A Charis Fellowship pastor who is a leader in the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, Robert Soto, has petitioned the U.S. government to end its restrictions on tribes using eagle feathers in religious ceremonies. A portion of a news release from Courthouse News Service appears below. Click here to read the complete story.
Tribal Pastor Fights US on Eagle Feather Restrictions
A Native American feather dancer asked the U.S. government Thursday to end its restrictions on tribes using eagle feathers in religious ceremonies.
The petition by Robert Soto, vice-chairman of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, comes more than a decade after an undercover federal agent raided his powwow and confiscated roughly 50 eagle feathers.
Soto, who serves as pastor of the McAllen Grace Brethren Church, ultimately reached a settlement in 2016 with the government after he was threatened with fines and jail time.
As part of the settlement, the government agreed to consider Soto’s petition to formally change the government’s policy toward members of Native American tribes who use eagle feathers in their religious practice.
Under a 2012 memo, only members of federally recognized tribes are free to use eagle feathers in religious ceremonies. But Soto’s petition notes that even then, however, these individuals must apply for permits or endure long wait times at the National Eagle Repository, a Colorado warehouse where the federal government freezes and stores dead eagles.
The law also allows members of federally recognized tribes to pick up naturally molted feathers, or to exchange birds or bird parts among themselves, but Soto says this limited protection is tenuous, as it comes from a 2012 memo that the government could rescind at any time.
Click here to read the complete story.