Keep Away from Genuine Eagle Feathers. Only Native Americans can use real Eagle feathers for their ceremonies. Many American tribes use eagle feathers for spiritual purposes, but even Native Americans cannot buy them.

Thousands of people searching for eagle feathers online don't realize they can only buy imitations. That's because the federal government strictly regulates the possession of genuine eagle feathers. In fact, it is against the law to possess any real raptor feathers, bones, claws, or any parts of these birds, whatsoever. Penalties can be severe with expensive fines and jail time. The only exception is for enrolled members of federally recognized Indian tribes, who must apply for permits to obtain eagles or eagle parts from the government.

Many American Indian tribes use eagle feathers for religious purposes, but even Native Americans cannot buy them. Instead, they must request them from the National Eagle Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The repository serves as a collection point for dead eagles, which it then distributes to tribal members on the waiting list.

Feathers or parts of bald or golden eagles and other migratory birds may never be sold, purchased, bartered or traded. They may, however, be handed down within Indian tribes to enrolled family members, or be passed from one Native American to another for religious purposes. American Indians may not give eagle feathers or parts to non-Native Americans for any reason.

Many people seem surprised when they are told they cannot buy the real thing, according to Lars Eidnes, of Eidnes Furs, Inc. in North Idaho, but, he points out, it has been illegal to possess, transport, sell, trade, import and export, bald eagles or their parts since they were first protected under the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940. Golden eagles were added in 1962.

 In addition, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other laws, protect most of the native birds in the lower 48 states, making it illegal to possess even their eggs or nests. Eidnes is an expert in the harvesting, processing, buying and selling of animal feathers, bones, pelts, and hides and he says he must grapple with reams of paperwork to comply with state, federal, and international laws during the course of his business.

If people are caught possessing the body parts of protected birds, law enforcement agencies do not have to prove a violation was intentional in order to prosecute. Anyone found in possession of a protected species, its parts, or products, is guilty, no matter whether they knew what they were doing or not. So, when it comes to feathers and bird parts found lying around on the ground, it is best for the amateur to avoid hefty fines and jail time by leaving them where they are, Eidnes said.

Imitations bird feathers can be of very high quality, making it difficult to distinguish them from the real thing. The best imitation eagle feathers are made from white hand painted turkey feathers, and the best bone replicas are cast from thermal injection molds. While they may not contain the spiritual characteristics so prized by American Indians for their dances and ceremonies, they will have to satisfy the non-tribal consumer's desire for eagle feathers.


Responses to "How Native Americans find their Eagle Feathers for ceremonies."

  1. The sure thing is to collect as feathers falling from the young Golden Eagles.
    The first tail feathers of the young Golden Eagle are black and white, the classic favorite feather of Native Americans.
    They never killed to steal the feathers.
    They collected the feathers of the natural saplings of the golden eagle.
    Note the temporary tail feathers:

  2. Unknown says:

    I was trying to find out how to get a eagle feather?

  3. Unknown says:

    How to get a eagle feather

  4. Very interesting. The Native Americans are the only ones that deserve the feathers because they honor them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was expecting a more informational spiritual article and not a lecture on how Americans get the privilege to not only murder the bird to near extinction but now Americans get the privilege of ordering/restricting/imprisoning/oppressing American aboriginal peoples via "approved" "getting", uses, and telling everyone to never obtain feathers except through the American dead eagle depot which goes against spiritual values AND QUALIFIES AS BARTERING. As these feathers get obtained from non-natives by non-native standards.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The non-ceremonial scientific fact is that eagles molt. You will find them where they hunt easily during molting season. Or if you happen to be bold enough to approach a nest, they will be there too. No killing, no trapping, no torturing. Collect them knowing you are more than likely breaking American law and keep it for and to yourself. Native ceremonial rituals are never public knowledge and ESPECIALLY since they were banned and ripped apart. True ceremonial objects are collected in very specific ways by specific people according to each nation's way; but still there are plenty of stories that aren't as intimate as sharing sacred information to be shared none the less in this topic.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Eagles are not only sacred to American aboriginal cultures; around the world the eagle is venerated. In Hinduism, Garuda is commonly thought to be a golden eagle and accompanies Vishnu. Aquila is the eagle constellation. American colonists were a unique and somewhat fearful, paranoid lot, naturally they thought of the eagle as a scary predatory animal snatching babies and what not.

    Here,*finding* eagle feathers are a gift of the creator. Generally, feathers are not obtained with violence because that isn't a sacred value. Birds die naturally and they require a special ceremony prior. Feathers are given/awarded not generally hoarded.

    Jingle dress dancing and other dance style competitions are a modern response to the oppression and outlaw of our cultural-spiritual practices and generally not a traditional-historic way of using eagle feathers though is accepted as a work around to the unlawful banning of spiritual practices.

    These fans and bustles may or may not be real feathers, if real may very likely be black market and the bird traumatized for the dollar and not bestowed to a dancer by a council or family/clan member.

    A true ceremonial eagle feather is never a display item nor an ego enhancer nor is it ever traded for money on Etsy, Amazon, eBay,pow wows, whatever.

    When some one found a feather or a bird, it generally went through ceremonies and cleansing by a spiritual person.

    Though my nation never made or wore war bonnets as we followed a different path; the feathers of war bonnets like many other head dress styles, went through certain rites, ceremonies and blessings prior to being given. These feathers were carefully selected no doubt.

    ** Bottom Line:
    Obtaining feathers was, is and shall never be an act of violence. You find them. Feathers should always be given freely from the heart because after all it was freely given (if you didn't kill or traumatize the bird). Do yourself a huge spiritual favor and stay away from real eagle feather vendors as that bad karma will roll your way. Find them or inherit them on your own do not sell them. The US government has done much to destroy our culture and continues to do so today.

  8. Unknown says:

    Every topic I personally have interest in as to True non commercialized, Or Government altered questions. Come with controversy and very different views, opinions or practices. No doubt the Eagle is majestic, bold and should be respected, honored as it's only right. Life for Earths species, has been trampled by the rights to take step and alter for humans consumption. Total disregard to Nature. Respect for the simplest things have little to no meaning anymore. It's not taught. And fewer of our values placing Mother Earth as sacred. Everything comes with controversy. Common sense, is not so common anymore.

  9. Anonymous says:

    it is very disturbing for a native American as i am, of the Kiowa Comanche Tribe and registered! that if i find an Eagle feather that [I] have to ask the government for permission to keep it! that in it self is totally absurd.

Write a comment