Today, the House Natural Resources Committee approved Alaska Congressman Don Young’s bill H.R. 4069. This measure will amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to protect traditional Alaska Native handicrafts that use non-edible parts of migratory birds.
House Natural Resources Committee Hearing.
“This bill protects the heritage of Alaska Natives and provides a commonsense solution,” said Congressman Young. “For thousands of years, the inclusion of bones and feathers in traditional handicrafts has been commonplace in Alaska Native cultures. For decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service largely did not take enforcement actions against Alaska Native craftsmen. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In 2012, Archie Cavanaugh – an Alaska Native artist – was fined $2,000 by the Fish and Wildlife Service for using raven and flicker feathers in a headdress."
Archie Cavanaugh, Alaska Native artist, and Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl.
"This was an unexpected infringement on the celebrated Alaska Native cultural practices. My bill will ensure Natives are protected when they use non-edible bird parts in handicrafts, whether they are taken through subsistence harvests or taken from birds that are found dead. Updating this policy protects Alaska Native artists who sell hand-made art that includes non-edible bird parts, regardless of how the parts are found or what species they are from.”
H.R. 4069 would amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt certain Alaskan Native articles from the prohibitions on the sale of items containing non-edible migratory bird parts. It stipulates that authentic Alaska Native articles of handicrafts include beading, carving, drawing, lacing, painting, sewing, stitching and weaving or any combination. Finally, the exemption will not apply to any handicraft containing any part of a migratory bird that was taken in a wasteful manner.
You can watch Congressman Young's remarks from today's hearing, here.