Tribal Courts to Take Over Eagle Religion Case

October 2, 2009

Author: Ben Neary

Source: CBS

A federal judge has agreed to let a tribal court handle the prosecution of a Northern Arapaho man who shot a bald eagle four years ago for use in his tribe's Sun Dance.

Winslow Friday, now in his mid-20s, has acknowledged he killed a bald eagle without a permit on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming in March 2005.

U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne entered an order on Friday vacating a trial he had scheduled to begin Monday in Friday's case. The judge specified tribal courts will handle the matter.

The question of whether Friday should be prosecuted for killing the eagle has fired debate over American Indian religious freedoms. It's also prompted some to question the adequacy of a federal government program that allows American Indians to get permits to kill eagles or to receive their feathers and other body parts for religious ceremonies.