Local First Nations want to hunt eagles for ceremonial use
Thursday, June 24 2010 @ 06:48 PM EDT
Contributed by: JudyB
By Suzanne Fournier, The Province
First Nations leaders are demanding the right to “sustainably” harvest eagles for ceremonial use.
They will make their demand known Thursday, when National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations — along with three chiefs of B.C. communities targeted by government investigators over the sale of eagle parts — are honoured with eagle feather and cedar headdresses in downtown Vancouver.
“We were as outraged as the general public when we learned about massive eagle kills and dumping of carcasses, because eagles are highly significant in our culture,” Grand Chief Doug Kelly of the Sto:lo Tribal Council said Wednesday.
“But the B.C. Environment Ministry wasn’t interested in finding out who killed those birds. Instead they sent undercover operators in only to First Nations communities, to entrap our artisans in a mischievous sting.”
Kelly said native leaders want to “engage” the B.C. and federal governments in a “management and conservation” plan for eagles and other large birds with ceremonial First Nations significance, including swans and hawks.
“Eagle feathers are a sign of earned prestige and rank,” he said. “Our belief system holds them in very high regard.
“But the B.C. government has chosen to criminalize First Nations people for possessing eagle feathers rather than negotiate over managing this resource.”
A spotlight was pointed at the million-dollar international eagle-parts trade when 50 butchered eagle carcasses were found in 2005 on Tsleil-Waututh First Nation land in North Vancouver.