Judge rules against tribes in Oregon burial-site case

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has handed a defeat to tribal members who say a sacred site was destroyed to expand a highway near Oregon’s Mount Hood.

The elders from Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde claim the Federal Highway Administration violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They said the government in 2008 could have widened the road without bulldozing a site that included a stone altar and medicinal plants.

But Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You ruled that tribal members failed to show that the project substantially burdened their right to practice religion.

Transportation officials widened Highway 26 after receiving complaints about a dangerous stretch east of Portland.

Tribal leaders said in a statement Monday they plan to appeal.