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NCJ Number: 140799 Find in a Library
Title: Sweat Lodges and Headbands: An Introduction to the Rights of Native American Prisoners
Journal: New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement  Volume:18  Issue:1-2  Dated:(Winter-Summer 1992)  Pages:33-62
Author(s): L M Holscher
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 30
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article focuses on issues in prison litigation filed by Native Americans, particularly cases that involve the religious rights of inmates.
Abstract: Native American religious beliefs vary from tribe to tribe, but all involve religious and cultural objects and practices that symbolize culturally based spiritual beliefs. Examples include hair length, headbands, sweat lodges, medicine bags and bundles, ceremonial pipes and bags, sage and sweet grass, tobacco ties, eagle feathers, sacred cedar, and medicine men. Most of the suits by Native Americans related to religious and cultural beliefs that have reached Federal appellate courts were based in first amendment claims. Inmates clearly retain the protections afforded under this amendment and must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to pursue their religion. Courts have held, however, that incarceration necessarily involves the limitation or even withdrawal of many of the rights and privileges available to non-inmates. Both Federal and State governments, as well as the respective court systems, have maintained policies that have denied religious freedom to Native Americans. Racism and ethnocentrism have caused legislatures and judges to fail to understand Native American culture and religion. Currently, lobbying efforts in State legislatures and the U.S. Congress may provide the most effective avenues for protecting the religious practices of Native American inmates in the face of rules and regulations imposed by insensitive prison officials. Until there is a change in court philosophy and the law, violation of Native American religious freedoms will continue in States' prisons. 211 footnotes
Main Term(s): Inmate religious affiliation; Religious freedom
Index Term(s): American Indians; Inmate lawsuits
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