South Phoenix Wildlife Refuge Home To Feather Conservatory For Native Americans
A south Phoenix wildlife center is home to a program to help Native Americans from across the country safely obtain bird feathers and carcasses for religious and ceremonial reasons.
Liberty Wildlife’s Non-Eagle Feather Repository Program takes remains of certain birds and distributes them to Native Americans.
Program coordinator Robert Mesta says it’s just one of two programs in the U.S. in a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We feel that it’s really important that it’s not construed that these Native Americans are buying feathers," Mesta said. "These feathers are protected by law and it’s illegal to buy or sell them.”
Mesta says since the program was established in 2010, the center has distributed feathers to more than 3,500 Native Americans across 173 different tribes in 47 states. Mesta said Native Americans construct dance skirts, capes, ceremonial fans, and other pieces critical to their religion.