Native Prisoner Religious Rights Watchdog Organization Turns 5

Seattle, WA Huy, a tribal NGO headquartered in Seattle, Washington that provides economic, educational, rehabilitative, and religious support for Native American prisoners in the United States, just turned 5 years old.  The group also celebrates having eclipsed $100,000 in charitable gifting to Native prisoner religious circles in Washington State and South Dakota.

Huy (pronounced “hoyt”), which in Coast Salish language means, “See you again/we never say goodbye,” began in 2012 as an offshoot of a two-year effort by Northwest tribal leaders and advocates and Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) leaders to reform state policy in regard to Native prisoners’ Indian religious freedoms and cultural expression.

DOC Pow Wow Drum Circle

The group’s advocacy has since reached national and international levels.  For example:

·      In 2016, Huy joined the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), as pro bono clients of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), to appear as “friends of the court” to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case regarding a Native prisoner’s religious right to wear unshorn hair.

·      In 2015, Huy, again represented by NARF, appeared as friend of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in a case that successfully challenged the state’s closing of a prison sweatlodge.

·      Also in 2015, Huy successfully spearheaded a challenge to the South Dakota State Penitentiary’s denial of Native prisoners’ religious rights, including tobacco use.

·      In 2014, Huy Advisor, NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, challenged then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for not responding to a United Nations human rights inquiry concerning Native American prisoners’ religious rights.

·      Also in 2014, Huy, along with NCAI, NARF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), grieved to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding “an increasingly pervasive pattern of illegal restriction throughout the United States.”

Huy Advisors and DOC Tribal Religious Service Providers

“We strive to provide a voice for our voiceless relatives in state iron houses,” said Huy Board of Advisors Chairman Gabe Galanda. “We will continue to stand watch against any violation of Indian religious rights by state, local or private prison officials.”

Meanwhile, Huy has raised and gifted over $100,000 to Native prison circles in support of sweatlodge, pow wow, beading, drumming and other religious and cultural activities.  The organization gifts those monies to the circles in DOC prisons pursuant to its Memorandum of Understanding with the agency.

Huy has also financially supported circles in the South Dakota state prison system.  Huy’s gifts are predominately fundraised through charitable gifts from the Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Nisqually, Squaxin Island, Puyallup, Chehalis, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Spokane, Kalispel and Grand Ronde Tribes.

Huy Advisors Gift Former DOC Secretary Bernie Warner

“We stand on the broad shoulders of Washington tribes and tribal leaders, who have never stood for Indian religious or cultural discrimination,” said President Cladoosby. “Without them, our advocacies for our incarcerated brothers and sisters would not be possible.”

Huy is guided by a Board of Advisors comprised of:

· Galanda, Round Valley, an Indian civil rights lawyer in Seattle with Galanda Broadman, PLLC;

· Cladoosby, who chiefly serves as Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman;

· Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles;

· Francis Cullooyah, a Kalispel Elder and former DOC statewide “tribal chaplain”;

· Claudia Kauffman, Nez Perce, a former Washington State Senator who is now the Inter-Governmental Affairs Liaison for the Muckleshoot Tribe;

· Winona Stevens, Ho Chunk, who runs the HEAL for Reentry non-profit organization;

· Minty Long Earth, Santee/Creek/Choctaw, and Community Engagement & Communications Specialist for the Seattle Community Police Commission; and

· Eldon Vail, past Washington State DOC Secretary.

Huy is registered as a non-profit corporation with the Washington Secretary of State and Department of Revenue, and enjoys 501(c)(3) status from the federal Internal Revenue Service.

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