Okla. The Comanche Nation Ethno Ornithological Initiative
is the nesting place for more than 70 eagles and other birds of
cultural importance to Native Americans. But like many Native programs
today, its looking for more operating funds.
Sia Essential Species Repository is searching for funds to keep
alive its mission of Comanche preservation through cultural
understanding of the eagle in history, science and spirit.
of it is focused on the avian side of our history, the bird cultures,
Sia Founder and Director William Voelker said. Although eagles
are of primary importance, we address our relationship historically
with all avian species.
the Comanche word for feather, took flight in 1999 when the CNEOI
was incorporated under the Comanche Nation as a tribal program.
Sia does not rehabilitate birds, it accepts birds that have been
rehabilitated and provides a home for them if they cant be
released into the wild.
have eagles here from five continents. We feel a strong responsibility
to assist with endangered eagles worldwide, Voelker said.
is also a tribal breeding authority for native eagles. Voelker said
he fought hard for the tribal breeding authority, and this past
spring, Sia produced the first golden eagles under tribal authority.
the very first time in the history of all Native America, Native
American eagles were produced here by Comanche hands for the first
time. Thats a major milestone. Weve opened up the doors
for other tribes to do the same thing, Voelker said,
June 21, Sias wingspan stretched further when its feather
repository was established. Through Sia, federally recognized tribal
citizens can legally obtain non-eagle feathers.
the first Native American repository in the nation, Sia can accept
non-eagle feathers, carcasses and birds from federally permitted
falconers, zoos, educational centers and rehabilitation facilities
throughout the country. Once feathers are received they are cataloged,
sorted and cleaned. Members of any federally recognized tribe can
apply for these feathers if needed for traditional ceremonial use.
repository is designed for non-eagle feathers, Voelker said.
We have the ability to provide eagle feathers, from eagles
we keep here. Any bald and golden eagles we have
we can distribute
those feathers. Those are the only eagle feathers we can distribute.
date, Sia has helped 44 tribes obtain feathers.
Americans can also apply for bald and golden eagle feathers through
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Eagle Repository in
Nation Chairman Michael Burgess said he has been approached by people
from other tribes who are thankful for feathers they received from
the Sia program. He said he plans to help with a March fundraiser
to help get Sia some operating funds.
Sia is listed as a Comanche Nation program, it has only received
one year of funding from the tribe in its 11-year existence. In
2005, the Comanche people voted to provide two years of funding.
However, the Comanche Business Committee during that time cut funding
after one year. The cut affected dollar-for-dollar matching funds,
members have not requested funding from the Comanche Nation since.
But during a recent Comanche general council meeting, Sia members
asked for the people to reaffirm the programs existence as
a needed program.
people have spoken and want our program. It was a vote asking for
the simple affirmation. My belief was that once we had the vote
of the people in a positive way then go back to the tribe and ask
for funding. Were doing some incredible work. If the tribe
can help just with basics at least we dont have to worry,
like right now, about keeping the lights on, Voelker said.
Nation did purchase the land Sia is nestled on, Burgess said, adding
that the program is worthwhile.
personal opinion is that the tribe should give them a modest amount
of money to match other donations, he said.
said most of Sias funding comes from outside Oklahoma and
that many people assume it receives gaming funds because the Comanche
Nation owns casinos.
said he and Co-Founder Troy have never accepted salary funds and
that eight people help operate Sia. Two interns from the Potawatomi
Nation were also instructed for two years to gain expertise so they
could open an aviary for their tribe in Shawnee, Voelker said.
doing it for all tribes, he said. Perhaps other tribal
partners out there will step to the plate and assist. Weve
got the first part. We just need help to take it further.
more information or to donate to the program, visit www.comancheeagle.org
or call (580) 464-2750.