It is illegal for any individual to possess a bald or golden eagle, including its parts (feathers, feet, etc.). The distribution of bald and golden eagles and their parts to Native Americans is authorized by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and regulations found in 50 CFR 22. Enrolled Native Americans wishing to obtain bald or golden eagles or their parts, must be at least 18 years old and submit a First Time Application for a new applicant and a Re-Order Form if they have applied in the past. Requests are filled on a first come first serve basis by date of application. Numbers of requests, by far, exceeds the number of eagles available which imposes various waiting times for orders to be filled.
Federal and State conservation agencies, zoological parks, federal rehabilitators, and others who may legally possess and transport dead bald and golden eagles are encouraged to send them to the Repository where they will be distributed to Native Americans.
The collection efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides a legal means for Native Americans to acquire eagle feathers for religious purposes, which in turn, reduces the pressure to take birds from the wild and thereby protecting eagle populations. It also, promotes a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribes, as well as, fulfills the U.S. governments trust responsibilities to Native Americans.
The Eagle Repository is a one of a kind facility, operated and managed by the Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The main purpose is to receive, evaluate, store and distribute dead golden and bald eagles, parts and feathers to Native Americans and Alaska Natives who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes throughout the United States. Also, to develop and provide educational programs regarding wildlife trade, wildlife laws, raptors and the Native American eagle feather program.
For hundreds of years Native Americans and Alaska Natives have used eagle feathers for religious and cultural purposes. In recognition of the significance of these feathers to Native Americans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the National Eagle Repository in the early 1970's.