Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Native Perspectives on the 40th Anniversary of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Forty years ago, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act finally finally extended that right to the country's Native citizens. Here Native Americans who observe traditional ways talk about religious freedom.

Haudenosaunee bear effigy pipe, 17th c. Cayuga Lake, New York. 22/3765 (Ernest Amoroso, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian)

"Words Spoken Before All Others," the Ohenten Kariwatekwen or Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address