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OK to Kill Bald Eagles?

Why is the U.S. Government allowing the killing of the American Bald Eagle?

“Say What” was my reaction when I first came across the news article that announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March 9, 2012 had granted a permit to allow the killing or capture and release of two bald eagles this year.

I mean, is someone at the Fish and Wildlife Service off their rocker? Surely no red-blooded American would even contemplate the killing of our beloved symbol of majestic strength, grace and freedom. 

Well, oddly enough, it is perhaps the a true red-blooded American who in fact sought this official permit from the US Government to allow the very act that will likely lead to the death of two bald eagles.

The true American that I speak of is the Northern Arapaho Native Indian Tribe from central Wyoming. It is important to note, although I am still not comforted by the fact, that the taking of the Bald Eagles is for ceremonial purposes.

In other words, the Northern Arpaho tribe basically argued that the existing prohibition against the killing of the bald eagle violated their constitutional right of Religious Freedom. 

 Let me the first to admit that I am not a scholar of the US Constitution. Sure, I had to study it in law school and it was the bar exam. None the less, I don’t think you need to be ivory tower gent to recognize that religious freedom should not be without limitations. Even for those who were here first. 

What next? The Incas practiced human sacrifice… any modern day Incas out there? Better yet, just tell the “po po” that the peyote in your possession is for religious ceremonies.

Religious Freedoms are a slippery slope. Allowing the  Northern Arapaho to kill even two bald eagles under the guise of religious freedom is bound to bring even other more unsavory requests. What is illegal should be illegal for all of us.

Religion should have no preference. Beyond that, isn’t it obvious that you just don’t kill the American Bald Eagle?

What say you? 

Legal blogs are a form of informational advertising and should not be taken as legal advice.  Please contact me at bill.joherl@roadrunner.com if you have any questions about this topic and/or another legal matter.

William R. Joherl, Esq. 

Image: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Bill Joherl, Esq. March 23, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Hi John: Very good question. Per my research, the US Government actually has a repository for deceased bald eagles. I know this sounds a bit gruesome, but its function is to provide feathers and bones for use in Native American Indian rituals. So, yes there is an alternative. Although, I do not know if the Northern Arapaho Native Indian Tribe's Sun Dance ritual at issue actually requires the eagle to be alive and well at the time ceremony.
Sonia Gwynes March 23, 2012 at 10:02 PM
http://jetson.unl.edu/cocoon/encyclopedia/doc/egp.rel.046 The Sun Dance is a distinctive ceremony that is central to the religious identity of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. The Canadian and U.S. governments perceived this ceremony as superstitious rather than religious and suppressed it, and full liberty to practice the Sun Dance was regained only after the mid–twentieth century. The ceremony is highly variable because its performance is intimately connected to the authoritative guidance of visions or dreams that establish an individual relationship between one or more of the central participants and one or more spirit persons. In all cases, however, the primary meaning is understood to be the performance of acts of sacrifice in ritual reciprocity with spiritual powers so that the welfare of friends, family, and the whole people is enhanced. Some Indigenous interpreters have suggested an analogy between the piercing of sun dancers and the piercing of Jesus on the cross, seeing both as acts of voluntary sacrifice on behalf of other beings and the cosmic welfare. While this interpretation may facilitate understanding for some, interpreters must be wary of imposing any religious category that clashes with the central concern of the Sun Dance: to establish and maintain kinship with all the people's relatives, including other humans, the animal and plant relatives of this earth, and the cosmic relatives of the spirit realm.
Nickol Wilson April 27, 2012 at 04:20 PM
This is such a fascinating conversation. I believe I spotted 8 eagles in Kent, Ohio on 2 seperate occassions, which led me to this blog. Anyone else know or have seen these birds in our vicinity?
Nickol Wilson April 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
About the ceremony, I am of Cherokee decent, but have no connection/up bringing in their culture. As with most Natives they got along better if they assimulated & the Cherokee's were great at doing so.However, I have been researching a bit of that part of my heritage. I met a full blooded Cherokee who is a Christian, as well,& told me how the Native Americans have always been very close with God. As we would call the Trinty of God; Father, Son & Holy Spirit, they would call Him, The Great Spirit, as God is in fact a Spirit. He said that they are opposed to dark spirits (i.e demons, etc.) & their rituals/ceremonies are not dark or elevating the darknes, but are reverancing God, The Father & connecting the people to God & His Glory. But, they are all important to the people/culture, but the white people have misunderstood this aspect of their ways. He said a lot of what they do points to the cross. So Sonia, your posting seems very aligned with what this Native American man shared with me. Haha...he also shared with me about the "moonbow" , in Kentucky, a real place that displays a rainbow at night, very few places in the world like this. It is considered Holy ground & all the tribes would gather there annually & it was considered neutral ground, so not fighting could take place there. I found this to be very interesting, especially once I looked it up.
Nickol Wilson April 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Cont......He also said Ohio had very significant cites like this, like an area in the Metro Parks, in Akron where a tree stands that is very old & the Natives would go there for prayer to God, kinda like when we go to Church to pray, but outside. What are your thoughts about this?

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