Big Fire Law and Policy Group
Advertise:   ads@blueearthmarketing.com   712.224.5420

Opinion
Editorial: Respect tribal religious beliefs


"A federal judge in Wyoming has dismissed criminal charges against a Northern Arapaho man who shot a bald eagle last year for use in one of his tribe's ceremonial dances.

At the same time, the judge made it clear that the federal government needs to clean up its act when it comes to accommodating the religious beliefs of American Indians, for whom the eagle holds special spiritual meaning.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William F. Downes wrote: "Although the government professes respect and accommodation of the religious practices of Native Americans, its actions show callous indifference to such practices. It is clear to this court that the government has no intention of accommodating the religious beliefs of Native Americans except on its own terms and in its own good time."

The judge ruled in favor of Winslow Friday, 22, of Ethete, Wyo., on the Wind River Indian Reservation, who was charged with killing a bald eagle with a rifle in March 2005. Lawyers for Friday and his tribe argued that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service generally refuses to grant permits allowing tribal members -- a process that would include members of the Yakama Nation -- to kill eagles, even though federal regulations say such permits should be available.

The federal government does, in fact, have a repository of dead eagles, from which it parcels out the birds. But that can be a long time happening."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Heed judge -- Feds need to respect American Indian beliefs (The Yakima Herald-Republic 11/16)

Court Decision:
US v. Friday (October 16, 2006)

Relevant Links:
National Eagle Repository - http://www.r6.fws.gov/law/le65.html

Related Stories:
DOJ to appeal ruling in Arapaho eagle killing case (11/13)
Judge issues ruling in Arapaho eagle killing case (10/17)
Charges dismissed in Northern Arapaho eagle killing (10/9)
Prairie Island donates $500K to national eagle center (08/22)
Arizona man charged for having eagle feathers (07/26)
Arapaho man seeks dismissal of eagle shooting case (05/26)
More than 4,000 waiting for eagles, eagle parts (5/24)
Northern Arapaho Tribe argues for religious rights (5/23)
Federal agent goes undercover at powwow in Texas (03/31)
Eagle feather headdress turned over for investigation (03/02)
Bald eagle faces removal from endangered species list (02/14)
Eagle feather repository has just five employees (12/09)
Iowa Tribe receives $250K grant for eagle center (09/16)
Non-Indian eagle feather case returns to federal court (07/19)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe seeks probe into feather use (08/02)
DOI to pay Apache man $50K for seized feathers (04/12)
Eagle feather ruling leaves open questions (08/06)
Appeals court upholds eagle protection laws (1/17)
Man denies crime for selling artifacts (11/16)
Indian man convicted of eagle violations (10/29)
Court to rehear eagle protection cases (8/9)
Minn. man sentenced for eagle violation (5/31)
Man pleads guilty to selling artifacts (11/2)
Undercover sting nets sacred artifacts (10/02)
Govt works to protect artifacts (6/29)
Yahoo! removes auction (6/22)
Culture for Sale: Sitting Bull (6/20)
Culture for Sale: eBay (5/23)