home
RSS
Feds grant Native American tribe permit to kill bald eagles for religious purposes
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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • United States

soundoff (1,883 Responses)
  1. Nona

    How absolutely stupid and backwards of this so-called tribe to do this. What a bunch of inbred morons. What's next? Throwing virgins into volcanos? I'm boycotting their casino.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Nations

      You are a racist.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  2. Kristen Ford-Newell

    Please don't kill those beautiful birds. That's our American heritage whether White or Native.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • That Guy

      The bird is symbolic and the species didn't do anything to make the US an independent nation. Recall, that when choosing this symbol, we were close to making it a turkey instead because Benjamin Franklin thought the bald eagle was "an immoral bird."

      March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Terminatus

      Did our gov't give the same concern for the Indians when we wiped out their entire buffalo population? Those were national symbols too.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  3. Robert

    I am getting tired of minority groups always using that as means to get by with things. I am not that concerned with two eagles, but the natives get a lot from the govt. They should not get anymore special favors than any other citizen. Yes, I am a white man and I am getting tired of working all the time just so others don't have to really contribute to society. I don't care if they are natives, blacks, mexican, white or whatever. We all should have to do something to make our way in the world. If the natives still had this country, they would not have prospered as the white euro settlers who took it over.

    The natives get all kind of perks. The casinos suck more money out of the economy than they are worth. They cause social issues that are not good for our country. They hardly pay any tax on the money made, if any. This needs to stop. They need to pay tax on casinos just like any other business. The worst part of it is that only a few in the tribes really benefit due to corruption.

    The white male is now the minority. We take it on the chin for everyone. It is time we stand up for our rights. Whatever happened to "equal rights." LOL

    March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Nations

      II understand your sentiments, but really? Its a couple of poor tribes killing 2 birds. How is that setting any of us "white men" back?

      March 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Robert

      Nations, the point is that all of these minorities use that as a crutch to get what they want. No killing off 2 birds is not really that big of deal. But it could be argued that the bald eagle is the national bird and a symbol for our country. I am just tired of these minorities or groups taking advantage of situations in the name of heritage, skin color, etc. We are all Americans. We all should abide under the same laws.

      March 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  4. WordSmith

    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

    I hope he said "higher than" and not "higher then".

    Spell check won't catch errors like this.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • That Guy

      Good eye. I didn't notice that.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • DB5

      How does your $0.02 help the eagles?

      March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  5. Ddonaldson

    The American Indians all tribes.. Have been here in fact they were here on this land 1st. rmember the outsiders killed may animals for the land and fur. And if they want to kill the birds... Let them they at least let the government know. and unlike other AMERICANS who would have killed them and asked no one. Get over it...

    March 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Terminatus

      Exactly! We stole their land, killed them, gave them diseases, marginalized them, wiped some of them out, and segregated them, and now suddenly we're just protecting eagles from them. Ridiculous.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • DB5

      Retards, the pair of you. It is not as though the Indian's had bliss and peace before the settler's showed up. I feel certain, given that they too are imperfect, warred with other tribes over land and buffalo's and even amongst each other.

      And Terminatus, for someone who is opposed to the so-called killings of the Indian's and such, your name is the perfect disguise.....you dummy.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  6. Shmeckell

    Who cares, their conservation classified is "lease concern"

    March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  7. Lori

    I'm disgusted with the whole political world and getting there with religion. I'm sick of people doing things in the name of religion. I'm sick of the politicians. This makes me want to throw up. Leave nature alone. How dare anyone kill anything in the name of religion–did someone say sacrifice? Didn't that go out with the middle ages. Obviously not. Our national symbol. You're all sick and I'm glad I don't know you and I'm glad God will deal with you.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Joel

      And I am sick and tired of people who are sick and tired.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  8. LSMB

    This is absolutely wrong, the Bald Eagle is our Nations symble for FREEDOM. There is no where in the New Testement that says we are to kill an animal for religious reasons, that only goes back to the old Testement. What is our government coming to, each and everyone of them need to be replaced. What a shame – What a shame.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • ReplayingToTheIdiot

      Your are an idiot... Native Americans are more Pagan in religion then they will ever be Christian. I'm at a loss of words for your ignorance.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Terminatus

    After all the hell the Native Americans have endured, this is the least we can do! In addition, the Indians of N.A. have been more conservators of our natural flora and fauna than any white man...EVER! Let them take these two birds, for heaven's sake.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Nations

      Let's not lose perspective that they have a freedom of religion as American citizens. In the grand scheme of things, its just 2 birds. You use paper for anything? News for ya, more than 2 birds are killed every year because of logging. Nobody is in an outrage over the 5lbs of junk mail we get every week. As for the guy who said they do more for the environment than any white man "ever", ridiculous stereotyping.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  10. Scott

    Another reason I am sick and tired of indians and their stupid beliefs!

    March 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Terminatus

      Yeah, just their beliefs that we are one with the Earth, and we should conserve it.....what a stupid belief.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • MohaBear

      another reason why I'm tired of any type of stupid religions. Enough of this bs invented by illiterate, ignorant desert-wandering people over 2000 years ago. And I really mean ALL religion!

      March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Keyla

      YET, your ancestors came to THEIR land and TOOK IT.... Wow..CONCEITED...

      March 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  11. Backwards Mainer

    I have a dilemma here. I love shooting the brains out of innocent animals but I also love my country and all of it's star spangled greatness. The bald eagle is the symbol for that greatness. Hmmm. I have a lot of work to do on this subject, you know, thinking.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  12. Joel

    Killing the infidels and "maim[ing] them in every limb," and beating your multiple wives if you fear disobedience from them, is encouraged in the Koran. It's part of the Islamic religion. But we don't allow that. "It's part of our religion" should not carry much, if any, weight. Sorry about the stealing of your land, folks, really am (although I have yet to hear any Native Americans apologizing for all their historical slaughter of innocent white folks including women and children), but enough is enough.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • John

      Well in reality we didn't steal their land.. We defeated them in battle.. just like other countries have been overcome.. the Native Americans (Indians) lost the war!!! "CAUSE WE'RE THE WINNERS AND YOUR THE LOSERS"!~

      March 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  13. 4evernative

    you don't understand??? such ignorance is the problem for indigeonous nations around the world. wah wah wah if you're not native you'll never understand.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • John

      Some cultures need to die out.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  14. Medicine Eagle Woman

    This flies in the face of all that is traditional and all that is spiritual. The intentional killing of any living thing for anything other than food and clothing is not the least bit spritual. The Eagle is such a sacred bird in our spiritual beliefs that I am apalled that anyone would dare call themselves spiritual and intentionally kill one. Shame on all of you who are even considering this. I will pray for your community that you realize how wrong this is before any Eagles are killed.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Medicinde Eagle Woman

      suckit

      March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jiminy Cricket

      Me, I'm wishing upon a star that they will get over their superst'itions...

      March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. Merc4

    Does this mean Satanic cults can sacrifice animals without being prosecuted? Its a religion.....

    March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Joel

      Actually, yes it does. The Supreme Court said so in Church of the Lukumi v. Hialeah (1993).

      March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  16. glyder

    ok with me.good luck.besides,why is the eagle still our symbol when we have turned the country into a turkey.ol ben was ahead of his time?

    March 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  17. Wilson

    The Iowa tribe in Oklahoma maintains an aviary for rehabilitation of bald eagles, calls in highly skilled veterinarians, and uses the feathers that drop for religious purposes. They do not injure or kill eagles. Instead they rescue injured eagles. This is wonderful, and I believe more of this should be done rather than kill healthy wild birds.

    March 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  18. Gsan

    So once again, the human race wants to think that it is the ultimate race on this Earth and that somehow evolution stops with us. What if my religion is to kill a human or a dog etc...

    March 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  19. This Is

    JUST WRONG!

    March 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  20. Carolyne=NJ

    I am outraged. This is nothing but political. Get the feathers from the repository. No need to slaughter an innocent creature of God. . I am truly saddened Humans are acting like animals in this situation. Nothing wlse to say. Damn you Damn you

    March 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Terri

      Totally Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leave these beaurtiful birds alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
Advertisement
About this blog

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.