Before 1978, our first amendment right to the free exercise of religion applied to everyone except Native Americans. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) was an attempt to remedy this problem and acknowledge the prior infringement by the U.S. Government on the religious rights of Native Americans. AIRFA required that all U.S. Government agencies eliminate interference with the religious practices of native peoples as much as they possibly could.
AIRFA attempted to address three areas of conflict between the U.S. Government and the practice of religion by Native Americans. The first issue was access to sacred places. Many ceremonial rites can only be held on sacred lands; before AIRFA was enacted, government projects on federal lands were initiated without consideration of this issue or any attempt to locate suitable alternatives. The second issue was possession of items restricted by U.S. law, such as peyote or eagle feathers, which are integral to certain religious ceremonies. The third issue was interference with sacred ceremonies by curious government officials or onlookers.
AIRFA is one of the 48 federal laws waived to expedite the building of a border wall (click here for a list of all 48 laws that have been waived). This means that wall construction and associated roads can can be built on lands sacred to Native Americans, without any attempt to search for equivalent alternatives. The 1978 attempt to remedy our previous disrespect of the religious rites and practices of Native Americans is now moot, in the vicinity of the proposed border wall.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members) and let them know that you oppose waiving The American Indian Religious Freedom Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.