Please help the American Indians inside TDCJ
ONLY Texas Residents

Please copy, paste letter in Word, sign the letter and mail this letter to Oliver J. Bell, Chairman, also make copies, sign it and mail it to the names listed under cc: area.

This isn't just about Native American religious practices but, it is about ALL religious practices that TDCJ could conceivably take away from all prisoners at some point.

We must support and defend our Constitutional right to free worship of our choice.

Also, if anyone knows of other websites or groups that we could post this to please do it for White Eagle and all the other Native American prisoners in Texas.

-------------Copy-N-Paste Below-------------

Oliver J. Bell, Chairman
Texas Board of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 13084
Austin, Texas 78711

RE: Complaint from Citizen per Texas Government Code ?493.016

Dear Chairman Bell:

I hope this letter of complaint finds you well.
As a member of the concerned public and a citizen of Texas, I am tendering this complaint to you in your official capacity.

The lack of any guiding policy for religious programming that protects the natural right of Native American Indians and other non-Christian traditional religions found among the prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a serious oversight that must be remedied at the Boards first chance.

The following are the specific enumerated issues that Full-blood and Metis Indian prisoners in Texas are experiencing as burdens on their Free Exercise of Religious Rights due to both racial and religious discrimination by TDCJ, its policies and its administrators, and the chaplaincy personnel.

[The following occurrence has been reported to several concerned citizens and organizations since 2006:]

1. Blatant racial/religious discrimination by Michael Unit Chaplain Don Lacy against Native Americans, Jews, Buddhists, and other non- Christians.

2. Lacy ceased weekly Native American (NA) services in March and refuses to let them meet like he allows Muslims and various Christian groups.

3. Lacy continuously refuses to comply with AD-07.30 Religious Policy by filling out and submitting for processing Chaplaincy form HQ-150 for complaints of burden.

4. Lacy obstructs redress of religious grievances by thwarting completion of HQ-150s for review by the Chaplaincy Department and Religious Programs Committee.

5. Lacy obstructs both redress and grievances and access to courts by his refusal to comply with both chaplaincy and grievance procedures requiring the HQ-150.

6. Lacy has recruited some of his African-American parishioners on staff to both verbally harass and hinder a group of Indian/Metis in preparing a lawsuit on this.

7. Michael Unit head warden, Keith Moore, refuses to deal with Lacys malfeasance or to handle the complaints of Indian/Metis/Jewish prisoners about Lacy, etc.

8. Michael Unit assistant warden, Richard Thompson, also acts in bad faith and refuses to investigate the problems with Lacy and these issues as he support Lacys lies.

[The following policies denies freedom of religion for Native Americans who are currently incarcerated in TDCJ:]

9. TDCJs NA policy denies compliance with federal guidelines/laws in the NATIVE AMERICAN FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION ACT ?301(a) on-par access to facilities; (b) on-par access to NA Religious leaders; and (c) access to NA religious facilities.

10. The Christian-centric and discriminatory Chaplaincys NA Policy 09.01~.04 is tantamount to a State-created fake Indian religion in violation of the Texas Constitution.

11. NA Religious Policy 09.01~.04 violates the United States of Americas Constitution "BILL OF RIGHTS" Establishment clause, as does Lacys so-called "Chapel Policy."

12. TDCJs NA Religious Policy 09.03 limits Sacred Pipe Ceremonies to only twice a month, and insufficient time (need 2 hours minimum plus 1 hour more for 10 over base number of 20 participants.

13. TDCJs policies deny NA Indians/Metis access to NA Sacred Ground daily for dawn and/or dusk prayers with Smudge and with Sacred Pipe if Pipe-Carriers.

14. TDCJs policies deny NA Indians/Metis non-Indian, non-Christian free Ceremonials and Prayer Circles, uses White and Christians as program leaders.

15. TDCJs Chaplaincy Policy and Lacys Chapel Policy refuses to allow Full-blood or Metis Indians trained in their Traditional Religions to conduct Study Circles or Ceremonials, but has white people running everything.

16. TDCJs policies totally fail to provide any rehabilitative reentry programs based on NA Religion, and forces Indians/Metis to attend Christian-based programs in order to get the credits for Individual Treatment Program and parole.

17. TDCJs NA Policy denies Indian/Metis prisoners their own personal Sacred Pipes to those that were Pipe-Carriers prior to prison, and no policy to train over 5 years to do so.

18. TDCJs policies deny NA prisoners who trained in their NA religions prior to prison to become peer-mentors, or NA ex-convicts to be NA volunteer chaplains.

19. TDCJ's/TBCJs Property Policy AD 03.72 with regard to NA religious items is excessive and overburdening and not the least restrictive means, as 09.02 also is.

20. TDCJs NA Policy 09.02 denies adequate, effective, and meaningful Traditional Medicine-items, Medicine-bags, and Medicine-Bundles from Traditional sources.

21. TDCJs security staff is woefully ill-trained and to respectfully deal with NA religious Medicine items and religious services, and need to be prior to assignment.

22. TDCJs NA Policy 09.01 compels Indians/Metis to be allowed only genocidal massacres and death and war for so-called holidays, ignoring Traditional Tribal ones.

23. TDCJs Food Policy AD 05.25 and others, as well as CP 09.01 deny NA Indians/Metis religious dietary meats (turkey for pork-free, Deer/Buffalo for NA Feast days.

24. TDCJs NA Policy 09.01 had no religious exemption for Indian/Metis religious longhair, and commits gender discrimination as it does allow women to have longhair.

25. TDCJs policies deny all NA prisoners in Closed-Custody and Administrative Segregation any religious programming whatsoever, while Christians get some.

26. TDCJs NA Policy 09.04 requires a ridiculous and senseless test to be able to attend NA services, and the signing of a unilateral contract to go to NA unit.

27. TDCJs 09.04 denies NA prisoners who want education/vocational training not on a NA-designated unit any NA religious practices whatsoever nor NA Sacred Ground for at least personal prayers/Pipe in non-NA units.

28. The TBCJ Board is charged by Texas Government Code ?493.013 with making policies to "control" (?493.001) TDCJ, and has done so for such 1st Amendment issues as Mail, Access to Courts, Visits, yet they have not done so for protecting the Free Exercise of Religion for NA Indian/Metis and other non-Christian religions.

The recent unanimous Supreme Court decision in Cutter v. Wilkerson (125 S.Ct. 2113) has found the RLUIPA: Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act~Title 42 USC ?2000cc to be fully Constitutional; and will change religious rights for prisoners nationwide. It is time the Board lead Texas prisons into the 21st Century by developing policies that will bring TDCJ on-par with the Federal prisons.

As a concerned citizen of Texas and a taxpayer, I ask you, as the Chair of TBCJ to give this Complaint your personal attention in your official capacity. Please send a message to the Native American prisoners that you hear their tears.

Thank you for your attention to this most important matter.

[Please sign your name here]

cc: Executive Director Brad Livingston
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099
Ms. Madeline Ortiz
Director of TDCJs Rehabilitation &
Reentry Programs Division
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099

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(Please sign and distribute widely!)

"No human being should ever have to fear for his own life because of political or religious beliefs. We are all in this together, my friends, the rich, the poor, the red, white, black, brown and yellow. We share responsibility for Mother Earth and those who live and breathe upon her ..never forget that."
Leonard Peltier

Please click HERE to join our Freedom of Religion for Native American Inmates Petition:

Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all, including American Indians yet the struggle to preserve and protect our religion has always been a difficult one. More so when incarcerated Native Americans are concerned who tend to be given second rate acknowledgement by prison officials and mainstream faiths. In 1984 Robert Wilson, (Standing Deer) Albert Garza and I fasted for 42 days to draw worldwide attention to the deplorable conditions at the USP Marion and to no longer allow the United States to continue denying Native American brothers and sisters the right to practice our religion. For over 500 years our religion has been trampled on and disrespected by those who invaded our lands, and who have tried to take away our culture, our traditions, our language, our history, and our religion. When we fasted for 42 days we did not fast out of depression or despair, but with a joyful commitment of total love and dedication to our people. We were willing to fast until we were granted our constitutional right to practice our religion or until we returned to our Creator. In retaliation for our 42 day fast we were held in solitary isolation for 15 months with nothing in our "cages" (cell) except for a steel bunk and toilet. The door to the "cage" (cell) was never pened unless we were handcuffed behind our backs, and four guards with clubs were present to supervise our every move. After a year of confinement attorney Margaret Gold filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons that secured in having each one of us transferred to a separate maximum security prison where we were allowed to practice our religion.

In 1985 I was transferred to USP Leavenworth; Alfred went to USP Lewisburg and Standing Deer to USP Lompoc.

As of August 15, 2005 I have been at USP Lewisburg and since November 2006 I have not attended an inipi ceremony (sweat lodge). When I say I have not attended an inipi ceremony, I must add I have refused to attend an inipi ceremony, as my way of refusing to participate in the ongoing disrespect for our religion and sacred ceremonies by the USP prison system. I can not allow the United States to continue denying Native American brothers and sisters the right to practice our religion. The trend within the past several years throughout the United States prison system has been to restrict the traditional spiritual practices of Native Americans. Nationwide the current trend of prison officials is to limit the amount of time Indian prisoners can participate in inipi ceremonies, talking circles and spiritual gatherings. The new restrictions in U.S. prisons are racist and undermine the sacredness of our traditional ceremonies. Those restrictions include time limits and the rationing of firewood for the inipi and an English-only mandate. Mandating the English-only requirement for the ceremony is discrimination and racist, because the Native language is used and needed for the songs and prayers to be blessed by the Creator. The new restrictions include a four-hour time limit on the Sweat lodge ceremony, which is unrealistic since the inipi includes the heating of the stones, which takes two hours, and two hours for the actual ceremony. The stones need to be heated for at least two hours, otherwise they are cold and the ceremony is neither complete nor beneficial to the healing and prayers. The rationing of firewood in U.S. prisons has deliberately undermined the heating of the stones for ceremony. Rushing through an ancient ceremony is not proper, it is very sacred. The deliberate attempt to shorten the hours and circumvent the ceremony is sacrilegious and undermining the seriousness and sacredness of the spiritual healing and blessings. Traditional ceremonies are to be held in the ancient and sacred way and manner. Prison chaplains continue to oversee American Indian ceremonies. The supervision of our inipi by the chaplain is not necessary, because it takes time away from other spiritual and cultural activities. These include talking circles, drumming sessions and Pipe ceremonies that also mandate the presence of the chaplain. During the inipi Ceremony, tobacco, or kinnikinnick (a mixture of sage, cedar and sweet grass) is used for our sacred pipe or Canupa. Very limited amounts of tobacco are allowed for our sacred pipe ceremony. I am a pipe carrier and am not allowed to smoke my pipe with tobacco, kinnikinnick is also not available. I have asked to smoke my pipe in the sacred lodge area and have been told that while the present Chaplain is working for the USP Lewisburg, I will not have access to my pipe.

A part of the ceremony is having a meal after the ceremony has been completed. The USP prison system is denying us the right, to eat this meal after our ceremony. The Native American brothers, are the only group that receives only two meals on the day we have our ceremony. This also changes the way our inipi ceremony has been taught to us by our ancestors.

I ask that those of you who can practice your religion freely do so and keep those of us who continue to fight for our religious freedom, preservation of our Culture, traditions, language, history and dignity in your thoughts and prayers.

Yours in the struggle,
Until freedom is won,
Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
Website: www.leonardpeltier.net
3800 N. Mesa, #A2
El Paso, Texas 79902

Action Alert: The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee kindly requests that you take a few minutes to read the information on the following petition that the LPDC will be sending to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and to the Special Rapporteur on Religion of the United Nations Council on Human Rights. This will recognize the urgent need for international oversight and further investigation of the serious ongoing human rights violations, in order to insure that the freedom of religion for Native Prisoners is protected.

Our goal is to submit the petition by September 12, 2007. We kindly ask that you help support this petition by sending it to your lists. Please forward this email in its entirety, do not modify, edit, remove or add to this petition.

Together with your support and help, we can help to make a difference for Leonard Peltier and all of our brothers and sisters.

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Please click HERE to join our Freedom of Religion for Native American Inmates Petition.

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