Records show nearly $650K lost in warehouse spat

Lawton, Oklahoma (AP) 11-09

Nearly $650,000 of public money was lost after the U.S. Army stopped construction of a Fort Sill warehouse that a tribe said was being built on sacred ground, according to a newspaper report.

The Oklahoman reported that the federal government paid more than $421,000 to a Florida construction company that started work on the Training Support Center warehouse at Fort Sill. The contract was terminated last year.

The government also paid more than $227,000 to revise the design and change the warehouse’s location, according to court records.

The post’s garrison commander changed the warehouse location last year after a federal judge blocked construction on land south of historic Medicine Bluffs. The judge acted after the Comanche Nation complained the warehouse was being built on sacred land.

The tribe said a warehouse near the bluffs would “spoil this sacred site for practitioners of Comanche traditional spiritual beliefs.”

The judge said post officials “turned a deaf ear to warnings” about the site. The judge agreed the area was sacred and said “an unobstructed view of all four bluffs is central to the spiritual experience of the Comanche people.”

The Comanche Nation now wants the judge to permanently block the Army from building any other structure that could interfere with religious use of 55 acres south of the bluffs.

Native Americans have used Medicine Bluffs for spiritual cleansings, vision quests, healing ceremonies, prayers, burials and the gathering of medicinal plants, the tribe’s attorneys and officials said.

Government attorneys have told the judge no construction for that area has been funded or approved and asked him to dismiss the lawsuit.