Indians Allowed to Have Eagle Feathers
By The Associated Press
The Justice Department said on Friday that it would allow members of federally recognized Indian tribes to possess eagle feathers — an issue of religious and cultural significance for the tribes. Federal laws criminalize the killing of eagles, which are listed as either endangered or threatened, as well as the possession of feathers and bird parts. But the Constitution and federal laws also give tribes local sovereignty for self-government. Under the new policy, tribal members will not be prosecuted for wearing or carrying federally protected birds, bird feathers or parts. They may also pick up feathers in the wild as long as they do not disturb birds or nests. Although the Justice Department did not have a written policy, the new directive is in line with longstanding practice not to prosecute in such cases.