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Judge issues ruling in Arapaho eagle killing case

A federal judge who dismissed charges against a Northern Arapaho man who killed an eagle without a permit said the United States has an obligation to accommodate tribal religious rights.

In a 12-page decision [PDF], U.S. District Judge William Downes said the government has a compelling interest to preserve the eagle and Native culture. But he said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to do both despite the growing eagle population.

"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 decision stated.

Downes cited the long delays in obtaining eagle feathers and parts from a federal repository. He said it would have been pointless for Winslow W. Friday to have sought a permit from the government.

Northern Arapaho leaders hailed the ruling. They said it was an affirmation of their religious rights.

Get the Story:
Judge: Preserve tribal religion (The Casper Star-Tribune 10/17)

Relevant Links:
National Eagle Repository -

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