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Old 03-13-2006, 02:56 PM   #1
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Federal agent confiscates feathers at pow wow

Robert Soto
PO BOX 3751
4129 N. 22nd St
McAllen, TX 78501
Tel. (956) 686-5757
e-mail. [email protected]
http://sontree.org/ ........writes
Dear Friends:

I have an urgent message to share with you but before I do I must
thank you for your prayers yesterday during our pow wow. It was one of
the most successful spring pow wows we have had.

The good thing is that we made enough money to meet all our expenses
for the pow wow and still have enough money to take all the workers
out for a hamburger after the pow wow. God moved in the hearts of a lot
of people and we had an awesome time.

One Indian lady came to me and said, "I travelled 150 miles to your
pow wow to ask you a big favor. On Monday, I will be operated on and I
am scared and need your prayers. I came to ask you pray for me on
Monday, that God our Creator will help me through this operation." I did
what I could to bring some peace and comfort and then I prayed with her.
Keep Susan in prayer as she will have back surgery on Monday.

The pow wow went great. It is one of two pow wows we sponsor each
year. This is our small pow wow, one day only and attracted about 75
dancers in the evening. Thank you so much for praying.

Now comes the urgent prayer request.

As you know, there are many things in our Native culture that are
sacred to us.

One is the circle we form when we do a pow wow. The things we do
within the circle are done with great respect and reverence.

Some of the objects we wear in our outfits are treated with great
respect and honor and we cherish the honor of having them. One such
object is the eagle feathers that have been passed on to us as a reminder
of who we are as Native people. We treat our Eagle Feathers with great
respect and take care of them.

Well, this has been a battle from the beginning.

Today, the federal government controls who may have and who may not
have Eagle Feathers. It has set its rules and regulations that restrict
us as Native Americans from using them in a good and sacred way.

Well, in spite of a good pow wow, we have a big problem.

On Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law was called outside the
circle by what he thought was a tourist with a question. It was a federal
agent who started to harass him and who eventually took his bustle
away.

As this was happening, I came out and he started harassing me about
my roach feathers and told me - without showing proof - that he was a
federal agent, and to take my feathers off and give them to him.

I asked him four times to show me proof that he was a federal agent
but in the process he continued to harass me and threaten me. He told
me 'I could do this the easy way or the hard way'. He threatened to
arrest me if I did not give him my roach feathers.

After the fourth request, he showed me proof that he was a federal
agent and then demanded I give him my roach feathers.

I told him no and that as a Native American I had the right to wear
these feathers. He then demanded I prove I was Native American,
which I did. Then he proceeded to take away my brother-in-law's bustles. I
turned to him and said he could not take them because those were my
feathers, which they were, and that I had loaned them to him, which
I had.

He told me that I did not have the right to lend my feathers to
anyone and that I was the only one who could legally use the feathers.

The argument continued and at the end he took the feathers with him
and then proceeded to enter the circle to harass other people. I tried
to stop him with the argument that this was our sacred gathering but by
this time he was out to prove a point and he barged into the pow wow
and started to harass some of the dancers and vendors.

He eventually left but with a set of bustles and roach feathers that
I had loaned to my brother in law. We will be meeting with him on
Tuesday to argue the point.

So I am asking you now to pray for me. I need to know you are
behind me. I am one man who will be facing the federal government on
Tuesday or Wednesday. I have a feeling that unless the Lord intervenes,
this will be a long, drawn-out battle.

Our tribal chairman will be sending an official complaint to the
federal office on Monday, and I have been advised to take this to
the local news as personal harassment and discrimination against our legal
right to use these feathers.

Pray that the Lord gives me wisdom to say and do the right thing
when we do meet. If ever I needed your prayers and support it is now. I
will keep you updated as things develop.

This has not been the first time we have been harassed, but this is
the first time they have taken feathers away from me. The bustle that
was taken was made out of feathers that were given to me back in 1970,
and the roach feathers were given to me by an Indian lady who I helped
through the dying process of cancer about ten years ago.

God bless.

Robert Soto Lipan Apache Warrior for Jesus
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Pastor Robert Soto
PO BOX 3751
4129 N. 22nd St
McAllen, TX 78501
Tel. (956) 686-5757
e-mail. [email protected]
http://sontree.org/ .
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:28 PM   #2
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sounds pretty rough - all i can say is i hope you have a permits for your feathers ... if not you're probably not going to get them back. aren't all native AMERICANS suppose to carry a permit for all your feathers?!?
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:38 PM   #3
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If you have a permit for the majority, that usually covers it. Some of the passed down feathers are covered by your roll card or cdib or a tribal letter, but I would'nt trust carrying that alone for a whole bustle. You can always call the fish and game that handles eagle permits for your area and see about having those feathers added to your permit, or have a permit made, but last time I asked about that they told me they did'nt make up permits for feathers that were passed down, I don't know if that's changed or not now.

One thing that he's right though Rasmel, you are'nt supposed to lend your feathers to a non-recognized native to use. Under law he had the right to take them and that's going to be what's gonna hurt you in getting them back.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chazziff
... aren't all native AMERICANS suppose to carry a permit for all your feathers?!?


Uhhh, don't know?

I've been overseas quite a lot to perform. Nobody never said nothing when we had to open our suitcases at customs.

One custom's guy even said, "oh, you're a hoop dancer huh?"


Go figure?
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:42 PM   #5
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the feather law went into effect in 1963 what about the hand me downs??...but if this article is true then the enthusist (non native that appreciate native culture not to get confused with the wannabe's) are in jeopardy of feds busting them????
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:17 PM   #6
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sounds kinda weird that a federal agent would be at some pw - callin out specific ppl. sounds like someone called them in ...
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:55 PM   #7
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ok...first i have a hard time believing for one second the guy was federal fish and wildlife for several reasons.. if any law enforcement agent is seizing something etc they have to identify themselves and show a badge esp when asked...if they didnt and the case went to court it would be thrown out...i also had a friend who was a special agent for us fish and wildlife...we had many long talks about ndn people with feathers and while there has been some hassling at powwows USFW is more concerned with ppl who are killing protected birds and the feather trade than hassling ppl at powwows...they dont have the resources to go after single ppl at powwows unless they have a reason to believe feathers are being sold there...now please dont for a second think im defending anything the govt does...and i think as with everything else the feather thing is bs...and ya i think only ndn ppl should be able to have feathers....but this doesnt sound like USFW to me...it could be state fw or it could have been someone who now has a bunch of feathers that they scammed if it was indeed USFW please let me know and i will try and contact my friend in usfw and see whats what and make sure he is aware of the situation...he was always concerned about ndn ppl being hassled about feathers....
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Old 03-14-2006, 08:57 PM   #8
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I tent to agree. In many parts of the country, we have achieved a political climate that is very scrutinous of police activity, especially when it gets boisterous when no violent crime is taking place and obviously no lives are at stake.

Police are required to follow orders and take action whether or not a subject is cooperative. A wildlife agent is required to make arrests or issue citations if (s)he finds a law being violated, not simply confiscate the feathers and drop the issue if the subject is kiss-butt to him/her and forks them over. Especially when the courts could then levy fines of thousands of dollars -- you know how desparate the Country is for money, now. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a scam and the "agent" presented fake ID knowing full well that many of us do NOT have Eagle Feather Permits, don't fully know the law, and will cave for fear of being arrested and thrown in jail. REAL police that I am familiar with are *finally* so in-fear of lawsuits that they usually do act like professionals, watching their words and actions toward the public, and thoroughly documenting their own every move. The paperwork alone would make a "powwow raid" such a pain in the badonkadonk that NO cop would want to even touch it -- and the public outcry? Just look at the Seattle WTO conference just a few years ago. Police car windshields would be getting smashed out all across town if the boys in blue misbehaved racially to that extent. At least, that is what we need the police to fear 24/7.

Of course, I've never been to Texas or the South and the impression that we have here on the Left Coast is that law enforcement in the Midwest/South is less than "politically-correct" and would have no qualms about acting exactly that way with NDN's.
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wakalapi
I tent to agree. In many parts of the country, we have achieved a political climate that is very scrutinous of police activity, especially when it gets boisterous when no violent crime is taking place and obviously no lives are at stake.

Police are required to follow orders and take action whether or not a subject is cooperative. A wildlife agent is required to make arrests or issue citations if (s)he finds a law being violated, not simply confiscate the feathers and drop the issue if the subject is kiss-butt to him/her and forks them over. Especially when the courts could then levy fines of thousands of dollars -- you know how desparate the Country is for money, now. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a scam and the "agent" presented fake ID knowing full well that many of us do NOT have Eagle Feather Permits, don't fully know the law, and will cave for fear of being arrested and thrown in jail. REAL police that I am familiar with are *finally* so in-fear of lawsuits that they usually do act like professionals, watching their words and actions toward the public, and thoroughly documenting their own every move. The paperwork alone would make a "powwow raid" such a pain in the badonkadonk that NO cop would want to even touch it -- and the public outcry? Just look at the Seattle WTO conference just a few years ago. Police car windshields would be getting smashed out all across town if the boys in blue misbehaved racially to that extent. At least, that is what we need the police to fear 24/7.

Of course, I've never been to Texas or the South and the impression that we have here on the Left Coast is that law enforcement in the Midwest/South is less than "politically-correct" and would have no qualms about acting exactly that way with NDN's.
good words Bro.....whats hard to believe is that if it was a legit law enforcement type they would only go after one person...i sincerely think it was a scam to get a bustle and roach
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:29 AM   #10
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I know this family well, my wife is Lipan and a kin to this very fine family. I have a little insight to this story. I have great respect for Robert and the rest of his family.

The papers and ID's were not right there with them. I know sometimes I get a little lax and don't always keep my papers and ID right with me. I myself have given some of these family members a feather and a copy of my paper. These feathers are Roberts and his sisters. The brother in law is diabetic and has taken it very hard. This Brother in Law is a very good Tradish. I am proud to call him my friend. This has caused some health problems and I hope the Fed has insurance.

I have known Feds to come around in OK from time to time. a friend of mine didn't have his papers right there with him and lost his feather. Before the Fed took the feather he cut off the bead work from the quil end. He told the Fed the Bead work was his. The Fed had a go to he!! look but took the feather anyway. How many of us dance with our IDs and Papers on/with us. I mostly keep mine in camp. I think this is an outrage. Some of the agents are out on a power trip and usually have a hidden, or not even hidden, agenda against NDNs.

My Prayers are with this family,FRIENDS.
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:34 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEROSAGE
I know this family well, my wife is Lipan and a kin to this very fine family. I have a little insight to this story. I have great respect for Robert and the rest of his family.

The papers and ID's were not right there with them. I know sometimes I get a little lax and don't always keep my papers and ID right with me. I myself have given some of these family members a feather and a copy of my paper. These feathers are Roberts and his sisters. The brother in law is diabetic and has taken it very hard. This Brother in Law is a very good Tradish. I am proud to call him my friend. This has caused some health problems and I hope the Fed has insurance.

I have known Feds to come around in OK from time to time. a friend of mine didn't have his papers right there with him and lost his feather. Before the Fed took the feather he cut off the bead work from the quil end. He told the Fed the Bead work was his. The Fed had a go to he!! look but took the feather anyway. How many of us dance with our IDs and Papers on/with us. I mostly keep mine in camp. I think this is an outrage. Some of the agents are out on a power trip and usually have a hidden, or not even hidden, agenda against NDNs.

My Prayers are with this family,FRIENDS.
i dont think anyones doubting what happened ,rather that this guy who claimed to be an agent really wasnt...this sint right no matter ....if it was indeed a fed agaent from us fish and wildlife let me know and ill try and contact my friend and i dont blame them for being upset at all and i hope the mans health is ok...and he certainly should seek legal recourse for whats happened...do you now if any id was ever produced by the alleged agent? theres a few things here ...one the lack of id...the feather seizure itself...and the agent desecrating the arbor and circle...
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:33 AM   #12
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Anybody try and take anything from me is going to be in for a confrontation and if that means physical so be it. How many times to we keep having to prove we have rights to practice our way of life. I have been in the mountains hunting and a wildlife office stopped me and my cousin. He said it was late in the day and they were going to be charging people if they were caught lamping. I said that we have the right to hunt and fish guaranteed in our treaty. Well he said that he had my licence plate number. I gave him one of my work cards too. I told him that if he ever took anything from me he would be named personally in a civil suit for the loss of anything. Whether it was a deer the hide the hoofs. I explained that I was not afraid to spend the night in jail if necessary or spend a lot of time in court. He explained that he wasn't going to arrest me at that time so I drove away. He followed me and turned his flashing lights. He said that I had to leave the mountain. I asked if he was going to arrest me and he said no then I told him that he was keeping me from doing my business and that if he stopped me again, it would be construed as harrassment. I drove away and left him standing there on the logging road pondering his next move. We did get a deer later that evening. If you stand up for yourself without getting ignorant or reacting really negative to the "authorities" they get baffled. It has also happened to me when I was out practicing our traditional harvesting of fish. I got asked if it was a commerical fishing or food fishing or ceremonial fishing time. I explained that I was fishing and that the fish didn't say anything to me about what type of fish they are. I will do with them as our family sees fit. If we use them to have a feast with the people then that is our business. If we want to trade or barter then that is our business. If we want to have ceremonies, its nobody else's business. If we don't stand up for ourselves when challenged then our rights will be lost a little at a time until we have nothing left. I explained during a protest meeting with fisheries that I will continue to hunt and fish as long as I am living, as will my son. At the time he was 6 years old. He is now 14 and we still practice our way of life. We need to stand with a defiant dignity and refuse to be silenced.
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Old 03-15-2006, 05:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
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I explained that I was fishing and that the fish didn't say anything to me about what type of fish they are. I will do with them as our family sees fit. If we use them to have a feast with the people then that is our business. If we want to trade or barter then that is our business. If we want to have ceremonies, its nobody else's business.
I absolutely love your reply to him Bad LOL!!!
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Old 03-15-2006, 11:27 AM   #14
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Anyone else here have a run in with F&G?

I was at a powwow in NJ a while back and was staring at these 2 ladies at the booth I was helping at. They looked like the typical white older shut-in women who havent had ANY in years. Big sunglasses and the big sun shield hat. You can picture it.

Well they were checking out some beats and stuff acting all naive, "wow these are pretty beads Eunice" "yes they are matilda". When all of a sudden I hear a police radio! CCCHHHHHSSSSSTTTTT!! POLICE BABBLE CCCHHHSSSSTTTT!!!! One lady grabbed at her side throught her flowery moo-moo and the radio went off.

They were feds!!

I started laughing and they walked away.
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Old 03-15-2006, 11:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyjoejimbob
Anyone else here have a run in with F&G?

I was at a powwow in NJ a while back and was staring at these 2 ladies at the booth I was helping at. They looked like the typical white older shut-in women who havent had ANY in years. Big sunglasses and the big sun shield hat. You can picture it.

Well they were checking out some beats and stuff acting all naive, "wow these are pretty beads Eunice" "yes they are matilda". When all of a sudden I hear a police radio! CCCHHHHHSSSSSTTTTT!! POLICE BABBLE CCCHHHSSSSTTTT!!!! One lady grabbed at her side throught her flowery moo-moo and the radio went off.

They were feds!!

I started laughing and they walked away.
LMFAO thats priceless
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Old 03-15-2006, 12:50 PM   #16
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if a fed has a badge then he has a badge number!!!! they HAVE to provide it to you so ASK FOR IT and WRITE IT DOWN!!!!
if any citations are issued, the issuing officer's badge number is listed on those papers!
if the so-called fed can't or won't show you a badge/number...the he's a phony...call tribal police and have the person escorted out of the area and trespassed so they can't come back.
phony feds are trying to catch you off-guard so you can't fight back...so don't argue...just ask for that BADGE NUMBER!!!!!
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:24 PM   #17
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I mc'd a p/w in South Carolina one year, when, we got word that a Fed was confiscating a venders items. This vender is Lumbee and very well known throughout the p/w circuit.

Well, the vender had some items that were made out of bear paw. He said that this guy kept coming around his booth looking at his jewelry and stuff. Finally, the guy came back to his booth and asked him how much was is bear paw items. He told him that it was not for sale, but, if he bought a piece of jewlry he could give him an item of his choice. The guy bought some jewelry and picked out a item that he liked. This vender kept his word and gifted him with the item.

Later on that night, the guy came back and told him that he was a fed. He told him that he was confiscating ALL of his items because he was selling bear parts. When the vender tried to defend his self, the fed just started taking everything. You never know when or where they will show up.
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:22 AM   #18
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Virginia case:/found at another forum

COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
Present: Chief Judge Moon, Judges Elder and Bray
Argued at Salem, Virginia
TIMOTHY MARC HOREN v. Record No. 2835-95-3
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA OPINION BY
CHIEF JUDGE NORMAN K. MOON DIANE PATRICIA HOREN JANUARY 14, 1997
v. Record No. 2836-95-3
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF AUGUSTA COUNTY
Thomas H. Wood, Judge
James J. Knicely (Samuel Swindell; Knicely & Cotorceanu; Kratman, Pethybridge & Swindell, on briefs), for appellants.
Kathleen B. Martin, Assistant Attorney General (James S. Gilmore, III, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Timothy Horen and Diane Horen were convicted of possession of wild bird feathers and parts in violation of Code 29.1-521(10).1 The dispositive question is whether the application of Code 29.1-521(10) to prohibit the possession of lawfully obtained owl feathers for the practice of the Horens' Native American religion violates their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:24 AM   #19
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pt.2

We find that Code 29.1-521(10) is not a religiously neutral statute, that it substantially burdens the free exercise of the Horens' religion, and that the Commonwealth failed to prove that application of it to the Horens advances a compelling state interest or does so in the least restrictive manner. Therefore, we hold that under the facts and circumstances of this case the application of Code 29.1-521(10) to the Horens violates their constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion and their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
On February 10, 1995, responding to an anonymous complaint that the Horens had hybrid wolf pups and wild bird parts at their residence, Officer Steve Bullman, a State Game Warden, and Officer Bill Parker conducted an undercover investigation. Bullman and Parker, dressed in plain clothes, approached Mrs. Horen, a Native American medicine woman and member of the Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy, at her home and pretended to be interested in purchasing wolf pups. Mrs. Horen explained that she did not have any pups at present but that she would take the gentlemen's addresses and phone numbers and contact them when she did.
Bullman and Parker accompanied Mrs. Horen into her home. Inside, they observed a variety of Native American objects which had adorning feathers. The officers also observed two sets of wings and two sets of bird feet, later identified as owl feet and wings. Subsequently, these items were seized, and the Horens were charged with violations of Code 29.1-521(10).
The circuit court held a pretrial evidentiary hearing on the Horens' motions to dismiss the indictments on free exercise and other constitutional grounds. The Horens produced evidence regarding the significance of the owl feathers in the practice of their Native American religion. In addition to the Horens' testimony, George Branham Whitewolf also testified on the Horens' behalf. Whitewolf identified himself as a Lakota, or Sioux, Indian. He testified that he is the spiritual leader for the Monocan Tribe in Virginia and that he has practiced the Native American religion for forty-eight years. Whitewolf indicated that he has been a Native American religion advisor for the Virginia prison system and was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a religious advisor to a committee to rewrite the Native American Religious Freedom Act.
The Horens and Whitewolf testified that feathers and other bird parts are significant objects in the Native American religion because they represent the spirit of the bird from which they come. Mrs. Horen testified that certain essentials of the Native American religion, such as prayer, cleansing, purification, consecration and healing practices require feathers or other bird parts. Whitewolf testified that "Mrs. Horens' religious beliefs are consistent with the Native American religion. Different feathers mean different things to different tribes. For example, I wouldn't touch an owl feather. To me an owl is a symbol of death, and I wouldn't want anything to do with an owl. But in other tribes, the owl is revered. The feathers are a must for Indians." Mrs. Horen testified that owl feathers are of special significance to her tribe and that because they are the feathers of soaring birds, "they carry prayers to the Creator; as night hunters, they fly noiselessly and see well in the dark; and as night messengers of death, their feathers are strong medicine."
Whitewolf also testified that the Horens could not get a permit to have feathers because the Horens are not members of a federally recognized tribe. Whitewolf explained that there is a feather bank in Colorado which is supposed to be the only place to obtain feathers and that he is one of only one hundred and twenty people who are not members of federally recognized tribes that have permits to have feathers. Whitewolf stated that he acquired his permit before the federal government decided to limit permits to people who belong to a federally recognized tribe.2
.
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:27 AM   #20
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pt 3

Mr. Horen testified that the owl is a bird revered by the Iroquois from whom the Horens are descended. Mr. Horen also testified that they do not believe in killing these birds because this would dishonor the Creator. Mr. Horen explained he believes that if you find a feather it is a gift from the Creator and before picking up the feather you must perform a ceremony indicating your respect. Mr. Horen stated that the feathers and owl parts seized from his home were from two dead owls he discovered along roadsides and that he and his family found some of the feathers while walking in the woods.
The Horens' motions to dismiss on free exercise, free speech, equal protection, and due process grounds were denied. In denying the motions, the trial court stated its belief that the protection of fowl was a compelling governmental interest and that the imposition of a Class three misdemeanor for mere possession was the least restrictive means of accomplishing this goal. The court also refused to permit the Horens to present evidence about the religious significance of their possession of the seized items. The Horens were permitted to put on the record in restricted form a statement that the items seized had religious significance. However, they were not allowed to explain the religious significance of the seized items. The circuit court also refused to give the Horens' proposed jury instructions elaborating on federal and state constitutional and statutory defenses.
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