November 17, 2006

Respecting Native religions

Heed judge--Feds need to respect American Indian beliefsA federal judge in Wyoming has dismissed criminal charges against a Northern Arapaho man who shot a bald eagle last year for use in one of his tribe's ceremonial dances.

At the same time, the judge made it clear that the federal government needs to clean up its act when it comes to accommodating the religious beliefs of American Indians, for whom the eagle holds special spiritual meaning.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William F. Downes wrote: "Although the government professes respect and accommodation of the religious practices of Native Americans, its actions show callous indifference to such practices. It is clear to this court that the government has no intention of accommodating the religious beliefs of Native Americans except on its own terms and in its own good time."

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