A Blackfoot woman in Alberta who says she bought an eagle wing for $250 to make powwow regalia for her family is now fighting charges that she was trafficking wildlife parts illegally.
Rachel CrowSpreadingWings, a member of the Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe) in southern Alberta, is charged with one count of trafficking wildlife and one count of possession for the purposes of trafficking.
The maximum penalty for both charges is $100,000 in fines and/or two years in jail.
“Eagles have always been sacred in our ceremonies and our prayers,” says CrowSpreadingWings. “How is it wrong to give somebody money, when they give you a sacred object, when it’s in mutual respect of that object and they know you’re going to use it correctly?”
The 32-year old traditional powwow dancer and singer is set to go to trial in Lethbridge in May, arguing she has a constitutional right to possess and trade religious items.
Eagle feathers are considered sacred by many First Nations in North America. Feathers, wings and sometimes whole eagles are used in spiritual ceremonies and to adorn traditional regalia.
Provincial wildlife officials refuse to comment on the case, but CrowSpreadingWings says the charges stem from an exchange in January 2013.
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