This week, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of California joined an inter-tribal coalition, comprised ofHuy, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Pit River Tribe, the National Native American Bar Association, and California Indian Legal Services, in formal protest of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s issuance of a provisional “emergency” regulation denying indigenous prisoners access to items used in religious ceremony and access to sweatlodge ceremony.
This national inter-tribal protest movement was featured by Indian Country Today last week. In short:
In February, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) provisionally outlawed, on a so-called “emergency” basis, American indigenous prisoners’ religious use of: tribal sacred medicines like kinnikinnick, copal, and osha root; indigenous sacred items like pipes and pipe bags, drums and other instruments, and water dippers; and tribal religious necessities like cloth for prayer ties, beads and beading supplies, and animal hides and teeth. It appears the indigenous prisoners’ sweatlodge ceremonies have also been curtailed being reduced from occurring every weekend to only one or two times per month.
Although the public comment deadline has passed, any person, group or tribe can still submit written comments about what remains a proposed CDCR religious property regulation to CDCR, Regulation and Policy Management Branch (RPMB), P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001, or by fax to (916) 324-6075, or by e-mail to RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov. The CDCR will soon consider comments, evaluate proposed alternatives, and issue a final rule.
We continue to urge your written and public comment in opposition to the State of California’s unlawful effort to unduly restrict American indigenous prisoners’ freedom to believe, express and exercise traditional indigenous religion.
I remember when we were going through our appeal process and I court action against the EC and tribal council we asked the ACLU to help us address the issues of civil liberties. What we were told was that because the tribes were independent entities. Basically they were saying because we were claiming tribal birthright we did not have the protection of basic civil liberties, and they could do nothing because of tribal sovereignty.
What this meant was the US government would not help protect or civil liberties, and that the remedy must come from the tribal government, yea right, they are the one's who caused us to take action against them.
This is the reason why no case has ever been successful in a court of law. Well that is only partially true. We did win in our first case in Riverside where Judge Fields ruled in our favor that our case had merit and could be heard.
As most know who visit this site the tribe then appealed and won, so we then appealed to the state supreme court and lost; consequently, we petitioned the US Supreme Court only to be denied a hearing. Their reasoning was that the issue and remedy was a matter for the legislative body who makes agreements and treaties on a government to government basis.
What this means is as long as you are tribal you are protected by both your tribe and the agreements made with the US government.
Some will say, that being a US citizen allows for civil liberties, well yes that is true; however, only those liberties enjoyed by every citizen. What this means is, once you are disenrolled you lose your tribal rights, history, and most importantly the protection of sovereignty, so as a US citizen you are not able to seek remedy in the case of membership even if your US civil rights were abridged.
The fact that the ACLU cherry picks the cases they will represent is obvious. They did not see our case as a profitable case, for they would then have to take sides against any and all tribal nations who practice disenrollment. As I have seen they are making money representing tribal governments as the article states.
Its about the money. Some say the Apis have gone away. This is not true, but rather than just complain we are working, so brothers and sisters burn your sage and tell the stories of your struggles and seek the strength that is within you, for if your blood is true then the spirit of the warrior is there.
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