A group of indigenous people is in the midst of a four-day ceremony in a northern Arizona forest that uses a fire to send prayers up through smoke to the creator.
The U.S. Forest Service let it burn into a second day Thursday before issuing a final warning to put it out or be cited for violating fire restrictions.
The Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council dared Coconino National Forest officials to extinguish it themselves. The group says the fire is vital to the ceremony in which they pray for the well-being of all things worldwide.
Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart said Friday that he respects the council's cultural and religious rights. But he says he must weigh on the side of public health and safety.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:43 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:43:10 GMT
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