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Old 06-20-2008, 12:39 AM   #8
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"Finally, I do not condone buying eagle feathers. I haven't and won't. But I think the general attitude of criminalizing those who legitimately need eagle feathers for spiritual reasons or religious practices, and have to resort to illegal methods because of the long wait time at the repository, is really problematic."

I think sometimes we're ALL missing the point. I had a reply in the thread on 'eagle feathers', which basically says that I don't understand why we're suddenly relying upon the Feds and the Repository to present us with the feathers we need for spiritual reasons. Go and stand at virtually any powwow today. You are surrounded on all sides by more eagle feathers than you can count. While some dancers might LIKE having 60+ some feathers on their outfits, they don't NEED them. You aren't sixty times 'more spiritual', than if you have just one feather. An eagle feather is an eagle feather.. although of course, we all know that isn't true. Some are definitely more 'desirable' than others. It's cooler looking to have 60, than it is to have just 30... at least if you're a certain kind of dancer. It's far better to have a bustle of black tips, than it is to have ordinary looking brown bald eagle feathers... which may just as well be goose feathers, eh?

We shouldn't be begging the Feds for feathers. We should be looking to ourselves, and redistributing the feathers we already have in a more equitable and respectful fashion, instead of hoarding them because it's the current regalia style. If some people in a tribe are suffering through ceremonies with no eagle feather at all, then why isn't some dancer who 'owns' more than they really need for their regalia, handing feathers over? If a dancer has 4 wings and 2 tails' worth of feathers in his single swing bustle, why isn't he making a more reasonable sized bustle, and handing the extra feathers over to his community's spiritual men and women, so they can be handed out to those in need, or through ceremonies?

The men who take up the traditional northern dance are supposed to be the caretakers and protectors of our peoples. They should be the first in line to sacrifice for the rest of us... not the first in line to claim every feather for themselves, because it looks good in today's powwow circle.

The shortage of eagle feathers isn't a "problem" the Feds should have to be solving 'for' us via the repository. The repository isn't supposed to be there to pad out the latest style on someone's new regalia. It's supposed to be there to meet the needs of people with genuine spiritual requirements. A double-row swing bustle, a fully decked out staff, 4 or 5 scalplock feathers, full shoulder epaulettes, and a full eagle fan sure are pretty to look at, but they're NOT 'spiritual requirements'. They're a fashion.

Ideally, I'd like to see the repository become something only tribally recognised elders and spiritual leaders can even get feathers from. They can then distribute them as they see fit, to those who earn the right to them, or who pass through ceremonies where they are typically handed out (namings, for instance). They could be handed out to pipemakers and staff makers.

I honestly don't think anyone should be accumulating forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy feathers for the sake of 'nice' looking regalia, when there is obviously an issue with people being unable to obtain enough feathers for basic ceremonial purposes--naming, veteran recognitions, etc.

All the feathers needed, for everyone, are already right here. They're just concentrated in the hands of a rather small part of the dancing community.

GREED lies at the heart of the problem. Greed, and vanity. Everyone is lining up at the repository for just one more full tail for that fan they always wanted, or that next pair of wings to pad out an inner row on their swing bustle. And they're crying a river of tears because they aren't getting those feathers 'fast' enough to suit them. They're crying a river of tears because this time they got a dirty-edged white bald eagle tail, instead of that golden eagle black-tipped tail they always wanted.

I'm just tired of hearing it, especially from folks who, traditionally speaking, haven't even achieved the battle honors that give one a 'right' to wear black tips.

No one NEEDS a feather to pray, but if you've got one, it sure is nice. Any number of feathers above and beyond the one you pray with, is just gravy. We need to learn to be more thankful; I'd like to see more folks giving away feathers, as easily as they like to accumulate them.

But, eagle feathers are the new money. And the only time anyone really seems to care or complain, is when they can't get themselves a piece of it.

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