Manataka® American Indian Council
FEDERAL ILLEGAL FEATHERS CASE
The long awaited date is near. We will be appearing at the Federal Court on March 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM Texas time. We have been waiting for almost three years for this case. So I am writing to ask you to please pray as we confront the United States government over the taking of forty-two of our Eagle feathers and the violation of our Religious Rights as American Indians.
If you are anywhere near the McAllen Texas area, you are welcome to come and support our efforts to change laws. We are not suing for money, we are suing for the right to be who God the Creator made us to be, Indian people. We are suing for the right to use sacred objects such as Eagle Feathers in our powwows and ceremonies. We are suing to change laws that clearly violate our rights as American Indians. Laws that say it is illegal to advertise our gatherings. Laws that say it is illegal to have the exchange of money in our celebrations. That would make honoring a person in the circle against the law. These are laws that give our federal government officers the right to come into our ceremonies, services and powwows because the moment we advertise and the moment we exchange even a dollar, according to our federal laws, our event ceases to be sacred and the Government thus has the right to come and do as they please.
Remember, these are the people who said, "Just because your parents were Indians does not make you an Indian." I guess someone needs to take the officers of the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife back to basic 101 classes to learn that like reproduces like.
So please keep us in prayer on March 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM Texas time as we go before the court and make right that which was wrong.
Robert Soto, Member and Vice Chairman of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas
After the Court Hearing...
First and foremost, I want to thank the hundreds who wrote and let me know they were praying for us today as we entered the quiet halls of Federal Court. I could sense the presence of your prayers. Along with myself and our two lawyers, there were about twenty Indian people and friends who decided to join us for moral and prayerful support. So now, almost six hours later, I sit here trying to make sense of the time we spent in court today. When I tell people the things I have heard and experienced the last four court visits they stand in total unbelief of the things I share with them. Several times I have even been accused of lying. But I share only what I see and hear and things that remind us of what happens to a country that forgets there is a God controlling the affairs of man.
Today I heard a lawyer trying to convince a judge that this whole issue of the Eagle Feathers is not a religious rights violation but a political problem. This is what happens when a nation dictates who is and who is not Indian, and who has or does not have the right to worship God the Creator as God created us, American Indians. It seemed that they were trying to convince the judge that because it was a political issue, we had no rights to use things like eagle feathers. As the lawyer sent by the federal government expressed the Department of Interior's position of who can and who cannot, I started to get a feeling that maybe this would be going our way. The judge, who had done his homework, asked if the Department of Interior had considered some of the other cases from neighboring courts who had already determined that it was all right for an American Indian who did not belong to a tribe recognized by the Federal Government. To that he stated that they wanted to wait to see how appeals and other legal technicalities came out. It was then that the Judge decided that four years had been long enough. That if our lawyers wanted to request a lift of the Stay the Department of Interior had placed on the case, that we were free to do so.
So what does all this mean? It means that today what looked like a small victory became a milestone for what might be our last and final stand against the Department of Interior for the right to be who we are, American Indians. Today we were given the freedom to lift the Stay requested by the Department of Interior that would have given them the power to keep this case hostage forever. We have not won yet, but we feel we are oh so close to a final victory in this case which will give other Indians a little more ammunition to fight in case this ever happens to them. Today was a small step towards a future victory that will not just benefit us in South Texas but all our Indian people all over the United States. Keep us in prayer as we continue the battle for what is right and just.
God bless and thank you for your prayers and support. Your prayers were heard today.