Niskíthe Prayer Camp Takes Protest to City Hall, State Capitol

May 18, 2022, 1 p.m. ·

Erin Poor and other members of the Niskíthe Prayer Camp address the crowd at Lincoln City Hall
With a megaphone in hand, Erin Poor and other members of the Niskíthe Prayer Camp address the crowd at Lincoln City Hall on Wednesday. (Photo by Will Bauer, Nebraska Public Media News)

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A Native American group and their supporters, who protested the city’s approval of an area for redevelopment that sits next to their prayer grounds and sweat lodges, marched from Wilderness Park to Lincoln City Hall in protest on Wednesday.

An estimated 50 Nebraskans marched in the morning and afternoon after removing their tipis from an area near Wilderness Park earlier in the morning. The group, called the Niskíthe Prayer Camp, erected tipis atop the land next to their sweat lodges two weeks ago. On Wednesday, the group also marched to the State Capitol and a Catholic church.

The area near Wilderness Park, formerly owned by the church, was sold and approved by the city for a housing development. The Prayer Camp said the new development would pollute the peacefulness needed for the area.

“We tried to gain some concessions for our sacred inipi lodge," said Kevin Abourzek, one of the events organizers. "I wish we had been more successful in that, to be very honest, but I know that the fight isn’t over yet.”

The group is now asking for a seat at the table with city leaders. Erin Poor, another of the event organizers, said the group and the city is considering a Native Advisory Committee but also electing leaders on the city’s planning commission or zoning board.

“We need dedicated seats on those bodies for Native people because Native people have specific knowledge of this land that needs to be considered as the city develops on this land," Poor said.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, along with city council member Sändra Washington, met with the group Wednesday morning. Gaylor Baird's office said in a statement "it plans to continue the dialogue with the Niskíthe Prayer Camp in the days and months to come."