Various laws prohibit the taking of eagles and their parts, nests, eggs, and feathers. These laws include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Federal regulations have established exceptions to these laws for the religious purposes of American Indian tribes. Enrolled members of federally recognized tribes may apply for a Religious Use Permit through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits allow Native Americans to obtain eagle feathers and parts from the National Eagle Repository for cultural or religious purposes.
Learn more about ordering Eagle parts and feathers from the National Eagle Repository.
Apply for a Religious Use Permit.
Read the federal regulations on eagle permits (50 CFR 22).
Wearing Eagle Feathers and Regalia at Graduation
In some Native American communities, eagle feathers are given to individuals to honor significant achievements. It is important for many Native American students to be able to wear eagle feathers at graduation ceremonies. Unfortunately, some schools are not aware of the cultural and spiritual importance of eagle feathers and prohibit students from wearing them at graduation. Students’ rights to freedom of religion and expression may encompass the right to wear eagle feathers at graduation ceremonies.
The Native American Rights Fund has many resources to assist students who would like to wear eagle feathers and regalia at graduation ceremonies. They provide an overview of the issue, a guide for students and families, and information for schools.