Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Statement from Sen. Albert Hale regarding Native American practices bill

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A bill to regulate the use of traditional Native American practices off of Indian Nation lands will not be heard Thursday, Feb. 11 by the Senate Committee on Government Institutions at the request of Sen. Hale, the sponsor of the bill.

"I asked to have the bill held at the request of the Diné Medicine Men Association. After a lengthy discussion with the Association it appears that they still have significant questions about the bill. I explained to the Association that the bill intends to direct the Arizona Department of Health Services, in conjunction with the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs, to develop rules to regulate the off-reservation practice of Native American traditional ceremonies by non-Indians or others, and did not apply to ceremonial practices on Indian reservations.

“The state does not have jurisdiction to regulate or apply its laws on Indian reservations. I further assured them that an amendment was to be considered to make clarifications. The amendment would clarify that the bill did not apply to ceremonies performed by enrolled members of an Indian tribe for another enrolled member on or off Indian Nation lands.

“The Diné Medicine Men Association were opposed to the bill in its present form and wanted further discussion of the bill. I understand and appreciate the fear that these regulations may open the door to state regulations of Native American ceremonies. Pursuant to the Association's request, I request the bill to be held and it was subsequently removed."

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