Another Religious Freedom story
by JP Bill - 3/14/12 4:31 AM
Wyoming tribe gets rare permit to kill bald eagles
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the unusual step of issuing a permit allowing an American Indian tribe to kill two bald eagles for religious purposes.
The agency's decision comes after the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming filed a federal lawsuit last year contending the refusal to issue such permits violates tribal members' religious freedom. Although thousands of American Indians apply for eagle feathers and carcasses from a federal repository, permits allowing the killing of bald eagles are exceedingly rare, according to both tribal and legal experts on the matter.
Federal law prohibits the killing of bald eagles, the national bird, in almost all cases. The government keeps eagle feathers and body parts in a federal repository and tribal members can apply for them for use in religious ceremonies.
Senior members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe appeared at an appeals court hearing court in Denver in late 2007 in support of Friday. Nelson P. White Sr., then a member of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, said after the hearing that the birds American Indians receive from a federal depository were rotten, or otherwise unfit for use in religious ceremonies.
"That's unacceptable," White said after the court hearing. "How would a non-Indian feel if they had to get their Bible from a repository?"