Will decide whether American Indian feather dancer can be prosecuted for using eagle feathers
MCALLEN, TEXAS — The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, located in McAllen, Texas, will hear the case of Pastor
Robert Soto of the Lipan Apache Tribe
, whose sacred eagle feathers were confiscated by the government in a covert operation called “Operation Powwow.” The hearing — and possible same-day decision — will determine whether the federal government can seize eagle feathers from religious American Indian dancers and bar them from practicing their faith (see video).
The hearing comes one month after the federal government returned Mr. Soto’s feathers, seized nine years ago, but under the condition that they could not be used by anyone else in his family or tribe. Mr. Soto is a tribal chief and award-winning feather dancer, yet faced criminal fines and imprisonment for possessing eagle feathers according to his American Indian faith.
Oral Argument in McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Jewell
Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Tomorrow at 4 p.m. CT
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
1701 W. Hwy. 83, Suite 1011
McAllen, Texas 78501