Defend the Sacred

Native American Religious Freedom beyond the First Amendment

Presentation by Michael D. McNally, Ph.D.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 12:30 – 1:30 PM 

Cover of Defend the SacredFrom 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. 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. In this presentation, which draws on his recently published book Defend the Sacred: Native American Religious Freedom beyond the First Amendment (Princeton University Press, 2020) and article "Native American Religious Freedom as a Collective Right" (BYU Law Review, 2019), Michael McNally will discuss how Native peoples have creatively turned to other legal means to safeguard what matters to them. 

Professor McNally’s book Defend the Sacred is now for sale with special offer code DTS-FG for 30% off with free shipping via the Princeton University Press website through October 31, 2020.

Photo of Michael D. McNallyMichael D. McNally is the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religion at Carleton College. A 2017-18 Guggenheim Fellow, he is author of Defend the Sacred: Native American Religious Freedom beyond the First Amendment (Princeton University Press, 2020),  Honoring Elders: Aging, Authority, and Ojibwe Religion (Columbia University Press, 2009), and  Ojibwe Singers: Hymns, Grief, and a Native Culture in Motion (Oxford University Press, 2000; repr. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2009), and a number of book chapters, journal articles, and law review articles. Professor McNally earned his B.A. at Carleton College and M.Div., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University. 

Sponsored and organized by
Jay Phillips Center for Interreligious Studies at the University of St. Thomas 

co-sponsored by
Terrence J. Murphy Institute at the University of St. Thomas
Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John's University 

in collaboration with
Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at Saint Mary's College of California 
Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society at Elon University, North Carolina 
SOLV Initiative on the Relationship between Dakota Communities and the University of St. Thomas
Forum on Faith and Life at Concordia College, Moorhead

with generous support from
Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota