skip to main content

S.J.Res. 102 (95th): Joint resolution American Indians Religious Freedom


The text of the resolution below is as of Aug 11, 1978 (Passed Congress).

Summary of this resolution

Source: Wikipedia

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.