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Eagle Feathers?!?!?!

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  • #46
    Several Cases

    Yes, There are many cases of people being charged and arrested at powwows, festivals, ceremonies, and such including cases of people being investigated over time and charged and arrested at home, on the road, etc.

    Before the Internet, we heard of most of these cases by the "indian telegraph" and most could only be researched via a Law Library. But with the Internet you can search so many different ways and find several of these cases. Some came out good and some came out bad.

    Investigations regarding Animal Parts are taken very serious by the DNR of each state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department.

    If you do some research here you will find that some people have information on Natives being CI's (confidential informants) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and state DNR departments.

    As for the laws being enforced - well that is a tricky subject. You could compare it to truly enforcing the speed limit laws - If you drive 36 in a 35 speed limit you are "technically" speeding. Sure most think that we get the 5 mile over - but that is not really the law and an officer could give you a speeding ticket for going 36 in a 35 if they really wanted to enforce the law or to set an example for that part of the road.

    The same goes for the Animal Protection Laws - many are so vague and they cover so much that it is physically impossible to truly enforce the laws as they are written.

    So, from time to time people (all people - not just the Natives) become scape goats or they are made examples of.

    Some agents are really nice and only trying to do their job (like any law enforcement officer) - BUT there are many that are arrogant and mean and spiteful and abuse their power for their hidden agenda.

    Again, when in doubt read the laws.


    • #47
      Originally posted by Tom Iron Eagle
      If you do some research here you will find that some people have information on Natives being CI's (confidential informants) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and state DNR departments. ..


      Do you think any of those Confidential Native Informants (aka. "hang around the fort Indians") are in the stands during the grand entry at the Gathering of Nations?
      Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


      • #48
        It is Possible

        WhoMe and others,

        I would not put it past a major possibility. That event has grown to massive and huge proportions. I would not be surprised if there were Native Confidential Informants fully dressed and in the Arena and not just the stands.

        I have heard rumors and (some even confirmed) of informants being dancers, singers, and even vendors and plain spectators.

        These CI's can be "undercover" and some can be even Key Staff. About 20 years ago rumor had it that a certain MC in the Great Lakes Region was a CI. It appears that he got into it by plea bargaining to save himself from illegal feather prosecution. Another rumor that did get confirmed was that a ceratin Drum in the Mid-West also has CI's and they don't even keep it a secret (so technically they are not CI's they are just plain "tatle-tells and snitches." Amazing!!!!

        I mentioned one of these CI's a few years ago on this website. I think that thread got shut down and deleted because I actually mentioned names and gave information on where to find the proof.

        It is sad, very, very sad.


        • #49
          YUPYUPYUP.....I got caught up in a mess a few years back over some bear skulls in my possession,and they came over(on a complaint from a "neighbor")and after a lot of hassle,in which the skulls were taken,a fine issued,had to get proof that the skulls were acquired from a legit source,the fine rescinded....then came the offer to become a CI,which I declined instantly,even after they tried to tell me that there were NDN informants who would have no problem turning me in to save their own hides....
          I basically told him that I didn't care what they did,I would never rat out anyone for something I believe should be ours to begin with.Now don't get me wrong,I don't condone the killing of eagles,or any animal,just for eye candy on your outfit,but this is a problem many of us face every day....
          Wish there was a way that all of us could do what the Zunis did,and help in the raising and protection of eagles,and just use the shed feathers for what we need......keep smilin'1


          • #50
            I'm gonna rant a little, because this subject really p*sses me off.

            The quotes below... if it sounds like I'm yelling 'at you', please don't take offense. In most cases, I'm just using some of the things you mentioned in your post as jumping off for my reply. It is no way aimed directly back at you.

            "It may not be just eagle feathers. Hawk feathers might be vulnerable, too, and such mundane birds as bluejays."

            As another poster said, the list of 'legal' bird feathers is very short. For anything not on that list, even a Native needs some sort of proof that the item was obtained legally, and not poached. This is designed, as someone else mentioned, to protect birds who in some cases were hunted and poached to near unrecoverable levels, for the sake of the fashion industry. No, we as Natives may not have created that problem, but to fix it, we sure as hell need to be contributing to the solution. Thus, the laws apply to us as well, and we should be thankful that they do. Natives overhunt and poach as well. It isn't just non-Indians.

            "...If you ask me,the laws are still in effect just to f#$% with us.WE are the only people here who place any importance on bird feathers and parts."

            The Feds aren't looking to mess with enrolled Natives, although locally you may have Natural Resource folks who have a bone to pick with Indians. A conservation officer is still a person, with all the faults and prejudices of one. Some just don't like Indians. If it's any comfort to you, all the State DNR and Federal FWS officers *I've* met at or near a powwow have been Natives.

            However, whatever their background, by the law, they're looking to catch poachers and people who have no legal right to carry the feathers. By the law, that's what they're SUPPOSED to be doing. Natives, like all Americans, have to play within the confines of what is good for the BIRDS, not ourselves. We have to play within the laws that are designed to protect the birds. If it bothers us (and I honestly don't understand why it would, since a lot of us like to point out how these birds are even 'more meaningful' to us than to any non-Indian), all we have to do is enroll with their tribe, and carry our enrollment ID in case a Fed hassles us about our eagle feathers. Get a permit for your feathers. If that Native doesn't qualify for an enrollment ID, then there's no point harping on the Feds. Take it up with your tribal government, because they're the ones who decide who is and isn't "one of them".

            "Saddly, it is also unlikely that any interference in your personal religious practice, caused by prohibiting your non-enrolled relatives from using feathers etc, would not be judged sufficiently compelling to overcome state interest in species preservation."

            If we care about the well-being of these birds, I can't imagine we as Native peoples wouldn't be willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of preserving them. Maybe that means your son or your cousin has to be handed a feather each time you gather at a sweat lodge to pray, and then has to hand it back to you at the end of the sweat. However, in most of this thread, I don't get the impression that's what most people are complaining about... the right to one or two feathers to be used in TRULY ceremonial fashion.

            No, folks are talking about lots of feathers... such as for a powwow outfit. Well, all right, so:

            Maybe for some that means you don't get a fancy bustle full of black-tips to dance at the powwow with. Be grateful if you've got an eagle bustle at all, even a small one, because there are some Natives who don't have a single feather to even pray with. There are many, MANY Natives all around us who have a wealth of eagle feathers. Look at any Northern Tradish dancer who is decked out head-to-toe in a couple eagles' worth of feathers. For those Natives who have naught, maybe we should be less harsh on the Feds, and a little more critical of those amongst us who are hoarding for the sake of a powwow outfit.

            Interestingly enough, for all our bluster towards non-Indians, we are rarely willing to look at our own shortcomings. If you see folks around you who deserve a feather or a plume, and don't have one, give them one of yours. Maybe that means you one day end up with only 20 feathers in your bustle, instead of 50. Seems to me you've done more to earn those 50, than you did by keeping them for a flashy look.

            "I have a feeling that they would not be so hard on you guys if the certain few didnt mess it all up by selling feathers and killing eagles."

            Spot on. I can't recall ever hearing many reports about people poaching eagles, but the majority of the cases I am familiar with involved Natives. Some of you may be very familiar with the cases going on in Canada over the last few years, of Natives poaching upwards of 40 eagles, and selling them on the black market. There is a great demand for feathers, and non-Indians aren't the only ones poaching or purchasing these illegal feathers. What are the rest of us doing to end this poaching, besides bad-mouthing the Feds, who are trying to end it? Or complain about the eagle repository, which does what it can to get eagle feathers out to enrolled members of tribes, without regard to how many you already have, or whether you've done anything to earn carrying them?

            "I was reading the law on this subject and I found that feathers can legally be given to a bonafide member of a federally recognize tribe ONLY."

            The law puts the onus on us to gift eagle feathers to Natives who are recognized members of a tribe, just as the gifter of the feathers is. It also puts on the onus on the TRIBES to come up with acceptable 'rules' as to who is and isn't a member. Barring that, it puts an even worse onus on the individual tribal member to think about who he/she is going to marry... and is it worth marrying a non-enrolled Indian, and having children with them? For some of us, with the 'rights' such children could lose, it might not be. Take it up with your tribal office, because the 'rules' of membership are up to them.

            "Last I knew, you could give your feathers to family members or anyone who is a federally recognized native, but that you must call to let them know what's up so that it's on record should someone try to confiscate them. Same goes that if you recieve a feather from someone, that you should call them to have it added to your permit... HOWEVER... they also say that as long as you are carrying something that shows you are an enrolled native, that as long as you have a permit for most of your feathers, not all have to be accounted for since gifted feathers run in people's families."

            This is my understanding of the law as well. This does seem to be precisely what is stated on the pamphlets that came with my father's bald eagle wing, obtained from the repository. In fact, it actually says only that if you gift the feather to another, you must keep some record of that somewhere, in case you are asked to show where your feathers have gone (so they can see that you aren't illegally selling them, etc). It doesn't say that you have to send this information to the Fish/Wildlife Service. It just says that you have to keep a record of such information, yourself.

            "This raises another question from me who handles the feathers at the repository?? Do you want that person touching someting as sacred feathers??"

            There are Natives who work at the Depository, as well as non-Natives. In either case, these feathers usually come directly from dead eagles. They are not gifted to you 'ceremonially'; they are simply sent to you in the mail. I don't know of anyone, anywhere, who would not promptly get these feathers/parts blessed properly. So who has 'handled' them at the repository, to me, is a non-issue.

            "This makes sense Blackbear, but what is there to stop a member of a federally recognized tribe with an eagle permit from feathers from the repository going out and shooting an eagle, and then claiming the feathers were gifted?"

            The Feds are willing to take that chance, and are hopeful enough to assume that we aren't going to do that. However, I've no doubt some people do. Hence the need to keep some sort of record of where your eagle feathers came from, and where your missing ones went. Hence the reason some conservation officers DO stop Natives, and ask about their feathers. In some cases, it's persecution. In the majority of cases, it's about the BIRDS. Stop making it about 'you'. If you get stopped, look at it as the opportunity to show that you DO respect eagles are much as we claim to, and respect the laws regarding their on-going survival.

            "And like you said,you'll most likely get pieces from different birds.I've heard horror stories of folks waiting for yearsand then finally getting the package,opening it,and finding the bird or feathers in horrible shape!Or finding that it wasn't what they wanted,contacting them,and being told that that was what they were given so make due."

            I have no understanding of what the complaints here are. The people received eagle feathers, from the Federal government, ABSOLUTELY FREE. They don't even ask that you do anything, accomplish anything, 'traditionally' speaking, to receive them. That's a lot easier than earning them the old-fashioned ways from your elders, don't you think?

            Now it's true that not just any old eagle feather can be used on any old item. Some ceremonial items require specific types of feathers. The repository says up front that they can't guarantee that you'll get those feathers. They say they will do the best they can. They also say that these feathers are meant for religious purposes ONLY. And while yes, dancing can be a religious thing for many of us, 'powwowing' in the modern sense really isn't. These feathers aren't supposed to be on your powwow outfit... they aren't all perfect, meant to help you capture that 1st place $500 bucks in a competition. They're meant to be used in ceremonies and rituals... and for that, who cares if your eagle feather isn't flawless?

            Besides, if you really need that one, specific kind of feather for your ceremonial calumet or what-have-you, why are you asking the Federal government for it? Surely someone in your traditional community can (or SHOULD be), willing to help you. It isn't the Feds' problem if the folks in your community leave you no choice but to get what you can from the repository.

            Of course, most folks writing to the repository aren't looking for feathers that are ACTUALLY going to be used in ritual. They're looking for powwow gear. In which case, beggars shouldn't be choosers.

            As to the condition, again, these feathers are from birds who have died. Sometimes they've been sitting in water or on the ground for a long time before they're found. The FWS still assumes that, as eagle feathers, they are of some use to someone, somewhere. No, they aren't always in good shape. No, they aren't always going to match. No, you cannot 'request' the precise 'kind' of feathers you want. It's not a damned Eagle Store! Feathers are a natural resource. You, I, your tribal elder... whoever it is, gets what is available. Be thankful, instead of critical. It isn't as though the Feds have to give these feathers to anyone at all, if they don't want to.

            Don't like the ones you got? Give them away to someone who will appreciate them. I don't want to sound judgemental, but I'll say what I'm thinking anyway: If you're looking at an EAGLE feather you received from the repository and you're thinking, 'damn, that feather's too ratty and ugly for me!'... then you probably don't deserve it anyway.

            "This whole contacting them whenever you want to do things right and stay within the laws is not only a hassle,but can work against you.They can tell you they're gonna take care of it,but it will take a few days or weeks,and the NEXT DAY show up with a warrant to search your premises for illicit feathers.....Hell,you did tell them you had a feather,right??"

            You don't have to 'contact them'. You have to keep a record, somewhere in your house or in your head, of who you may have given feathers to. That's all they're asking.

            "all i can say is that if contemp trad dancers didnt need 3 birds for these outfits and bustles they make, the problem wouldnt be as big. they arent sacred, they are bling."

            Spot on. It isn't the Feds' job to make sure we all have the feathers we need to pray and such... it's our families and our fellow Natives' job. This is the truth, and so I get pretty frustrated with people who start complaining about the laws and such that 'keep Natives from getting eagle feathers'. The laws are keeping these birds alive for our future generations. There's ALREADY plenty of feathers to go around, without new ones from new birds. We simply don't share them anymore, the way our ancestors did. We also don't do much to 'earn' them, like our ancestors did. Eagle feathers are now a fashion statement. Thus we end up with one Northern Traditional jr. boy out there dancing with a eagle's worth (or more) of feathers on his outfit, and elders sitting on the side who might not have any.

            That's not the Feds' failing. That's ours.

            Wanna fix the problem? Start there.

            /flame (-proof suit) on!



            • #51
              Does anyone know if people under 18 can apply for eagle permits? my family heard that only people 18 or older can apply for permits, so my mom r dad hav to say the eagle feathers that were given to me are theirs? I also heard that at the repository, they send eagle feathers to those who have more native blood than others who dont have as much faster. so since my dad is full, he will get feathers quicker than I will? im not really sure if these laws are concrete, i guess ill hav to look dem up


              • #52
                Yes you have to be 18 to apply. If they are used within your immediate family and they are enrolled natives as well you have nothing to worry about.
                Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                • #53
                  Thanks alot blackbear we're all enrolled members, but not all of us have permits.


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Disappearing Hawk View Post
                    Does anyone know if people under 18 can apply for eagle permits? my family heard that only people 18 or older can apply for permits, so my mom r dad hav to say the eagle feathers that were given to me are theirs? I also heard that at the repository, they send eagle feathers to those who have more native blood than others who dont have as much faster. so since my dad is full, he will get feathers quicker than I will? im not really sure if these laws are concrete, i guess ill hav to look dem up
                    The Repository does not care one whit what your Blood Quantum is!
                    They go by the date on the request
                    First Come First Serve
                    The very best thing they did was move the administration to the actual repository
                    Alot of the log-jam was the fact that eagle requests piled up on the desks of clerks in the Permit office
                    Our area has one woman that takes care of NM,OK,TX,AZ and Colo
                    Do you know how many ndns are in those States????
                    So the logjam was on her desk in the form of requests

                    The best thing you can ever do is give the repository a call to confirm current address and phone number is on file
                    They can actually tell you where you request is and estimated time left before they will fill the order
                    Nice folks but be patient with them they service the whole country...

                    They waste so much time trying to contact folks that have not updated their contact information in a coon's age, before they go to who's "next" on the list
                    ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
                    Till I Die!


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