The text of the resolution below is as of Aug 11, 1978 (Passed Congress).
Summary of this resolution
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Public Law No. 95-341, 92 Stat. 469 (Aug. 11, 1978) (commonly abbreviated to AIRFA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1996, is a United States federal law, enacted by joint resolution of the Congress in 1978. Prior to the act, many aspects of various Native American religions had been prohibited by law.
It was enacted to return basic civil liberties, and to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, but are not limited to, access to sacred ...
PUBLIC LAW 95-341—AUG. 11, 1978 92 STAT. 469 Public Law 95-341 95th Congress Joint Resolution American Indian Religious Freedom. Aug. 11, 1978 [S.J. Res. 102] AVhereas the freedom of religion for all people is an inherent right, fundamental to the democratic structure of the United States and is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the LTnited States Constitution; Whereas the United States has traditionally rejected the concept of a government denying individuals the right to practice their reli- gion and, as a result, has benefited from a rich variety of religious heritages in this country; Whereas the religious practices of the American Indian (as well as Native Alaskan and Hawaiian) are an integral part of their cul- ture, tradition and heritage, such practices forming the basis of Indian identity and value systems; Whereas the traditional American Indian religions, as an integral part of Indian life, are indispensable and irreplaceable; Whereas the lack of a clear, comprehensive, and consistent Federal policy has often resulted in the abridgment of religious freedom for traditional American Indians; Whereas such religious infringernents result from the lack of knowl- edge or the insensitive and inflexible enforcement of Federal poli- cies and regulations premised on a variety of laws; Whereas such laws were designed for such worthwhile purposes as conservation and preservation of natural species and resources but were never intended to relate to Indian religious practices and, therefore, were passed without consideration of their effect on traditional American Indian religions; Whereas such laws and policies often deny American Indians access to sacred sites required in their religions, including cemeteries; Whereas such laws at times prohibit the use and possession of sacred objects necessary to the exercise of religious rites and ceremonies; Whereas traditional American Indian ceremonies have been intruded upon, interfered with, and in a few instances banned: Now, there- fore, be it Resolved hy the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assenfibled, That henceforth it shall be American the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indian Religious Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and Freedom. exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, 42 u s e 1996. Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.
92 STAT. 470 PUBLIC LAW 95-341—AUG. 11, 1978 42 use 1996 SEC. 2. The President shall direct the various Federal departments, °^*®- agencies, and other instrumentalities responsible for administering relevant laws to evaluate their policies and procedures in consultation with native traditional religious leaders in order to determine appro- priate changes necessary to protect and preserve Native American Presidential religious cultural rights and practices. Twelve months after approval report to of this resolution, the President shall report back to the Congress the Congress. results of his evaluation, including any changes which were made in administrative policies and procedures, and any recommendations he may have for legislative action. Approved August 11, 1978. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: HOUSE REPORT No. 95-1308 accompanying H.J. Res. 738 (Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs). SENATE REPORT No. 95-709 (Comm. on Indian Affairs). CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 124 (1978): Apr. 3, considered and passed Senate. July 18, H.J. Res. 738 considered and passed House; proceedings vacated and S.J. Res. 102, amended, passed in lieu. July 27, Senate concurred in House amendment.