Huy’s Genesis/Work Chronicled in Indian Country Today

Jun 1st, 2014

Huy Board Chairman Gabriel Galanda chronicles the beginning and ongoing work of Huy, in “Defending the Religious Rights of Native Prisoners.”  The article was originally printed by the Indian Country Media Network.

Headquartered in Seattle, Huy launched its efforts by watchdogging state prison religious policymaking in Olympia and agency behavior towards Native inmates throughout the state’s twelve prisons; by sharing religious rights information throughout Indian Country, chiefly via the Internet and social media; and by obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) tax status and fundraising for charitable monies. To date, through the generosity of the Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Nisqually, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Squaxin Island, Kalispel, Spokane and Grand Ronde Tribes, Huy has raised and in turn gifted over copy $100,000 to “circles” of Native prisoners in Washington and elsewhere.

Little did Huy’s founders know that those local, grassroots efforts would quickly evolve into Native prisoner religious rights advocacy throughout the United States and abroad. Within two years, Huy appeared in:

  • The Washington State Supreme Court, in a consolidated appeal regarding the unconstitutionality of the life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence for juvenile convicts, given that three of the 28 Native prisoners in Washington suffer from the cruel and unusual punishment imposed by such sentence;
  • Administrative rulemaking proceedings in California to decry changes to state prison religious practice regulations that are akin to Washington’s now reversed reforms of 2010;
  • National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) assemblies to obtain an NCAI Resolution that “calls upon the United States, all fifty American states and the District of Columbia . . . to take all reasonable steps to commend, support and facilitate incarcerated American Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights to believe, express, and exercise traditional indigenous religion”; and
  • Federal courts ranging from the U.S. District Court for Hawaii in a case arising in Arizona, to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seated in Texas, and all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in case out of Alabama, in challenge to various states’ deprivation of Native prisoners’ religious rights, including their right to wear unshorn hair….

By 2013 Huy aligned with longtime Native religious rights warriors, the Native American Rights Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, to grieve the religious plight of Native inmates in state prisons throughout the United States, to even higher powers. That coalition filed letters of allegation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the UN Human Rights Committee…

Huy had arrived—in Geneva, Switzerland.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman, and the founder of Huy (www.huycares.org) and Chairman of the Huy Board of Advisors.

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