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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tribal ceremonies basis for defense: Watertown man is charged after taking dead hawk

By Brad Bauer, bbauer@mariettatimes.com

Powwows, the circle of life and what it means to walk the red path were argued Thursday in Marietta Municipal Court as a local man with ties to Native American culture fought to avoid a year in jail.

Steve Coulter, aka "White Buffalo," 61, of Watertown, is accused of being in possession of two deceased hawks he found lying along area roads last fall. He was in court for a hearing on a motion by his attorney to dismiss the case.

The birds are not endangered, but are still protected by state and federal law. Being in possession of a hawk, owl or eagle is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Coulter, a disabled contractor who was raised Baptist, said he is the leader of a local Native American tribe called "The People's Nation." He is fighting to have the charges dismissed based on his religious beliefs.

Feathers from the hawks were to be used to make fans that would help lift smoke and prayer during ceremonies, Coulter testified.

"We honor birds in their height the altitude they can fly," he said. "The closer to the creator they are, the stronger the prayer."

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Investigator Charlie Stone said a motorist noticed someone pick up a hawk last November along Ohio 550. The individual recorded a license plate number and reported it to wildlife officials.

Stone said special permits are required to possess hawks and other protected animals, even if they are found dead. He said Coulter does not have the required permits, which are extended to individuals on a limited basis. Religious purposes is not among the criteria for issuing a permit.

When Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar-Welch asked Coulter to prove his ancestry, he said he is a descendant of the Lenapa and Cherokee tribes, but could not exactly say how.

Coulter's attorney, Assistant Washington County Public Defender Eric Fowler, argued that the judge's questioning was not relevant because people are entitled to change their religion, despite their ethnicity or race. Fowler noted movie star Sammy Davis Jr., the son of a black vaudeville star and a Puerto Rican dancer, converted to Judaism after reading Paul Johnson's "A History of the Jews."

In response, Welch asked Coulter if Native American tribes generally accepted people from other faiths. Coulter said "adoption" was not uncommon.

"There is not a great deal of difference between the Native American way and Christianity," Coulter said. "The major difference is that this is a 24/7 adventure and not just when everyone gathers for a meeting."

Seven members of Coulter's tribe sat in the back of the courtroom in full native dress. Coulter said there are about 100 members in the local tribe, but only about 25 who are active.

Attorneys are expected to file written arguments as a supplement to Thursday's testimony by March 16. Dyar-Welch will then decide if the case should be dismissed or go to trial.

Rob's comment
"White Buffalo"..."The People's Nation"..."We honor birds in their height"...everything about Coulter screams "phony" and "wannabe."

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Indian wannabes and imitators

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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