|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 work.
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 persecution.
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 from them.