Tribal officials and religious leaders hailed the sign as a declaration of belief and a standard against the social and economic ills that have plagued the tribe.
In 2013, the Crow legislature unanimously passed a resolution that proclaimed “Jesus as Lord” of the tribe and authorized support for construction of a sign bearing the message. One legislator abstained.
The Crow Constitution protects “full exercise of religion,” but, unlike the U.S. Constitution, does not contain a clause that prevents the government from the establishment of religion.
“As a sovereign nation, we’re not bound by separation of church and state,” said Stewart, who penned the resolution. “People are afraid to say, ‘Jesus,’ in the political arena, but we did it today, as a people.”
In his remarks, Tribal chairman Darrin Old Coyote thanked Crow religious leaders for their support and said the sign would bring blessings to the tribe.
“There’s a saying among the Crow people that words are sacred. When people drive by, this is what they’re saying,” Old Coyote said, gesturing upward. “While they’re going by, they’re blessing the Crow people.”
Old Coyote’s administration established a pastoral committee of local religious leaders. One member said that the tribe’s public profession of faith isn’t intended to make non-Christians, including those who observe traditional Native American spiritual practices, uncomfortable.
“Some people may not believe in the name of Jesus,” he said. “That’s fine, we don’t put that down. We’re taught by elders to respect all religions.”