February 16, 2007

Indians need permit for religion

Stokes:  Time for new eagle feather lawThink your religious freedom is protected? Think again. As many people across Indian country are aware, American Indians are the only ethnic group in the United States that require a federal permit for religious freedom. The law upholding this is commonly referred to as the “eagle feather law,” referring to Title 50, Part 22 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 22), and it governs the possession and use of eagle feathers.

Many people don't know how problematic the eagle feather law really is. To possess eagle feathers, citizens must be able to legally prove their ethnicity and only individuals of certifiable American Indian ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are authorized to obtain permits. Those caught without permits face imprisonment and fines up to $25,000--for practicing their religion.

But there's a problem. Falsification of state records in what has been termed “paper genocide” has artificially decreased the true number of indigenous people in the United States and terminated the “official” existence of many tribes. Consequently, many Native Americans cannot be found on the Dawes Rolls (the major determinant of tribal enrollment and application for an eagle permit) and many tribes are unable to win federal recognition. As a result, many people lose access to eagles and the ability to practice and preserve traditional customs otherwise protected for “recognized” tribes and their members.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something is not ringing true here. It sounds like a white guy throwing a hissy fit because he is excluded from a Native American custom and rightfully so.
He states a "few" cases where some Indian's eagle feathers were confiscated, but come on, we're not talking about hundreds of Indians being effected by this law, only him.
And the worst part of his whiny rant is where he tries to throw all Indians into the mix to bolster his argument.
If it walks like a Newager and it quacks like a Newager, well you know the rest.


Anonymouse

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella began receiving his Social Security pension last month and so that must mean he truly is an Oldager.
In times more recent than is comfortable, government agents (FBI? Treasury? Superagency?) came through Anadarko and the surrounding regions to seize feathered Native costumes and fans and artwork from individual and pawn shops under various Federal protection laws. Even though some could be proven to be hundreds of years old, even pre-dating the United States itself, that did nothing to deter the seizures. In the years after, the government decided to museum archive some of the properties, but the bulk of them were given to the Boy Scouts of America so that Scouts could have authentic Native costumes to practice their Native dances. That is no joke! Their children can but Native children cannot. Only in America...
writerfella owns one eagle feather but the circumstances totally are unusual. In May 1995, writerfella and a cousin were walking to the local city cemetary to decorate their parents' graves. Golden eagles inhabit the Wichita Mountains to the south at Lawton and they range all over SW Oklahoma in the spring and summer. As they crossed a huge open field behind a strip mall, they saw two golden eagles circling above town. Then, as they looked up, a medium-sized feather came spinning in circles down toward them. writerfella hurried beneath it and actually plucked it out of the air before it hit the ground. He kept the feather and it graces a huge photo of an eagle in the living room of The BatesMotel. The Wolf Clan medicine person said that catching such a feather was a meaningful event and that many things would come writerfella's way for it. Thinking about it, writerfella realizes that the man was right...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

voyageur said...

anonymouse: Newage rhymes with sewage.

writerfella: Great comment. By the way, I have a posting on my blog concerning warm showers. It's a subject often raised here.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Um, er, uh, so just when would such warm showers possibly take place? writerfella usually is here, waiting. Not that it means you, of course...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'