A Warm Place We Call Home - Zoo Seeks Permit To Distribute Eagle Feathers
By Jeanne Bedell - Mashkikinabinais
Pine Ridge in the winter can be a very cold place and many tourists come each year in the summer to the various activities, pow-wows on the reservations in South Dakota. Little do they know how some families heat their homes in the winter or what their living conditions are really like?
One woman this summer, upon arriving from the east, cried because of the condition of another friend’s house. I was apathetic towards her, for an Indian accepts their condition if they want to remain close to where their ancestors once walked and connected to all what’s left of their lands and people.
I live here in a border town near Pine Ridge. Most problems facing the Lakota people today are like I also suffered for a few years, when I lived on the reservation. Although one of my children reflects unhappiness with a hard life, another child said she had fond memories of things that she will always remember about living in a one room house and learning how to respect water and the things she does have.
I didn’t consider myself poor; I was rich in culture and near Native people with a kinship system and culture very much alive. I could pray the way I wanted and walk freely on the prairie. I cut wood by hand, carried water, washed in a small tub, and sometimes walked. I lived on commodities and small game and deer others shared with me.
What others miss when they do come is how really beautiful it can be living near the earth and learning the hard lessons of life of patience, fortitude, and feeling alive when you hear the wind blow against the house, hear the wind turn the wind mill, watch the sun set across the big open prairie and admire how the orange and yellow reflections dance across your window in the evening and hear the birds each day.
I also lived near the buffalo, they were my next door neighbors and they also taught me many things too about the earth and environment. I also was able to learn history...my connection to the past and my relatives of the past and knew that this was right for my calling, to give up many things so I could live here among the Oglala Sioux.
I am of Hunkpapa and Siha Sapa descent too and as the years past knew how we really are all connected in some way and the many tribes in my family. Although I know my ethnic identity is mostly Anishinabe I lived among the white people for a lot of years. I didn’t feel I belonged in that world and it brought great disharmony with in my own life.
Now, after 16 years, I can say also that not only was I born Anishinabe I live a Lakota life and I am honored to say I am proud of this and I am proud to be an Indian. I know some people do not understand this, but I found a sense of purpose in learning from the Oglala Sioux and strive to make my home among the Oglala Sioux and Lakota people a better place.
I have many extended family and children that call me mom and many other children that call me grandma too. This brings me to why I am telling you all this and why we stay...why we are inherently bound to and connected to our way of life as Lakota people.
We are not just asking for help...but we are honored when others can give to make families feel more comfortable when it is cold. The economic conditions on Pine Ridge are harsh; many other problems do exist on the Pine Ridge reservation.
We are asking to help with propane and heating assistance for families who run out during the winter. I know personally of some families that have used alternative methods to heating like a grill or small woods stoves or bundle in one room with a small electric heater, with their winter coats.
I even ran out this spring and it was the last ice and snow storm and I lit candles to stay warm. There are many ways one can help the Lakota Oyate and I have included some links to some organizations. You can also send a donation directly to the energy assistance program in Pine Ridge, SD. Pilamiye Jiiniikwe
Please also see the geographic links.
A Rapid City Journal news article about the energy assistance problems-
Zoo Seeks Aviary Permit To Distribute Eagle Feathers
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK - The Navajo Nation Zoological & Botanical Park does not need a polar bear, an elephant, or anything quite so extravagant to draw visitors, but Curator Matthew Holdgate does have a couple of special changes in mind.
One is to seek federal authorization to disperse eagle feathers to Navajo tribal members. That’s probably going to take a couple years, according to Holdgate, but two tribes already have gone through the process: Zuni and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.
“Each of those tribes built an eagle flight house, or an aviary. Within that flight house they have golden and bald eagles. They feed them and take care of them and everything, not in a zoo sense, but mainly to collect the feathers that are shed. They are authorized by the federal government to distribute those feathers directly to their tribal members.”
In order to do that, the first thing required is a permit from the federal government, Holdgate said, “which surprisingly might be the easier part, because the second step is finding the money to build the flight house that the eagles will live in.”
The size of the flight house depends on the number of eagles desired. “For a tribe our size, we anticipate a lot of requests for feathers, so the bigger we can build it the more quickly we’ll be able to respond to those requests,” he said. Currently, with the exception of Zuni and Iowa tribes, all tribal members have to request feathers from the federal repository in Colorado.
Any eagles that are killed or found on the Navajo Reservation, even feathers from the two golden eagles at the zoo, are sent to the federal repository. Requests for feathers from all U.S. tribes are put into a pool, so it can take up to a year or two to get just one feather, Holdgate told the Resources Committee Tuesday.
“You can request up to a whole bird, but then you expect more like a 10 year wait. So if we can distribute our own feathers, at least from the zoo, we’re talking, with your average-size flight house, several thousand feathers each year.”
During a visit with one of the tribes, Holdgate said one of the tribal members told him a story which gave him a new point of view. “He said tribal members should have the right to have access to eagle feathers, but in his belief, the feathers were given by the eagle as a gift, so a person of any race walking through the woods, if they came across a feather, that was put there specifically for that person to find and use as they saw fit.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of feathers being molted by the eagles at the zoo, and if you believe they are given as a gift by the eagle for use, then right now we are not fulfilling what we owe to the eagles that are giving the feathers.”
Kevin Gleason of Navajo Fish & Wildlife said that without an aviary they cannot distribute feathers to any tribal members. To receive a single feather from the feds requires filling out a five-page application, plus the wait. The Iowa Tribe, however, has a one-page form that requires basic information such as name and address and verification of tribal enrollment.
“This is all that needs to stand between tribal members and their access to feathers, and this is what the end result of an aviary on the Navajo Nation will do - it will put one page between people and feathers, rather than the federal government and everything that goes along with it,” Holdgate said. “It doesn’t work for the tribes, so the tribes have come up with their own solution.”
Zuni in the mid-1990s decided they were going to take the initiative to find a way to get more feathers for their tribe. They went to U.S. Fish & Wildlife, sat down with them and asked what they needed to do to make this possible, Holdgate said.
They learned that each year, dozens to hundreds of eagles are euthanized – “put to sleep because there’s nowhere to put them. They’re hit by cars, power lines, shot at, other things befall them, and then these eagles can’t live in the wild. They can’t fly or maybe they’re blind in an eye. There are only so many zoos to take these injured eagles,” he said.
“The Zuni realized that if they built a sanctuary for these eagles, they would be helping these animals while at the same time being able to collect the feathers. They worked it out with the federal government and in 1999 they opened their eagle sanctuary. In the first four years, they distributed 20,000 feathers.�
It wasn’t long before the Iowa Tribe decided they also wanted to build an eagle sanctuary. Whereas the Zuni Pueblo specifically brought eagles in to collect feathers, the Iowa Tribe incorporated a rehabilitation element. “As injured eagles came in, they had a veterinarian to patch them up and they actually were able to release some of them back into the wild,” Holdgate said.
After building their aviaries, Zuni received a $20,000 grant and Iowa received $200,000. For Navajo to take advantage of outside grants, rather than doing the same things the other tribes have done, Holdgate said they plan to incorporate an educational element.
With an aviary, Navajo also will be protecting eagles by having more feathers available, he said, “so there’s less incentive for people to go out and figure their own way to get them.”
Holdgate said he is actively seeking assistance in identifying funds. “It may not be today or next week or next month, but if funds become available and you consider it a worthy program, keep it in mind when that time comes, and the zoo will be here to do our part.”
Fish & Wildlife Director Gloria Tom said the program has been in the works for several years. “The barrier that we’re having is funding.” Harry Williams recommended Resources Committee take a lead role in trying to get funding for the aviary.
TO SUBMIT an ARTICLE, OPINION PIECE, COMMENTS to the Native Unity Digest, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
ATT: NEW - News Blog - American Indian Report - AIR BLOG
'Three Cases of Fraud In Indian Country In The News Today'
NATIVE ISSUES BLOG
Professor Robert J. Miller
AIROS NATIVE NETWORK plays music, news and other great programs from Indian Country - www.airos.org
FOR ANNIE'S NATIVE CELEBRITY NEWS - go to www.nativecelebs.com
CATCH COLORADAN PETER JONES AT:
SUPPORTING NATIVE AMERICAN/FIRST PEOPLE - ARTISTS, FILM MAKERS, ENTERTAINERS, ETC. http://www.krystynmedia.blogspot.com.