A recent article on the World magazine site reports on the attempts by Native Americans to be able to wear eagle feathers. Included in the report is the story of Robert Soto, a Lipan Apache and the pastor of the McAllen, Tex., Grace Brethren Church, who had eagle feathers confiscated in 2006 during a family powwow. A portion of the story appears below. Click here to read the complete article.
Legal eagle feathers?
Native Americans are pushing back against attempts to keep them from wearing eagle feathers. The federal government restricts possession of eagle feathers as part of its effort to protect eagles. But early this month a California school system, under judicial pressure, allowed a high-school senior to wear an eagle feather to his graduation ceremony. Last month a federal district judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Texas Apache who wanted to regain eagle feathers the government took from him and others in 2006.
Vernon Ward Jr., of the Pit River Tribe in California, said the eagle feather is a religious, not just a cultural, symbol: “The eagle is the one that flies highest to the Creator.” Becket Fund lawyer Luke Goodrich said, “The government has no business sending undercover agents to raid peaceful Native American religious ceremonies.”
That’s what happened in 2006 when Robert Soto, a Lipan Apache and the pastor of McAllen (Texas) Grace Brethren Church, participated in a powwow: A federal agent interrupted the ceremony after seeing Soto and others with eagle feathers. The agent threatened prosecution unless they abandoned them. They did so, but they sued to get them back.
Click here to read the rest of the article.