Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details

McNally, Michael D.

Defend the Sacred

Native American Religious Freedom beyond the First Amendment


    163,95 € / $187.50 / £156.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    Copyright year:
    To be published:
    April 2020
    See all formats and pricing


    Aims and Scope

    The remarkable story of the innovative legal strategies Native Americans have used to protect their religious rights

    From North Dakota's Standing Rock encampments to Arizona's San Francisco Peaks, Native Americans have repeatedly asserted legal rights to religious freedom to protect their sacred places, practices, objects, knowledge, and ancestral remains. But these claims have met with little success in court because Native American communal traditions don't fit easily into modern Western definitions of religion. In Defend the Sacred, Michael McNally explores how, in response to this situation, Native peoples have creatively turned to other legal means to safeguard what matters to them.

    To articulate their claims, Native peoples have resourcefully used the languages of cultural resources under environmental and historic preservation law; of sovereignty under treaty-based federal Indian law; and, increasingly, of Indigenous rights under international human rights law. Along the way, Native nations still draw on the rhetorical power of religious freedom to gain legislative and regulatory successes beyond the First Amendment.

    The story of Native American advocates and their struggle to protect their liberties, Defend the Sacred casts new light on discussions of religious freedom, cultural resource management, and the vitality of Indigenous religions today.


    12 b/w illus. 2 maps.
    American Indian; American Indians; Indian religion; religious rituals; religious ceremonies; religious observances; Todd Morman; Peter Nabokov; Nicholas Shrubsole; burial grounds; reservation; UN DRIP; medicine men; Suzan Shawn Harjo; peyote; eagle feathers; Finbarr Curtis; Elizabeth Shakman Hurd; Greg Johnson; Winnifred Sullivan; Bears Ears; Dakota Access Pipeline; Keystone XL; Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; whale hunt; Hobby Lobby; Native American studies; religious studies; legal studies; US law; cultural resource management; public land management; protests
    General/trade;Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

    More ...

    Michael D. McNally is the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies at Carleton College. He is the author of Honoring Elders: Aging, Authority, and Ojibwe Religion and Ojibwe Singers: Hymns, Grief, and a Native Culture in Motion.


    "An important book on Native American activism from a scholar of religion who has also delved deeply into law and Native history and social life."—Sally Engle Merry, New York University

    "Defend the Sacred is a pathbreaking work of scholarship that sets a new standard and has the potential to impact public debates around Native American religious freedom."—Tisa Wenger, Yale University

    Comments (0)

    Please log in or register to comment.
    Log in