restricted access 204. Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, April 19, 1988
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318 into BIA-operated schools the educational lessons of the effective school movement. Recent educational research has demonstrated that effective schools have many characteristics in common, including: • High expectations for student success. • A clear sense of educational mission and purpose. • Principals who provide strong leadership . • A safe and orderly school environment. • An emphasis on the learning of basic skills and the developing of a quality curriculum responsive to the academic and career development needs of the student. • Students who are held academically accountable and whose progress is regularly monitored. • Close involvement of parents and the local community in the educational process . Incorporation of the community milieu into content of curriculum. The proposed overall goal of BIA education is to introduce and develop these characteristics of effective schools within all BIAoperated schools. In addition, a number of more specific goals are proposed in this Final Review Draft with respect to the operation of BIA schools. The Final Report will include a final set of goals, perhaps modified from the goals proposed here, depending on public review and comment. . . . [Report on BIA Education: Excellence in Indian Education through the Effective School Process (Washington: Office of Education Programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, March 1988), ix–xxi.] 204. Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association April 19, 1988 The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 set the policy of Congress but left the implementation of the act to the various agencies of the government. From time to time, Indians have complained that their religious rights still were not properly respected. The majority decision in this case, written by Justice O’Connor, seemed to many people to go against the principles set forth in the 1978 act, and it called forth a vigorous dissent. This case requires us to consider whether the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause prohibits the Government from permitting timber harvesting in, or constructing a road through, a portion of a National Forest that has traditionally been used for religious purposes by members of three American Indian tribes in northwestern California. We conclude that it does not. . . . Whatever may be the exact line between unconstitutional prohibitions on the free exercise of religion and the legitimate conduct by government of its own affairs, the location of the line cannot depend on measuring the effects of a governmental action on a religious objector’s spiritual development. The Government does not dispute, and we have no reason to doubt, that the logging and road-building projects at issue in this case could have devastating effects on traditional Indian religious practices. Those practices are intimately and inextricably bound up with the unique features of the Chimney Rock area, which is known to the Indians as the “high country.” Individual practitioners use this area for personal spiritual development; some of their activities are believed to be critically important in advancing the welfare of the Tribe, and indeed, of mankind itself. The Indians use this area, as they have used it for a very long time, to conduct a wide variety of specific rituals that aim to accomplish their religious goals. According to their beliefs, the rituals would not be efficacious if conducted at other sites than the ones traditionally used, and too much disturbance of the area’s natural state would clearly render any meaningful continuation of traditional practices impossible . To be sure, the Indians themselves were far from unanimous in opposing the G-O [Gasquet to Orleans] road . . . , and it seems less than certain that construction of the road will be so disruptive that it will doom their religion. Nevertheless, we can assume that the threat to the efficacy of at least some religious practices is extremely grave. 319 Even if we assume that we should accept the Ninth Circuit’s prediction, according to which the G-O road will “virtually destroy the . . . Indians’ ability to practice their religion,” . . . the Constitution simply does not provide a principle that could justify upholding respondents’ legal claims. However much we might wish that it were otherwise , government simply could not operate if it were required to satisfy every citizen’s religious needs and desires. A broad range of government activities—from social welfare programs to foreign aid to conservation projects—will always be considered essential to the spiritual well-being of some citizens, often on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. Others will find the very same activities deeply offensive, and perhaps incompatible with their own search for spiritual ful...


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