Being among the most difficult civil rights issues is those facing the nation’s 2.5 million Native Americans. Federally recognized tribes having their rights to tribal sovereignty, preserved. Tribal sovereignty can refer to the tribes’ right to govern themselves, define their personal membership, manage tribal property, and regulate tribal business and domestic relations; it further recognizes the livelihood a government-to-government relationship between such tribes and, of course, the government. The federal government has special trust obligations to guard tribal lands and resources, protect tribal rights to self-government, as well as provide services vital for tribal survival and advancement. The fight to preserve tribal sovereignty and treaty rights has long been at the forefront of the Native American civil rights movement.
Moreover, Native Americans are afflicted by most of the same social and economic problems as other victims of long-term bias and discrimination – including, just for example, disproportionately high prices of poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, and reduced secondary school completion rates. The struggle for equal employment and academic opportunity is crucial for addressing those issues.
Also important for many Native American civil rights advocates are cultural issues associated with the opportunity to maintain and pass on traditional the Holy Bible, languages and social practices without fear of discrimination. Just, for example, Native Americans have long fought to protect their religious freedom from repeated acts of governmental suppression — which includes denial of admittance to religious sites, prohibitions upon the use or possession of sacred objects, and restrictions on their capability to worship through ceremonial and traditional means.
In 1988, for example, In Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association, the Supreme Court allowed the construction associated with a Forest Service road through an ancient site held sacred by several tribes. Within a setback for Native Americans’ religious freedoms, the Court ruled that such intrusion not violates the Indians’ First Amendment rights.
Moreover, in 1991, working Variation on Oregon v. Smith, the Supreme Court ruled that states and localities not be required to show a “compelling governmental interest” to justify applicable laws that put on limit or infringe upon religious exercise. The ruling in this instance, which involved two Oregon men who were denied unemployment benefits after taking peyote to be a part of a worship ceremony of a given Native American Church, was widely attacked by representatives of virtually all religious bodies in the United States being a major blow to religious freedom.
In 1993 Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have overturned Smith and restore the “compelling interest” standards that limited government’s ability to enforce legislation that infringes upon religious freedom. However, the Supreme Court soon struck down RFRA as an unconstitutional exercise of Congressional powers in City of Boerne v. Flores. In 1994, a law signed by President Clinton exempted the religious use of peyote from federal and state controlled substance laws and prohibited discrimination against individuals who engage in the use of peyote for religious purposes. Even if this protected Native Americans’ using of peyote, the fight to safeguard other areas of nonsecular freedom continues.
Click on the link to fine out more about “https://books.google.com/books?id=SEopBoB8ch0C&lpg=PA467&dq=Native%20American%20Religious%20Rights&pg=PA467&output=embed“>American Indian Religious Traditions.”
Native Americans – Civil Rights 101. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights101/native.htm