California ACLU Joins Inter-Tribal Protest of State’s Violation of Native Prisoners’ Rights

May 9th, 2013

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of California joined an inter-tribal coalition, comprised of Huythe 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.

The California ACLU’s protest letter is here and Huy’s protest letter is here.

This national inter-tribal protest movement was featured by Indian Country Today last week. In short:

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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 [email protected] 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.

For additional information, contact Huy Chairman Gabriel S. Galanda, at (206) 300-7801 or [email protected]