ACET Board Addresses the Eagle Feather Petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service

posted Feb 7, 2020, 1:12 PM by John Norwood   [ updated Feb 8, 2020, 1:08 PM ]

ACET RESOLUTION #2020-02-05A

Title: Calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to Deny any Change to the Eagle Feather Protection Act that would Extend Rights to Non-Indians

WHEREAS, the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) represents the interests of indigenous Tribes that have continuously existed since prior to the colonial era of the eastern and southern seaboard of the continental United States, which share a common history of pre-colonial, colonial, and federal governmental contact, including, but not limited to, colonial treaties, colonial era reservations or designated “Indian towns,” enrollment in federal and closely associated Indian mission boarding schools, or listing as tribal communities in federal records, reports, or studies prior to 1960; and

WHEREAS, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has published a petition for rulemaking to have the existing regulations under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Act), 6 U.S.C. §§ 668-668d governing the “religious purposes of Indian tribes” exception in the Act be expanded to allow any and all “sincere religious believers;” and

WHEREAS, ACET previously submitted comments to the Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs of the FWS pertaining to the aforementioned petition on June 21, 2019, which affirmed the inherent rights of all Indian tribes to possess eagle feathers recognized by the FWS, both federally listed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (federally recognized) and those recognized by the states in which they reside (state recognized), as was consistent with the Morton Policy; and

WHEREAS, the aforementioned expansion being considered by FWS goes well beyond the recommendations of ACET as indicated in the previously submitted comments, with the risk of the expansion being applied to non-Natives, potentially diminishing the rights of all American Indian Tribes due to our special status as indigenous political entities; and

WHEREAS, ACET desires to further clarify and strengthen its position regarding any changes to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act being considered by the FWS; and

WHEREAS, the protected political status of tribes is fundamental to the framework of federal Indian law and policy; and

WHEREAS, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, (“IACA”) 25 U.S.C. §305e(d)(3)(B) (2000) is an applicable precedent which includes both federally recognized and state recognized tribes, applying protections based upon the protected political status of such tribes; and

WHEREAS,  extending the IACA inclusion model to protecting inherent indigenous rights of federally recognized and state recognized tribes in the possession of eagle feathers is consonant with efforts to protect cultural patrimony; and

WHEREAS, the trust relationship between American Indian Tribes is formalized by federal acknowledgment, but is not limited to federally recognized tribes and extends to American Indian Tribes that may not have been formally acknowledged by the federal government, as affirmed in Passamaquoddy Tribe v. Morton, 528 F.2d 370 (1st Cir. 1975); and

WHEREAS, the inherent indigenous right to ceremonial, religious and spiritual items and property is affirmed by Articles 11 and 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

WHEREAS, ACET is dedicated to advocating for the inherent indigenous rights of all American Indians Nations, and includes in its membership both federally recognized and state recognized tribes;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET), hereby calls on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to apply a standard similar to that of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 in its definition of “Indian” regarding the existing regulations under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Act), 6 U.S.C. §§ 668-668d governing the “religious purposes of Indian tribes” due to the political status of American Indian Tribes, without expanding that exception to apply to non-Indians; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of ACET until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

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