California makes it harder for native Americans to use Eagle feathers

United States
July 19, 2007 11:15am CST
What do you think of this? California Clamps Down on Eagle Feathers! The Government of California May 9, 2007 California Bill Forbids Eagle Feather Acquisition and Facilitates Arrests On April 18, 2007 an amended bill (AB 1729) was introduced into the California State Senate by the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife forbidding the acquisition of eagle feathers and parts "initially obtained on nontribal lands." The bill also mandates that those possessing feathers maintain "valid tribal identification in [their] immediate possession." With California 's 433,000 Native American people (US Census 2005 est.) comprising 14% of the nation's indigenous population, the impact of this bill will be immediate and felt nationwide. Section 3801.6 of the bill creates problems for anyone participating in ceremony (e.g. sun dance or sweat lodge) in which the possession of non-traditional objects (i.e. tribal identification cards) may be inappropriate. Because many, if not most, tribal members do not carry identification with them while participating in ceremony, the bill stands to facilitate the harassment and arrest of many tribal members. Requiring tribal identification to be immediately available is unfeasible for individuals participating in ceremonies such as sweat lodge or sun dance, during which participants are not to be bothered (e.g. by being carded) and during which it would be inappropriate to require them to leave their ceremonial site (e.g. to retrieve tribal identification) . The wording "Nothing in this section allows those feathers or parts to be initially obtained on nontribal lands" is in direct contradiction to Title 50 Part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 22), which provides for the acquisition of eagle feathers and parts for Native American religious and spiritual use through the National Eagle Repository. The Repository, located on non-tribal lands in Denver, CO, is the nation's primary source and distribution center of eagle feathers and parts for religious use. This limitation to tribal lands will severely hinder eagle feathers and parts acquisition as directed by 59 F.R. 22953, the executive order issued by President Clinton in 1994 directing the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, specifically the Department of the Interior to "ensure the priority of distribution of eagles," "minimize the delay and ensure respect and dignity in the process of distributing eagles for Native American religious purposes," and to "expand efforts to involve Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals in the distribution process."
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