Fooling Around with Endangered Species

On Wings, April 1999

Species v. Species

Our Little Laundry Facility, and other Fairy Tales
Dealing With the Seizure of Wildlife and Other Conundrums

In the Best Interests of the Animals
The United States of America takes its duty to its wildlife seriously, but not always consistently. The Endangered Species Act mandates that diverse species be preserved — at any cost — even to the detriment of landowners, and sometimes to the detriment of other less endangered species.

Too often, scientists are finding that mucking with one species can have unintended consequences for another. Years ago, farmers took action to rid themselves of the flying 'varmints' that attacked their chicken houses and newly born stock. Soon the symbol of the nation, the bald eagle, found its population dangerously threatened. So, too, the golden eagle and other raptors, who were also believed generally to have been the victim of the use of DDT, a substance said to weaken eggshells.

So, in its zeal to bring back the raptor population in this country, scientists and politicians banned the shooting of eagles and other birds of prey. They also banned the use of DDT in this country, though it is still in use in Mexico and other countries, particularly to control the mosquito that transmits malaria.

The birds bounced back. Big time.

But now all is not well at the Channel Islands National Park, and Santa Cruz Island, where, On Wings readers know, humans have been removed, but human intervention at the behest of the U.S. Park Service, at its worst, has not.

The Park Service has been soundly criticized for its armed raids on the hunting camp on the island, and its less than humane shooting of non-native wildlife on the island, specifically of the sheep and pigs there (where adults were shot, but not necessarily finished off - and the young were left to die of starvation), but also for numerous other blunders - such as one of its agents' unfortunate 'mistaken' shooting of a resident's horse, which he mistook for a pig. [!!!!????? Oh, come on now!]

Now the once healthy populations of island foxes are in danger. The culprit, say the scientists, is the even healthier population of golden eagles, which for some time have helped themselves to the excess baby piglets on the islands. now that the Park Service has removed the feral pigs, of course, the ever-opportunistic eagles have turned to the young island foxes.

The island foxes are seen by many as the symbol of the wild and free Channel Islands. Although they are descended from mainland foxes, over the years they have adapted to island life. They now are no larger than cats, are almost tame and seem to show no fear of humans.

In the last four years, the number of foxes on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands have dropped ninety per cent. Only six are left on San Miguel; and only a few dozen can still be found on Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz.

Biologists have blamed the demise of the current populations on DDT, and the loss of the feral pig populations. Their hypothesis: DDT and pesticide poisoning caused thinning eggshells in the bald eagle population, causing failed reproduction and consequent decrease in their population. The golden eagles then moved in to replace the bald eagle populations, who then, with the removal of the feral pig population, turned to the little foxes for their daily fare.

(Scientists, however, have offered no explanation as to why the DDT affected only the bald eagles, and left the golden eagles to flourish. None of us here are holding our breath for answers to that question. EDS.)

Further threatening the foxes is the discovery a variety of heartworm on the island, though it appears not to be a species found in North American dogs. But at any rate, now that things are in a real mess, the scientists are making a last ditch effort to save the endangered foxes.

The Park Service, which has of course has expended its annual funds on essentials like helicopter raids and ammunition to kill feral sheep and pigs, now finds itself in the embarrassing position of asking for funds for a last-ditch `save the fox' campaign.

Scientists are now calling for the removal of some twenty wild foxes from San Miguel Island for a captive breeding program, assuring them a 'safe harbor' from parasites, predators, and malnutrition. They will not be returned until environmental conditions have improved. In addition, golden eagles have been targeted for management. The same scientists and biologists who recommended removal of the feral pigs and sheep are now recommending trapping and removing golden eagles from the islands.

They are planning to replace them with bald eagles, which eat more fish than mammals. The scientists expect the bald eagles to chase away the remaining golden eagles, though no means of persuading the golden eagles to remain on the mainland have been proposed. Biologists admit, however, that chances of recovering the foxes are slim. "We might lose them. The Park Service waited too long," said zoologist Katherine Rails, a researcher for the Smithsonian Institution.

But, gee, isn't the island fox an alien intruder from the mainland, anyway?

It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature...

Letting people vote on conservation measures sometimes seems to have about as good an idea as letting scientists work out the details of saving one creature or another. Both seem, all too often, to just mess things up.

Take the case of the Washington state voters who voted for Initiative 655, which banned the use of bait when hunting bears, and banned the use of hounds in hunting bears, cougars, bobcats and lynx. The animal rights-backed measure, which passed with sixty- three per cent of the vote, is now up for grabs in the State House.

It seems that even after dropping the price of a cougar license from twenty-four dollars to only five dollars and quadrupling the length of the hunting season, hunters last year took only one quarter of the animals taken in 1995.

And the cougars took full advantage of the situation. Complaints of cougar-human encounters soared. One five-year old girl was mauled. Horses and cattle have been mauled by the creatures. A portion of the public feels it is in danger from the increased numbers of the big cats. Other factions, namely the primarily citified, well-financed and well-organized animal rights advocates, are content with the status quo.

It is the rural residents, of course, who are likely faced with the dangers, and they are out manned, out monied, and out-organized. Despite the prospect of an amendment that would delete the cougar from the list of animals that cannot be hunted with hounds, the prospect of a referendum on the issue would likely maintain things as they are now.

Then it is only a matter of time until the animal rights crowd will have to once again explain how nature taking its course is OK even if it is a human that becomes the prey animal.

BUT, of course, there might be exceptions to that rule.

In California, where voters similarly approved a measure banning the hunting of big cats, the Sierra bighorn sheep has been declared an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In California, Fish and Game officers had traditionally shot cougars that had preyed on herds of bighorns, but that came to an end with the 1990 vote. Now federal law will override state law, and problem mountain lions will again be culled.

Animal rights groups are incensed, and have called for relocation programs as an alternative to lethal measures.

And Then Politics Enters the Fray...
In Washington, DC, commuters have seen the construction on the new twelve-lane Wilson Bridge grind to a halt, when government scientists expressed fears that construction to replace the inadequate current six lane structure might disturb `subaquatic vegetation and benthic invertebrates.' i.e. waterbugs and plants. Highway officials, at the behest of Judge Stanley Sporkin, are limiting construction to October 15 through February 15 to ensure the comfort of said creatures.

Human creatures, however, currently daily embroiled in what is esoterically known as 'gridlock,' were not amused. Four senators, seven congressmen and a slew of local pols soon massed at the federal courts to protest the decision.

But true to form, the judge, while paying lip service to the fact that highway administrators had failed to quantify air emissions or other impacts that might have an adverse affect on the environment, drifted off to other issues rather than consider the human impacts.

Judge Sporkin, noticing that the highwaymen had not taken into consideration a smaller, ten lane bridge proposed by another faction, ordered the whole mess back to the drawing board. Residents of the Western states, long familiar with the effects of the ESA and creatures such as the spotted owl on timber harvest and other land use issues, are watching the scenario with a sort of restrained glee.

Meanwhile, Maryland Representative Albert Wynn and others are looking for an exemption so work on the bridge can continue. Even the judge says that the "proposal might require direct intervention by Congress, which after balancing all the public interest aspects could 'bypass' the regulatory gridlock that has developed."

That, of course, would set an interesting precedent.

Protecting Alien Species...
The Service's latest push, or scare, of you will, is the attempt to demonize so-called alien species, pursuant to President Clinton's Executive Order 13112, which he signed on February 2 of this year. This Executive Order is ostensibly designed to protect 'ecosystems' from invasion by species that might prove harmful to the environment, the economy, or to human health or safety.

Because 'native species' means a 'species that, other than as a result of an introduction, historically occurred or currently occurs in a given ecosystem,' many of our domestic pets, livestock and food plants would not qualify thereunder as native species, and would be subject to sanction under the Order.

But some 'alien species' are just that. One that has been in the news of late, for instance, is the Jackson's chameleon Chameleon jacksonii. This chameleon, the males of which resemble the triceratops in that they sport three horns on their noses, is definitely not American.

This species is one of the more common chameleons in the United States. Many of the species now here are descendants of an original population of thirty-six imported into Hawaii to be sold by pet shops as pets. The store owner released the animals into his back yard for a little R&R (to recover from dehydration suffered during their importation) after their long journey from East Africa, and the animals escaped. Soon the tree-dwelling insect and vegetation eaters were breeding successfully, and there is now a sizeable, though inbred, population of Jackson's chameleons in Hawaii.

Adults reach a size of ten to thirteen inches, and enjoy a daytime temperature of between 75 and 82 degrees. They prefer slightly cooler temperatures at night, ranging from 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Jackson's chameleons are arboreal; they have opposable toes for grasping, and their tail is prehensile. They have a long, sticky, flexible tongue that extends to one and one half times the body length, which they use to zap their prey.

Jackson's chameleons are solitary in the wild, and in captivity are best kept singly once they have reached adulthood. However, they do make excellent pets if not handled to excess, and they breed well in captivity. Many of the descendants of the original Hawaiian population have been exported to the mainland. There are rumored to be several wild populations on the mainland, around Redondo Beach, Morro Bay and San Diego, California.

But now, with Clinton's invasive species mandate,

Jackson's chameleons have found themselves on the wrong side of the welcome wagon. They, along with day geckos and green iguanas, who have also existed peaceably on the Hawaiian islands for some years now, are now the target of the islands' Department of Land and Natural Resources. (Also non¬native to Hawaii are pineapples, mangoes, and macadamia nuts — products that would adversely affect the economy should their export be halted.)

But the pet trade, or any trade in live animals is a different thing altogether. The Department has, as of March 1998, stopped issuing permits to export these animals to the mainland, and now considers the Jackson's chameleon, along with red-eared sliders, anoles and the aforementioned iguanas and geckos, as 'a potentially harmful pest species' in Hawaii.

No more Jackson's chameleons can be exported to the mainland and thus, the main source of this interesting pet has been cut off. There have even been rumors of attempts at 'population control' on the islands, but they cannot be confirmed at this time.

So-called 'environmental biologists' justify this by stating that if export is allowed, people will be motivated to release even more of the creatures into the wild, so they will procreate for sale to the pet trade. Such is the mindset of these theorists.

But most people scoff at such theory, as the demand for these animals has never been great, and a sufficient supply already exists on the islands, where those interested in the species are allowed to collect to their hearts' content.

If you catch them, they will come...

But one man's invasive species is another man's treasure. Word has come down that the species is, horror of horrors, being smuggled. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has actually interdicted a shipment of same, though the details of the 'bust' are being tightly held. According to sources, the animals were smuggled in, inside burlap bags, and the majority did not survive their journey. But the agents who confiscated the shipment sometime in April declined to give details of the seizure, or the animals' place of origin.

That in itself presents some questions, particularly for On Wings readers, who are cognizant of the way FWS generally handles news of its busts. In general, when the Service makes an arrest or a seizure, it is announced to the press in such a manner as to indicate that the Service has interdicted a major participant in a huge international smuggling ring - regardless of the fact that the violation is a minor paperwork error in an otherwise legal transaction, or the bust consists of one or two relatively unendangered species, and the importer is a naïve kid who has been virtually entrapped by FWS agents.

We are all familiar with the Service attempting to link the wildlife trade with the drug trade. An On Wings FOIA proved that the Service has never interdicted drugs in conjunction with a wildlife bust.

We further know that the Service allegations of a thriving illicit trade in parrots— one hundred to one hundred-fifty thousand parrots annually smuggled across the Mexican border, they said — was knowingly and intentionally false. Our FOIA request showed that FWS annually was interdicting only an average of one-hundred fifty birds at that border.

When FWS does not trumpet its 'victories,' there is something amiss. Are we in for another of the Service's ill-advised stings? Read between the lines. Reptile people should be vigilant.

But something else is amiss. The subject of the stories of this 'bust' was not the Service's normal PR snow job. Rather, it was a story on an organization that receives seized animals from the Service, the S.T.A.R. Foundation, a Culver City, California 'wildlife sanctuary.'  [Now called Star Eco Station; STAR Sports Theater Arts & Recreation, Inc.  EIN 95-4430228]

"The Fish and Wildlife Service relies on organizations like STAR to take its exotic hand-me-downs, because the agency does not have space for all animals and animal products seized each year from smugglers or from traders who bring in more than their permits allow," writes John Mitchell of the L.A. Times, in his piece on the rescue efforts.

But indeed, there are procedures at hand for dealing with confiscated animals. Birds, for instance, are routinely sold at USDA auction after a required period of quarantine. And in this respect, the Star Foundation had come to our attention in the past.

Over a year ago, we obtained their literature. "S.T.A.R. Exploration Children's Museum is a one of a kind interactive experience which teaches the importance of preserving the environment and protecting our wildlife. Working in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the (California) Department of Fish and Game, the Exploration Station has been designated an official Wildlife Sanctuary...

...Our Museum staff has been selected by the U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife to deliver their educational assemblies to schools. This is a great honor for our organization. As a result of this collaborative effort we have been entrusted a rare collection of Rainforest artifacts that is on exhibit exclusively at our museum."

One of our California operatives furnished photographs of the Star Foundation. The picture is of a small store front in a strip mall. Not what most of us would think of as a wildlife sanctuary. Even the term "wildlife sanctuary" calls up images of earth, trees, water and lots of fresh air - not a drab, stuffy enclosed space.

At this time, we are looking into a reptile seizure. So I called S.T.A.R. to do the appropriate research. A young employee of the Foundation informed me that S.T.A.R. was a non-profit organization. There were, she said, approximately fifteen hundred Jackson's chameleons seized, of which their facility received two hundred. She had no knowledge of the details of the seizure. The animals they got at S.T.A.R. were all 'sick,' she said, and many died, but others pulled through and were already breeding.

I asked about the birds that are resident at the S.T.A.R. Museum location. The young woman was not knowledgeable about birds, but was able to tell me that the facility had several cockatoos and a couple of green birds. In addition, they had four finches. Interestingly, she told me the same story that our investigator had heard earlier when she toured the facility. The Cordon bleu finches had been 'smuggled' in from the Netherlands— allegedly wrapped in tissue paper and stuffed in pvc pipes. Of some fifty birds, only four survived, as the story goes.

Our investigator was told that the birds' beaks were taped shut for their journey. In addition. we were told how 'sick' the birds were, as if to excuse the huge mortality rate, but presumably, this mortality would have occurred after the birds had left the required USDA quarantine.

I was given a name and number of the son of the owner of the facility to call for more detailed information, and I did make that call. I spoke with Erick Bozzi, a young man full of enthusiasm and zeal for his stated mission at the Foundation: that is, education of the public in a collaborative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His goal was to supplement law enforcement education, with the hands-on teaching of his family's non-profit, privately funded organization.

But how that is accomplished is the subject of some concern to us here at OW. It seems the young Mr. Bozzi was present, with the USFWS agents, when the Jackson's chameleons were seized. His role there is unclear, and at first look smacks of some conflict of interest.

Are the two hundred Jackson's chameleons he received, some of which his organization will be 'adopting out,' to be viewed as a payoff or some kind of ticket to increased donations? Or is the Foundation taking these animals as a favor to an overextended government agency eager to do the right thing?

The young man's apparent mindset so troubled me that I was moved to I ask him what pets he kept himself. He said he kept none. "I don't believe that animals should be kept as pets," he told me flatly.

He continued to tell me that if it were up to him, CITES would not allow the export of any native wildlife from any country whatsoever. Leave them where they are, he continued. Man has messed up this world enough, and has destroyed enough biodiversity.

This is the mindset of the agency the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is supporting: NO PETS, whatsoever. No zoos, no wildlife parks. Obviously, no bird breeding for the pet trade. Only captive breeding for conservation purposes, and ONLY conservation purposes.

"Education through Preservation" is the motto of the S.T.A.R. Foundation. They are preserving the wildlife from us.

But still, life is never that simple. I told you we were looking at the S.T.A.R. Foundation over a year ago.

The USFWS Supports Cooperative Breeding Programs, Or Does It?

On August 23, 1997, a shipment of sixty-two Yellow- bibbed lories Lorius chlorocercus arrived from the Solomon Islands at the Port of Los Angeles, accompanied by a CI1ES certificate for sixty-two birds. The United States Wild Bird Conservation Act permit allowed for the import of only sixty Yellow-bibbed lories.

Frequently, overseas exporters include several extra birds in a shipment, to compensate for birds dead on arrival, as happened in this case. The Service confiscates these birds — the live ones, that is, not the DOA's. The Los Angeles FWS agent informed the broker meeting the shipment that the USFWS intended to seize the excess two birds after quarantine. The owner of the birds later indicated that he would abandon the birds to the USFWS, as is common procedure in these circumstances.

But with that abandonment form, he included a letter on The International Loriinae Society letterhead, expressing his concerns on the matter:

"November 21, 1997

Walter W. Osburn
Supervisory Wildlife Inspector USDI/USF&WS
Division of Law Enforcement 370 Amapola Ave. – Suite 114 Torrence, CA 90501

Dear Mr. Osborn:

I have enclosed the document which you sent me with your letter dated November the 14th. I have signed and dated it.

Although the two Yellow-bibbed lories were not supposed to have been shipped the exporter felt that the two extra lories would be insured in case there were any deaths. Unfortunately the lories were shipped while I was doing a bird survey or the two extra lories would not have been in the shipment.

Hence, I am very interested in the dispensation of the two lories. If the lories are going to be auctioned off I would very much like to know hat. In addition if the lories are placed with a zoo I would also like to know that. My reasons are very simple. It has taken several years to put this program together. This is an approved Cooperative Breeding program approved by the USFWS. It is the first program where funds from half the young reared will be returned to the Solomon Islands, specifically to the Solomon Islands Parrot Consortium, for use by Solomon Islands college students for avian research in their country and for use in setting up national parks and reserves. So as you can see we have a big program ahead of us.

The above is just a short note for your information. I would very much appreciate being informed of the final disposition of the two Yellow-bibbed lories and will look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,
Jan Roger van Oosten Director of Conservation

And were Mr. van Oosten's wishes honored? Did the Service honor the wishes of the Cooperative, and did the Service do its best to aid conservation programs in countries of origin, as mandated by the Wild Bird Conservation Act?

Long before Mr. van Oosten put pen to paper, the Service had seized the birds from USDA quarantine. By the tenth of October, the birds had been handed over to the S.T.A.R. Foundation, signed for by the aforementioned young Mr. Bozzi. The formal donation process (paperwork) was completed on 1/23/98.

There was no auctioning of the birds. They were not considered for a zoo, and any subsequent breeding situation which might benefit their country of origin. They were donated to a facility that had no knowledge of their husbandry, and no concept of their value in conservation. They were kept in the tiny museum facility we have shown you, and left to become fodder for the entertainment of noisy school children.

As previously mentioned, one of our investigators went to the facility in the spring. There the and inarguably belong in a breeding situation. She was told these birds had been smuggled, which of course, they were not. She was also told the rather far-fetched story of the smuggled finches from the Netherlands - likely similarly forfeited as a count overage.

Unfortunately, when I asked about the lories' condition as of this date, I was told there was only one lory remaining. Indeed, Bozzi informed me that the bird was a Sulfur bibbed lory, which I might have misheard, but nonetheless cannot identify.

I informed the gentleman of the species and origin of the bird, now apparently known as Kiwi, and the circumstance of its acquisition confirmed that this was indeed one of the birds in question. He apparently had been laboring under the belief that the birds had been imported under less than hones circumstances, and I was careful to make clear that this was not the case.

So here we are, back to square one. The S.T.A.R. Foundation given wildlife, specifically birds, that would be of greater benefit elsewhere. And two hundred relatively inexpensive chameleons that have the potential to be 'invasive species' under Clinton's Executive Order, have gone to an institution that not only does not specialize in reptiles, but opening advocates against keeping them as pets. Now they are handing them out for adoption to a school.

This same organization, that advocates captive breeding only for conservation reasons, has taken a pair of birds that rightly and arguably belong in a breeding situation.

Those birds would surely have been placed in one had the agents of the USFWS had the best interests of the birds in mind, Not only has this not happened, but S.T.A.R. has already has lost one of the pair, something that might not have happened had competent aviculturists been handling the birds.

Indeed, the very setup of the facility — the proximity of a large number of reptiles alongside these birds, — likely facilitates the transmission of non-species-specific bacterial pathogens common among reptiles that might adversely affect not only the resident birds, but the schoolchildren that frequently tour the facility.

Clearly this is not a place for rare birds.

Something is very wrong with the mindset of the Service that they care so little for the captive propagation of endangered species that they proceed with so inappropriate a placement. They, in their disregard for the welfare of the animals they are charged with protecting, stand in brazen violation of the very spirit of the Wild Bird Conservation Act.

They stand in brazen violation of the laws of simple decency as well, and until a workable formula for the proper placement of seized animals is developed, animals will be the losers for it.

Congress charged the Service with ensuring that the Wild Bird Conservation Act did not deter captive breeding. Yet I can think of no more apt description of the Service's decision to turn this rare pair of birds over to an institution so ill-equipped to handle them, than as the blatant and reckless deterrence of captive breeding.

The Service knowingly and deliberately put rare and valuable birds in a clearly unsatisfactory situation. There can be no reasonable explanation for this other than that the Service does not respect aviculture's captive breeding efforts. But that isn't news, is it? We have hearings coming up. Let us use them wisely. Regards, Judy

Reads the party line propaganda: Invading non-indigenous species (NIS) cause major environmental damage and public health problems in the U.S., costing taxpayers more than $122 billion yearly. More than 30,000 species are foreign to our country and the num¬ber is increasing as the human population grows and trade and travel increases.Nearly 42% of the species on the ESA threatened and endangered species list are at risk because of these NIS. So reads the beginning paragraph of a report written by several authors with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

The alien species scare is the latest gimmick in the green bag of tricks. This new "catastrophe," endorsed by President Clinton's own Executive Order 13112, is sure to cause the politically gullible to once again blindly leap aboard the green bandwagon.

Whether they are called exotic, alien, introduced, non-indigenous, non-native or invasive species — they are all synonyms for species that humans have intentionally or unintentionally introduced into an area outside of a species' natural range. Following the example of our own chief executive, we must ask that he define what a "natural range" is. What exactly does "not native to that ecosystem" mean or rather, how will the courts interpret those words? Therein lies the real threat and danger to our land.

I can't help but think of the convoluted way in which, under the ESA, a small population of a specie is considered a separate sub-specie merely because it has made its home in a specially separate and human-defined habitat. Never mind that the specie is thriving and has stable, healthy populations elsewhere.

EO 13122 defines "alien species" as any species including its seeds, eggs, spores or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem." "Ecosystem" is defined as "the complex of a community of organisms and its environment." This very vague language leaves the door wide open for all manner of absurd legal rulings and maneuverings.

What exactly is an invasive species? Federal legislators and overzealous FWS law enforcement agents immediately come to mind. But that is just me. Come to think of it, technically aren't all of us in the United States — with the exception of the Native Americans — invasive species?

Wasn't it the white settlers who brought scores of non-indigenous species with them to the New World such as domesticated animals, seeds for non-native crops and even the diseases prevalent to Europeans during that time? In fact, this exchange of "alien species" between countries and cultures has been going on since the dawn of civilization.

Executive Order 113112 is dangerous because it is so overly broad in scope that it is subject to any interpretation the environmental lobby chooses to give it. Traditionally, eradication of noxious plants and dangerous insects and animals has been taken care of under numerous state and federal and local laws that have been proven effective for safeguarding our native plants and wildlife.

Let me emphasize that statement. There are numerous laws already on the books to take care of any problems caused by alien, invasive species.

As with many of Clinton's previous executive orders, I predict that EO 13112 will be used to usurp more power for the federal government. This time more federal controls will be imposed over all public and private land use. What will be the roles of the "stakeholders," defined as state, tribal and local government agencies, academic institutions, the scientific community, non-governmental entities including environmental, agricultural and conservation organizations, trade groups, commercial interests and private landowners!

What will happen when an invasive specie, such as a nonnative weed, is found on someone's private property? Who do you suppose will be held responsible for the expensive, federally implemented eradication procedure? What happens if the landowner cannot meet the imposed requirements? Will he be fined or imprisoned? Will his land be forfeited to the government and then be allocated to applicable buffer zones and t regions? If the history of past federal laws pertaining to the environment are reliable indicators, these scenarios are very likely.  [There are cities where the common hedge, or privet, has been deemed invasive and illegal to grow!]

Some even speculate that EO 13112 could eventually outlaw ownership of domestic pets, exotic or otherwise. After all this Order does not define "domestic species" whatsoever. Dogs, cats and livestock could be considered alien since technically, they are not native to this hemisphere.

The Invasive Species Council, established by Clinton's executive order, is comprised of the secretaries of the State, Treasury, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and the administrator of the EPA.

This is serious business, folks. The council will prepare an Invasive Species Management Plan in the next 18 months which will "detail and recommend performance-oriented goals and objectives in specific measures of success for Federal agency efforts concerning invasive species."

If that last sentence sounded intimidating, wait until you read this one: "If the recommended measures are not authorized by current law, the Council shall recommend to the President any legislative proposals for the necessary changes in authority."

Our federal government, ever eager to expand its authority and control, is actually encouraging the council to make even more laws! We should all be greatly concerned how future "invasive species laws" will affect the Interstate Commerce Clause, especially for our domestic animals and pets.

This executive order doesn't just seek to regulate federal land either. It encompasses state, federal, Indian and private lands. The Invasive Species order will seek to extend its management plans across huge areas of land, no matter who it belongs to.

Of the 28 people of the Council, all are federal employees with the exception of one individual from the private sector, who happens to also be a private land owner. Who do you think will be most affected by the Invasive Species Order? Who is under-represented in the committee? Whose rights and freedoms will be sacrificed?

Time will prove my predictions right or wrong, but don't be surprised if you one day read about such things happening in our country.

This Trojan Horse looks good on the outside as it rolls along the road paved with good intentions. However, you have been warned, so don't be shocked when these invaders crawl out of the woodwork to once again bind and gag the unsuspecting American public with even more red tape.

FWS in the Classroom: Operation: Green Outreach
Imagine my surprise when I ran across a post from a woman who taught at a U.S. university. She wrote that the FWS took over instructor's classes in science methods for several weeks in order to "make the subject easier for future science teachers." FWS employees actually provided the instruction and the class room materials.

What have we here? Government agencies administering what will and will not be taught? It appears that is exactly what is happening and I find it quite disturbing.

Here is what I found on the FWS Division of Education netsite:

"The Division of Education provides technical assistance in environmental and conservation education for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal, state and tribal governments as well as not-for-profit institutions and private enterprise."

"Conservation Education Packs are available for teachers and are developed and produced in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and field tested by teachers. These packs are designed to provide teachers (4th - 7th grade level) and other educators with factual information about wildlife, habitat and resource management. CD-ROMs will soon be available from the Division of Training & Education Materials Production."

One FWS Education and Outreach netsite listed numerous courses. Here are a few of the titles: Advanced Media Relations; Basics of Working with the News Media; Congress and the Field Office; Public Outreach, Dealing with Controversial Issues; Developing Festivals and Special Events; Environmental Education Methods and Training the Trainer to Use the Environmental Education Materials Guideline.

Let us only hope against hope that their educational materials are not as misleading and full of misrepresentations as the FWS LE press releases have been! This bad boy has cried "Wolf!" so many times that it is difficult to believe anything the Service would print.

For instance, let's examine Course #OUT8161:
"Developing Teacher Training. This course presents the essential components of working with schools, specifically on conducting teacher training and implementing education programs through school systems. The course culminates with participants applying their skill at an actual teacher workshop. Upon return to their duty station, participants are also expected to plan and conduct a workshop for teachers within one year."

I wonder if it is mandatory for FWS employees to take a number of these courses? If not, I bet they are "encouraged" to do so. This is social engineering by our by our government at its most efficient.

First they brainwash their drones, and then they send them out into the community to infiltrate our schools and colleges in order indoctrinate teachers into their party line. The trickle down affect eventually reaches the main target — our future generations.

The main objective of the previously described 32-hour course, is to "assist teachers in integrating environmental education into their curriculum." Interesting, but vague. What they are doing is providing teachers with the Service's own peculiar and biased brand of environmental poppycock. Remember, the FWS is in charge of propagating and enforcing rules and regulations under numerous Acts and U.S. Statutes. Their "educational" materials cannot help but reflect information that would further their agenda and insure their agency's continued budget allocations.

What about Course #OUT8165: Earth Stewards - An orientation?
"This course provides an orientation to the Earth Stewards program, a con¬servation education partnership program jointly developed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Conservation Training Center. Central to the program is the partnership between a FWS or USGS site and a neighborhood school. One of the objectives is to outline a plan for promoting the program with local media."

Here is another course which is offered. Course #OUT8162: Education Programs for youth: After-School, Weekends and Summers. "You will design comprehensive ecosystem/wildlife study programs for youth in non-formal settings such as wildlife refuges, outdoor camps and after school/week-end/summer programs. Learn about available teaching materials, refining teaching techniques and designing complete study units and developing programs. This course is offered in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation's NatureQuest program, which provides camps and youth programs with specialized environmental awareness program certification and accreditation."

The National Wildlife Federation? Well, why not? They certainly have the money to contribute to the FWS Education and Outreach Programs and they have partnered with FWS on numerous school projects. They have also sued the FWS and other DOI agencies on numerous occasions in order to list a new "endangered" specie or to accomplish other matters in accordance with their agenda. They too, have numerous "educational outreach" programs such as the Backyard Wildlife Habitat, the Schoolyard Habitat, Teen Wildlife Camp and the Green Home is a Healthy Home campaigns.

Like the Audubon Society, the NWF has headquarters in every state and regional field offices to further strengthen their organization. They receive thousands of tax free contributions yearly. Two of their separate branches are highly effective to promoting their green philosophy — NWF Productions and the Communication Department. Both are involved with TV and mass media productions as well as interfacing with all levels of the media.

The green groups are powerful, well-funded and wield great influence on governmental agencies. In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell them apart from the governmental agencies they all but influence and control. The FWS has integrated many of the green movement's tactics into their own day-to-day operating procedures. Now the Service is following the environmental movement's lead by implementing their own educational outreach programs.

Though most of the Service curricula for educator "training" sounds harmless enough, is it just a camel in disguise trying to find a way under the tent? Once these types of programs are permanently entrenched in our class rooms, it is very likely the educational content will become even more extreme and self-serving to the FWS.

Green for the Greens from the Greens

Not to be left out, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also awards challenge grants for conservation programs using federal appropriated funds. During 1986 to 1998, NFWF has awarded 2,550 grants using over $100 million in federal funds that were matched with nonfederal dollars of over $300 million. This nonprofit organization, by law, cannot use federal appropriations for any of its operating expenses.

One of their primary projects is "The Conservation Education Initiative." This program provides educators access to conservation materials, funds community-based conservation programs and encourages youth to pursue conservation careers. It also brings first-time conservation education to multi-cultural communities.

You might find the NFWF Wildlife Links program extremely intriguing. The NFWF has formed a partnership with the U.S. Golf Association, which in turn, contributes about $200,000 annually to the program. Since the program began in 1996, eight projects, committing nearly $500,000 have been funded to enhance wildlife conservation on golf courses.

Though the program has little to do with the government sponsored education issue, I though you might find it interesting. You cannot say that our bureaucrats lack creativity and imagination when it comes to find¬ing ways to spend our tax dollars.

The FWS Has Many Allies
One of the allies they cultivate are zoos. At one American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) annual conference, USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark, AZA President David Towne and AZA Executive Director Sydney J. Butler signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would help provide wildlife protection in a new ways. Towne was quoted as saying, "The AZA has long worked with dedicated professionals at the Service toward species recovery. This MOU will strengthen the ties of science-based programs and the potential for development of public education and outreach programs is enormous when approached cooperatively."

Jamie Clark added, "It is appropriate that this MOU is being signed at the beginning of the school year because the partnership among zoos, aquariums and the Service is of particular benefit to educators and students. As children head back to school, they can look forward to increasing educational opportunities on critical issues facing our Nation's fish and wildlife."

Indeed. Or is it that our nation's Fish and Wildlife Service can look forward to increasing their own opportunities to establish educational curricula within our schools?

Myth Conceptions About Chief Seattle

On Wings, December 1999

The Making of an Eco-Icon

"Chief Seattle" was an Indian of the Suquamish tribe which lived in the Pacific Northwest. He was named and known as Sealth by the members of his tribe, and he had inherited the honorary title of "chief" `given by his father. Most of what we have been taught about this native American is based upon conjecture and extrapolation. Chief Seattle has been credited for many inspirational quotes which he never made.

Sealth did make his mark as a warrior, orator and diplomat, however. He tried to organize and increase cooperation within and between the 42 various factions of the Salish people that inhabited Puget Sound in the early 1800's, and those factions did include his own Suquamish tribe.

In 1855, an adventurer and entrepreneur arrived in Puget Sound, intent on making a fortune. Dr. David "Doc" Maynard soon obtained a large parcel of land and began to give it away to establish his settlement. "Doc" opened a trading post and Sealth became one of his best customers. Doc named his new "city" after the Indian, but Sealth was not that pleased. He was convinced he would turn in his grave every time the name "Seattle" was spoken.

As more and more settlers arrived, the Suquamish were aggressively displaced. The Indians retaliated and acts of violence on both sides escalated. The Washington Territorial Governor, Issac Stevens was called in to quell the discontent. However, Stevens was of the opinion that "the only good Indian was a dead Indian."

Acre by acre the white man bought up the land and removed the Indians to reservations. In December 1854, Stevens addressed the town of Seattle and Sealth replied with a speech which we shall see has been resurrected and embellished many times since those days long ago.

According to accounts, Sealth did give a powerful speech in 1854 in his native dialect, but final translations were not made or published until 30 years later. When the Port Madison Treaty, which permanently moved the Suquamish to a reservation across the sound from Seattle, was signed, Sealth spoke publicly again. His remarks were brief and provide a more accurate example of a true "Chief Seattle speech." It has been noted that Indian speeches of that era more often reflect the literary aspirations of the recorder rather than the actual words of the orator. (Note: Among some of the more glaring discrepancies is the fact that there were no buffalo in the Pacific Northwest; neither were whippoorwills indigenous to that area. The transcontinental railroad was not completed until 15 years after the 1854 speech.)

Three years after the Port Madison Treaty was signed, the old and impoverished Sealth spoke on the record for the last time. He asked why the treaty did not honor its provisions for the tribe and anguished over why the Indians were left to die in poverty. He told listeners, "I have been very poor and hungry all winter and am very sick now. In a little while I will die. When I do, my people will be very poor; they will have no property, no chief and no one to talk for them."

The Suquamish Indian we now call Chief Seattle died in 1866. He is buried in a small cemetery behind St. Peter'sCatholic Church on Washington's Kitsap Peninsula.

Is Nothing Sacred? Reviving and Revising the Past

During the 1970's, the environmental movement resurrected old Chief Seattle and credited him with speeches, flowering with eco-sentiments. Many devotees consider the modern versions of these "speeches" to be gospel. Those versions refer to things Sealth had no knowledge of, including trains, whippoorwills and the slaughter of buffalo. The texts generally have four main variants, each with its own phrasing, wording. These variations are often contradictory, just like the green literature we read today.

Dr. Henry J. Smith, a surgeon, is credited with translating the 1854 speech made by Sealth in response to Governor Stevens's speech, but he did so more than thirty years after the actual event. Dr. Smith was known to have a fondness for Victorian poetry. (His pen name was Paul Garland.) All the other speeches are based upon Smith's "transcription." Smith's version first appeared in the October 29, 1887 issue of the Seattle Sunday Star.

Sealth had refused to learn the white man's ways or his language. Smith himself only heard a transliteration of Sealth's speech which had first been translated from the Lushotseed language into the Chinook jargon and finally into English. Much of the original speech was lost or embellished along the way to the English version and it is likely Smith added his own personal touches to that.

By 1931, one Clarence B. Bagley published "Chief Seattle's speech" with his own additions. The next year, John M. Rich published a booklet entitled Chief Seattle's Unanswered Challenge, which follows the Smith text but with minor changes. Another revision was done in 1969 by the poet William Arrowsmith who "translated" from the Victorian English of Smith.

In 1971,W.0 Vanderworth published his version in Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian Chieftains. Yet another version was displayed at the 1974 Spokane Expo. This version was shorter and bore the title, Letter to President Franklin Pierce. The differences between the original Smith version and the 1970's versions are striking. The new age versions have all been accepted as Chief Seattle's speech.

The Letter to President Franklin Pierce version was traced to screenwriter Ted Perry. With permission, he used the Arrowsmith version to write a new, fictitious speech for a 1972 movie. Home was a film about pollution and ecology which was produced by the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission. The film's producers revised Perry's script without his knowledge, removed his name from the film credits and sent off 18,000 posters with the speech to viewers who requested it.

Though Mr. Perry tried to set the record straight, the myth of Chief Seattle's speech continues. Perry's version appears in Bill Moyer's The Power of Myth as well as the PBS "Journal" program.

The eco-homilies in Perry's version have been widely quoted in books, on TV and from the pulpit. Earth Day organizers asked religious leaders around the world to read the "Perry speech." Excerpts from the "Seattle speech" have been quoted by everyone from Al Gore to Ted Turner. A children's book named Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle has sold in excess of 280,000 copies. It was one of ten nominees for the American Booksellers Association's Abby award. (The Abby was once given to The Education of Little Tree, which was supposed to be an autobiography of Forrest Carter — a man who claimed to be raised by two wise Cherokee grandparents. It just so happened that Forrest Carter was in reality Asa Carter, a notorious white supremacist. Even so, the book continues to sell thousands of copies!)

Even the only known photograph of Chief Seattle has been doctored repeatedly. In the original his eyes were closed but subsequent versions were retouched so that they looked open. In other versions he carries a cane and in the last revisionist makeover, his head was grafted onto the body of another man.

The eco-sermon credited to Chief Seattle is moving and inspirational though it is unlikely Sealth spoke in such poetic terms nearly a century and a half ago.

To be sure, the public's appetite for environmentally correct Native Americans is little more than its cultural exploitation of them. Many Native Americans feel like their spiritual traditions have been stolen and patronized to promote the white man's theories and political agenda, and they are not wrong.

Chief Seattle never said:

"The earth is our mother."

"I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train."

"Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."

"What is there to life if a man cannot hear the lovely cry of a whippoorwill."

"The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man."

"Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth."

Ted Perry's Version

Entitled: Letter of Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe to the President of the U.S., Franklin Pierce, 1854.

The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer, for we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself. But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace.

It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our warriors have felt shame, and after defeat they turn their days in idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong drinks. It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. They are not many. A few more hours, a few more winters, and none of the great tribes that once lived on this earth or that roam now in small bands in the woods will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours. But why should I mourn the passing of my people? Tribes are made of men, nothing more. Men come and go, like the waves of the sea. Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man; and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. This earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and beginning of survival. So we will consider your offer to buy the land.

If we agree, it will be to secure the reservation you have promised. There, perhaps we may live out our brief days as we wish. When the last red man has vanished from this earth, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people. For they love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell our, love it as we've loved it. Care for it as we've cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you take it. And with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart, preserve it for your children, and love it, as God loves us all. One thing we know, Our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see.

The Indians' Night Promises to be Dark
Chief Seattle's
Reply to Governor Steven's Speech
Interpreted by Dr. Henry Smith

Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The White Chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great-and I presume-good White Chief send us word that he wishes to buy our lands but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.

There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.

Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man first began to push our forefathers westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.

Our good father at Washington-for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north our great good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors so that our ancient enemies far to the northward, the Hydas and Tsimpsians-will cease to frighten our women, children and old men. Then in reality will he be our father and we his children, but can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine. He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the pale face and leads him by the hand as a father leads his infant son-but He has forsaken His red children-if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax strong every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man's God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness. If we have a common heavenly father He must be partial-for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave your laws but had no word for his red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.

To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting-place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tables of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend nor remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors, the dreams of our old men, given them in the solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and it is written in the hearts of our people.

Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander way beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget the beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender, fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return form the Happy Hunting Ground to visit, guide, console and comfort them.

Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun.

However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will return to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.

It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indians' night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he goes he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.

A few more moons. A few more winters-and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people-once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend with friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than to yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy-hearted maidens, and even our little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There is no honor in the DEATH of truth.


On Wings
March 2000

The Early Indian Resistance Movement
Geronimo, or Goyathlay as he was known to his tribe, was born in 1829 in what is now the western New Mexico/eastern Arizona area (accounts vary as to his actual birthplace.) At that time this land was Mexican territory. His family roots sprang from the Bedonkohe and Chiricahua Apache clans.

Geronimo was a brave Apache warrior who battled the U.S. federal government for 25 years before being forcibly brought under its dominion. For Native Americans, his name has become synonymous with determination and courage and for fighting the good fight in the face of adversity. Against overwhelming odds, this man resisted and eluded capture by U.S. troops again and again. His people looked up to him and the tribal leaders valued his wisdom. At the early age of 17, he was admitted to the warrior's council and even tribal chiefs sought his advice on important matters.

Spanish colonies were firmly established in Geronimo's native homeland by the time the first American settlers arrived. The Spanish had no qualms about capturing Indians for slave labor. At the age of 29, Geronimo experienced a tragedy that forever changed his life. Returning home from a trading excursion in 1858, he learned that his wife, his mother and his three young children had been murdered by Spanish troops. Having lost everything he held most sacred in the world, he vowed to kill as many non-Indians as he could. He terrorized Mexican settlements and murdered his enemy at every opportunity. He earned the name Geronimo from the Mexicans and was known for boldly running towards well-armed soldiers with only a knife for protection. Apaches claimed he possessed powers that protected him from bullets.

When the white settlers began moving into the area, they sought to take the Apache lands for themselves. Geronimo and other Indians resisted and fought the invaders. They raided forts, took food and ammunition and killed anyone who dared to stop them. The settlers considered them bloodthirsty and ignorant savages who were less than human, yet I doubt if they would have acted differently had the situations been reversed.

Problems began in earnest in1863 when a "treaty of peace" was struck between the Apaches and the U.S. government. The government promised them blankets, supplies, flour, beef and all manner of provisions. Geronimo, although well respected and admired, was not the chief. He wisely opposed the plan and advised the tribe they should not trust the government. However, the promises made by the government were too tempting for the hungry and weary Indians.

Part of the tribe left with the chief for their new settlement at Apache Tejo, New Mexico. Geronimo remained in Arizona with the rest of the tribe. Should the white men keep the treaty faithfully, then Geronimo and his band would join the others. However, Geronimo's group had given almost all of their arms and ammunition to the Indians going to Apache Tejo, just in case there was treachery on the white man's part. Not long after their departure, word arrived that the Indians that had left with the soldiers had been brutally slain. Even though Geronimo was unsure if the rumors were true, he and the others retreated into the mountains near Apache Pass just in case the soldiers planned to return and kill them.

Sure enough, three weeks later while they were on their journey to the Pass, they were attacked by U.S. troops who killed seven of their band. The Indians were outgunned and had to fight well-armed soldiers using mostly spears, bows and arrows. The Indians retreated, scattered and met about 50 miles from the battle ground. Ten days later the same troops attacked their new campsite and the Apache were forced to defend themselves with rocks and clubs. For over ten years, Geronimo's people fought in numerous such skirmishes and somehow managed to evade capture.

During this time, the U.S. government had established a system of reservations so they could keep the Indians under control and take their land from them. In 1876, over 4,000 Apaches including Geronimo and his band were forcibly captured and relocated to a reservation in San Carlos, New Mexico that was nicknamed "Hell's Forty Acres." The 4,000 Apaches at San Carlos were deprived of their tribal rights, were short on rations and longed for their freedom. Geronimo and 700 other Apaches revolted, left the reservation and resumed their war against the white colonists and the US Army.

US General Crook was called to Arizona to capture Geronimo. Crook relentlessly hunted and pursued Geronimo and his followers. After two years of continual harassment, Geronimo surrendered only when he found himself and his people outnumbered and exhausted. After a year on the rez, Geronimo and a smaller band of Indians escaped from San Carlos again. Crook resumed his pursuit. After ten months of running and fighting, Geronimo surrendered in Mexican Territory. However, he feared that they all would be murdered once they crossed into the U.S. and so they fled to the Sonora Mountains.

General Nelson Miles replaced Crook in 1886 as commander and with the aid of 5,000 white soldiers, 3,000 Mexican soldiers and 500 Indian scouts, employed at various times in the final campaign to capture Geronimo, tracked and pursued the tormented Indians for over 1,600 miles. Five months later, Miles finally caught up with Geronimo and set up a conference in which he persuaded Geronimo to surrender. Miles promised the Indians that after an exile in Florida, they would be permitted to return to Arizona. He lied.

Instead, Geronimo and the Chiracahua Apaches were severely punished and spent 30 years as prisoners of war. Geronimo and 450 Apache men, women and children were shipped by boxcar like cattle to Florida for imprisonment in Fort Marion and Fort Pickens. After a year of hard labor, they were transported to the Mt. Vernon Barracks in Alabama where a fourth of them succumbed to and died from tuberculosis and other diseases. It was in this place of misery and woe that Geronimo reunited with his family. In 1894, the remaining Apaches and Geronimo were "relocated" to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. None of these Indians would ever see their western homeland again.

Geronimo, Defeated: A Sideshow and Tourist Attraction
In Fort Sill, Geronimo settled into life as a rancher and tried to follow the white man's road. He joined the Dutch Reformed Church, but was expelled because of his love of gambling. During the last years of his life, this legendary warrior was put on display at various expositions throughout the country.

When Geronimo went to the St. Louis World's Fair, he was kept like some circus animal or war souvenir, in the custody of members in charge of the Indian Department. By special permission of the War Department, he was allowed to sell his handiwork and photographs of himself at expositions. He sold his photos for 25 cents and was allowed to keep ten cents. He sold his autograph for ten, fifteen or twenty-five cents and could keep all that money.

In St. Louis, he was invited into people's homes, but his keepers would not allow him to go. For six months, Geronimo performed rope tricks every Sunday in the Wild West show for the crowded audiences. Geronimo is often remembered for riding in a Cadillac during the many parades held to celebrate that World's Fair. He made many similar appearances across the nation and even rode in President Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural parade.

Geronimo appealed to President Roosevelt to be allowed to return to his homeland so he could die there and be buried with his ancestors, but the request was denied. During the winter of 1909, the 85 year old Geronimo fell off his horse and remained in a ditch until the next day. He caught pneumonia and died on February 17, 1909. His gravesite is located at the Fort Sill Museum in Oklahoma.

Geronimo's Headdress
Once Again, the Federal Government Counts Coup

Wasn't it enough that Geronimo was finally defeated by the U.S. federal government? Wasn't it enough that he spent nearly 30 years as a war prisoner? Wasn't it enough that he died a without seeing his beloved homeland? Or that he was not allowed to be buried with his ancestors? Apparently not. The feds had to have his eagle feather headdress, too, and their methods for getting what they want haven't changed much in 200 years.

In 1907, the old Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory (O.T. and I.T.) were on the brink of merging in order to enter statehood as Oklahoma. Festivities were planned in Indian Territory complete with a carnival, Wild West show, midway, beauty contest and an event known as "The Last Pow-Wow." Geronimo was invited to attend, and U.S. Army Scout and Texas Ranger "Mustang Jack" (John) Moore who was half Indian, accompanied Geronimo from Ft. Sill in southwestern Oklahoma to Collinsville in northeastern Oklahoma. (The Indians' name for Jack Moore was John Gray Eagle.)

Among the Plains tribes, an eagle feather headdress is a symbol of honor and accomplishment. The Cheyenne tribe presented Geronimo with a full-length eagle feather chief's bonnet, replete with 48 golden eagle feathers. Geronimo wore it with great pride and dignity during the Indian ceremonies.

However, Geronimo was not allowed to keep the eagle feather headdress as a prisoner at Fort Sill. He gave the bonnet to his friend, "John Gray Eagle" Moore who would later give it to his good friend, C. W. Deming, an Oklahoma oil man.

What You Can Do with Eagle Feathers
Geronimo's feather headdress has remained in the Deming family for over seventy years. The heirloom is well documented by newspaper clippings, letters and even a notarized statement prepared by C. W.'s wife. Until last October, the headdress was in the possession of Leighton Deming, a personal injury lawyer in Georgia.

For nearly 25 years, Leighton Deming had tried to loan or donate this historical headdress to a museum, only asking that he receive a receipt for the value of the headdress for tax purposes. Throughout the years, he has contacted over 50 museums, but none wanted to risk the hassle of dealing with the FWS regarding the complex wildlife laws involved with Indian antiquities and eagle feathers. In 1993, Deming negotiated with the Smithsonian who at first said they would take the headdress and give him a $2 million receipt. They later backed out because even they feared that the FWS may seize the headdress and subject them to fines. Another curator at a Cherokee Indian museum appraised the headdress at $1 million and though this museum also wanted to display the headdress, they too, backed away from the opportunity.

Besides all the laws regarding eagle feathers and migratory birds and so forth, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has made it difficult for museums to legally exhibit Indian artifacts. The Act was originally created to protect Native American antiquities, gravesites and artifacts from being taken from Indian lands. However, this federal statute has become broader and broader in scope and now covers all such items, no matter where they may be found.

For instance, a May 28, 1999 Federal Register notice published by the Department of Interior, National Park Service was issued in compliance with the NAGPRA concerning an Indian artifact collected on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in 1910 for the American Museum of Natural History. This item (a San Carlos Apache cap made of buckskin, feathers, beads, pigment and thread) has been in the museum's possession for 90 years. However, the San Carlos Apache Tribe wants this cap returned and are requesting that it be repatriated to them.

Before this notice, the FWS had to be contacted regarding the applicability of the MBTA, the Bald and Golden Eagle Act Protection and the ESA to this item. They held that due to its age, the cultural item was not subject to those laws and could be repatriated to the tribe. Unfortunately, the FWS does not apply this legal reasoning in a consistent manner, especially when individual private property rights are involved.

After numerous museums turned down his offers, Leighton Deming contacted the Library of Congress and wrote to his congressman asking for advice on how to legally donate this Indian/avian artifact. Supposedly his congressman investigated and researched the matter and told him there was no problem -- he could do what he wanted with the headdress. Deming knew that the law clearly stated he could not sell the headdress since it consisted of golden eagle feathers. However, he also knew that this headdress pre-dated all of those wildlife laws. If we apply logic and common sense, those laws do not apply because even if Deming sold the headdress, wild eagle populations would not be harmed -- and the intent behind those laws was to protect live eagle and bird populations.

This 56-year old attorney is well respected by his community and was president of the Gwinnett County Optimists Club. He is from the "old school" and has always prided himself with doing things by the book and doing them the right way. Those values are threatened and endangered nowadays and if things don't change, I'm afraid they will soon be extinct.

Business as Usual
Deming shared his frustrations regarding his inability to loan or donate the headdress with a friend and client who happened to collect and trade artifacts as a hobby. Thomas Marciano wanted to auction the headdress off at Gatsbys, but Deming wanted to make sure that the sale would be legal. He had contacted two law offices to research the matter for him. One never found an answer and the other one told him they didn't think selling the headdress would be a problem since eagles had been removed from the ESA. (The removal of the bald eagle from the ESA list has been proposed, but the final notice has not yet been published, proving once again that you cannot believe everything you hear.)

In the meantime, unknown to Deming, these items had been posted for sale on the Internet. Marciano found someone who was willing to pay up to a million dollars for Geronimo's headdress -- an FBI agent. Agent Bob Whitman, posing as a buyer for a wealthy European collector, E-mailed Marciano and Marciano phoned him the next day. Whitman instructed Marciano to send documentation regarding the authenticity of the headdress and he did.

Ten pictures of the war bonnet were sent along with letters from the Deming family regarding the history of the acquisition of the headdress. Agent Whitman then sent the pictures to US FWS Agent Lucinda Shroeder, who positively identified the feathers in the photograph as eagle. Damn, she's good if she's able to do that. However, I would think the documentation and history of the headdress would be a more reliable indicator that the eagle feathers were authentic. You can buy fake eagle feathers at Indian craft stores throughout the country. They are large turkey feathers that are painted to look like eagle feathers and from a photograph, you would not be able to tell the difference. (Unless you are Shroeder, that is)

Over the next six weeks, Marciano and Agent Whitman discussed Geronimo's headdress and its history. Marciano was excited; Deming was skeptical. He wanted Marciano to make it absolutely clear that the headdress was not for sale. Instead, he told Marciano to tell the "buyer" that some pen and ink sketches, drawn by Jack Moore, were for sale and that the headdress would be included at the time of sale free of charge. He and Marciano had spent quite a bit of time researching these drawings and were able to verify that they were valuable in their own right. Many were made on C. W. Deming's company letterhead. Deming and Marciano even included a copy of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in one of the packages of documents they sent to Whitman in explanation of why they could not sell Geronimo's headdress.

However, Marciano was caught up in the spirit of the deal and according to the FBI report, agreed to sell Whitman the artwork and headdress for $1.2 million. Deming would be told the sale was for $1 million and that $300,000 would be Marciano's broker fee while Deming received $700,000. However, the agent told Marciano that after he obtained the headdress, Marciano would receive the other $200,000 and that he would even return the pictures so Marciano could sell them separately! What a great deal! (This is according to the FBI report and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of what was said during the telephone calls.) It is interesting to note; however, that Marciano did tell Deming that the "buyer" a/k/a Agent Whitman asked him the day before the sale, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Marciano and Deming never saw it coming, but they should have.

Deming knew that it was illegal for Marciano to transport the eagle headdress or have it in his possession. It was not illegal for Deming to do so. Agent Whitman told Deming he didn't have to be present at the sale but Deming went anyway.

Deming's deal with Whitman was that the pen and ink sketches by Jack Moore were for sale and that the headdress would be given to the collector on lifetime loan. Deming tried to find out from the buyer/agent if his "client" planned on donating the headdress to a museum or if it would be displayed to the public somewhere else. He was concerned that the headdress be treated as a historical artifact to be shared -- something he had tried to make possible for 25 years in the U.S. One of the main reasons Deming agreed to the deal was that he thought the headdress could be part of an exhibit in Europe -- and that a European collector would not attract all the legal hassles he had encountered due to our country's laws.

The Sting
Deming and Marciano met Whitman at an Embassy Suites Hotel in Philadelphia. Whitman began to insist that he only wanted the headdress and not the sketches. Deming stuck to the deal he had made -- buy the sketches and get the headdress for free. The agent had a written agreement already drawn up which he tried to pressure Deming into signing. Over and over, Deming refused. This document stated that Deming was selling the headdress for money. Deming argued with Whitman about this and refused to sign. Deming told him that if he didn't want to buy the sketches, there was no sale.

Then the agent changed his tactics and told Deming that the agreement meant nothing and that his buyer had requested Deming sign it so that Deming would not renege about throwing in the headdress as part of the sale. Deming knew all about negotiations that fell through at the last minute due to his experiences with museums. He told Whitman he would sign the agreement only if he could draw up his own contract for Whitman to sign.

Deming knew civil contract law and knew that the last contract would supercede Whitman's. What he didn't know was how far the federal government would go to get what it wants. Just like the peace treaties between the U.S. and the Indians, the feds tricked him into signing something he never agreed to. They would later claim that under criminal law, Deming's contract proved his criminal intent.

As soon as Deming and Whitman signed Deming's contract, a dozen federal agents armed with M-16s and 9mm pistols broke into the room. They pointed their loaded weapons right in Deming's face. At first, Deming thought that thieves were there to steal the headdress. He wasn't wrong.

Deming was so frightened that when the feds handcuffed him, he passed out three times. The agents asked him if he had a gun. He didn't. (If he had, they would have had the perfect excuse to shoot him down in cold blood.) Then they asked him if he had a knife. A knife? It would have been funny if it wasn't so absurd. Deming had no knife.

The shocked and handcuffed Deming was marched out of the hotel, humiliated, as curious onlookers watched. He was booked and fingerprinted and faced federal criminal offenses punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The feds had spent six weeks of undercover work, enlisted a dozen agents and needed heavy artillery just to arrest one 56 year old man for selling his own property. A man who had never violated the law or even had a speeding ticket. A man who was well thought of and active in his community. What is our country coming to?

Deming asked the FBI why they didn't just call him and ask him for the headdress. They told him they weren't in the business of calling anyone who was about to break the law. He then asked them, "Well why didn't you just say, 'We will help you get a permit to donate it to a museum.'" What a concept! Federal agents who conduct business like true civil servants. There's no excitement and glory in that though. It's more fun to raid a place and shake down frightened citizens.

After Deming was released on bail, he went back home. Seven local judges and a bailiff offered to put up money for a defense fund. Two Native American organizations told him they would support his case against the government.

Justification: Analysis Paralysis Time
I should mention that during Whitman's attempt to get Deming to sign his agreement, he invited a woman into the room. She told Deming that she was a museum appraiser from Albuquerque. In reality, she was none other than FWS agent Lucinda Schroeder who had come to verify that the feathers in the headdress were eagle feathers. (I thought she had already done that by looking at photographs) Anyway, I guess to be on the safe side, she brought real eagle feathers with her to compare them with the ones in the headdress. She made Deming uncomfortable and he asked her to leave. Later, the feds would claim that this action clearly demonstrated Deming's guilt. I think it demonstrated he was just picking up some negative FWS vibes.

Robert Goldman, assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, told reporters that when Congress passed the Eagle Protection Act , it became illegal to sell any eagle feathers no matter how old they were. He claimed that if such artifacts remained on the market, dealers would try to obtain feathers to repair old feathers or ones that were missing. That could create an incentive for someone to market feathers from live birds. Talk about reaching. These guys imagine crimes where none exist. If you were a criminal and wanted to make money from eagle feathers, wouldn't it be easier to make new headdresses and art objects rather than repair ones that were decades old?? FWS thought of that one too, and justified their Operation Four Corners sting based on that concept. [My FOIA on Operation Four Corners is pending. I was told there is still one last case that has not been finalized. Apparently, one brave defendant has fought the good fight for as long as possible.]

University of Toledo emeritus law professor, Richard Edwards, was confident that the government would not prosecute Deming all the way and thereby risk losing on appeal. Edwards claimed that if the case went to the Surpeme Court, Justice Scalia would overturn Andrus v. Allard, 441 U.S. 51. The last time such a case came up, the government let it be dismissed on a technicality rather than risk endangering Andrus.

Andrus cites a determination made by a three-judge panel regarding 28 USC 2282 which held that because of "grave doubts whether these two acts [MBTA, Bald Eagle Protection Act] would be constitutional if they were construed to apply to pre-act bird products," the Acts were to be interpreted as "not applicable to preexisting, legally-obtained bird parts of products therefrom…" 28 USC 2282 (1970) App. to Juris. Statement 13a-14a. This court further ruled that "the interpretive regulations, 50 CFR 21.2(a) and 22.2(a) are void as unauthorized extensions of the MBTA and EPA and are violative of the appellees' Fifth Amendment property rights." Judgement was entered declaring "the subject regulations to be invalid and unenforceable against the property rights in feathers and artifacts owned before the effective date of the statutes and those rights were rights of sale, barter or exchange.
Deming was 95% positive he could win a case against the federal government, but he chose to plead out. The possibility of being charged with a felony was too great a risk for him to ignore and federal prosecutors are known to play hard ball. Not only would such a lawsuit cost thousands of dollars, but the possibility of serving up to five years prison and incurring fines up to $250,000 was not a welcome alternative either. On top of that, if he was charged with a federal crime, he would lose his license to practice law. His life was at stake.

After lengthy negotiations, he finally pled to a misdemeanor charge of unknowing barter. In any other state jurisdiction, this entire matter would have been dropped completely from Deming's record since he was a first time offender. However, that is not the case in Philadelphia and it is probably why the federal agents set up their sting operation in that state.

Taking Geronimo's headdress from Deming was as easy as taking candy from a baby for the feds. The sensational press releases that followed the sting were just icing on the cake. Deming told me that this was the worst experience of his life and that he just wants to put it all behind him. A family heirloom was taken from him and he faced losing a lifetime of hard work over this ordeal. Deming considers himself fortunate that he was able to plead out and forfeit his property. I suppose when you are dealing with the federal government, that is as good as it gets.

It does cost a great deal to fight the federal government. It can cost thousands of dollars. It can cost your reputation -- and your freedom. It doesn't matter if you are brave and persistent; determined and steadfast. Look at what happened to Geronimo. Our federal government is an equal opportunity oppressor.

One last thing. After Deming surrendered his claim to the headdress, ten or fifteen museums inquired how they might obtain it. The judge who set Deming's bail quipped that he would love to hang it on is courtroom wall. I could just see the federal government using their plundered "taking" in a photo op to promote the National Museum of the American Indian which is due to open next year on the Washington Mall. Can't you picture it? Bruce Babbitt conferring Geronimo's headdress upon the museum with great ceremony and fanfare?

That won't happen though. Not this time. The judge in Deming's case allowed him to select a museum to receive the headdress and he chose the Fort Sill Museum in Oklahoma even though they turned it down when he offered the headdress to them a year ago. It is fitting that the headdress will be on display at Geronimo's final resting place.

Related Information of Interest:

Information and further reading citations about Geronimo and his life

Did Bush's grandfather steal Geronimo's Skull?

February 19, 2009.  Descendants' Suit Seeks Geronimo's Remains, Rumored To Be At Yale. Sculptor and Vietnam vet, Harlyn Geronimo filed a federal lawsuit in Washington D.C. on the 100th anniversary of his great-grandfather's death, seeking to claim the remains of the great Apache warrior.  Though Geronimo was buried at the Apache Prisoner of War Cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1909, it has long been rumored that several of Yale's "Bonesmen" (including Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of two of our nation's presidents, respectively) robbed the grave and took Geronimo's skull and femurs.
FBI Source In Four Corners Artifact Case Apparently Commits Suicide

March 2010.  Antiquities dealer and government CI in the Operation Four Corners Feather Sales sting operation, Ted Dan Gardiner, died of a self-inflicted gunshot after a standoff with police.  Gardiener worked the sting operation for 2 years which led to felony charges against 26 people in Utah, Colorado and Mexico.  This is the third suicide connected to the case. Two defendants – a Santa Fe, N.M., salesman and a prominent Blanding, Utah, physician, James Redd – committed suicide after their arrests in June.