|Robert Soto is a Lipan Apache as
well as a Christian minister. His People have lived in Texas for
hundreds of years. At the time of the Pueblo revolt of 1680, the Lipan
were recognized as a separate tribe who rode horses and today are
considered the founders of the "Plains Indians".
Some of the Lipan Apache fled to Mexico where they have remained to this
day thus escaping reservation life. Some, such as Robert's People,
blended in with their surroundings and maintained their identity while
living near white settlements in Texas, while others of the Lipan were
sent to reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico.
While not BIA recognized. this band, as well as the Soto family, have
received numerous honors from the state of Texas and local community in
the form of Proclamations recognizing who they are as a People and their
contribution to society.
Every year this band of Lipan Apaches holds their Nde Daa Pow wow which
means the People Spring Pow wow. Family and friends from far and wide,
including many friendly Federal Agents, attend and enjoy this happy time
together. But this year
something went wrong.
During the ceremony, one of the Lipan Warriors was called out of the
Circle by a man claiming to be a Federal Agent. After much arguing the
agent finally produced a badge and before it was over, Robert Soto's
bustle of 40 year old eagle feathers and the roach he was wearing in his
hair, were confiscated.
To our People, the Circle is Sacred. We pray with our Feathers and they
are as sacred to us as any other religious item is to anybody else. But
we are still not allowed to possess these sacred items unless we can
document that we are Federal BIA Indians and fill out reams of paper
Not all bands and tribes surrendered to the White Aggressors. Some of us
still haven't. We will never be BIA recognized. That is good. But we
will never "legally" be able to possess our sacred feathers.
I have gotten several emails recently condemning me for my disapproval
of the Missouri Bill which would make Christianity the "Official"
religion of this state. One woman told me she was tired of minorities
watering down her religion. She should try standing at the bottom of the
dung heap with the "Real People." Then she might understand religious
Robert Soto and his People will pay fines and lawyer costs and spend
months, if not years, tied up in the legal system, while the rest of the
People will risk the same fate every time we gather to worship. As it
stands now, religious freedom is not granted
to everyone in this country - at least not to those who had it stolen