The Practice of Native American Spirituality in Prison: A Survey

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Native Americans have been severely restricted in practicing their traditional religions and spiritual traditions in the United States although the First Amendment specifically guarantees religious freedom. A discussion is presented of the differences in Native American spirituality compared to the Euro‐American concept of religion and the subsequent passage of Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978 to guarantee religious expression for this group. A nationwide survey was conducted of all state correctional departments to determine the numbers of Native Americans incarcerated in state prisons and the access of this group to practice traditional religions while incarcerated. Data is presented on the types of practices allowed and the difficulties that have been encountered in providing access to religious practices for Native Americans.