Photo of Bancroft Bay Park, courtesy of Debra Blowers.
This weekend, there are plans for large, concrete foundations to be poured on each fairway of a new 18-hole Disc Golf Course in Bancroft Bay Park, of Albert Lea, Minnesota. Aside from the urgent need for environmental restoration after aggressive clearings, Bancroft Bay Park is an ancient American Indian hunting and gathering camp site of the Woodland Period (1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D.) and remains a cherished and fragile home to many nesting waterfowl and other wildlife; violating this profound and sacred land must be prevented. There has been a steady and continuous chorus of community voices in opposition to the Disc Golf Course, calling for a removal and relocation of the course, toward land restoration, but City Council leaders have claimed that there is no criteria for a reversal of plans, since there are no legal violations. This lack of response seems shortsighted, linear and narrow. Nature, on the other hand, continually allows us to observe renewal, circularity and creation. Thomas Norton-Smith muses upon these starkly different modes of thinking:
"The Western tradition... constructs a natural world that is inert and material, lawlike and mechanical... the one that best enables us to explain and predict, and then conquer, manipulate, and exploit the natural world. ... However... the American Indian version constructs a world that is animate and dynamic, unfixed and unfinished; human beings participate in the creation of a living world in which everything is interconnected. In such a world where all of our actions and choices are of critical importance."
There are consequences to not listening to the land; we must choose to protect the land and honor sacred territory. The Sioux believe that sacred Beings, including animal Beings, harness the life force of the universe, and they can harm humans or provide help. Currently, there is a drought across the Midwest. Let's not belittle or undermine our connection to the natural world by paving sacred land; she deserves our respect, our reverence, our awareness of inter-connectivity, and ultimately our voices and action. We've already apologized for far too much.