By Gerard R. Bourassa
Furthermore, we should be more sensitive to their concerns that erecting the wind turbines would disrupt sacred burial grounds. In general, I am supportive of wind turbines. Anything that promotes clean energy and makes us less dependent on fossil fuel and therefore on other countries is certainly a positive concept. However, in this case, the religious rights of the People of the First Light who have called this area home for more than 12,000 years should take priority.
Although I know that no malice is intended toward the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes by the proponents of the Nantucket Sound wind turbines, one can't help but think that this episode is just the latest manifestation in long history of incidents in America of gross disrespect and utter disregard for the spiritual rituals and religious sites of the indigenous.
It's a shameful history that spans centuries from the "Pilgrim fathers" desecrating the graves of the natives when the former arrived in the "New World" to modern day non-Indian charlatans trying to get rich by counterfeiting sacred Native American sweat lodge ceremonies.
Even so, they're getting into some tricky territory. Can a group declare its view of the land or ocean a First Amendment right? It can try, but I doubt any US court will uphold such a right.
For a somewhat related case, see Comanches Kick Army's Butts.