Holy heck, there are a lot of beautiful Eagle bustles out there in Powwow. The Powwow is a great event and it should continue to grow even bigger. However, the amount of Eagles showing up at Powwows is concerning. Ever see a picture of Grand Entry to some of the bigger Powwows? The Grand Entry is something to behold. Lot of Collective Pride. Lot of Individual Pride. Lot of Beautiful Beadwork. Lot of Leather. Lot of Fans. Lot of Roaches. Lot of Staffs. Lot of Dancing. Lot of Happiness. Lot of Indians. Lot of Eagles.
You ever wonder where do all those Eagles come from? In Canada some of the Eagles come to be given to Indians from Ministry of Conservation (Provinces). Eagles may die from being caught in traps, power lines, or some are poisoned by accident . (non target mortality) The Conservation officers may provide Eagle feathers from the dead birds to Indians for ceremonial purpose. In the United States there is a National Repository that deals with dead birds/eagles.
The other way Eagles die, is that people shoot them. Our people. People like Jimmy Joseph. Jimmy had quite the operation at one time shooting Eagles and then harvesting the feathers and selling them or trading them. Not just a few Eagles but many of them.
There is a market for Eagles. That market is with Indians. We need to take a look at how we gain these feathers. We need to respect the Eagle and the significance it once meant to hold an Eagle feather. It is too easy to get Eagles these days. And that is a shame. I like to have nice things too. Eagle fans, Eagle Bustles, Eagle staffs, I have had all those things. There are many of us that like nice things. Many Dance at Powwows with the Eagles. It has become to Easy to kill an Eagle. We can easily shoot them. We can bait them, wait and just shoot them. That is sad. The only way I should be shooting Eagles is with a camera.
There are those that have been given the task to get an Eagle, Only those should harvest an Eagle. It is sometimes necessary for Ceremony to harvest an Eagle. That is something only those selected for that task would know what to do. There are those people that know the Teachings behind the Eagle and know how sacred the bird is. They are the ones that should look after the Eagle.
It is hard thing to look at what we are doing. We need to keep our identity. We need to keep our Ceremonies and our practices. We also so need to respect our brothers. How do we balance all that? There are those that would want us to stop all the harvest. Not one I agree with. We need to continue our way of life. We also have to protect our Brothers Sisters and the Earth. There must be a way to balance all this.
Maybe we need to learn the meaning behind the Eagle, the feather. Maybe that would help with the balance. In the meantime there are alternatives to the Eagle Feather. Some people are using turkey feathers,(farm turkeys) fixing them up to look like Eagle feathers. They actually look pretty good.
I don't advocate stopping the use of Eagles in Powwows, I just would like us to think about them and where they come from.
A very good blog talks about the respecting of Eagles.
A Teaching about the Eagle Feather.