Native prisoners at the Washington State Penitentiary have been given an ultimatum. The prison chaplain, Ron

Willhite, has issued a memo saying they have to get rid of either their medicine bag or their eagle feathers, but can’t keep both religious items. Willhite’s reasoning: no Native American religion ever made use of both items. Every single culture includes only one or the other item in its spiritual activities, claims the chaplain.

Native prisoners are reacting with anger to the decision. “This has been a final insult to these brothers,” says Lynne Wright, a legal advisor to the prisoners. Wright has issued an international appeal for support and letters of protest. lie says outspoken First Nations prisoners have been sent to solitary confinement in the prison’s “Intensive Management Unit.” Wright also condemns chaplain Willhite for requiring that aboriginal prisoners purchase religious items from “authorized” sources.

Letters of protest can be sent to: Superintendent Tanna Wood, Washington State Penn., Box 520, Walla Walla, WA, 99362-0520, U.S.A. For more info, contact First Nations prisoners Dewey Sigo (#264736 6-A-17) or Clifton Briceno (#2746061.M.U.) at the same address.