U.S. Commission on Civil Rights



Through the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA), Congress statutorily imposed on tribal governments provisions similar to those found in the Bill of Rights. Commonly known as the Indian Bill of Rights, the ICRA provides protections similar, but not identical, to those provided by the U.S. Constitution.

Tribal forums are available to enforce rights created by the ICRA. Federal courts do not oversee tribal compliance with the ICRA, except in cases of habeas corpus.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act declares that a lack of clear and adequate legal protection for the religious use of peyote by Indians might serve to stigmatize Indian tribes and cultures and increase the risk that they would be exposed to discriminatory treatment. On that basis, the act preserves Indians rights to the sacramental use of peyote.

Likewise, a 1994 presidential memorandum recognizes the sacred place of eagle feathers in Native American culture and religious practices and provides easier access to scarce eagle carcasses and parts.

Civil rights laws passed by Congress protect all citizens, including Native Americans and non-Native Americans. Therefore, any Native American can bring a discrimination complaint if he or she suffers discrimination by the federal, state, or local governments, or individuals on account of race, color, creed, religion, sex, or national origin with respect to housing, employment, commercial transactions, or access to public accommodations.

If you think you have been discriminated against because you are a Native American, you should file a complaint with the appropriate agency listed in Where and When to File a Complaint. In addition, you should write to:

U.S. Department of Justice
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-2151
Fax: (202) 514-0293
TTY: (202) 514-0216

For further information on Department of Justice and federal government activities affecting Native Americans contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Tribal Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 5634
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-8812
Fax: (202) 514-9078