Press Release

Media Advisory: Government to return confiscated eagle feathers to tribal leader tomorrow, March 10th Government still threatens tribal members with criminal penalties for practicing their faith

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

Washington, D.C. Tomorrow, March 10th, the United States government will return 42 eagle feathers it seized from Robert Soto, a religious leader and feather dancer of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, exactly nine years ago. The move comes seven months after the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled unanimously in Mr. Soto’s favor on his legal claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Eagle feathers play a central role in the religious practices of many American Indian tribes. On March 11, 2006, an undercover federal agent infiltrated Mr. Soto’s powwow and confiscated his feathers. Although the government has agreed to return Mr. Soto’s feathers due to the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, the government still claims that it can criminally prosecute the members of Mr. Soto’s tribe for using his feathers. And it still opposes Mr. Soto and his tribe in continuing litigation. (See Video)

Pastor Robert Soto, an American Indian feather dancer and holy man

The U.S. Government returns confiscated sacred eagle feathers to Mr. Robert Soto

March 10, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. CST

The Cisneros Law Firm
312 Lindberg St.
McAllen, Texas 78501

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at or 202.349.7224.


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”