Freedom of Religion for Native American Inmates

To:  Human Rights Council of the United Nations and Special Rapporteur Council on Religion of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee kindly requests that you take a few minutes to read the information on the following petition that the LPDC will be sending to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and to the Special Rapporteur on Religion of the United Nations Council on Human Rights. This will recognize the urgent need for international oversight and further investigation of the serious ongoing human rights violations, in order to insure that the freedom of religion for Native Prisoners is protected.

Our goal is to submit the petition by September 12, 2007. We kindly ask that you help support this petition by sending it to your lists.

Together with your support and help, we can help to make a difference for Leonard Peltier and all of our brothers and sisters.


The U.S. Department of Justice as a branch of the United States Government has a legally binding trust responsibility to protect Native religions, spiritual and cultural practices.

Testimony has been presented at the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. regarding the following violations of the spiritual, cultural, and religious rights of Native prisoners in U.S. federal and state prison systems;

Denial of access to traditional counseling and ceremonies;

Lack of equal access to religious and spiritual leaders;

Lack of Native American spiritual leaders employed as chaplains within the prison system;

Lack of equal access to religious and spiritual items;

Denial to the right to wear long hair or traditional hair according to the religious customs of respective Indian nations;

Denial of access to ceremonial foods;

Placement /transfer to state facilities where American Indian religious practices are prohibited;

Denial of access to Last Rite Ceremonies for American Indian inmates on Death Row;

Both U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission committed to investigate and address these serious issues but to the knowledge of those involved, nothing has been done to date.

We the undersign call upon the Special Rapporteur on Religion of the United Nations Council on Human Rights to recognize the urgent need for international oversight and further investigation of these serious ongoing human rights violations in order to insure that the freedom of religion for Native Prisoners is protected.
To address the above violations of the Native American prisoners the religious freedom rights; we the undersigned, recommend:

Congressional hearings are undertaken to hear testimony from tribal leaders, spiritual leaders, ex-offenders and family members to determine the magnitude of the problems and whether these problems are pervasive throughout the Federal Bureau of Prison and state prison systems.

We request that a Commission be developed and convene to investigate the ongoing violations within the Federal Bureau of Prisons and US prison systems.

We ask that upon completion of the investigation by the Commission that a congressional hearing be held to introduce Federal legislation for the protection of freedom of religion for Native Prisoners.

We ask that the Federal Bureau of Prisons and US prison systems hire
Bona fide Native American Spiritual Leaders/Advisors to conduct Native American religious ceremonies and provide Spiritual guidance to Native Prisoners.

Sincerely,

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