226. American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994October 6, 1994
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349 A New Approach: Native Solutions for Native Problems . . . . Because the most serious problems Alaska Natives face are uniquely their own, the solutions will have to come from the Native community . Alaska Natives must be empowered to carry out the solutions. . . . What the federal and state governments can do is offer mutual respect and assistance. They must be willing to give control of local issues back to Alaska Natives. They must step aside in many areas so that Alaska Natives can attempt to reconstruct honorable and dignified lives for themselves. This will not be an easy task. People who have become accustomed to living without power tend to avoid the obligations that accompany it. Likewise, the external forces that take power—even with the best intentions— generally resist giving it back. . . . Introduction . . . . Alaska Natives are in a period of social, cultural, economic and political transition. By its very nature, transition means change. Native people have been undergoing this change since contact with Europeans in the mid-1700s, but the most dramatic changes have occurred in quick succession during the past century. . . . . . . Alaska Natives, most of whom were economically, socially and culturally independent one hundred years ago, are now struggling to get by on the margins of a society and economy imposed on them by others. They are attempting to survive in the land of their forebears on the leavings of a dominant society and culture. To see a reversal of self-destructive tendencies among Alaska Natives, there needs to be a comprehensive approach by the federal and state governments and the Alaska Native people themselves. . . . Establishment of Natives’ cultural integrity , and the true empowerment of Native individuals, families and communities must become realities. In all of this, breaking Alaska Natives’ social and economic dependence on others is a fundamental part of the equation. It is time to accept that the past policy of assimilation has not worked. The federal government and the State of Alaska have repeatedly chosen to ignore this fact. But it is one clearly understood by Alaska Natives, and one that must be embraced by policymakers if the fate of Alaska Natives is to be improved. Natives must be empowered to approach the future with the certain knowledge that their world views, their traditional methods of solving problems, their ways of thinking and doing—all of which have stood the tests of time—will be given due respect and precedence. The schools, in addition to teaching the basics, must be involved in providing cultural linkages to the community and social linkages to families. Native governments must be afforded long-overdue respect and assistance in taking on the responsibilities of maintaining village harmony and social order. The affairs of the community must be conducted in a culturally and socially correct manner. Other institutions of government, from those providing social welfare and behavioral health programs to those offering economic development initiatives, must do so in ways that re- flect the true cultural character and strengths of Alaska Natives. And they must do so with the full understanding that programs and initiatives should, ultimately and always, be at the behest and direction of Alaska Natives . . . . [Alaska Natives Commission, Final Report , 3 vols. (Anchorage: Joint Federal-State Commission on Policies and Programs Affecting Alaska Natives, 1994), 1:3–4, 16, 19– 20.] 226. American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994 October 6, 1994 The Supreme Court decision in Employment Division v. Smith elicited this congressional legislation to protect Indian use of peyote for religious purposes. Some restrictions were included in the sections of the law not printed here. 350 An Act 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. . . . . sec. 2. traditional indian religious use of the peyote sacrament. 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 signi ficant 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...