Native church’s lawsuit spurs training for airport screeners

Religion News Service | 5/24/2016 | Staff
DanRules394 (Posted by) Level 3
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A wooden box carried an eagle feather and bone whistle, a gourd rattle and a feather fan — items that carry spiritual energy and are used in Native American religious ceremonies.

The man holding the box asked security agents at the San Antonio International Airport to allow him to display the items so their energy wouldn’t be polluted. The agents declined, roughly handling the items and shoving them back in the box, according to Sandor Iron Rope, former president of the Native American Church of North America.

Lawsuit - Transportation - Security - Administration - Month

His lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration was settled last month, with neither side acknowledging fault and the agency agreeing to better educate its employees about Native American religious items at more than a dozen airports nationwide.

“There was a policy in place designed to provide some protection for us, but they don’t have training,” Iron Rope said Wednesday. “Not everybody is familiar with the policies.”

TSA - Messages - Comment - Week

The TSA did not respond to messages seeking comment this week.

The Native American Church has multiple chapters around the country and an estimated 250,000 members. The church that formed in 1918 blends Native American beliefs and Christianity but doesn’t have formal buildings. Instead, its members meet in teepees for lengthy ceremonies and use peyote as a sacrament.

Battles - Peyote - Hallucinogenic - United - States

Its most visible legal battles have been over peyote, a hallucinogenic that only grows naturally in the United States in southern Texas. States had varied laws on Native Americans’ use of the cactus until the early 1990s, when a federal law allowed Native Americans who are part of the church to possess peyote.

For anyone else, it’s illegal, in the same category as heroin and cocaine. Membership cards cite the federal law and another that allows Native Americans to possess migratory birds.

Iron - Rope - Attorneys - Forrest - Tahdooahnippah

One of Iron Rope’s attorneys, Forrest Tahdooahnippah, said church members have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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