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The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Public Law No. 95–341, 92 Stat. 469 (Aug. 11, 1978) (commonly abbreviated to AIRFA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1996, is a United States federal law, enacted by joint resolution of the Congress in 1978. Prior to the act, many aspects of Native American religions and sacred ceremonies had been prohibited by law.
|Long title||Joint resolution American Indians Religious Freedom|
|Enacted by||the 95th United States Congress|
|Statutes at Large||92 Stat. 469|
|Titles amended||42 U.S.C.: Public Health and Social Welfare|
|U.S.C. sections created||42 U.S.C. ch. 21, subch. I §§ 1996 & 1996a|
The law was enacted to return basic civil liberties to American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians, and to allow them to practice, protect and preserve their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise their traditional religious rites, spiritual and cultural practices. These rights include, but are not limited to, access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through traditional ceremonial rites, and the possession and use of objects traditionally considered sacred by their respective cultures.
The Act requires policies of all governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religions, based upon the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to accommodate access to, and use of, Native American religious sites to the extent that the use is practicable and is consistent with an agency's essential functions. It also acknowledges the prior violation of that right.