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SACRED WINGS Continued from page 21


The tribe is also working on a self-sustain- ing food source facility. Their plan is to build a rat house and start raising rats to feed the eagles. They project that if 40 eagles were eat- ing rats, it would take 28,000-plus rats a year to feed the eagles, and it could become an expensive project if they had to buy the rats. Their current property can hold as many as 56 birds, but Roubidoux says he doesn’t want to crowd the creatures. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires 104 square feet per eagle, but at Grey Snow Eagle House the birds are given more than that. Roubidoux believes in giving the birds quality of life by allowing them to have more space to move around.


Not only does the Iowa Tribe care for the sacred birds, but the byproduct is a steady supply of eagle feathers, used in religious cer- emonies by indigenous peoples nationwide. “Every tribe has its own cultural beliefs and the way they do things. We all have our own languages. But one thing we do have in com- mon is the reverence for the eagle,“ he says. “We believe the eagle is the only one that’s seen the face of the Creator. He’s our messen- ger to Him,” Roubidoux says.


Eagle feathers are utilized in ceremonies, in healing processes, and to make fans; wing bones and wings are used to make whistles which are blown during ceremonies to get the Creator’s attention, he says. The aviary has collected more than 400 feathers during the molting season, which lasts from May through September. At the end of the molt, Grey Snow Eagle House distributes feathers to their tribal members. Then they open dis- tribution to different tribes.


The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits anyone without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from possessing or disturbing eagle parts, nests or eggs. Despite exceptions made for Native Americans, the law that is intended to prevent poaching sometimes contradicts the tribes’ own traditions, Roubidoux says. “Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Pro- tection Act, Native Americans are the only ones allowed to have eagle feathers. I’ve had a big discussion (with government offi cials) about non-Indians having feathers. A long time ago, before Fish and Wildlife came along and made all these rules, we had our own way of doing things. We be- lieved that no matter who you were, if you’re out there in the wild and you come across an eagle feather, that was a gift from the Creator to you.”


“We’re not even allowed 22 OKLAHOMA LIVING


to give an eagle feather to a non-Indian as a gift, to honor somebody for doing something good,” he adds. “That was one of the things we always did in the past. If somebody did a good deed, they would receive an eagle feath- er. The law goes against our culture. That’s how we thank you, by giving you an eagle feather and honoring you that way.” As a young man, Roubidoux proudly served


in the 101st Airborne Division – the U.S. Army’s “Screaming Eagles,” an embroidered bald eagle patch adorning the shoulders of his green fatigues.


He believes the badge was no coincidence. “When I went to Vietnam, there were quite a few instances that I shouldn’t have come home from,” he says. “I think the Creator must have had this in mind for me. He had a plan for me to make it back and take care of these birds.” “I had no idea that I was going to be doing this, so it’s been a blessing to me.”


COME DINE WITH AN


OKLAHOMA LEGEND!


Quick Facts


Bah Kho-Je Xla Chi (Grey Snow Eagle House) is owned by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma


Mission: “Saving injured eagles be- cause someone must, and we will.”


Tours are available by appointment (donations accepted)


Contact Information


Mailing Address: R.R. 1, Box 721, Perkins, OK 74059


Phone: 405-334-7471 E-mail: vroubidoux@iowanation.org Website: www.iowanation.org OL


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