March 15th, 2012
10:33 PM ET
Feds grant Native American tribe permit to kill bald eagles for religious purposes
By Eric Fiegel, CNN
Washington (CNN) - It's the symbol of America, and for the first time, the U.S. government has granted a Native American tribe a permit to kill two bald eagles for religious purposes.
The permit application was filed in 2008 by the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming and, after years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued it on March 9.
"They did make a case for why the take of a bird from the wild was necessary," Matt Hogan, Denver regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, told CNN.
Last year, the tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the federal government for denying the application, saying it "unreasonably burdens the religious rights of tribal members," court documents stated.
The case is pending.
Hogan, who was in charge of granting the permit, says the lawsuit was not the reason the permit got approved when it did. He says it took time to make sure all the criteria were met and that the permit was in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which allows bald eagles to be used by Native Americans in religious ceremonies.
The eagle "flies higher then any other creature. It sees many things. It's closer to the Creator," said Robert Holden, deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians. Holden said he was bothered by the comments he was hearing: that this permit would lead to a mass killing of bald eagles.
"How stupid can that be?" he said. "It's a religion. It's what we do. We're more concerned about the eagle population than any culture in this Western Hemisphere. Why would we want to kill all the eagles?"
Hogan said the permit's issuance will have little effect on the powerful raptor. Taking two eagles from the wild "will not in any way jeopardize the status of the eagle population, either in the state of Wyoming or nationwide," he said, "and the good news is bald eagles are doing quite well."
That wasn't the case some 70 years ago, when the species was threatened with extinction, leading Congress to pass a law prohibiting the killing, selling or possession of the bird. In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the threatened and endangered species list.
Hogan said applications for a permit to kill or capture a bald eagle are rare. Native Americans often have to get bald eagle feathers for their ceremonies from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife national feather repository in Denver. Hogan said it can take years for the tribes to get the feathers this way, because demand often exceeds supply.
Holden, who is part Choetaw/Shickasaw, sought to put some perspective on the situation: "If someone ordered a Bible or some religious artifact and they had to wait for a long time, how fair is that?"
The permit is good until February 2013, and Hogan said he knows of no other applications being filed. As part of permit, the tribe has to notify the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 24 hours once the bald eagles are killed or captured.
Hogan said he is still waiting for that word.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Before we judge too harshly the religious customs of the native community here, let us not forget that had the Iriquois in what is presently upstate NY not hung a white dog each year, that corn crops would have been poor. Wait, I guess that was another stupid cultural/religious excuse to kill something that did not need killing.
Did the Eagle get a vote?
Religion can NOT be an exemption to break the law. What's next the church of Marijuanna? The holy book of poker? Mayan's were performing human sacrifice where's their tradition. Move on. Grow up. Religion is not about things, it's about faith.
When will people realize, just because its a 'tradition' does not make it right. Falling back on religion is a weak excuse to say its 'tradition', just as saying its part of my culture does not always make it right.
Good point. Slavery and racism were traditions once too! This is the dumbest request. I want everyone to note the tribe–and not speak or deal or work with or visit their casino's.
Once again...Proof of the cost of RELIGION... DEATH & DISTRUCTION.
And where the HELL is PETA for this one??????
My buddy Bubba got arrested for hunting bald eagles. When the judge asked him why he did it, Bubba replied that he liked to eat them. Really says the judge what do they taste like? Bubba says sort of like a California Condor with a hint of Snowy Owl.
Nice use of an old joke. When I heard it snowy owl was replaced with whooping crane. Still funny to this day.
Que the poutrage. Thanks CNN for bringing this to our attention! It's like hurling chum out here.
i see you went for the bait -----
Zeke – Please leave the country... and stop wearing those American Flag underwear as well.
We had to throw you back in.....Too small.
What are these Native Americans subjecting themselves too? When we look back this will be a dark time for their culture and history. This is the same as the native eskimos who get to hunt and kill a grey whale per year because that is what their ancestors did. Granted, both species are no longer on the Endangered Species List or are considered "threatened", but just because you are LEGALLY allowed to to it doesn't mean you should. I REALLY hate PETA and ALF, but I so hope they stop this.
Yes. How DARE they have a culture and trad.ition a 1000 years older than the United States. How DARE they not become a ho.mogenized non-descript copy of white euro-trash turned "American."
If your talking evolution, at some point Native Americans and their "1000's of years of tradition" pushed on humans who were living here before them. I guess that is OK though, right? They are living under the protection and freedom of the U.S. in the 21st century. They can't break laws or make up laws because of tradition or religion, no matter how far in the past they did it. Stealing used to be a capital offense, but we got smart and CHANGED it. We need to be smart now and protect animal species.
Make them an offer to trade the 2 eagles for 2 bottles of whiskey!!!
Why stop at that racist approach? Why don't you just shoot the sava.ges?
ignorant, prejudice redneck!
Are you going to grant permits for killing an equal number of indians (for religious reasons, of course)?
You would have made a terrific Nazi!
The ancestors already did that.
go stand in the corner...thats a stupid thing to say.
its against my religion to pay taxes --- wonder if that will work??-- i guess i just need to fill out the right form
Killing any living creature for Religious purposes no matter the religion as revolting, no matter the reason behind it. Even killing for food is usually not necessary, but when it is it should not be done in a way that mistreats the animal or causes it pain of fear. If we learned to be less self centered and greedy and treated the other creatures that share this planet with us (who were also created by God) with more care, we would be far better off.
"Even killing for food is usually not necessary" I stopped reading right there. You are obviously mentally retarded.
Well said. I hope you run for office but maybe you are too clear-headed for that. Our loss.
Funny how we got this news days ago in Canada.
So did we it is coming around again.
Don't worry. It's just because nothing happens in Canada. It's only BARELY newsworthy in the States now and only as special interest "feature" on the CNN sidebar. Def not a headline. We got plenty of real problem to deal with over here.
I have no problem denying these Indians their request. I do support freedom of religion and separation of church and state. And I do have guilt over prior treatment of native americans. But my heart soars with these animals. They have meaning to me. I remember my father talking that way about the American flag. I thought freedom of speech trumped sentiment and that we ought to let protesters burn it in demonstrations without jailing them; that we weren't repressive and backward and so concerned about cloth that we couldn't take its symbolic burning. But now I find I feel that way about our eagles. So while I understand the issues, I support a denial of this request. I don't see why anyone in North America should be allowed to kill an eagle. Let them worship another way. We aren't primitive any longer. They shouldn't be able to make me accept this. I don't care if its selfish. If they kill bald eagles they ought to go to jail. The administration is wrong to permit this.
You do realize that Native Americans were here first? And the fact that they have to get our permission to kill a bird that's an important symbol to the country that took away their home is an incredible insult?
I assure you that the Eagle has much greater meaning to Native Americans than to you.
The Indians will be selling Eagle Feathers at a roadside stand next to a Liquor store soon!
Prayer changes things .
My dog says God made him destroy the living room couch. Because of that I don`t like religious dogs.
You are barking up the wrong tree
Prayer changes the time on the clock only. Other than that, it changes nothing. Pray to the flying spaghetti monster all you want, it makes no difference. While I understand the want to the native american tribes to kill two eagles to hold to their beliefs, why is it that all of the sudden they want to do so, right after another tribe was given the feathers from an eagle that was put down due to injury?
My dog said Allah made him chew up the Swatch I just bought for my wife. So I had to shoot him.
Right its much better to give them good brainwashing so then can continue the lies, destroy each other and the planet and then pass the BS to the next generation..
What if we had Mayans running around America and having bloodletting and ancient virgin sacrificial ceremonies? And some Muslims still read the Quran as Kill the infidel who doesn't follow Mohammad. C'mon Man, some things supercede religious freedom.
Simple you give the Mayans the Muslims.Two problems solved.
If Ben Franklin had gotten the Turkey as the national bird, would we have this discussion every thanksgiving?
Pass the giblet gravy please
Turkeys aren't endangered so... no.
Eagles aren't endangered either....
That's right, I forgot they took it off the endangered species list. Well Bald Eagles probably don't taste as good.
Killing animals for religious purposes is just wrong. We need to stop celebrating Thanksgiving, those poor turkeys. No more pork of any kind for Christmas or ever(if you're christian Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14). It's 2 birds, that are in no way endangered of extinction from this religious practice. If anything we should be proud that our country's symbol is also very important religious symbol for natives who do this as a means of worship. They aren't killing anyone, they aren't torturing the animal, unlike our own food industry does to other animals (not the mention poisoning humans with processing etc). I'm truly saddened by people who practice religion themselves then turn around an denounce other religious practices, hypocrites.
Best come back of the day..........................
Simple you give the Mayans the Muslims.Two problems solved.
this is so sad Eagles are such beauitful birds. I wish people would not bring religion into this as it always happens when any subject is talked about on a forum! I believe in God and he gives me the strengthen to get threw each day! Remember you people that don't believe that is your choice but don't critsize me for my believe!
sure. we won't "critsize" you ...hahaha
Believing or not believing is not a choice. Think about it.
Ok so they get to kill 2 bald eagles for tradional religious reasons, fine then they better be killing them in the traditional matter ie a bow and arrow. If gunpowder's involved their just religious hypocrites.
What happens after the kill? Kentucky Fried Eagle?
Ya, and other religions need to stop using the printing press to create their books of worship. Religious hypocrites using modern technology to practice their religion, shameful. Not to mention using things like microphones, video screens and radio/tv, using the science that contradicts their own beliefs. Their just religious hypocrites.
Punisher, no, they actually (are supposed to) use the parts of the eagle in a ceremony dictated by ancient (forgotten?!?) methods. Jack, I agree with your thought. If two eagles must be downed for ancient religious ceremonies, then Running Bear had better be using a hand carved bow with a hand made arrow. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on the string being traditional or bought at Academy...
Believing or not believing is not a choice. Think about it.
I did, you are wrong.
So, did the Feds put a stipulation in that they must use a bow and arrow...after all it is tradition, right? I would love to see an Indian hit an eagle with a homemade device. After they are done smoking thier "peace pipe" and drinking "fire water" we wouldn't have to worry much. Signed...Old "white eyes"
I swear, whenever I read the comments on CNN I lose a little more faith in humanity. Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.