Sacred Feathers


     In the old traditional ways... Eagles to all tribes are sacred messengers. It's the animal that can fly the highest to the Creator. Tsalagi people would normally carry only one eagle feather according to the position in the tribe. A spiritual leader such as a Medicine/Holy Man, a Clan Mother, or a Chief would carry a white bald eagle tail feather to represent their spiritual purity and power. The rest of the tribe carried wing feathers or plumes. Most Tsalagi people wore turkey, water fowl, and more common bird feathers because they were also sacred, but common. Turkeys were sacred to the Tsalagi because it was one of their main sources of food.

     Modern Times... Now, it's the 21st century, and there are certain ideas that is more personal opinion than tradition. In today's time you have to be warned of the politics of possessing eagle feathers as well. The Indian civil rights act states that a Native American cannot be denied the right to possess sacred items for religious and ceremonial purposes... Be warned with this statement... Technically all Native Americans have the right to possess eagle and hawk feathers, but these birds of prey are protected on the Migratory Bird Act and some are on the Endangered Species Protection Act. By law you cannot have any eagle feathers unless you request eagle feathers from the Federal Repository in Colorado. The Department of Interior and The B.I.A controls who can legally have eagle feathers. Even if you are from a Federally Recognized Tribe doesn't mean that you have the right to just go and pick up an eagle feather from the ground. You still can get fined and arrested even if you are federally recognized. Unless you have a certificate for every feather or bird of prey body part, law officials have no proof the animal wasn't poached. So, that's politics with sacred items.

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