The ACLU of Nebraska supports Native community leaders in Lincoln who are opposing plans for Wilderness Crossing, a controversial housing development next to a large natural park and sacred ceremonial grounds.
UPDATED MARCH OF 2023
Q: WHAT’S THE LATEST?
- In August of 2022, the Indian Center, Inc. and Niskíthe Prayer Camp filed a zoning appeal with support of the ACLU of Nebraska and Big Fire Law & Policy Group.
- The City of Lincoln then sued to try to prevent the appeal from being heard. It was an attempt to silence dissent, pure and simple. A judge rightly dismissed the City's lawsuit.
- Shortly after the judge's decision, an official notified our clients that the Board of Zoning Appeals still refused to hear the appeal.
- Now, our clients will be heading back to court, asking a judge to send the issue back to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Q: HOW CAN I HELP?
Encourage officials to be responsive to Native residents’ religious, historical, cultural, and environmental concerns. Ask officials to reverse their earlier approval of the Wilderness Crossing project due to its violations of the Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan.
Email the appeals board at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird at email@example.com. City Council contact information is listed online.
Q: WHY IS THE ACLU INVOLVED?
Officials must respect Indigenous residents and their connection with this land. The development would displace ceremonies at a nearby historic sweat lodge, threatening Indigenous community members’ ability and right to practice their religious beliefs.
- Guidance in the Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan says officials should actively seek engagement from historically underrepresented groups during planning and decision-making. Instead, officials disregarded clear concerns about the site’s cultural and religious significance.
- The appeal also raises environmental concerns. While the ACLU of Nebraska is not an environmental advocacy organization, we recognize that environmental matters are frequently tied to racial justice and Indigenous rights.