Indigenous Elders and Medicine People Respond to National Park Service Proposed Strict Rule for Gathering Plants

National Park Service Photo

National Park Service Photo

– The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed to modify regulations governing the gathering of plants in national parks by subjecting tribal members to apply for permits and/or have a designated individual gather plants for them. In addition, the NPS is requiring disclosure of traditional knowledge of specific plants or plant parts to be gathered, size and quantity of the plants, times and locations at which plants will be gathered and the methods of gathering. The NPS Superintendent and Regional Director would then authorize the gathering or not.

The Indigenous Elders and Medicine People Council convey in their formal response to the NPS proposed rule that, “by creating defined parameters and designated individuals, the Federal Government assumes control over those practices, by determining who is allowed to engage in a cultural way of life and what that way of life might be. This is illegal and unacceptable.”

The Elders further declare, “Our sacred relationship with these plants, and the ceremonies and customs connected to them, is an essential part of our spiritual way of life. It is at the heart of our relationship with the Creator and our sacred relationship with All Life. To place the Superintendent and/or Regional Director and/or designated person between the Creator and the Indigenous Peoples is a direct violation of our rights.”

The NPS states the “central purpose of the proposed rule is to support the continuation of Indian cultural traditions on lands that are now administered as units of the National Park System.”

The Elders and Medicine People reply, “The alleged goal of this new rule is to remove prohibitions placed on that relationship in order to allow resumed access. The goal to remove prohibitions is not served by creating new illegal regulations on those practices. This does not undue the earlier harm it only furthers the United States destructive actions to Indigenous Peoples and their way of life. The appropriate step would be to remove the prohibitions placed on Indigenous Peoples completely, not to create new rules that allow restricted access that defeats traditional purposes.”

The council of indigenous Elders state, “The way that the United States has been conducting consultation is nothing more than an informational session and a form of dictatorship. It does not meet any of the requirements that have been clearly outlined by law. The destruction of the land has been the result of mismanagement and over use by Industry, which has been sanctioned by the Federal Government. The restrictions should be placed on the activities of the National Park Service and their contractors rather than

Indigenous Peoples.” To view the Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples entire formal statement, CLICK HERE.

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