Lipan Apache Legal Victory for Native American Religious Freedom!

Vice-chairman Robert Soto at the 2014 City of McAllen 4th of July Parade.

Vice-chairman Robert Soto at the 2014 City of McAllen 4th of July Parade.

This month, after eight years in court, my tribe has achieved a legal victory to defend our religious rights.

In 2006, federal officials violated a sacred powwow circle and confiscated feathers.Thanks to the tireless work of Lipan Apache Vice-chairman Robert Soto (my uncle, pictured above) and lawyers Milo Colton and Marisa Salazar, the feathers will be returned and given the respect they deserve. As a conservationist, I’d like to emphasize that this ruling does not affect the eagle population. Feathers are recycled from birds that die a natural death. Rather, the ruling challenges the federal government’s power to arbitrarily decide which Native Americans have the right to worship. As the Lipan Apache events page explains: The law is not only a win for the Tribe and other State Recognized Tribes but also for those who fit the definition of American Indians as stated in the 1997 “Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity,” 62 FR 58782-01: “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment” and who are within 5th Circuit Court States: Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

In other words, the government has no right to claim that a “select few American Indians” are more equal than others.

You can read the press release below.

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