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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 -

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