Hopis vs. hippies

| Wed Nov. 8, 2000 4:00 AM EST

A conflict brewing in an Arizona national park may soon leave normally-outspoken liberals speechless, wondering whether to support local Indians or golden eaglets. According to the ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS NETWORK, Hopi Indians who have lived for centuries near what is now Wupatki National Monument want permission to hunt the eaglets as part of their traditional religious practices. Hunting, however, is forbidden in almost all national park lands.

At first, park officials sided with conservationists and ruled that the eaglets were off-limits. But federal Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt overruled that decision, saying the Indians' right to practice their religion superceded concern for the birds.

Further complicating the issue is the specter of the NRA, which wants to open up national parks to larger-scale hunting. Conservationists fret that allowing the Hopis to hunt the non-endangered eagles will be just the first step the NRA will need to lead park officials down a slippery slope.

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