Tag Archives: Native American

American Indian Ministry Program at Bacone College

Osiyo Oginali (Hello Friend) –

On February 25, 2017 I was blessed to have been interviewed by Kyle Taylor, Office of Student Life and Enrollment Management Retention Specialist at Bacone College regarding my participation in the online American Indian Ministry Program. The interview video is available on Facebook at this URL: VIDEO .

After nearly 20 years in American Indian Ministry and even longer as a Believer, I have found the education through this program to be of tremendous value.

Kyle Taylor is one of the instructors at the college and I have had the pleasure of participating in three of his classes so far: Introduction to American Indian Ministry, Contextualized Native Ministry and Native American Hermeneutics. The classes are available on campus and online utilizing Zoom as a virtual classroom. The Director of the American Indian Ministry Program is Dr. Leroy Thompson.

This video, Interview with Rev. Jeny RunningBrook Covill, a Scholar/Practitioner in the American Indian Ministry Program at Bacone College. #AIMP, is one of several produced to help spread the word about this amazing program. It is a 4-year degree program and scholarships are available for students who live on campus. Please visit the Bacone College website or the American Indian Ministry Program at Bacone College Facebook page for more information.

Again, I encourage you to watch this video. CLICK NOW TO WATCH.

Wado (Thank you)

Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday
All Nations Fellowship

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UPDATE: Eagle Feather Case – After 10 Years, Robert Soto Announces “WE WON!”

(NOTE: The below message is written by Robert Soto. You will find his contact information at the end. PLEASE read and celebrate with us!)

June 14, 2016

A DAY TO REMEMBER

II Samuel 22:17-18 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of the deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”

As you have already figured out, back on March 11, 2006 the Department of Interior sent uncover agents to investigate a complaint from a Native who not only worked for the Department of Interior but was from one of our federally acknowledged tribes. We had accepted him into our circle and one of our dancers who happened to teach at the university he attended had decided to tutor him as he was struggling academically and needed to pass her course to get his degree. From the very beginning I did not trust him; after all, he was a federal agent and by experience the federal government had planted feds in the midst of Natives to see if they were violating any federal laws. Well, on October 2005 he filed a compliant against us but the paperwork was not filed on time for our fall pow wow so the Department of Interior waited for our spring pow wow to come in for the kill. What was the problem? The complaint was filed that non-Indians, or Indians not belonging to a tribe acknowledged by the federal government, were illegally using eagle feathers as part of their pow wow celebrations. At that time my first lawyer told me I was facing the possibility of fifteen years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. My first lawyer which volunteered his time and talents got me out of that mess and for that I was eternally thankful. He was a youth pastor and a Christian and told me he could not see a fellow pastor go to prison for this.

After I was cleared of all charges and my first lawyer proved that I was a legitimate American Indian, I felt I could not just sit around my house praising God that I was not going to prison. I felt God wanted me to do more – but what? No one had ever won against the government on this issue. People came to me and told me to let it go and just be thankful, but as thankful as I was for God’s favor on me, I still felt I had to do more. But I also knew that if I was going to win, it would have to be all God and none of me. Well, long story short, two more lawyers came in that had never defended an eagle feather case. I knew if we were going to win, they were going to have to do their research and God was going to have to give them the wisdom to win. We lost in the lower courts after seven years and eight months of fighting. Most cases of this type are won by our people in the lower courts but lost in the court of appeals. Once again I was told to stop and move on but I still felt in my heart I had to fight. So we went to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and in August 2014 I got the news that we had won. A greater miracle was that on March 10, 2015 I got the fifty feathers back that they had taken. I did not want them because of all the restrictions but my lawyer suggested that I should take them and keep on fighting for things to change. Well, for the last year and a half we have been negotiating with the Department of Interior and today I want you to be the first to know, “WE FINALLY WON!” The lawsuit is over and God the Creator has given us more than we ever imagined; not money, but just the right to say we have made things a little better for our Native Community. But the fight was not ours, the fight was the LORD’s. We could never have accomplished and won the fight without His help. It is like Samuel wrote, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of the deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.” Today I am singing, “PRAISE BE TO GOD FOR TO HIM BELONGS THE GLORY AND VICTORY!” It is truly a day to remember.

For now I want to thank the thousands who have been praying for us in the last ten and a half years.

Robert Soto Lipan Apache and Pastor of:

McAllen Grace Brethren Church
Native American New Life Center
Chief of Chiefs Christian Church
My Rock Native Fellowship

Vice Chairman of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas

Contact Robert at: ROBTSOTO@aol.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.soto.18
website: http://www.son-tree.org/

A Tender Heart

HOW OFTEN are you overwhelmed with compassion for someone else?

Mark 6:34 says, “When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep without a shepherd. He felt sorry for the people and started teaching them many things.”

Those involved in First Nations ministry need to have the Creator’s tender heart toward our Native people.

TODAY, I INVITE YOU to pray with me that our Native American people and those in Native Ministry will reflect the Creator’s heart of compassion.

Isaiah 57:18 says, ” I know what you are like! But I will heal you, lead you, and give you comfort.”

2 Corinthians 2:7-8 says, ” When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’t give up in despair. You should make them sure of your love for them.”

Ask our Creator to fill the hearts of those serving in Native Ministry with His compassion for our First Nations people.

I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.

Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 57:18-19; Zechariah 7:8-9; Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 13:3; Matthew 25:34-40.

AUDIO: Week 52

OFFICIAL FirstNationsMonday.Com website.

First Nations Monday
“Holding Up The People In Prayer”
Est. May 2000
Founder: Jeny Running Brook Covill

(Note: This message is number 52 in a series that begins the first Monday in January each year.)

For New Testament Scripture references in Cherokee,
visit http://www.cherokeenewtestament.org

First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.
http://www.firstnationsversion.com/

Cherokee Bible Project Titles:
Genesis in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
CORINTHIANS in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
The Revelation of John in Cherokee (coming)
http://tuscanyglobal.com/bible/

Broken Walls ~ Sing To The Mountains II: Rekindling The Sacred Fire

Sing To The Mountains II
Sing To The Mountains II

Broken Walls and SEJANAM (Southeastern Jurisdictional Association for Native American Ministries) will be hosting Sing to the Mountain II – Rekindling the Sacred Fire on June 26th to 28th, 2015 at Lake Junaluska, NC.

Sing To The Mountains II – Rekindling the Sacred Fire – Event Page on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/events/828098893893132/

Registration Required! You can download the brochure at this link:
http://www.lakejunaluska.com/i/downloads/Native_American_Conference_Brochure.pdf

Click here for a sharable PDF of the event with details.
http://www.rainsongmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/STTM-Invitation-Letter.pdf

YOU’RE INVITED!

Jonathan Maracle
Jonathan Maracle

FROM: Jonathan Maracle of Broken Walls

Visionary of: Sing to the Mountains Music Festival
An in depth view and letter of invitation to attend… I would like to invite you to a family friendly gathering (childcare is available) in the heart of the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. The homeland of the Cherokee. It will be held at Lake Junaluska near Ashville

This gathering is called: Sing to the Mountains II (Rekindling the Sacred Fire)

Friday, starting at 6 pm Will begin with protocol with local leaders. The evening will be dedicated to building relationship across the generations. Main focus will be towards youth (I highly recommend everyone to come and participate)
-The evening will start with “Carry the Cure’s “Rhythms of Life” program led by Bill Pagaran in partnership with Broken Walls
-It is a program we have presented around the world for many years and has produced great results.
-The main objective is suicide prevention and building self esteem in the hearts of our young people.
-Next up, Friday evening will be “Lilly Among Thorne’s” -a young band I met last year while in Lancaster, New York. -Lilly Among Thorne’s is fronted by First Nations lead singer Cheyenne Cleveland. -They’ve released 2 albums -Their vision, to bring hope and shine light in the darkness!
-The evening will be completed with an “Ice Cream Social”!!!
Saturday and Sunday, Sing to the Mountains will begin with a Sunrise Ceremony at 6:30 am hosted by Casey Church who is Potawatomi and new director of Wiconi International.
-This will be a beautiful experience of honor to Christ from a Traditional perspective.
-Please bring a small piece of wood from your fire so we can celebrate our diversity and rekindle the Sacred Fire of the heart, in Unity!
After the sunrise ceremony on Saturday morning there will be story telling by Terri Wildman of Rainsong.
-Head Elder will be my Mom, Norma Blacksmith of Pine Ridge, South Dakota
-We will have speakers like my friend Daniel Kikawa of Hilo Missionary Church in Hilo Hawaii.
-Rita Bear Gray, Cree from Washington state
-Casey Church of Wiconi International
-Cheryl Bear Barnetson of Street Church in Vancouver,
-Bill Pagaran of Carry the Cure, from Alaska -and myself Jonathan Maracle of Broken Walls from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Canada.
Saturday afternoon At 1:30pm our Pow Wow begins with Grand Entry, Honoring the Veterans and Elders. Our MC will be Bryan Brightcloud of Native Hope in California and will feature drums from across Turtle Island.
-Like local North Carolina drum “Deer Clan Singers”
-Virginia Drum, Yough ta nund -Sacred Thunder from Florida
-And “Chips are Down” from various places across North America…. Others will be announced.
-Head Dancers will be Troy and Kelly Adkins of Virginia —-and Barry and Luanne Greene of New York.
-Saturday evening we will have concerts from -Aloha Gathering from Hawaii -Cheryl Bear -RainSong -and Broken Walls. -We will also feature dance groups from Africa and Hawaii.
-Other special feature performances will be announced.
On Sunday morning after “Sunrise Ceremony” we will open with Worship on the Big Drum then… – A “Passing of the Flame ceremony” for empowering the next generation – This ceremony will be led by Elders: Willie Jock, Nigel Bigpond, Kenny Blacksmith and Daryl Fields.
This will be followed by a word from Seginam Director Cheryl Toothe and Jonathan Maracle Then after a short Question and Answer Period -We will Worship and Dance (Indigenous Style) to end Sing to the Mountains. This gathering is in honor to those who have gone on before us.. who loved Jesus and paved the way for this event to even be possible. It is to say “Thank you” for their courage to follow their convictions so we can enjoy the freedom we have today and the sacred gifts placed in each one of us.

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

To Register contact: Anna King 828-454-6682 Or email: registrar@lakejunaluska.com
Lodging and Meals: Contact: Resertvations: 800-222-4930 reservations@lakejunaluska.com
Program Questions: Contact: Rev. Cheryl Toothe 828-454-6724 ctoothe@lakejunaluska.com

I hope to see you there… Jonathan Maracle
Oh na ge wa he.. good bye for now

Broken Walls
Broken Walls

ABOUT BROKEN WALLS Broken Walls now consists of Bill Pagaran (Tlingit) from Palmer, Alaska on the drums, Kris DeLorenzi (Italian) from Thunder Bay, Ontario on bass and backup vocals, and Jonathan Maracle (Mohawk) lead vocalist and guitarist. Broken Walls base many of their songs on the ancient sounds of the First Nations People of North America and often perform around their large Pow Wow drum, singing songs of and to the Creator. The band has a team of First Nations Dancers that often accompany them in full regalia when they perform. http://www.brokenwalls.com

Broken Walls (Bill Pagaran, Jonathan Maracle, Kris DeLorenzi)
Broken Walls (Bill Pagaran, Jonathan Maracle, Kris DeLorenzi)

Special Announcement: TONIGHT on John Stossel ~ Eagle Feather Case

Special Announcement:
TONIGHT on FOX Business Network on JOHN STOSSEL

Interview with Pastor Robert Soto (Lipan Apache) regarding the Eagle Feather Case.

Friday, April 17th at 9:00 PM EST
Again on Saturday, April 18th at 5:00 PM and 10:00 PM Eastern Time

This case began March 11, 2006 and finally came to a close on March 10, 2015 when the Department of the Interior returned the original 50 feathers.

Watch. Like. Share. Post. Trend.

Thank you for the many prayers and years of support.

#Stossel
#RobertSoto
#EagleFeatherCase

Pray for First Nations: Compassionate Ministry

First Nations Monday
“Holding Up The People In Prayer”

Monday, March 9, 2015 – WK 10 – Compassionate Ministry

DID YOU know that it is impossible to be a ‘perfect’ Christian? Still, we must pursue that goal into eternity, risking heartache along the way.

Those serving in First Nations ministry can experience hurt and frustration to the point of endangering their walk with Christ.

TODAY, I INVITE YOU to pray with me that our Native people and those serving in Native Ministry will be loving and patient, knowing they are imperfect servants reaching out to broken people.

Jeremiah 22:2-3 says, “I am the Lord, so pay attention! You have been allowing people to cheat, rob and take advantage of widows, orphans, and foreigners who live here. Innocent people have become victims of violence, and some of them have even been killed. But now I command you to do what is right and see that justice is done. Rescue everyone who has suffered from injustice.”

Ask our Creator to encourage our First Nations people and those serving in Native Ministry, who strive to live right in a fallen world.

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES (4 translations: The Scriptures, CEV, Amplified, KJV): To read all the additional Scriptures, in the following 4 translations, as well as listen to the audio of this prayer point, visit the http://www.firstnationsmonday.com/prayerguide/wk10.htm .

“The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. Please also note the links to Scripture in Cherokee.

For New Testament Scripture references in Cherokee,
visit http://www.cherokeenewtestament.org

First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.
http://www.firstnationsversion.com/

Cherokee Bible Project Titles:
Genesis in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
CORINTHIANS in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
The Revelation of John in Cherokee (coming)
http://tuscanyglobal.com/bible/

FirstNationsMonday.Com
Est. May 2000

Pray for First Nations for Enthusiasm To Preach

First Nations Monday
“Holding Up The People In Prayer”

Monday, February 23, 2015 – WK 8 – Enthusiasm To Preach

WHEN WAS the last time you were truly enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel, knowing in your spirit that Christ’s return is drawing near?

In Revelation 1:3, John says that our Creator will bless everyone who hears and obeys His prophecy, and that the time is almost here.

After years of evangelism among our Native people, some reports suggest that less than 2% are serving Christ. Those involved in First Nations ministry carry a heavy burden to reach the lost before Jesus returns.

TODAY, I INVITE YOU to pray with me that our Native people and those serving in Native Ministry will be dedicated to spreading the message of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “Finally, our friends, please pray for us. This will help the message about the Lord to spread quickly, and others will respect it, just as you do.”

Ask our Creator to allow His message to spread quickly through the joyful cooperation of our First Nations people and those serving in Native Ministry.

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES (4 translations: The Scriptures, CEV, Amplified, KJV): To read all the additional Scriptures, in the following 4 translations, as well as listen to the audio of this prayer point, visit the http://www.firstnationsmonday.com/prayerguide/wk08.htm .

“The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. Please also note the links to Scripture in Cherokee.

For New Testament Scripture references in Cherokee,
visit http://www.cherokeenewtestament.org

First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.
http://www.firstnationsversion.com/

Cherokee Bible Project Titles:
Genesis in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
CORINTHIANS in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
The Revelation of John in Cherokee (coming)
http://tuscanyglobal.com/bible/
FirstNationsMonday.Com
Est. May 2000

**  As we approach 15 years of our prayer mobilization project and international networking of prayer for First Nations / Native American / American Indian people, I am reminded of my own journey through periods of decreased enthusiasm and indifference.   How much more do the warriors on the front line struggle through peaks and valleys. Today, even more than yesterday, finds this week’s prayer point vital and relevant.  Thank you for your continued prayer and support.

Eagle Feather Case – VICTORY!!!

This past week has been very exciting across Turtle Island.  Below are 3 posts that Pastor Robert Soto (Lipan Apache) has posted recently regarding their long awaited victory in their eagle feather case.  I spoke with Robert last night and he mentioned that he will be writing a more in depth email at a later date with the details of what this all means, as well as announcing the date for a ceremony to receive back the feathers that were taken away in 2006.  PLEASE read his comments below.  Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post, as well as contact Robert with your comments and questions.  He can be reached at ROBTSOTO@aol.com.  You can also follow Robert on Facebook

Pastor Robert Soto (Lipan Apache) performing the Eagle Dance at an outreach in Montana.
Pastor Robert Soto (Lipan Apache) performing the Eagle Dance at an outreach in Montana.

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August 20, 2014

To all my family, friends and those who I have never met but have been supporting us since March 11, 2006 – first of all, thank you so very much for your support these last seven and a half years. But today, I want to announce to you that we have won our Eagle Feather lawsuit, McAllen Grace Brethren Church, et al v. U.S. Attorney General USDC No. 7:07-CV-60, against the Department of Interior in THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT. I’m not sure what all this means except for now, WE HAVE WON! I will be talking to my lawyers on Saturday when they come to speak to us at our Native church service and will write more later as more information is given. We do have to appear one more time in the lower district court to sort of finalize the decision. Continue to pray for us. For now, I would like to thank three individuals. First and foremost, I thank my Lord and my Savior Jesus for His helping hand in our lives. Secondly, I would like to thank our lawyers, Milo Colton of the Cherokee Nation and Marisa Salazar of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas for their endless and tireless continual work these last seven and a half years. Then, thank you to my wife, our family and friends who have stood with us through this whole ordeal. As I stated earlier, I will write more later as more information becomes available. So as it stands, we have won this part of the battle. Keep the next episode of this lawsuit in prayer as we return to the lower district court for the finalizing of the decision.

God bless,

Robert Soto Lipan Apache
from the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas and Pastor of McAllen Grace Brethren Church

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August 21, 2014

Thank you for all your good thoughts concerning our recent feather case decision. But I feel this not over. The government and the courts have given the case room for the Federal Government to regroup and start the fight all over again. You could almost say we won a battle, but not the war. Keep praying for us and our lawyers. My day was occupy with calls, reporters, Emails and FB message concerning the Eagle Feather Case. The war continues and we continue to fortify our faith through our Lord and Savior. God bless and thanks for your prayers.

—– <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< —–

Pastor Robert Soto

August 22, 2014

Well, it has been an interesting seven and half year journey. Most of you have no clue as to why we filed the law suit. It started on March 11, 2006 when agents from the Department of Interior of the Fish and Game Department went to our powwow dressed as tourists and filmed and photographed all the dancers at the pow wow. A couple of hours later, an agent from the department came and invaded what we call a sacred gathering, our pow wow. The circle is a special place we not only dance, but it is a place of prayer, a place of ceremonies, a place of traditions and a place where we can just express ourselves as Native People. While at the pow wow, I went to a booth out side the gym in the hall way and I noticed a man harassing my brother-in- law. As I got closer, he waved his badge and told me he was an agent of the Department of Interior, Fish and Game. Then he said to give him my two eagle feathers that I was wearing on my porcupine roach. The feathers that my brother-in -law had were mine. Before I knew it the federal agent tried to enter our circle in the gym. I stood in front of him to block him from going in. What happened next was the craziest excuse for violation of our circle that I had ever heard. He said he had the right to enter into the circle because we had violated three federal laws that ceased the sacredness of the circle giving the United States Government the right to enter our circle and harass our dancers. He stated the laws we violated in the form of three questions. He looked at me and said, “Are you a member of a Federally recognized Tribe. I said I was not so he said, “The law states that if you are not a member of a Federally recognized tribe is a violation of Federal Law and the circle ceases to be sacred.” Then he said, “Did you advertise the event in the newspaper?” as he waved a copy of the article we wrote with a picture and an invitation for the public to attend the pow wow. I said, “Yes.” He then said, “Federal laws says that when a Native American advertises his event in the newspaper, the event ceases to be sacred giving us the right to come and do as we please.” Then he said, “Was there the exchange of money in the circle, like a raffle, fifty/fifty, cake walks, vendor’s selling their crafts and did you honor a veteran by putting a dollar at his feet?” I said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Federal law states that if there is the exchange of money in the circle, the circle ceases to be sacred thus giving us the right to come in and do as we please.” While he went to his truck to take away the beautiful traditional bustle my brother-in- law had made, I went in and warned all the Native people in the circle who had eagle feathers that the Feds would soon be in the circle and I would not be able to hold them back. All I could think about was Custer and the 7th Cavalry sneaking in and massacring our people all over again. The enemy came and struck our pow wow when we least expected. An event made to celebrate and enjoy turned to chaos as our children ran with fear in their faces seeking their parents protection from the Federal Government who through their unjust laws, had violated a place that had always been sacred to our people, the Circle. What would happen tomorrow if our churches or our civil organizations were closed because they advertised their service in the newspaper or because they took up an offering? I am writing this so that you can understand why I had to start this journey almost eight years ago and why I decided that I would fight this until the day I take my last breath.

—– <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< —–

Please also see my previous post of February 20, 2014

The Eagle Feather Case – By Pastor Robert Soto (Lipan Apache)

I am re-posting Pastor Robert Soto’s post of February 11, 2014 regarding the ongoing Eagle Feather Case.  Pastor Robert Soto wears a lot of hats and titles, including pastor, teacher, dancer, and friend.  He is Lipan Apache.  He is a warrior and a leader.  We have been supporting Robert through this ordeal since the beginning through our First Nations Monday prayer network, social media, and my Across Turtle Island radio programs.  Please forward and feel free to contact Robert through the email provided at the end of the article.

Dear Friends:

First and foremost, I want to thank you for your prayers concerning our fight in the Eagle Feather Case. It is your prayers that have helped us in this fight to change laws that discriminate against all our Indian people, whether they belong to a tribe recognized by the Federal Government or a tribe recognized by the state or just for those who belong to neither. This is a battle that is now approaching its eighth year. It all started back on March 11, 2006 when several agents of the Department of Interior came during the morning session of our annual Spring pow wow and took pictures and video of all the dancers at our pow wow. Then an agent came back in the afternoon to target as many dancers as he could and take away their eagle feathers. In the end, forty-two of our feathers, thirty-six of which were given to me in 1971, were taken away.

On January 8, 2014, our lawyers were summoned to appear before the 15th District Federal Courts of Appeals in New Orleans Louisiana by three federal judges who wanted further explanations in our case. The miracle of all this is that only 100 of about 100,000 cases are heard by the District Courts of Appeals. Both our lawyers and the lawyer of the Department of Interior were called in to further explain the positions that they and we are taking. I do not have time to explain everything that happened at the summon but three things were established that might help us in the future. First of all, the federal Lawyers admitted that state-recognized Indians are just as much Indian as federally recognized Indians. Secondly, it was established that because of Federal laws and policies established by the federal government, they have produced two classes of Natives: one who qualifies for all benefits given by the federal government because their tribes are recognized by the federal government, and those who are just as much Indian as the others but who do not qualify for those same privileges because their tribes are not recognized by the federal government. The third thing that came out at the hearing was that a government which has established “Separation of Church and State” is now dictating who can worship as a Native and who cannot, and who can used sacred objects like Eagle Feathers as part of their religious practices and who cannot. Furthermore, our lawyers brought up that the Department of interior granted permits to let wind farms kill eagles for up to 30 years. They can kill eagles and get away with it but if a Native person finds a feather on the ground and picks it up, that person is in danger of being penalized and thrown into prison.

A lot of other issues came out in the hearing in which two of the three judges seemed to favor our cause over the government’s. I am writing now to inform you that the case will now be reviewed by the three judges who will make a decision any time between four to six weeks after the January 8th hearing, and to ask for your prayers. Our lawyers left the courtroom very confident that things went our way, but as we have learned before, that does not mean much when it comes to the federal government. So I ask you to keep this in your prayers as they make another decision.

I have been asked, what will happen after the hearing? It is my understanding that if we win and the government loses, they will appeal the case. Then if we lose and the government wins, we will appeal the case one more time. lf we have to appeal the case, it will go back to the 5th District Court of Appeals where our argument will be heard one more time. If we lose the second round and we decide to appeal it again, it goes to the Supreme Court, that is pending if they decide to hear the case.

I also want to stress that this lawsuit is not to get our feathers back. It is to change laws that govern the rights of all Native People. Laws that discriminate and dictate who can and who cannot practice what we call our Rights given to us by God the Creator to be who we are, American Indians. As I have said before, this is not about the feathers. We just want to be who we were created to be, American Indians. So I ask you to keep us in prayer, because whether we win or lose, the fight will continue until we cannot fight any more. But even if we lose in the highest court of the land, it will not change who I am and what in my heart I feel were rights given to me, not by the United States Government, but by God the Creator when I was born into a group of people known as the Lipan Apaches.

I would like to thank our attorneys, Milo Colton and Marisa Salazar, for their sincere, devoted and tireless commitment to see this through. They are an awesome team. God the Creator could not have sent us a better team. I would also like to thank the people of McAllen Grace Brethren Church whose prayers and support has gotten us this far.
God bless you and again, thank you for your many years of support, as well as for your prayers.

Robert Soto, Pastor
ROBTSOTO@aol.com

 

NEW UPDATE:  For the August 2014 update about winning this case, click HERE.