In America, no one would stand aside while the government came in to bulldoze their house of worship, at least not without a fight. So why are Native Americans not given the same consideration when it comes to the land they view as sacred? Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Members of the Klickitat and Cascade tribes in Oregon have lost burial grounds and seen sacred artifacts bulldozed for a highway project.
For centuries, these Native Americans practiced their religion peacefully near Mt. Hood. There they buried their dead and performed a variety of religious rituals, many of which are tied closely to the earth itself.
When Highway 26 was set to be widened, the tribes alerted the Federal Highway Administration to the sacred site, including the presence of a stone altar, ancient burial ground, and trees and medicinal plans—all of which are used for the observance of their religion. But, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
The tribes filed a lawsuit asserting that the highway administration interfered with the free exercise of their religion, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In early 2018, a federal magistrate judge recommended that the lawsuit be dismissed.
The magistrate noted that, though the sacred site was destroyed, there was no evidence that the tribes were “coerced to act contrary to their religious beliefs.”
Undoubtedly, these tribes will appeal the decision, and they should. These Native Americans view this land as their church. None of us would stand for the bulldozing of our house of worship to make way for a highway. Why should Native Americans be denied the same consideration?
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.