AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT (AIRFA) ENACTED
The AIRFA states that “On and after August 11, 1978, it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, 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.” 42 U.S.C. § 1996 (2011). With specific regard to sites, since they may be eligible for inclusion in the National Register, any effects that may occur, as a result of providing access to them, may trigger Section 106 review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). As a related law, the NHPA greatly strengthens the requirements for Federal agencies to ensure that tribal values are taken into account. Tribes are given greater control over patrimonial objects and are allowed to establish their own culturally-specific criteria of significance.
Source: “American Indian Religious Freedom Act,” U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration summary. Retrieved 8/5/2019, https://coast.noaa.gov/data/Documents/OceanLawSearch/Summary%20of%20Law%20-%20American%20Indian%20Religious%20Freedom%20Act.pdf Graphic: Official Seal of U.S. Public domain. Work created by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.