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Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association (BLUMA) characterized the dispute as one concerning access to federal land, whereas the Native American tribes and supporting parties looked at it as a conflict over their right to preserve their ability to freely practice their religion, which involves the protection of their sacred sites. The National Park Service considered many alternatives to the present situation at the tower. The Preferred Alternative established a voluntary ban on climbing in June, which is, culturally, the most significant month for the tribes. This voluntary ban entails asking that people not climb the tower in June out of respect for the tribes, but allowing people to climb if they choose to do so. In 1998, BLUMA sued Bruce Babbitt, the United States Secretary of the Interior, stating that the voluntary climbing ban violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and that it would cause economic injury to Andy Petefish. For more information on the dispute and its characterizations,  see the What section.  

The suit was brought against Babbitt in the Federal District Court of Wyoming. The court determined that the voluntary ban was not in violation of the Establishment Clause because it sought to accommodate the tribes' religion, not advocate it. BLUMA brought the case to the Court of Appeals a year later; it maintained that the first ruling still stood. The court rulings, however, conflict can be seem as conflicting with a previous cases case involving Native American sacred sites. For more information, see the Where section.

Both sides of the lawsuit gained support from many concerned groups that intervened on their behalves. For more information about how the dispute was resolved,  see the How section.

For the sources consulted in this case study, see the References section.

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