Return of CSULB Pow Wow

Published March 6, 2023

On March 11-12, 2023, the Pow Wow returns to CSULB. While various discussions exist about Pow Wows’ origins, the return of this event to CSULB mandates reflection on why celebration is genuinely warranted.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Native Americans were subject to the Indian Removal Act. During this same period, the Religious Crimes Code of 1833, which was a federal law, banned all Native American dancing and ceremonies. This law continued into effect until the 1920s but were amended in 1933, eliminating the ban on dance. Despite First Amendment rights, it was not until 1978 that Native Americans would receive complete protection under the American Indian Religious Freedom, which was passed in 1978 (commonly abbreviated to AIRFA) and codified at 42 U.S.C § 1996, returning fundamental civil liberties to Native Americans and other indigenous peoples to allow them to practice, protect and preserve their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise their traditional religious rites, and 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 also 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. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994, permitted the traditional use of peyote for Indian religious purposes.

The Legal Resource Center warmly welcomes the CSULB Pow Wow back to celebrate its 50th year on campus.