Received Friday, April 7, 2006
I came home yesterday and will depart tomorrow to Florida. This past weekend I had an obligation as a head man dancer at a pow wow, as well as taking a dance team to a university for a two-hour educational presentation. Now I am preparing to depart again to be a guest speaker and performer at a Native conference sponsored by the Methodist Church in Leesburg Florida. I must apologize for not being able to answer all of your e-mails that I have received - from not just in the United States, but all over the world. Each of your letters has been a source of comfort and encouragement.
Even though I was at a pow wow this weekend, I spent the whole weekend praying and seeking our God and Creator's direction and wisdom as to what to do next concerning my surrendered eagle feathers. At this time I am writing a newspaper article that I hope will make the three major newspapers in our area, and maybe others throughout Texas and the United States. Then I will be seeking legal counsel from a lawyer that is familiar with violations of our first amendment rights and violations in our religious practices and freedom when the federal agent rudely came into our pow wow are and started harassing both vendors and dancers.
But the next step is writing to our four government officials and informing them of the violation of one federal officer when he chose to interrupt our pow wow. I will give you some of the things I feel were clear violations of our rights a Native Americans so as to help you write your thoughts. I would like to hear that over a thousand letters came to each official to make them aware of what happened.
1. The illegal taking of our feathers which are sacred to all Indian people - both with BIA cards and without.
2. Threatening to arrest us if we did not cooperate and having to ask him four times to show me his credentials as he ordered me to give up my roach feathers.
3. A violation of our sacred rights when he forced his way into our pow wow area, after he was advised hat the pow wow was a sacred gathering and he had no right to enter into it.
4. His insistence that the pow wow was not a sacred gathering because we had advertised our event to the public in the newspapers. Thus when we invited the public, according to him, it ceased being a sacred event and gave him the right to come into our pow wow and doing what ever he desired.
5. The threat that he would not stop until every Indian in our area, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas, who was not of federally recognized status, would have their feathers taken away.
6. The threat that he or the US Fish and Wildlife Department would invade every pow wow in Texas to make sure any Indian who did not deserve the use of eagle feathers were taken away.
7. His insistence that this was not a racial issue or that he was not picking on any particular group of people or Indians, yet threatening to harass any non-status Indian or Indian without a permit from the US Fish and WildLife Service for that feather. Thus creating war on every non-status Indian in Texas; over 270,000 of whom call Texas their homes.
These are some suggestions. If you desire, you may check out my website where I have put all the letters I have written so far, including pictures of the surrendering of our feathers ceremony.
Send four letters via the US Postal service to our federal representatives. E-mails normally are not read. Here are the four representives to write:
Senator John Cornyn517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison284 Russell Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa2864 W. Trenton Rd.Edinburg, TX 78539Rep. Lloyd Doggett311 N. 15th St.McAllen, TX 78501
I thank you for your help in this issue. I truly feel that we need to take a stand and fight the system now, not for my sake but for the sake of all who will follow in our circle for years to come. God bless and thank you for your help.
Robert Soto Lipan Apache Warrior for Jesus
P.S. The following is a copy of a letter from Daniel Romero, chairman of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc., which you may find helpful as you formulate your thoughts for your letter to our representatives.
Dear Tribal Members and Native American Community,
On March 11, 2006, during the McAllen Pow Wow, Robert Soto's (Lipan Apache) Eagle feathers were removed by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agent who stopped the Pow Wow and harassed vendors while searching for eagle feathers. General Council Member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc. told the agent that he was violating the Freedom of Religion Act by harassing dancers and vendors during the giveaway - a sacred ceremony. Not much can be done about the Eagle feathers, but the attitude of the agent must not be allowed to set the standard among Texas Native Americans. General Council Secretary of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc. told the agent to leave the Pow Wow, the agent responded by stating that because the event was announced in the newspaper he did not have to leave.
Question: What would happen if a Native American man or woman entered a church during a mass and ordered everyone to empty their pockets to see if they had us dollars in their pockets. The Native American person would be charged with violating a church mass, so why is it right for an agent to conduct himself this way?
Please remember that Robert Soto is the Vice Chairman of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc.
So what can we do to help Robert Soto?
Write or Fax the US Senator and US Congressman listed below
Please forward this information to any individual or to interested party. All responses are appreciated.
Daniel Castro Romero, Jr.
General Council Chairman
Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc.