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AIS 160A1 Lecture Notes 12 9 American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the G O Road Native life requires action not just spirituality and beliefs AIRFA 1978 Lyng v Northern California Cemetery Protective Association 1988 The green part of the map is federal land especially national forest land In the 80s the Forest Service and the Land and Resource Management wanted to open up logging in the national forests by building a road between Gasquet and Orleans thus the G O Road About 7 miles would have been built through High Country where the Immortals live So Native people and a number of environmental groups fought this AIRFA is a civil right Civil rights are designed to protect people from government abuse The Separation of Church and State is inherent in the First Amendment It also guarantees the right of free practice For a long time however this right was not extended to Native people This was corrected in 1978 with AIRFA The abridgement curtailed rights Native people were restricted from practicing their religions even legally 1872 Commissioner of Indian Affairs Native people s religion was subdued and restricted in order to assimilate Native people into the dominant society Medicine bundles human remains pipes have all been extracted from Native nations and even ceremonies were interrupted or forbidden The Ghost Dance is a prime example of Native American religious expression that was actually illegal The Ghost Dance originated with a Paiute man named Wovoka who predicted the end of the world the return of the buffalo and the restitution of Native presence in the U S The Sioux in particular were heartened by this predictions The settlers were scared of the Ghost Dance The Indian Agent at Standing Rock Sitting Bull s reservation wanted to curtail the Messiah Craze Chief Big Foot and his followers fled to Wounded Knee 150 Sioux were killed many of them women and children and all of this originated with fear of the Ghost Dance In 1882 and 1884 it was illegal for Native people to participate in heathenish dances In 1913 public health restrictions are put into place that restrict Native religions Epidemic spread of tuberculosis and trachoma led the federal government to restrict public gatherings which harmed Native ceremonies These restrictions were enforced by the military 1921 giveaways were illegal so potlatches in the Northwest were restricted Finally in the 1930s and 40s there was some relief for Native people under John Collier and later in the 1970s the free practice of American Indian religions was put into law Both practice and access to ceremonial objects is guaranteed by the federal government to Native people The High Country needs to be accessible to Yuroks and other tribes in the area because that is where the Immortals come and go Construction recreation and logging would interrupt ceremonies They brought a case to court in part to test AIRFA Northern California Natives believe that it is their responsibility to fix the world Lyng was the director of the Department of Agriculture and the Northern California Cemetery Protective Association was an amalgamation of Native tribes and environmental groups 1 Does the practice meet the definition of a religion Government appointed committees were set up to determine whether Northern California Native religions were even religions The answer was yes 2 Is the place and practice indispensable Yes 3 Could the religion last without it No 4 Is the government interest compelling enough to override the prior questions Yes The economic benefit to open up logging overrode respect of Native religions The power to control land is the most supreme expression of land The Supreme Court ruled that High Country was federal land and if Native people were able to halt construction that would set a dangerous precedence in the eyes of the federal government This was an expression of power on the part of the Supreme Court By the time this decision came through the economy had changed The road was never built Congress added that 6 miles to the surrounding protected area thus removing it from production What the Supreme Court ruled about AIRFA was that it was a statement thus not enforceable The wording wasn t strong enough It was more of a guide This established a chilly climate for the expression and practice of religion among Native Americans 1990 Employment Division state of Oregon v Smith Al Smith was an Oregon Native working for the state in a counseling agency with substance abuse counseling for veterans He was a practicing member of the Native American Church established in the late 1800s It was an amalgamation of different Native religions and elements of Christianity Peyote was a sacrament like Communion wafers in Catholicism protected by the U S government 5 or 6 Supreme Court rulings protected it Al Smith failed a drug test because he had ingested peyote Despite precedence the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oregon The Amish were concerned because the government also tries to control their religious expression and many Christian groups came out in support of legally recognizing the religious freedom of American Indians but this has not yet happened Tribal sovereignty is the legal foundation and the predication of the right to live a way of life

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UA AIS 160A1 - Lecture Notes

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