Organization's Name, Sia, Means 'Feather'
Bill Voelker has spent his life working with eagles and other
birds important to his people.
member of the Comanche Nation, Voelker learned about the importance
of eagles and their feathers in American Indian culture and rituals
from his father, mother and grandmother.
is now spreading the message of conservation and preservation around
the world through Sia, a nonprofit organization he founded 10 years
means "feather" in Comanche. The agency is a tribal program
of the Comanche Nation, but it is responsible for its own funding.
eagle and its feathers are an integral part of the Comanche way
of life, Voelker said.
are considered a living link to the Almighty, and the birds and
their feathers are still used for ceremonies, prayers and traditional
clothing the same way they were hundreds of years ago.
has spent more than 30 years perfecting artificial insemination
techniques in birds to help ensure eagles' survival. His work
has produced more than 300 bald and golden eagles that have been
released back into the wild.
agency also works with other birds that are important in Indian
culture, like hawks, vultures, owls and crows.
friend and co-founder Troy, who goes by only one name, has worked
with Voelker for many years. Sia has been a labor of love, he said.
"We're doing a lot here, and it's just the two of
work they're doing is important because it's not only
about saving wildlife, but also preserving a way of life.
may be in a little town, but we're doing big work," Troy
headquarters was built on land in Cyril that was originally allotted
to Comanche tribal members.
complex includes several specialized enclosures to house more than
a dozen species of birds kept at the facility.
primary focus is eagles.
also has a state-of-the-art vault used to preserve feathered Indian
can last thousands of years, but in no time bug damage can destroy
them," Voelker said. A freezing method is used to protect the
feathered items and make sure bugs don't damage them.
agency collects the feathers its birds molt naturally and distributes
them for tribal purposes. The organization holds federal permits
that allow them to house and breed the birds and distribute the
receives more than 100 requests for feathers from tribal members
recently got a call from a tribal member who had a feather stolen
from a ceremonial hat. He was able to replace it the same day because
one of the eagles under his care had shed a feather that day.
people who have gone through government agencies may wait years
for their feather requests to be filled, he said. "We can supply
the needs much quicker."
also has language classes, provides education tours, and houses
many historical documents and native artifacts of the Comanche Nation.
agency works with tribes, governments and educational institutions
around the world, sharing knowledge and skills to help preserve
the native birds important to other cultures. The organization is
in the middle of an $800,000 fundraising campaign to build another
bird housing facility on 50 acres south of Cyril.
more information on Sia, go to comancheeagle.org.