Native American Prisoners Issues

Selected Articles & Publications

Protections for Native Spiritual Practices In Prison (Native American Rights Fund (NARF), March 2016)
The rights of prisoners are restricted, but many still exist particularly where religious practices are concerned. This document will help you understand these rights and the laws that protect them. This document provides multiple tools: (1) a summary of the federal laws that protect your Native spiritual practice; (2) answers to key questions you may have about these laws; (3) applications of these laws to specific Native religious practices; and (4) information about the procedure to challenge prison regulations.

Technical Reference: Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices (U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 3/27/2002). Number:: T5360.01. Practical Guidelines for Administration of Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices.

Study of Native American Prisoner Issues. By Walter Echo-Hawk. Prepared for the National Indian Policy Center (NARF, 1996)

Sweat Lodges in American Prisons (2005). Originally by Jacob Stroub. Revised by Matt Hooley. (The Pluralism Project at Harvard University)

Incarceration of Native Americans and Private Prisons. By Frank Smith

Native Americans in Prison: The Struggle for Religious Freedom. By Stephanie Beran. (Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005)

Walking the Red Road in the Iron House (2014). By Joel West Williams

Knight v. Thompson revisited : Ramirez v. Collier's implications for Native prisoners' religious exercise. By Emily deLisle (Federal Lawyer, July/August 2022) (69-AUG Fed. Law. 15)

Groups & Organizations

Ik8ldimek Legal Clinic - provides basic Information & Referral (I&R) services to aid and assist incarcerated Native American Indian men and women and their families whose civil rights and their right to practice their religious beliefs are being violated.

Huy - a tribally controlled non-profit organization with a mission to: provide economic, educational, rehabilitative and religious support for American Indian, Alaska Native and other indigenous prisoners in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States. Their website provides news and information relating to its mission.

List of Law Libraries Serving Prisoners. (American Association of Law Libraries)

Related cases:

Knight v. Thompson
Legal Topics: Prison Grooming Policy; Religious Freedom
Briefs and Pleadings from the U.S. Supreme Court
Copy of the opinion published from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: 723 F.3d 1275
No. 12-11926. November 8, 2013
Legal Topics: Prison Grooming Policy; Religious Freedom

Holt v. Hobbs
Briefs and Pleadings from the U.S. Supreme Court
Copy of the opinion from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: 509 Fed. Appx. 561
No. 12-3185. June 12, 2013
Legal Topics: Prison Grooming Policy; Religious Freedom

Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber

Briefs from Turtle Talk
750 F.3d 742
No. 13-1401.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, April 25, 2014
Legal Topics: Prisoner Tobacco Use Policy; Religious Freedom


Need Indian Law Research Help?

You can submit questions about Indian law to the NILL staff...
ask NILL