Gov't to Allow Indians to Possess Eagle Feathers

Posted at: 10/12/2012 12:50 PM
By: PETE YOST, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department is going to allow members of federally recognized Indian tribes to possess eagle feathers, although that's a federal crime.

This is a significant religious and cultural issue for many tribes, who were consulted about the policy announced Friday.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and other laws criminalize the killing of eagles and possession of feathers and bird parts, but the Constitution and federal laws give tribes local sovereignty for self-government.

Tribal members will not be prosecuted for wearing or carrying federally protected birds, bird feathers or parts. They also may pick up feathers in the wild if they do not disturb protected birds or nests.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the policy will balance protection of eagles with respect for Indian cultural and religious practices.

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