By: David Mehl and Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin
June 21, 2019
On March 11, 2006, American Jews were preparing for Purim, which was just two days away. They planned parties, gift baskets, and megillah readings secure in the knowledge that in the land of the free, they could practice their faith without fear of government interference. Meanwhile, in McAllen, Texas, another religious community seeking to peacefully practice its faith was in for a rude surprise.
That day, members of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas gathered at a pow-pow, a religious ceremony involving drums, dances, and eagle feathers. The tribe welcomed outsiders to observe the ritual, so a stranger politely observing and asking questions did not raise any suspicions. This man, however, was an undercover agent for the federal government’s Fish and Wildlife Service. His mission? To investigate the tribe’s possession of contraband eagle feathers.
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