Debate About Allowing Hopis to Use Golden Eagle Hatchlings

July 5, 2000

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On July 5, 2000, the Christian Science Monitor published an article about a debate in Arizona on whether members of the Hopi tribe should be allowed to "kill young golden eaglets taken from a nest near the Wupakti National Monument for use in traditional ceremonies." At issue is whether the "right to practice native-American religion should take precedence over the role of parks as sanctuaries." A verdict is expected soon from the Department of the Interior on this sensative issue. If the request is granted, "dozens of tribes could ask to harvest wildlife such as bison, black bears, and birds of prey from inside parks for similar reasons." Some say that while they are sympathetic to tribal needs, "those needs can be fulfilled without having to go into parks and take live animals." Secretary Babbit commented that "it's a tough issue. This isn't about sport hunting. This is about a deeply religious and sustainable take of eagles that has been going on for over a thousand years." Hopi chief of staff Eugene Kaye explains: "We'd be the last ones to do any harm to the larger eagle population. It's not that all Hopis go out and gather eagles. Only certain clan members who possess the expertise can do it. It's something that's been practiced for centuries and centuries and centuries."