Murkowski, Young Want Clarity on Bird Feather Use

Archie Cavanaugh’s Raven Hat was one of two pieces of artwork he was told violated Federal Law for featuring feathers from a migratory bird. (Photo courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute)

Alaska’s congressional delegation has introduced bills that would clarify that it’s OK for Alaska Natives to sell artwork adorned with bird feathers.

Under the legislation introduced by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, some traditional Alaska Native art and crafts would be exempt from a provision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act barring the sale of items containing the feathers and non-edible parts of migratory birds.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that issue began receiving attention after the case of Archie Cavanaugh, a well-respected Tlingit artist fined $2,200 for trying to sell a headdress adorned with feathers.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says giving a financial incentive to harvesting bird feathers through the sale of art could lead to illegal bird hunting.