The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of a Northern Arapaho man who shot an eagle for the use of his tribe’s Sun Dance, and may receive a sentence of up to a year in jail and fines on the charges made against him.
Winslow Friday, from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming acknowledged shooting the bald eagle in 2005 for tribal religious use,Â which required an eagle taken from the wild. Â
Although a district court judge dismissed charges of violating eagle protection laws, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver reinstated the charges against Friday, contending that the government’s compelling need to preserve the bald eagle population outweighedÂ hindrancesÂ to Friday’s religious rights and practices. Â
The bald eagle has been de-listed under the Endangered Species Act because of increased numbers throughout the nation. Â But, it remains shielded by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
As of now,Â enrolled members of federally recognized tribes areÂ able to apply for eagle carcasses from the National Eagle Repository near Denver, usually after a lengthy wait.Â
Senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colo., observes, “It takes several years to get a complete eagle carcass and then that carcass is often in a state of decomposition such that much or all of it cannot be used for the purposes for which it was sought in the first place.”
Unfortunately, this is merely one example in which Native American religious practices are hindered by the Federal Government. Â Reform for such policy is needed, such as a partnership between tribes and the Fish and Wildlife Service in order to allow for religious practices to be properly carried out, while at the same time preventing Eagles from making it back on the Endangered Species list.