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The Yurok, Indian Tribe of Northern California

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In the 1960’s, The Yurok, Indian tribe of northern California, medicine man performed the White Deer Skin Dance to bring the physical and spiritual world back in balance. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of traditional Indian religion in the high country. The high country contains all of the Siskiyou Mountains, about twenty miles east of the Pacific ocean and thirty miles south of the Oregon border now known as the Six Rivers National Forest. Within the Siskiyou Mountains is Chimney Rock , “A majestic outcropping of pinkish basalt, rising sixty-seven hundred feet above sea level”, which the Medicine man of the tribe goes to to perform the Dance in order for him to communicate to the Spirit World. In the 1930’s, The Forest Service started constructing a logging road through the Six Rivers National Forest. The purpose of the road was to connect the towns and allow timber to be transported straight across on either end of the forest. By the 1970’s, the road dead-ended into the forest. The final section of the road was known as the Chimney Rock section, concerning the Indians that it would destroy the sanctity of the high country forever. As Sam Jones, a full-blooded Yurok dance giver put it, “When the medicine lady goes out there to pray, The forest is there looking out. She talks to the trees and rocks, whatever is out there. If it's all logged off and all bald there, they can’t meditate at all. They have nothing to talk to.(Page 61)” The Indians filed a lawsuit in federal district court in San Francisco claiming that the construction would destroy the natural setting necessary to Indian religious practices, thereby violating their First Amendment. The Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom was introduced in 1786 stating both an establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The free exercise clause forbids the government from unduly burdening the exercise of a religious belief. The Federal District Court for Northern District of California held that the completion of the Road would violate the Indians



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