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.
The respect for culutral relativism is important up to the point when it offends OUR cultural relativism..........no American Bald Eagle should ever be sacrificed these Native American tribes should no better.........maybe their religion needs to go through a period of modernization instead of being stuck in stupid traditions of the past......this extremely offends me as an American........why do not the Native Americans respect our culture? how can we respect theirs if they won't respect ours?
Well technically they did follow the 'culture' by officially applying for permits and going through the courts rather than simply saying 'screw it' and killing them.
Are you joking?
"maybe their religion needs to go through a period of modernization instead of being stuck in stupid traditions of the past."
I certainly hope your umbrage is not limited to this Native American religion.
There are religious groups here in the US who believe that the universe, and everything in it, including humans, magically poofed into existence in 6 days, 6000 years ago.
There are religious groups here in the US who still think black folks shouldn't be allowed to marry white folks.
There are religious groups here in the US who think women are property of men.
Since when is killing an endangered specie (the bald eagle) religious? I think that all this does is give permission to anyone an opportunity to kill these majestic animals...
You didn't even bother reading the article before spouting, did you? You care so much about eagles that you didn't even know they are no longer endangered.
We are happy to see them all the time in my area after NEVER seeing them while I was growing up.
I can envision that someday, advanced aliens will come to earth and sacrifice us for religious reasons. By this logic they can say that if only one or two of us are killed it will present no threat to the human species, so why not? Human intelligence is highly overrated.
Nah! Why would an advanced civilization resort to something so stupid and primitive as religion?
"If someone ordered a Bible or some religious artifact and they had to wait for a long time, how fair is that?"
I don't know. Are Bibles protected or have to be killed to get their pages so you can wear them in a fancy hat?
But then that's America. Any stupid thing is OK as long as it's for religious purposes.
Agreed, unless that bible was wrapped in black rhino skin and inlaid with elephant tusk ivory, it’s not exactly a good comparison.
Sigh. Only the Obama administration would allow such desecration of a symbol of our nation.
@Paulie As the article says the permit application was submitted in 2008, I'd assume the process was in place before Obama's administration took over. Also, as Republicans in general claim to be about religious values and small gov't it would have been very hypocritical of them to have denied this request had it been made during their tenure. Blaming Obama for everything that happens in the gov't is just stupid.
When you pee yourself, do you blame Obama ?
Sigh. Only the Obama administration would allow such desecration of a symbol of our nation.
@Paulie – I was waiting for the proverbial idiot to cast his Obama twist on this. And you're the idiot. Congrats.
Now tell me, do you take time to drop a thoughtless comment about Bush when you read that 4500+ American Soldiers and over 90,000 Iraqis have died in the war? Prob not. Keep misspelling your signs at Tea Party rallies fatty.
It is sick. But, we cage and slaughter over a million minks a year in this country for vanity. A special breed of rooster is raised and slaughtered for its feathers to be placed in hair by the women in this country. Trump's kids and many others hunt elephant and other majestic game for a trophy. Rodeos, circuses and horse racing abuse animals daily. And our country's pet owners for the most part are horrible, with most dogs never leaving the backyard and 6-8M dogs/cats put down a year as shelters are full. We have a very long way to go with regards to wildlife. I love the eagle, but no less or no more than any other or nature's beautiful creatures.
Don't start sentences with "But,". Either use "However," or write it this way: "It is sick, but..."
so by using these beautiful birds and snuffing out is a good thing thing? to continue some stupid human mythological dogma... Why can't they just go look for one that died naturally and SHOW some respect for the bird and mother nature.. They claim to be so nature conscience yet want to ki11 these healthy birds..I wonder how they would feel if the birds would k1!! them so meet their mythic ritual dogma garbage beliefs.. they would scream bloody murder..k1lling animals for mythic garbage is stupid. it would be better if they would build safe nesting areas and then just take the lost feathers from the nests. but no.. the have to k1!! the poor birds for stupid reasons.... The jews started that k1lling animals for their god... what a stupid idea.... The early Mexicans gutted their prisoners hearts... did not save them from extinction did it? Time to evolve from the age of mythic stupidity and realize k1lling animals is not a civilized thing to do to appease mythic beings... there are other options..
Native Americans may argue that the Christian religion is stupid with all the dogma and myths that are not grounded by Science. They have a right to preserve their beliefs and heritage that we tried to steal from them. I love animals too. Native Americans use every part of the animal and nothing goes to waste... unlike the white men who murders and laid to rott thousands of buffalo for the purpose of taking only their hide.
Religion can get a person to act in ways that conflict with his core values.. See Abraham on the mount willing to murder his son.. See a native american killing a bird he loves in its living state more than in its dead state.
Only difference is, Abraham and company is pure fiction. This is real.
Whether Abraham ever existed has nothing to do with the point.. Adherence to religious dogma can get a person to act contrary to their personal values.
Jeesh, the whining about this is so predictable and lame. Consider, it wasn't the Native Americans who drove the eagle to near extinction years ago. That was a policy of DDT spraying that nearly wiped out most of our raptors. As a child I never once saw a bald eagle in the wild. I for one am very happy that since we quit the DDT, the eagle has come back in such strong numbers that there is no risk in the taking of a few birds.
The people doing this love and respect the eagle unlike many of the people of the culture who barely noticed as the birds were almost wiped from the face of the earth. I'm of that culture myself but I say leave these people alone. This was done properly through the right channels. Respect.
k1lling is not a way to show love.. at least not in my mind.....
Right, not in your mind. What does that have to do with the people of this other culture who have been doing this for thousands of years? They maybe don't embrace the Disneyfication of the world quite so much where we anthropomorphize individual animals. In another mind, that approach to the world is beyond ridiculous.
What they're doing doesn't endanger the species at all.
It's what we humans do best. Kill everything.
Killing a living being in name of religion shows how stupid the religion is and how idiot the people following it are.
thats why the Romans created the christian myth so they can k1LL their jewish god every spring...
Read Caesar's Messiah.. for more details..
Kind of like the dogma of God allowing Jesus to be killed?
Yeah, because Republicans have such a track record of protecting wildlife and refusing to let religious people do what their values dictate? Please. There probably wouldn't even be a permit process under a Republican government, it would just be a free for all for the gun toting trophy hunters.
We want to talk 'stupid'? If we're going there, let's just get the obvious out then. It's stupid to kill an eagle AT ALL, especially for religious purposes. Pathetic.
beautiful birds life snuffed out because of some stupid human mythological dogma... Why can't they just go look for one that died naturally and SHOW some respect for the bird and mother nature.. They claim to be so nature conscience yet want to ki11 these healthy birds..I wonder how they would feel if the birds would k1!! them so meet their mythic ritual dogma garbage beliefs.. they would scream bloody murder..k1lling animals for mythic garbage is stupid. it would be better if they would build safe nesting areas and then just take the lost feathers from the nests. but no.. the have to k1!! the poor birds for stupid reasons.... The jews started that k1lling animals for their god... what a stupid idea.... The early Mexicans gutted their prisoners hearts... did not save them from extinction did it? Time to evolve from the age of mythic stupidity and realize k1lling animals is not a civilized thing to do to appease mythic beings... there are other options..
The Jews did not start ritual killing of anamals. There are examples of this behavior in early human history. Leave the bigotry out of the argument.
You are seriously trying to sound like you are intelligent and well informed while replacing the letter I with a 1?
So Jews only continued the practice of blood sacrifice and it was not an original idea on pleasing god?. Exactly.. It was a bloody and genocidal religion, though, regardless of what peoples first had the idea to slaughter animals for deities.
and we support pro-choice, or otherwise known as pro-murder of innocent unborn babies. Until we stop killing unborn babies, I don't give a flip if the indians want to kill a few birds. What's the big deal. You obviously care more about a few birds than thousands of abortions that occur in this great land of ours. Shouldn't we be more concerned with protecting those that can't defend themselves?
You are way off the mark. Native American beliefs are more in line with ecological thinking than any other religion the world over. No animals were threatened or endangered before European settlers arrived. I think we owe them a lot more respect than what you are offering up. If they want to kill two birds, I think they have earned that right, we are living on their land.
well they were the first to put it in a dogma writing and called it sacred.
And what would you care if Eagles "aborted" some of their hatched eggs?. Some hawks and owl actually eat their young who have less chance of survival in order to have more food and resources for the stronger chick..
If you want to prevent an unwanted birth, try birth control.
"well they were the first to put it in a dogma writing and called it sacred."
That is also incorrect.
Do you have some sort of anti-semetic agenda?
How sick to allow silly religious beliefs to contaminate this issue. Religious fanatics will now want the right to fondle children for religious purposes. Oh yeah, they do that already.
I think we owe them 2 eagles after we comitted genocide on their people. Lets call it even.
How christian of you. Equality would be to give them humans, not eagles. Why should these eagles play the "Jesus" role here and redeem all of our past sins.
And obviously, I am not suggesting we sacrafice anything as an atonement of past sins. Just making an argument.
I was almost upset until I read it's for Native Americans. They were here long before Colonials; they have a right.
Longevity within a specific geography does not a moral decide..
I was also upset until I saw for the native americans. They definitely have a right to practice their religion and the only reason people as complaining it is an eagle and the national symbol of USA. If it was a mouse, would you care? My guess is not. So it's an eagle. They aren't likely to go on a killing spree since most native americans take their heritage and religious practices seriously.
Can't you do better than that...
"We're more concerned about the eagle population than any culture in this Western Hemisphere. "
There's a good reason for that.
We took a cruise around Puget Sound a couple of years ago. The place is lousy with bald eagles. On one small island, a whole flock of them was gathered around something, pecking away at it. Turned out to be a baby seal carcass. The howls of indignation from some of the passengers was hilarious. Meanwhile, I was wondering what eagle fed out on baby seal would taste like.
I can't wait to see PETA's response.
I'll get the popcorn!
I'm sure PETA and environmental groups are okay with it and can see the sense in it. Remember: Without environmental group lawsuits and lobbying, you would be drinking contaminated water. I for one enjoy being able to breathe without an oxygen tank or inhaler.