International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Religious Freedom and Protection of Sacred Sites

The policy of the United States must be to protect and preserve for American Indians and Alaska Natives our inherent right of freedom of belief, expression, and exercise of traditional religions, including but not limited to access to scared places, use and possession of sacred objects, the freedom of worship through ceremonial and traditional rites, traditional subsistence practices, and return of Indian human remains and associated funerary objects to Indian tribes. The United States must protect threatened sacred places from intrusion and destruction from development in any form:

  • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
  • Bear Butte, South Dakota
  • Black Mesa, Arizona
  • Cave Rock, Nevada
  • Haskell-Baker Wetlands, Kansas
  • Mauna Kea, Hawaii
  • Medicine Lake, California
  • Mt. Graham, Arizona
  • San Francisco Peaks, Arizona
  • Shellmounds, California
  • Woodruff Butte, Arizona
  • Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Freedom of religion is a principle on which our country was founded. However, in recent years, in federal correctional institutions, we have witnessed an erosion of the religious rights of Native prisoners. Authorities have interfered with the inipi (sweat ceremony) and decreased or eliminated spiritual gatherings that are so important to the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of our brothers and sisters. Prisoners in state correctional facilities fare far worse as many of them have failed, to date, to win the freedom to practice their spiritual beliefs at all. We work with solidarity groups, our support network, and the general public to urge Congress to protect this fundamental right.

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