Since 1940 and 1962 when bald eagles and golden eagles were placed under protection by Federal law, it has been extremely difficult to obtain their feathers for religious or tribal use. Under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), there has been an ongoing discussion between the federal government and Native American tribes about the best ways to use and obtain eagle parts and feathers, but while also working on conservation efforts. There will be new rules and regulations to take effect on June 1, 2014 that will hopefully streamline wait times and orders.
No person may kill, buy, sell, or import/export eagle feathers or items made from them, which makes it difficult to obtain eagle feathers. The federal government though has recognized that the religious and cultural significance of eagles to Native Americans and has long worked with them to provide for these needs. So, the government has made it illegal for any individual who is not a part of a federally recognized Native American tribe to possess bald or golden eagle parts and feathers. These restrictions help ensure the future of eagles in the wild and in the United States.
The legal distribution of eagle feathers and parts is controlled by the National Eagle Repository. The Repository is a clearinghouse that collects dead eagles from government agencies, zoos, and other organizations and distributes them to members of tribes for religious and tribal purposes. Because the National Eagle Repository is a first come, first serve basis, there can be waits up to years for certain feathers.
Limiting Number of Orders
The USFWS has decided in their latest meeting that they are going to start limiting the number of orders per person to just one. It can be a combination of eagle feathers and parts, but only one whole eagle can be used per order and one order per applicant. Once the feathers are received by the buyer, then they can reorder feathers until they have the number that they need. Because people were making more than one order a year for eagles and feathers, there was a backlog and huge wait list. For some birds, particularly the immature golden eagles that have black and white tail feathers, which are the rarest, have a five year wait time.
Updates to Website
The other major change that the USFWS is going to make is to the process of ordering eagle feather. They have decided to update the website to make it more user friendly and simpler. There are two major changes being made to the website: the log of order status, and the availability. It will encourage applicants to only order what they specifically need for the ceremony and not and entire bird. It will also keep the website up to date on what birds are available making information more readily available and easier to use.
If you need any clarification on what was covered in this post about changes made to the National Eagle Repository, feel free to leave a comment or contact 1st Tribal Lending with your question privately.