Tribe Dismembered Bird For Religious Ceremony
By Russell Haythorn
The discovery set off a firestorm of controversy.
It turns out, the eagle was used in a ceremony by a Native American tribe.
Now, some Native American groups are troubled because people are questioning the use of bald eagles in ceremonies. The groups are calling for understanding and acceptance of the practice from other religious groups.
This particular eagle was used in three separate ceremonies. It was obtained legally through the federal repository and it was already dead when the tribe received it.
A Navajo man said he labored for permission to use bird
By Electa Draper
"It caused a lot of people a lot of upset. Why wasn't anyone from the Native American community asked?" said Don Ragona, counsel for the Native American Rights Fund.
"It was alleged the person who had possession of this eagle was doing something wrong, dark and illegal," Ragona said.
Pino performed a series of ceremonies over months honoring the eagle and preserving tail feathers and talons for other ritual uses. He then wrapped the eagle's body in red cloth and placed it in a sacred tree in a ceremony held in May with Lakota elder Lee Plenty Wolf.
"When it first came out, it saddened my heart," Pino said. "It's only an animal to you, but to us it's a relative . . . a direct link to our ancestors—a message to the Creator. This relative was brought down from the tree in a very bad way. I hope that at some point in time, our religion will be respected."
So Pino put an eagle carcass in a tree in a public park and someone found it on the ground. Is that really surprising? Maybe the wind or an animal or a bird knocked it down. Maybe a kid knocked it down because kids get curious and climb trees in public parks.
Have Pino and company ruled these possibilities out? Until they do, they probably shouldn't imply that someone was disrespecting their religion. I don't see the evidence of that in the articles I read.
A related debate
As for others being upset...again, the eagle was already dead. So there doesn't seem to be anything real for them to complain about. I.e., no reason for the so-called "firestorm of controversy."
A better debate is over the Hopi practice of smothering golden eaglets as part of their religion. As far as I know, they still do this.
The short version of the debate goes like this. Americans slaughter countless barnyard animals for food. They put countless unwanted pets "to sleep." They hunt countless wild animals for sport and food. They call Animal Control to round up and euthanize countless critters who wander into suburbia. Etc.
Is there any difference between these unnecessary animal deaths and the Hopi smothering of eaglets? None that I can see. Either they're all right or they're all wrong, morally speaking.
Below: An eagle crying over 9/11, not its own fate.