Eagle survives with help of Forest County Potawatomi

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Photos and Story By Lori Thomas
Forest County Potawatomi Traveling Times (NFIC) 5-09

 Clarence Daniels releases the eagle which was sick due to lead poisoning, that he captured in late December 2008.

O, Keno, gichiwendem Egibgednayek... A happy Eagle returns home.

During April, the sick keno (eagle) that Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) member Clarence Daniels found, as a result of lead poisoning, was released back to his familiar surroundings.

Billy Daniels Jr. (Keno clan), FCP tribal elder and language teacher, started the ceremony off with a prayer and then went on to let everyone know how thankful he was for his nephew, Clarence, to have found the keno that would not have survived on his own.

The male keno was found along Hwy. 55 in Pickerel, Wisconsin. Marge Gibson, director of REGI, traveled to the FC Potawatomi security office where Clarence drove with the keno to get help.

During the release ceremony, Gibson carefully reunited the keno once again with Clarence, his rescuer, and within a few seconds the keno proudly spread his wings and flew to a nearby tree.

There were smiles and many tears (of joy) that were shown on the faces of those that came to support the keno and his release.

Perched on a branch of the nearby tree, the keno took one look back towards the crowd of people that prayed for his healthy recovery and flew off to become familiar, once again, with all the beings around him.

The Native singing group, Earth Day drummed an Eagle song for the keno once he took flight. A few had seen the keno make his way back once more in the distance as the singing took place and then, he flew out of sight. 

Billy Daniels Jr. (right) gives  a prayer before the release of the Eagle.

Daniels Jr. presented a blanket to his nephew, Clarence, and also a keno feather. Keno feathers are given to many who have accomplished great deeds in their life, from serving in the armed forces to saving a life, as did Clarence on that cold December day. After Clarence received his gifts, an honor song was sung for him.

To Anishinabe, everything is looked at as having a spirit and as so, respected as such. Our animals, plant life, insects, birds and waterfowl all play a huge role in the cycle of life and come first and foremost of importance before humans. If it weren’t for all the other beings that we share this earth with, we as humans would not survive.

A long time ago, methods of hunting were performed in a manner where it would not harm any of the other beings that live with us. Because of the changes with time, we need to do a little bit more thinking as far as what we should use when hunting and fishing that will not bring harm to all other beings.

The message from the elders was that when you go out and place your asema  (tobacco) to the ground, before you hunt or fish, make sure that you always keep the story of this eagle’s recovery and release as a reminder to what happens to our cycle of life when things like this take place. Choose non-lead alternatives for bullets and fishing sinkers. Let’s reduce the number of birds, wildlife and waterfowl that are being found dead or seriously ill because of lead poisoning.

If we lose the eagles who are looked at as our messengers in this chain of our life cycle, who will then be able to carry our prayers to our Creator?