Dan Bacher: MLPA Initiative Violates American Indian Religious Freedom Act, UN Declaration

Pomo girl, 1924

by Dan Bacher  

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative has brazenly violated the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, passed by the UN General Assembly in September 2007.   

Passed by both houses of Congress, AIRFA became law on August 11, 1978, spurred by the American Indian Movement’s Longest Walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. that year. The act recognized the “inherent right” of American citizens to religious freedom; admitted that in the past the U.S. government had not protected the religious freedom of American Indians; proclaimed the “indispensable and irreplaceable” role of religion “as an integral part of Indian life”; and called upon governmental agencies to “protect and preserve” for American Indians their inherent right to practice their traditional religions….

The MLPA process has violated this historic law by banning the Kashia Pomo Tribe from practicing their religion by gathering seaweed and shellfish and conducting ceremonies at their sacred site, Danaka, in northern Sonoma County. In the Kashia Pomo’s creation story, Danaka (Stewarts Point) is the place where the tribe first walked on land.  

Read more…

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