Kewa Pueblo medicine man loses appeal in eagle killing case


A medicine man from Kewa Pueblo in New Mexico who pleaded guilty for killing a bald eagle and possessing bald eagle parts lost his case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Martin Aguilar admitted that he didn’t obtain a federal permit to take the eagle on the reservation. He also lacked a permit to possess eagle feathers that were found in his home.

Aguilar argued that federal agents entered and searched his home in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 10th Circuit, however, said he allowed them to enter his home voluntarily.

Aguilar also argued that his prosecution under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 10th Circuit, however, said a similar issue was already decided in a case involving a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming.

“We held that the Eagle Protection Act, and its attendant permitting process which allows for the taking of live eagles for religious purposes by members of federally recognized Indian tribes under certain circumstances, was the least restrictive means of furthering compelling governmental interests in protecting eagles and protecting the religion of federally recognized Indian tribes,” the 10th Circuit said in the unpublished opinion, referring to its 2008 decision in US v. Friday.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, US v. Aguilar.