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.
So, how many chickens were sacrificed for your McChicken sandwich Digby. Oh the humanity! They are on a reservation (their land boys and girls). They should be able to kill whatever animals they want.
There are certain things that no one should be allowed to kill. The national bird of our nation is one of them. This is the problem with allowing them to get away with this. If they kill 2 today what is the Tribal Nation going to go for next? Allow every tribe in the nation to kill 2 Bald Eagles each. Soon we will see the birds back on the protected list. Why not give them a chance to become overpopulated first. How many of you have even seen a Bald Eagle in the wild? They are majestic and beautiful.
David L, I've seen two this week – one in Colorado and one in Florida.
All you "patriots" who are so offended by Native Americans not respecting your sacred symbol, can you REALLY not see the absurd hypocrisy in being offended that Native Americans are disrespecting YOUR sacred land?!? I'm not a big fan of killing things in the name of religion either, but sheesh!
Can I get a permit to kill 2 native americans. If they are going to allow them to kill the symbol of freedom then I want the oppertunity to kill them. It's only fair,right?
You ever been fishing or hunting? Ever bought meat at a store? Well then, surely if you can kill an animal then I should be allowed to kill you and a member of your family or two, right? What a redneck moron.
Loaves and fishes... think I will go kill 5 whales....
oh SCREW this...nobody should be allowed to KILL ANYTHING for RELIGIOUS purposes. I dont' care if it's endangered, the national bird, or a pigeon, killing in the name of religion is psychotic. AHH!
I agree with you. It's barbaric and disgusting. If nothing else, can't they wait for a captive, injured eagle to die?
I generally feel a lot of sympathy for native peoples, but they are wrong in this case.
Just another example of hypocrisy in religion.
Well...the Native Amercians were around well before the bald eagle was adopted as the national symbol. And if we'll kill people in the sake of religion, why should animals get away scott free...c'mon now!
If this is truly based on the on their ancestors religion then they should be required to make a bow and arrow by hand instead of using a white man's gun.
Most of the people posting on here are straight-up fools who have no respect for (or are entirely ignorant about) the ONLY spirituality that respects this Earth. Lest any of you folks forget, they were here before Europeans showed up and killed most of them off. Quit whining about 'how can they kill in the name of religion!!??!??!?!??!' and take a good hard look at yourselves.
Correction: the only one prevalent on the continental US. My apologies to Buddhists, Hindus, and probably others I am not aware of.
I guess next year when some religious group wants to kill 2 small children "for religious purposes" and then sues the government saying "it unreasonably burdens the religious rights of members" then they will allow them to kill the children?
I am all for religious rights, but you have to find new ways to work it out. This is not the 1800's where you can just go kill any animal you want for "religious purpose".
Burn Mecca, outlaw all religion.
This is so stupid
I just wanna eat one.
"Fry up an eagle, just to see."
if this doesn't prove that religion is a huge pile of stinking crap, all religion, including the Bible, Koran and all other idiotic stupidity like Mormon religion and Scientology ... then I don't know what is not crap.
Through the process of elimination Paul... you must be "crap"...
Had a good laugh,, and I totally agree with you..
I'm pretty sure God doesn't want us to kill anything.
To "2smrt2blib", your logic is faulty. You said "Through the process of elimination Paul... you must be "crap"...".
But if Paul does not belong to a religion, then he is not crap.
The reason bald eagles are an endangered species is not because the natives use them in religious ceremonies, it's because of poaching and habitat destruction. The Native Americans went through the proper legal channels, so what's the story here? This is a tempest in a teapot.
That is not the reason eagles were endangered... more to the point tho... you are an idiot....
The reason they were endangered is because ALL man hunted them. For whatever reason. Be it natives for use in religious ceremonies, or poaching and habitat destruction. Therefore ALL man should be banned from hunting them for ANY REASON.
@Seth – you are clearly not particularly well-informed.
Seems i touched a redneck nerve. Go to college you nitwits.
Any of you self-supposed experts ever heard of DDT? Yeah, probably not.
Actually Seth, the main reason that the Bald Eagle is endangered is because of DDT. As a top level predator, they absorbed DDT from the animals they ate. DDT causes bird eggs to be too thin to be viable, thus millions and millions of birds died before they could hatch.
Fair enough, but you're not saying that habitat destruction etc has been helpful, right? I'm sure eagle advocates see this reason as insufficient, but this is the nature of regulation. There needs to be compromise in these things.
Seth – I agree completely. I wasn't intending to criticize you – my jab was aimed more at 2smrt, Me, and W.
So killing a few eagles for a religious ceremony is disgusting and appalling, resulting in these expressions of outrage? Instead of posting your emotional reactions how about you do something to help the eagles by limiting suburban sprawl or buying less junk made in foreign factories with lax emissions standards? I am no fan of religion and not particularly sympathetic to "Native Americans" but the comments here show a significant lack of any critical thinking skills. Now if the US gave big business or a foreign country permission to kill bald eagles for ceremonial purposes, then that would be different. There are far more significant issues to direct your hatred toward.
how would you like to be sacrificed for someones religious ritual? ME either.
I am a black male close to sixty .In repayment of slavery I would like to sacrafice two white virgins for religious purposes .This sounds as stupid as the government giving any group the right to kill a eagle for religious purposes were they drinking a little to much firewater at the casino.
at least they got a casino. what do you got? rap, thats it. blah blah blah.
Wow, I would hope a black man of sixty would be a little more sensitive with regard to tossing around racist slang about another group. Guess not.
One more great event occurring under obama's watch... pure B.S.
Yes I know. This reminds me of time bin Laden was killed.
WTH does this have to do with Obama??
Pretty lousy excuse to kill two beautiful birds. If we all said, "well it's only two eagles, or it's only two rhinos, or giraffes, etc..." what kinda mess would that be. I love the freedom of my Country, but today's society has completely taken freedom and exploited it in so many directions for so many groups and religions that it's out of control. If this Country would've stuck to the ways of our four fathers this Country wouldn't be a screwed up mess.
what? Enslave a race? Let only white males vote and own land? Please be clearer m oron.
If we had stuck to the ways of our founding fathers, we would all have syphilis, Bush Jr would have had 20 slaves and we would use Native Americans for war and later burn their natural settlements. Talking about Native Americans, we came into their natural habitad and now we are surprise they see religious symbolism in a native american species of Eagles. It's like some Americans think the world began when the 13 colonies were created. Let's respect their traditions because I am sure they also respect the bald eagle as a symbol of 'freedom' and 'justice'
slaughtered the native people and the buffalo.... yeah.. real role models they were...
If our forefathers hadn't stolen this country from the Native Americans bald eagles would never have been threatened in the first place and this wouldn't even be an issue. Shouldn't we make some allowances to these people we stole so much from?
Who are our "four fathers"? It's forefathers.
Stole land from the native Americans......i, i dont even know...how to..respond to this...you know the native americans where not a bunch of friendly, nice, non-violent hippies right?
Just an idiot – at least you chose an appropriate handle.
So grant the Indian tribe religious rights but not Catholics? OMG
Do you realize how shameful you statement is?
Do you have any clue, at all?
First, what you imply is that you are upset because someone has been granted rights before your beliefs, as if your belief is superior to the other.
Second, what "rights" do you think the Catholic faith does not possess? Are you talking about the "right" to dictate religious doctrine to others who are outside the Catholic faith?
Please explain answer these questions and make yourself clear.
is rappping little boys a religious right for Catholics?
I'm sorry, but way too many atrocities occur in the name of " Religion" The killing of these magnificent birds to satisfy yet another "magical" belief system is RIDICULOUS" Can we start throwing virgins into volcanoes too ??? Please, find God in non violent , loving ways . I believe in God ( not in organized religion, however ) Why is it that human beings think they can justify killing anything and use a "law" as the excuse ? This is jacked up and I hate it !
may I invite your to read Caesar's Messiah to learn more about the CREATIONS of gods?