LATs Article on Eagle Cases

From the LATs:

On Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, Winslow Friday is preparing to surrender in his long fight with the federal government.

The seeds of the conflict were planted four years ago when Friday shot a bald eagle out of a tree. His cousin needed a tail fan for an upcoming Sun Dance, the Northern Arapaho tribe’s most important religious ceremony, and Friday wanted to help.

So when Friday spotted the bird, he seized his chance.

Charged with killing a bald eagle in violation of federal law, Friday had argued that the law hinders the practice of his religion — a battle closely watched on the reservation.

“Some agreed with what he did, some didn’t,” said tribal spokesman Donovan Antelope. “But they all agree with the reason he did it — for the Sun Dance. We know he wasn’t doing it just to kill an eagle.”

Now, though, Friday is giving up. Having exhausted his legal options, he’s hoping for a plea agreement that will avoid a trial. “The attorneys say that [a trial] would be a losing battle,” said Friday, 25, a former oil field worker studying to be a civil engineer.

Friday’s case represents the latest and most high-profile fight in a string of battles over how to balance conservation with religious liberty.

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