On March 18, 2009, SR 438 "Recognizing the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas" authored by Senator Hinojosa was adopted in the Texas Senate, legislative session 81(4). Jointly, on the same day, HR 812 "Recognizing the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas" authored by Representatives Hunter and Herrero was adopted in the Texas House of Representatives. Although not signed by the Governor or law, these resolutions expressed the views of the Senate and the House in recognizing the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas as "the present-day incarnation of the clans, bands, and divisions historically known as the Lipan Apaches, who have lived in Texas and northern Mexico for 300 years" and commending the people of this Tribe for their contributions to the state.
◈ SR 438
◈ HR 812
For background of nine years of litigation on the rights of Lipan Apache to use and possess eagle feathers for their American Indian religious and ceremonial practices, read "Factual and Procedural Background" in McAllen Grace Brethren Church et al v Salizar and "Recital" in McAllen Grace Brethren Church et al v Jewell
In August 2014, after nine years of litigation by Robert Soto and plaintiffs, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the seizure of 50 (originally reported as 42) eagle feathers in the 2006 pow wow violated Robert Soto's rights as a "sincere adherent to an American Indian religion" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. They concluded that Congress did not specifically aim to safeguard the religious rights solely of federally recognized tribe members.
In the case of Soto, the Court accepted that he was "without dispute an [American] Indian" and a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe acknowledged to have "long historical roots" in Texas and who had a history of "government-to-government" relationships with the Republic of Texas, State of Texas, and the United States. The opinion discussed and was limited only to "Soto's RFRA claim based on his and his tribe's status". They remanded to the lower district court for proceedings consistent with their opinion, and the case was cabined to "Native American co-religionists" (referring to the "religious practices of real Native Americans").
On March 2015, the Department of Interior returned the 50 eagle feathers taken at the 2006 pow wow to Robert Soto. Some of the plaintiffs in the case joined Soto at the cleansing ceremony as the federal agent returned the feathers.
Nevertheless, although the feathers were returned and even if used in American Indian religious practices, the law criminalizing feather possession by individuals who were not enrolled in federally recognized tribes had not been repealed by the federal government. And the Department of Interior made it clear that if Soto possessed "any other eagle feathers, or if other Plaintiffs borrow his feathers or possess additional feathers, they [were] all subject to enforcement 'on a case-by-case basis consistent with controlling statutory and case law.'" Consequently, the "American Indian plaintiffs" filed a motion for injunctive relief, seeking to prevent the government from "investigating or punishing" them for their religious practices while the case [was] pending". (The Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Preliminary Injunction, McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Jewell, No. 7:07-cv-60)
After the Motion for injunctive relief was filed, the Department of Interior requested a settlement to the case. And, on June 3, 2016, the DOI and the plaintiffs signed a settlement agreement whereby the Department of Interior granted lifetime permits to over 400 Native Americans plaintiffs who were not members of federally recognized tribes to "possess, carry, use, wear, give, loan, or exchange among other Indians, without compensation, all federally protected birds, as well as their parts or feathers" for their "Indian religious use", in accordance to "the terms set forth in the DOI's February 5, 1975 'Morton Policy'". The case was officially closed on February 17, 2017.
Federal Court Cases:
In 2019, State of Texas 86th Legislature, adopted concurrent resolutions Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 61 (SCR 61) and House Concurrent Resolution No. 171 (HCR 171) that affirmed the Texas Legislature's views that the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas was "the present-day incarnation of a proud people who have lived in Texas and northern Mexico for more than 300 years" and commended the the people of this Tribe for their contributions to the state. Each concurrent resolutions were signed by the Senate, House, and the Governor.
◈ SCR 61
◈ HCR 171