Walrus Hunt Allowed Without Cameras
Native leaders do not want viewers to see the animals shot and butchered during the fall subsistence hunt as these images could threaten the tradition. The site has tallied tens of thousands of hits since it went on line more than a month ago. Viewers can watch walruses snoozing on a rocky beach on Round Island in the Bering Sea.
The meat is a core food source for Alaska Natives in the area including the coastal Yupik and Inupaiq communities. Walrus ivory and bone are transformed into crafts and art work. The skins become boat coverings while intestines can serve as rain gear.
Helem Chyrthlook of the Bristol Bay Native Association’s Qayassiq Walrus Commission said the Alaska Natives have the right to conduct the walrus hunt in private.
Residents of the nine villages are allowed to harvest Round Island walruses this season with Native hunters permitted to take up to 20 animals.
This column has been edited for content and length from a September 8th AP article bylined Jeannette J. Lee.
The ‘Win Some–Lose Some’ Edition
Win Some “Above”
Lose Some “Below”
CLOSING U.S. FOREST LAND AS SACRED SITE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Submitted by Alyssa Macy -
August 24, 2005 - For Immediate ReleaseContact:
William Perry Pendley
DENVER, CO. A decision by the U.S. Forest Service to close a famous climbing area on federal land because American Indian religious practitioners assert it is sacred is unconstitutional, a public interest group advised the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a legal brief filed today. Mountain States Legal Foundation argued in its friend of the court brief that the Forest Service¡¦s closure of Cave Rock near Lake Tahoe in Nevada as a sacred site violates the Constitution¡¦s Establishment Clause, which mandates government neutrality regarding religion.
As a result, the Ninth Circuit was advised, it was required to reverse the decision of a Nevada federal district court that the closure is constitutional. The lower court had upheld the closure citing the "unique¨ nature of American Indian religion.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that the Establishment Clause and its command of government neutrality regarding religion apply to all religions and to non religion,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which filed the amicus curiae brief. “The Forest Service’s decision is a bold violation of the Establishment Clause, not just because of what it did but also because of what it said in its decision. There is no doubt as to how the Ninth Circuit must rule in this case.”
Cave Rock is a basalt plug rising 300 feet above the shores of Lake Tahoe on federal land along U.S. Highway 50 managed by the U.S. Forest Service. When the Forest Service began, in 1998, to prepare a long-term management plan, some American Indians asserted that Cave Rock, which has been climbed by the international climbing community since the mid-1960’s, is “sacred¨.
On August 8, 2003, the Forest Service finalized its plan and barred all climbing and ordered the removal of all climbing bolts and other safety hardware. The Access Fund, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the climbing environment for rock climbing, mountain climbing, and bouldering, filed an administrative appeal, which was denied by the U.S. Forest Service.
On December 15, 2003, The Access Fund filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, which, on January 28, 2005, ruled that the closure of purportedly “sacred¨ federal land is constitutional.
In its brief, Mountain States Legal Foundation notes that the Forest Service characterizes the religious power of Cave Rock as a renewable resource whose use must be restricted so as not to compromise [its] long-term productivity. The Foundation also directs the Ninth Circuit’s decision to a similar case where a Latin cross on federal lands was ruled to be unconstitutional; the law applied there applies here as well, argued the brief.
Mountain States Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest legal law firm dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area.
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