A screen capture from a video shows Philip Yenyo, the executve director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, left, and Pass the Salt minister Dave Daubenmire at the Great Serpent Mound on Sunday.
Deputies were called Sunday when a Christian prayer group and Native Americans faced off Sunday at the Great Serpent Mound, the Native American national historic site in southern Ohio.
The Native American leader who was there says they were trying to protect a sacred site that belonged to their ancestors.
The leader of the prayer group says the mound is a place where dark energy is released into the world.
"I'm not calling the Indians dark," Dave Daubenmire told The Enquirer. "This has nothing to do with the Indians."
Previously: Daubenmire calls for lawsuit over Super Bowl halftime 'pornography'
Daubenmire leads Pass the Salt Ministries out of Hebron, Ohio, about a two-hour drive from the snake-shaped mound which could have been built as long ago as 320 BC.
Led by Daubenmire, the group was there on the Winter Solstice "praying down (the) Satanic serpent mounds," according to the group's YouTube video recording the event titled "PAGANS TRY TO PREVENT PRAYER."
'You need to leave'
Videos posted by both groups show the encounter.
Members of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, including the group executive director Philip Yenyo, heard about the plans for the event in advance and met the Daubenmire's group in the parking lot.
"You need to leave. You have no right and no business doing this on this sacred site where our ancestors are buried," Yenyo said in the video "You're not going any further."
A man began approaching Yenyo repeatedly telling him not to touch him; the man appears to push Yenyo who is blocking his path. Someone says, "Get out of my way. Last time I tell you."
"Don't tell me to get out of the way on my own land," Yenyo said. "It's our birthright. It's our sacred site."
"It's public land," a member of the prayer group said. "This land will be taken in the name of Jesus."
"This land was already taken a long time ago," Yenyo said. "You people keep taking it."
The prayer group made their way past Yenyo and Native Americans and began praying at the mound.
At least one member of the prayer group climbed onto the mound and was asked to get down by a staff member at the site. The land is owned by a nonprofit.
"We welcome all beliefs and all ceremonies, but we do ask you to stay off the sacred mound," the woman said.
The leaders of the group complied.
'We believe these are dark places'
On Monday, The Enquirer interviewed Yenyo and Daubenmire.
"It's a sacred site for us, but other people with other faith beliefs think they have the right to go there and do their ceremonies. In our opinion, they don't," Yenyo said. "It would be like me going into a church and doing my ceremonies in that church – disregarding and disrespecting their believes."
Yenyo of Cleveland said that people with "new age" beliefs and Wiccans also practice unwelcome ceremonies there.
"There's still people buried there. That whole place is sacred," Yenyo said. "That's a problem with Ohio. There's no teeth and no bite to any protections for these sites."
"I just kept backing up and trying to stand in their way," Yenyo said. "We were really outnumbered. We were just trying to stand in their way."
The American Indian Movement has chapters all over the country. The group was founded in 1968 and split into two factions in the 1990s. Iniitally formed to address poverty and police brutality, the group now broadly advocates for indigenous rights.
Daubenmire said his group just came to pray and didn't know the Yenyo and other Native Americans would be there.
"There's a series of mounds like this all across the midwest. We believe that these are, for lack of a better term, we believe these are dark places," Daubenmire said. "I'm not calling the Indians dark. This has nothing to do with the Indians. We went there because we believe dark energy is released there."
He said the winter solstice is the darkest day of the year.
"For those in the occult – I'm not calling the Indians the occult – it's a high holiday," Daubenmire said. "We went there to pray over this area. We believe the dark side holds ceremonies on these days."
He said the Native American group was disruptive of their prayers and yelled at them as they were praying. He said they were the "aggressors" in the situation.
The Adams County Sheriff confirmed that it sent deputies to the site to respond to the conflict. According to Yenyo and Daubenmire, no one was arrested.
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