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H.R. 4230 (103rd): American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994

The text of the bill below is as of Apr 14, 1994 (Introduced).

HR 4230 IH


2d Session

H. R. 4230

To amend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act to provide for the traditional use of peyote by Indians for religious purposes, and for other purposes.


April 14, 1994

Mr. RICHARDSON introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources


To amend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act to provide for the traditional use of peyote by Indians for religious purposes, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ‘American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994’.


    The Act of August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996), commonly referred to as the ‘American Indian Religious Freedom Act’, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new section:

    ‘SEC. 3. (a) The Congress finds and declares that--

      ‘(1) for many Indian people, the traditional ceremonial use of the peyote cactus as a religious sacrament has for centuries been integral to a way of life, and significant in perpetuating Indian tribes and cultures;

      ‘(2) since 1965, this ceremonial use of peyote by Indians has been protected by Federal regulation;

      ‘(3) while at least 28 States have enacted laws which are similar to, or are in conformance with, the Federal regulation which protects the ceremonial use of peyote by Indian religious practitioners, many States have not done so, and this lack of uniformity has created hardship for Indian people who participate in such religious ceremonies;

      ‘(4) the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), held that the First Amendment does not protect Indian practitioners who use peyote in Indian religious ceremonies, and also raised uncertainty whether this religious practice would be protected under the compelling State interest standard; and

      ‘(5) the lack of adequate and clear legal protection for the religious use of peyote by Indians may serve to stigmatize and marginalize Indian tribes and cultures, and increase the risk that they will be exposed to discriminatory treatment in violation of the religious guarantees of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    ‘(b)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian who uses peyote in a traditional manner for bona fide ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any State. No Indian shall be penalized or discriminated against on the basis of such use, possession or transportation, including, but not limited to, denial of otherwise applicable benefits under public assistance programs.

    ‘(2) This section does not prohibit such reasonable regulation and registration of those persons who cultivate, harvest, or distribute peyote as may be consistent with the purposes of this Act.

    ‘(3) This section does not prohibit application of the provisions of section 481.111(a) of Vernon’s Texas Health and Safety Code Annotated, in effect on the date of enactment of this section, insofar as those provisions pertain to the cultivation, harvest, and distribution of peyote.

    ‘(c) For purposes of this section--

      ‘(1) the term ‘Indian’ means a member of an Indian tribe;

      ‘(2) the term ‘Indian tribe’ means any tribe, band, nation, pueblo, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any Alaska Native village (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians;

      ‘(3) the term ‘Indian religion’ means any religion--

        ‘(A) which is practiced by Indians, and

        ‘(B) the origin and interpretation of which is from within a traditional Indian culture or community; and

      ‘(4) the term ‘State’ means any State of the United States, and any political subdivision thereof.

    ‘(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed as abrogating, diminishing, or otherwise affecting--

        ‘(A) the inherent rights of any Indian tribe;

        ‘(B) the rights, express or implicit, of any Indian tribe which exist under treaties, executive orders, and laws of the United States;

        ‘(C) the inherent right of Indians to practice their religions; and

        ‘(D) the right of Indians to practice their religions under any Federal or State law.’.