John Gallone shared this story with me and kindly gave me permission to post it on Boing Boing. He writes:
The beaches of the Pacific Northwest are loaded with interesting finds.
From glass floats that have drifted from Japan to carcasses of sea life that defy the imagination but one of the items I have been searching for for years has been an eagle feather. Yesterday during a beach hike near my home I found a large wing feather from a mature bald eagle.
Now, not only is the bird a thing of beauty in itself but its feathers are beautifully constructed with ample size and a thick quill.
When proving Galileo’s theory of gravitational pull in a vacuum it was an eagle feather, which Neil Armstong used on the first moon landing. The landing probe was called the Eagle, remember “The eagle has landed” ?
These items are very highly prized among Native Americans and in fact they are the only people allowed to posses an eagle feather and even they must have certification of tribal membership and the appropriate registration license to acquire one legally. And there is the rub... or a mere pale-face such as myself, possession of even one feather brings a fine of $100,000 and a jail sentence.
The law: “Anyone who possesses an eagle feather, and doesn't meet the requirements, could face fines up to $100,000 and a year in prison. A second offense is upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony, and carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The act also provides for a civil penalty of up to $5,000.”
I returned my incredible find to the beach... all I have are these photos.
Take only pictures; leave only footprints indeed...
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.