In the Light of Reverence – Sacred Ground or Federal Ground?

Lesson Duration

From PBS documentary series POV – Documentaries with a point of view
Lesson Author: Joan Brodsky Schur

“The subject of this lesson is a controversy that has deep roots in American History, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Using the PBS documentary video In the Light of Reverence students closely examine the struggles of the Lakota Sioux to maintain their sacred site at Mato Tipila (Lakota for Bear’s Lodge) at Devils Rock in Wyoming. Although the site was never ceded by treaty to the U.S. government, it is now under the administration of the National Park Service. Rock climbers claim any U.S. citizen should have complete access to the site because it is on Federal land. In deference to the religious practices of the Lakota, the National Park Service asks that people do not climb there during the entire month of June. The case has been litigated up to the Supreme Court. After watching the video and discussing various aspects of the controversy, students role-play members of four teams: the Lakota, rock climbers, National Park Service and the courts. Using extensive on-line resources linked to the lesson, students research the issues and evaluate the sources. The first three teams present their demands in a hearing. The court tries to help them reach a compromise and then adjudicates any unresolved issues. The lesson continues as students compare the plight of the Lakota to that of the Hopi and Wintu, (as presented in the video) who also struggle to maintain their sacred lands.”

Objectives – students will:

-Understand the concept of “rights in conflict” arising under the First Amendment (freedom of religion)
-Interpret a current conflict from multiple perspectives
-Learn to advocate for a point of view
-Learn to resolve a conflict through a conflict resolution scenario.

Go to: In the Light of Reverence – Sacred Ground or Federal Ground?


American Documentary Inc. is the producer of the PBS documentary series POV. "American Documentary is a leading nonprofit media organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary nonfiction stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media."