Supreme Court refusal in eagle case may criminalize religious practices

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DENVER – The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of a Northern Arapaho man who shot an eagle for use in his tribe’s Sun Dance, and a Colorado attorney long familiar with indigenous religious and sacred sites issues said it is “very frustrating for Indian country to be labeled as criminals for practicing their religions and ceremonies.”

Winslow Friday, from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, acknowledged shooting the bald eagle in 2005 for tribal religious use, which required an eagle taken from the wild.

Although a district court judge dismissed charges of violating eagle protection laws, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver reinstated the charges against Friday, contending that the government’s compelling need to preserve the bald eagle population outweighed hindrances to Friday’s religious rights and practices. After the 10th Circuit refused Friday a hearing before its full panel of judges, the case was taken to the high court.


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