Court Settlement Targets 15 Airports Required for TSA Training on Handling of American Indian Sacred Items

Published February 8, 2018

SAN ANTONIO — A recent settlement of Native American Church of North America and Sandor Iron Rope v. Transportation Security Administration, et al.; Case 5:17-cv-00108-OLG; In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division has a provision in it that requires Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at 15 airports in the United States to receive added training related to the handling of American Indian sacred objects.

Sandor Iron Rope was allegedly harrassed by TSA agents.

The lawsuit brought by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Dorsey & Whitney, LLP (DW) and Porter Hedges LLP (PH) filed the lawsuit on February 14, 2017, in San Antonio federal court asserting Religious Freedom Restoration Act and federal civil rights violations.

The lawsuit alleged that Sandor Iron Rope, the immediate past president of the Native American Church of North America, was harassed by TSA agents at the San Antonio airport while passing through security. Iron Rope was returning home to South Dakota after a conference near the peyote gardens located in South Texas. Ignoring his pleas, the TSA agents mistreated several sacred items in Iron Rope’s possession.

As part of the settlement agreement, TSA will publish a Job Aid for internal education and a “Know Before You Go” fact sheet to educate about Native American religious items and create a less intrusive method for inspecting those items. TSA Passenger Support Specialists (“PSS”) and Transportation Security Managers (“TSM”) at the following airports will be directed to review the Job Aid:

  • Denver, Colorado (DEN)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (PHX)
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP)
  • Omaha, Nebraska (OMA)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OKC).

Additionally, the parties will collaborate on producing an educational webinar in the near future. PSSs and TSMs at the following ten (10) airports are required to view the webinar:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ)
  • Durango, Colorado (DRO)
  • Farmington, New Mexico (FMN)
  • Great Falls, Montana (GTF)
  • Laredo, Texas (LRD)
  • McAllen, Texas (MFE)
  • Minot, North Dakota (MOT)
  • Rapid City, South Dakota (RAP)
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota (FSD)
  • San Antonio, Texas (SAT).

For additional information, please see the full settlement agreement and associated exhibits (https://www.narf.org/nill/documents/20180124NACNA-TSA-settlement.pdf).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email