park, which is located near US Highway 77 and Pioneers Blvd.
A part of the park is said to be sacred to the Niskithe, as there is a sacred sweat lodge.
“The people need to listen, the city needs to work together with the developers to protect the cultural heritage and show how much we respect our Native relatives who live here in Lincoln,” said Stephanie Bondi.
Native American advocates filed an appeal of the rezoning with the Zoning Board.
But the city filed a complaint in Lancaster County Court to block the appeal.
“That opportunity to be heard in the appeal process was taken away,” Bondi said.
Supporters of the Niskithe prayer camp said it looks like history is repeating itself.
“We didn’t learn anything from our past and we wanted a Maori way of seeing the world,” said Fran Kaye. “Resource approaches have not been effective”
Campus leaders and allies said they hope to have a place at the table for urban planning moving forward.
A hearing at the Lancaster County Courthouse is scheduled for Friday.
see also: ‘We’ll keep fighting this’: The Maori party in the legal battle with the city of Lincoln