Some TSA workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will get extra training on how to screen American Indian religious items after the Native American Church of North America settled a lawsuit with the Transportation Security Administration.
Transportation security managers and passenger support specialists will be required to review a new fact sheet TSA will produce within the next few months. The "Job Aid" gives guidance on how to screen items such as gourd rattles, eagle feathers and fans "in a respectful and professional manner."
The TSA also will produce a "Know Before You Go" fact sheet to educate employees about American Indian religious items and create a less intrusive method for inspecting those items, according to terms of the settlement.
Security managers oversee operations at checkpoints and support specialists provide assistance and resolve travelers' screening concerns.
In addition to MSP, TSA employees in Omaha, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Denver also will have to review the new guidelines.
The lawsuit was filed in February 2017 in federal court in the Western District of Texas by the church and Sandor Iron Rope, the immediate past president of Native American Church. He brought the lawsuit claiming TSA agents in San Antonio mistreated several sacred items while he was returning to South Dakota.
Neither side admitted any wrongdoing. The TSA agreed to the training as part of a settlement reached in January.
Workers at another 10 airports will have to watch a webinar that will be produced by the TSA in partnership with the Native American Church of North America. They include airports in Albuquerque and Farmington in New Mexico; Durango, Colo.; Great Falls, Mont.; Minot, N.D.; Rapid City and Sioux Falls, S.D., and San Antonio, Laredo and McAllen, Texas.
"TSA will abide by the terms and timelines of the settlement agreement," the agency said. "TSA respects the rights of all passengers during the screening process. If a passenger has religious, cultural or ceremonial items that require special handling, please inform the TSA office before the screening of those items."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768