Tribal Member Use of Feathers or Other Parts of Federally Protected Birds:
Fact Sheet on Department of Justice Policy
Eagles and other migratory birds are protected under federal wildlife laws, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws generally prohibit the possession, use, and sale of the feathers or other parts of federally protected birds, as well as the unauthorized killing of such birds. Such restrictions help ensure that eagle and other bird populations remain healthy and sustainable.
At the same time, eagles and other raptors hold great meaning for many Indian tribes and may play a role in tribal religious and cultural practices. In recognition of this, and in keeping with the United States’ government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes, the Department of Justice has announced a policy addressing the ability of members of federally recognized tribes to use the feathers and other parts of federally protected birds. The Department worked closely with the Department of the Interior and consulted extensively with tribes in developing this policy.This policy balances the Department of Justice’s commitment to enforce federal wildlife laws with its commitment to support tribal sovereignty and tribal self-determination.
The policy provides generally that the Department of Justice will not prosecute members of federally recognized tribes who:
The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute tribal members and nonmembers alike for:
Read the full policy. Tribal members with questions about the policy may contact the Office of Tribal Justice: (202) 514-8812.
Tribal members can also find information on other eagle feathers issues on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, at www.fws.gov/le/national-eagle-repository.html and links available from that page.