Only official members of a federally accepted Native American tribes may legally possess or collect eagle feathers. If a normal citizen has one, it is illegal. - FactzPedia

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Only official members of a federally accepted Native American tribes may legally possess or collect eagle feathers. If a normal citizen has one, it is illegal.

Only official members of a federally accepted Native American tribes may legally possess or collect eagle feather



Because of the religious and cultural significance of eagle feathers, the law makes an exception that allows members of federally recognized tribes to own eagle feathers. Eligible Native Americans must first get a permit to own and receive eagle 


Golden eagles are the only eagle permitted for use in falconry in the United States. ... Permits issued by the State Government, tribe, or territory in these states will be recognized by the Federal Government.



It is illegal to take them home. The possession of feathers and other parts of native North American birds without a permit is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). ... There is no exemption for molted feathers or those taken from road- or window-killed birds.



When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the energy of the bird it came from, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. ... In Native culture, the eagle is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds.



Cindy Barton-Coombs, Roosevelt, UT, for Appellant Hardman.

Peter Schoenburg of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom, Schoenburg Frye, LLP, Albuquerque, NM (Justin Bogan, Eureka, CA, with him on the brief), for Appellee Saenz.

Joseph F. Orifici, Salt Lake City, UT, for Appellant Wilgus.

Kathryn E. Kovacs, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. (John Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Christopher B. Chaney, Assistant United States Attorney, Salt Lake City, UT, Sasha Siemel, Assistant United States Attorney, Albuquerque, NM, Andrew Mengen, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., E. Ann Peterson, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; and William G. Myers, III, Solicitor, Benjamin C. Jesup, Attorney, Mary Anne Kenworthy, Attorney, Janet Spaulding, Attorney, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., with her on the brief), arguing as Appellee for the United States in case numbers 99-4210 and 00-4015, and arguing as Appellant for the Department of Interior in case number 00-2166.

Stuart J. Lark and Gregory S. Baylor, Center for Law and Religious Freedom, Christian Legal Society, submitted a brief for amicus Christian Legal Society, the New Mexico Civil Liberties Foundation, and the Commission on Social Action of Reformed Judaism.

Alfred T. McDonnell and Kevin T. Traskos, Arnold Porter, Denver, CO, submitted a brief for amicus Hopi Tribe.

Stephen H. Greetham, Nordhaus, Haltom, Taylor, Taradash Bladh, LLP, Albuquerque, NM; Wayne H. Bladh and Susan G. Jordan, Nordhaus, Haltom, Taylor, Taradash, Bladh, LLP, Santa Fe, NM, submitted a brief for amicus Jicarilla Tribe.

Before TACHA, Chief Judge, McKAY, SEYMOUR, BALDOCK, EBEL, KELLY, HENRY, BRISCOE, LUCERO, MURPHY, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges.

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