They've worked with everyone from National Geographic to Johnny Depp, but now a Oklahoma Eagle Breeding facility is in trouble. The Comanche tribe recently voted to stop funding the program.
Sia, the name for the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative, has the largest eagle collection in North America. It's also one of the most successful breeding programs in the world. The facility was the first to artificially inseminate bald eagles decades ago. All total, Sia has bred and released 400 bald and golden eagles into the wild.
“A lot of eagles that you see are from birds we released,” said Troy
But the birds aren't the only ones who are now endangered. In the most recent election, Comanche Tribe members voted to stop funding to the eagle program.
“We’re in crisis, part of the facility has been shut down,” said Troy, one of the founders of Sia.
Sia, which means "feather" in the Comanche language, would take the birds to schools to teach about Native American Culture. That has stopped as has tours of the facility.
“This is not the norm that you see in a small town and I don’t want to see it go,” said Brad Alexander, the town’s mayor.
The Tribal Chairman would only say the tribe votes on funding for ALL programs once a year. Troy says the issue was decided by only 20 votes. He says the tribe has voted to discontinue funding in past elections, but they had time to find alternative revenue. This time they don’t.
“This is their culture and for them to let this die or fall to the wayside, shame on them,” said Alexander.
Troy says they haven't heard from the tribe and are now turning to the community to keep them aloft.
“We’ll go on, but it’s hard to understand what exactly the make up of that will be,” said Troy.
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