Ten years ago, a young Arapaho man was charged with killing an eagle without a permit for a Sun Dance ceremony. The Northern Arapaho tribe decided it was their duty to stand behind any tribal member legitimately practicing their tribal religion and a federal court agreed with them.
But now, the United States is appealing the decision.
In a recent press release, Northern Arapaho Chairman Dean Goggles says quote “eagles are an important part of [the tribe’s] most sacred ceremonies” and says the decision to take an eagle is never undertaken lightly.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson sided with the tribe, saying that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s refusal to issue an eagle take permit violated the Free Exercise of Religion clause of the First Amendment. The United States has filed a notice of appeal to Solicitor General Donald Verilli who will decide whether to challenge that clause.
Chairman Goggles has requested the appeal be dropped so the tribe can practice the traditions of their tribe in the future, quote, “without fear of criminal prosecution.”