A recent ruling by the federal government has granted a Wyoming tribe the right to kill two bald eagles for a religious ceremony. Native Americans are calling this a victory for American Indian sovereignty.

On March 9 the Northern Arapaho Tribe was granted a permit allowing to either kill or capture and release two bald eagles this year.

Conservation groups have questioned why the Arapaho tribal members can’t meet its religious needs without killing wild eagles, citing the tribe’s capacity to raise captive birds, substitute feathers, or use an eagle that died of natural causes in their ceremonies.

According to Harvey Spoonhunter, a tribal elder and former chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, eagle hunting “has been since the beginning of time with us, and we respectfully utilize the eagle in our ceremonies. We get to use the eagle, which we consider a message to the Creator.”

Bald eagles were removed the endangered species list in 2007.

This video provides some background on the decision.


photo: Tony Hathcock

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