brightly colored feathers in aztec headdress
Feathers were used in Aztec religious ceremonies and rituals.

Turns out that Indigenous Aztec dancers and U.S. Border Patrol agents aren’t exactly birds of a feather.

A group of Aztec performers have filed a claim against the U.S. Department of the Interior, alleging religious discrimination after border agents seized upwards of 1,500 tribal feathers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The dancers say they experienced extreme emotional distress, and are seeking $1 million in compensation per person, as well as the return of the sacred feathers.

Will a huge settlement migrate their way?

What the Flock?

Danza Azteca Tenochtitlán is an LA-based group of dancers composed largely of Ruby Marek and her family members.

The group was returning from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, when they were stopped by Border Patrol agents. They noticed Marek’s hair clip, which is adorned with feathers, in the glove box, prompting a search of their vehicle.

Marek says that the agents made them feel like common criminals. “It was like you see in the news, when they’re searching cars from drug traffickers,” she explains. They were searching the tires, they were checking underneath the car, everything.”

All told, border agents seized some 1,500 feathers from the group, from birds as varied as turkeys, macaws, ducks, emus, and hawks.

Agents cited the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which “protects wild birds by preventing their killing by collectors and the commercial trade in their feathers, and extends to all feathers, regardless of how they were obtained,” according to the Fish and Wildlife Service website. 

However, per that very same website, “exceptions do exist… for the use of feathers by Native Americans.”

Bird feathers played a key cultural and religious role in Aztec communities – beliefs which have been passed down through generations. 

aztec painting of feathers

Brightly colored headdresses, for example, were widely used in religious customs of the ancient Aztecs, and it is believed that such garments were some of the most important possessions of Aztec emperors.

There is also evidence that warriors and priests similarly adorned themselves with feathers.

No Cawing Matter

While transporting feathers across the U.S.-Mexico border is against the law, Marek says she didn’t think there was any issue considering most of her feathers were from non-exotic birds like ducks.

The macaw feathers, she says, were collected from a friend’s pet. Some of the feathers have since been returned, but others, like the macaw feathers, remain in the custody of the U.S. government.

The group’s lawyer says that at no point did border agents ask if the feathers were used for religious purposes. 

Border Violation

With the guidance of legal counsel, the group has filed a claim against the U.S. Department of the Interior, saying they violated their religious freedom when they seized the feathers.

They’d like their remaining feathers back, and $1 million in compensation each, arguing that they were humiliated, their faith violated, and were made to feel like criminals at the border as their car was ransacked and feathers seized. 

“All we do is share our customs in an artistic and creative way,” says Marek. “I’d love to demonstrate my culture and religion without being treated like a criminal.”

Should the claim be denied, the group says, they’ll pursue legal action. 

What do you make of the controversy? Was it religious discrimination, or were border agents just doing their job?


  1. Najah P Tamargo's Avatar Najah P Tamargo

    Minister Najah Tamargo USA

    Anybody that has had the opportunity to learn "real history", as opposed to the white-washed crap they teach now, know that pretty much all Indigenous Peoples used feathers for various religious and ceremonial events.
    Those custom agents had NO RIGHT to even touch those feathers, let alone confiscate them!!!! SHAME SHAME on them! The Aztec Dancers, which I have had the honor to see in person, are sharing their ways with the outsiders of the world. Their work is admired and beautiful, therefore, should be respected. I will pray for these items to be RETURNED, uninjured, to their rightful owners, along with a very long apology from the offending officers, and the Customs Office! And maybe that office should include a very long training session on the observation of the religious rights of Indigenous Peoples!!!!

    1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

      You need to do research in these areas. Our own American Indians have to follow the laws when using such feathers like eagle feathers, etc. Just because they are for religious purposes doesn't mean they can just bring any item in. Nativebpeoples still have to obey the laws.

      1. Asa William Sprague, II's Avatar Asa William Sprague, II

        There is zero evidence presented to indicate that these Aztec dancers were in violation of the law. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act provides exceptions for the use of feathers by Native Americans.

        1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

          If the USA, were to use its federal government, to do, as Portugal has done, and decriminalize all currently illegal narcotics— it should achieve results similar to Portugal, so our GOP would no longer make a huge amount of money, by building private prisons— resulting in massive campaign contributions to MAGA candidates,

          Rev. MichaelIRS (he isn’t a ULC minister, is he?) just made a strategic mistake though, he blamed Biden, instead of the MAGA’ers, for doing nothing to ameliorate the USA’s drug mess,

          1. James M Plummer's Avatar James M Plummer

            It's strange for the Aztec Dancers to need 1500 feathers of head dress for tribal religious performances. That's seems to me, to be more than for religous seremonies. I believe they were also selling exotic bird feathers which is illegal, as like selling drugs. If that was true, than they deserve to have their merchandise confiscated and seize under the disguise of religious seremonies.

            1. Michael Lowrey's Avatar Michael Lowrey

              I am NOT an expert. However, in my limited study of native and central American peoples, one head-dress can consist of 100 - 200 feathers. This would mean they could make 7 - 15 head-dresses. Older dancers retire and keep their head-dress. Newer dancers make their head piece under the instruction of an elder. They make it their own. It grows as they grow. Considering there may be 20 - 50 dancers, this would seem to be an entirely appropriate number of feathers. I don't want to speak for any first peoples on this website. Please correct me if I am wrong.

              “Seek Wisdom, Not Knowledge. Knowledge Is Of The Past, Wisdom Is Of The Future.”

        2. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

          I would think state laws may take pre idence over the Bird Act depending on the court of certain judges. Especially the states like Arizona, Californication, and New Mexico since they raise many fruits and vegetables. You can't take even an orange grown in Arizona into California or vi e versa. Just an example.

  1. Najah P Tamargo's Avatar Najah P Tamargo

    Minister/DR Najah Tamargo USA

    Dear Dr. Z. Since you, obviously, have no knowledge of any religions before yours rolled around, I suggest you keep your hate talk to yourself.

    So....when they come for YOUR religious items......TOUGH....DO NOT CAR AT ALL and BOO HOO! These people make their money honestly from their performances. The confiscation of those feather you find so useless, could take years to replace, and totally suspend their schedules, undermining their honest and legal source of income. Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt!

    1. Marqueta K Wehunt's Avatar Marqueta K Wehunt

      God gives us ALL free will and I believe that includes the choice of our way to worship. He loves you and I the same without discrimination. While some countries may get away with dictating what is allowed the USA was founded by freedom of speech and religion. I do agree that we have to protect endangered species, in any country. "But" unless you can prove them to be poachers or killing animals just for profit.....give them back the feathers, apologize and at least compensate lost income for the time the headdress' were held by the government.

  1. Rev. MichaelRS's Avatar Rev. MichaelRS

    Thanks to the Biden Administration we have cartel members and drugs and human smuggling across the border like never before and this is what the US Border Patrol busy themselves with? Ridiculous.

    1. laverne parks's Avatar laverne parks

      I don't believe Politics should be brought into Religion. So in regards to your statement MichaelRS, I can't consider you to be a true Reverend or even a Minister if you want to play the Political game along with Religion.

      1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

        You misunderstand the concept of separation of church and state. Nolaws may be established in favor of one or another religion by the state. This does not mean you cannot use your own religious beliefs in public service . Religion is the moral grounds to judge public servants . If they are immoral in any way in public or personal life we have an obligation to remove them. Educate yourself and Read JFK'S "Profiles in Courage" and Richard Nixon's "Leaders". And apply it to religious beliefs. You answer to your constituents and if you disagree on their majority opinion you have the obligation to educate them to your ideas and if you vote against their majority opinion they have an obligation to recall you and demand a new state election in the disctrict. If the Senate a state election or the Govetnor appoints a new senator preferably from the same party. You might gain a new insight from these great public servants if you truly have a brain to reason with, which I daresay most Americans today lack the ability to reason logically and objectively. To many have bern indoctrinated and not taught to reason with philosophy. And mist Americans don't understand the word indoctrination today or they wouldn't comply with Sicialism and Communism of the Democrats and RINOS. IT IS AMERICA FIRST NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY.

    2. Maximillian Martin's Avatar Maximillian Martin

      That's a lie!! You crazy trump freaks think he can do no wrong and everything that goes wrong is Bidens fault. Get a life idiots!!!

      1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement


        Be reasonable, the border has unknowns from 170+ countries pouring in. Remove all political views from that fact. It's not wise to allow so many unknown people to just break our laws from day one and then do whatever they please when they're here. Let's just look at the situation, not the president. They've captured many islamic enemy agents crossing. We don't know how many they didn't catch. Our actual survival counts on that border getting under control.

        1. Maximillian Martin's Avatar Maximillian Martin

          They were harassed because of their CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED 1st amendment rights to freedom of religion. The feathers are a part of the Aztec culture and religion. No exceptions to that!!! The government needs to back off!!! And there have been very few to NO Islamic agents, as you said, cross into the US from Mexico. Your paranoia is unbelievable!!!

          1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement


            In 2022 they captured more terrorists at the southern border than were involved with the trade center airliner attacks in 2001. Friend, it's not paranoia when someone other than me reports what the government tells them. There are articles from tons on news outlets. Its unwise to ignore these facts. The feather issue probably could have been avoided had they followed proper procedures. You can't just break the law then claim religious freedoms. You claim religious freedoms first then take the contraband across the border with permission.

            1. Cyril R. VanKeirsbelk's Avatar Cyril R. VanKeirsbelk

              Please tell me what heinous terroristic plot was going to use 1500 feathers?

              1. Pink Clover's Avatar Pink Clover

                Thank you for starting my day off with a laugh! 😄

              2. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

                Cyril, Since you're assuming these feathers would be used in a terror attack, I'm guessing they'll tar and feather themselves then fly into the capital building with a giant rotten ostrich egg....

              3. Michael Lowrey's Avatar Michael Lowrey

                "Please tell me what heinous terroristic plot was going to use 1500 feathers."

                A massive feather pillow fight? Oh the horror!! Think of the children!

                *This was intended to be sarcastic. Bringing some levity to what is a very preventable event. The Aztec Dancers should have shipped them with documentation, and the Border Patrol should be trained enough to help them do it correctly, not treat them as criminals.

          2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

            Sorry max but no.If they would have said something about this being part of their religion they may have had a chance. But you cant now make that claim and expect it to be believable. As a Native American myself, we had to actually show valid documentation when we came back from Mexico to the border guards showing that we in actuality Native Americans (we showed them our Bureau of Indian Affairs ID Card showing our Nation (cherokee) our clan/tribe (wolf clan) that had valid pictures on it as well as our drivers licenses showing same. And we have a LEGAL right covered by treaties with the US Government for us to be able to have actual Bald eagle feathers and we STILL had to go through these hoops. So if they are not willing to abide by American law, then maybe they need to go to live someplace else. And if you think for one second our laws are tough...try doing this stunt in Canada and then want to cross back over to the US. This will be a nice summer vaca compared to the microscope you would be going under

        2. Curtis W Miller's Avatar Curtis W Miller

          Do you all remember what this was about-feathers!

      2. Karen Houston's Avatar Karen Houston

        I think you need to step back. Biden blames Trump for everything . No matter what it is or was. Biden fell up stairs 3 times Trump made me do it. I fell off my bike Trump made me do it. Maui is burning, Trump did it I'm not senting help.Trump is the only one that gives a toot about this country. I'm sure he's sending help to the islands , while Biden is on vacation yet again.

        1. Tom Herman's Avatar Tom Herman

          Frist, I have no empathy for Trump. The justice system has indicted him numerous times and he will get every opportunity (more than you and I) to defend himself. If he's proved guilty, justice will prevail. Second, this is a story about religious freedoms, not politics. How does a story about feathers get to be about our Presidents? Stick to the topic.

        2. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

          Other way around Karen. Biden actually stays out of it all and has been leaving it to the the DoJ. Almost everyone involved in both investigation and prosecution in the early stages of all this were actually Trump people. Even much of the evidence actually came from Trump's team. It was always Trump doing the deeds, in many cases even admitting to it but claiming immunity which is nonsense. Are you really just not paying attention here?? Or are you listening to him, only him and nobody else but him even though it's been proven many times over he's a freaking liar?!?

        3. CJC's Avatar CJC

          Comment removed by user.

      3. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

        Actually, not true.

    3. James Richard Norby's Avatar James Richard Norby

      Spoken from the Donald Trump playbook. Sad.

      1. Angelic Realms's Avatar Angelic Realms

        The law isn't Trump's playbook. The laws are being completely ignored, and places like NYC is suffering for it. This has nothing to do with Trump, so get over your raging TDS. This is about an indigenous tribe and their items were taken and is a violation of the first amendment.

      2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        I bet you’re also okay with upsurge of Fentanyl coming across the border….right, James, or is your TDS going to affect your thought structure? I bet you also think Harris is doing a great job of stemming the illegal drug trade from crossing the border.


        1. William J Lewis's Avatar William J Lewis

          Were these fentanyl feathers? I missed that part.

  1. Angelic Realms's Avatar Angelic Realms

    So they're on the case to steal feather but look the other way when a truck as 50 people and a coyote baking to death in the back or enough fentanyl to kill all mankind. Sure, that's our utter trash government. Such losers.

    1. Raymond D. Murray Jr.'s Avatar Raymond D. Murray Jr.

      If you hate the American government so much, please feel free to leave. It is apparent that you have never served and have not sacrificed for the freedoms we have. I am beginning to believe that the right to vote should be connected to government service. Swearing an oath to the Constitution of the United States is a serious level of commitment that many "citizens" cannot fulfill. "In God we trust" is a truism brought to our government by the founding fathers and I would think that those Americans that believe in God would work to make American government better by opposing Marxism, Communism, and Socialism.

      1. Pink Clover's Avatar Pink Clover

        In God We Trust was not even adopted until 1956. Government and religion should be separate entities. Period.

        1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

          You misundertand what government truly is: WE THE PEOPLE. Not our elected officials. They represent us ,not they represent themselves. Presently, they are doing just that. And religion is an arm of the people to judge them morally and ethnically which presently they aren't doing. Open borders doesn't represent America's interest in the upsurge of recognizing illegals as legal immigrants. Come to America legally. Also, selling out to a proxy war like Ukraine to benefit your own pockets is not in American interests or bowing to China. That's treason and calls for the death penalty if found guilty. I think our Indigenous Hawaiians in Maui showed their American patriotism the other day telling Biden to **** off. They are falling to the biggest land grab in American history and the Democrats won't do anything about it. It falls into their sellout to the Great Reset. And this is the biggest land grab by the rich in the cost value of real estate today. The whole Greenovelentvand Climate Change does not favor the average American of any color or religion. Alit of politics involved her not in favor of the Nation or the people. The federal government is supposed to work for America and answer to the stztesvand the People. Not answer to themselves ( those in public office or big Pharma or corporations). Think on that. Religion does play a role if its in line with each faiths tradition Not liberal BS. In most faiths, our values ate pretty similar . Church laws may differ alittle or alot. That has nothing to do right now. That's another subject.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    This group of dancers is based here so I am assuming that the feathers had crossed the border on the way into Mexico. Apparently the border guards were bored and wanted to make a big deal out of it. No idea why they would do such a thorough search from finding rather average feathers. Doubt there was any religious bigotry involved but these guards were definitely wrong.

  1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

    I'd think we'd be more worried about the machine gun weilding cartel members pouring through the border than an Aztec head dress. Then again, maybe I've already had too much to think this morning. Sounds like they're US citizens which explains a lot. Our government is more hostile towards it's citizens than illegal immigrants. Pick a team in D.C, it won't matter, they both run us through the ringer. Give the pretty feathers back and seize the machine gun guys instead. Maybe save a life or two.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Indigenous people are not above the law and should know what you can and can't take into the country with them.

  1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

    If the law prohibits bringing in feathers, tough. If it was subsequently found that some of the feathers were okay and returned, no harm done.
    If some feathers were lost and/or destroyed, actual replacement value. Religious value? Do not care at all. Trauma due to feather confiscation? Boo hoo. Grow up. They want money, plain and simple.

    1. Angelic Realms's Avatar Angelic Realms

      How are you a pastor? Aren't you here to serve humanity? These things should never happen, they didn't have contraband while the entire region is rife with cartels the "authorities" won't touch. A while ago, some fool stole the Hopi idols from theri sacred cave and sold them. The guy was literally cursed. Nor could he convince the buyer to return the items and they also had supernatural bad luck.

      If you don't believe in ethics, and love and wonders, why are you here, so you could be mean?


      1. Pink Clover's Avatar Pink Clover

        "If you don't believe in ethics, and love and wonders"

        That is why so many people are and have left religion, especially Christians. The last 8 years have shown us who these people are. It's going to take a LONG time to trust them again.

        In 2017 Lifeway surveyed young adults aged between 18 and 22 who had attended church regularly, for at least a year during high school. The firm found that seven out of 10 had stopped attending church regularly.

        “One of the top answers was church members seem to be judgmental or hypocritical,” But you can find tons of information practically everywhere.

  1. Ann's Avatar Ann

    Know the rules and have proper documents when crossing the border. This goes foreveryone no matter colour, culture, religion. I've seen the horror of how people smuggle birds across. Try crossing the Northern border; now there's a treat.

    1. Maximillian Martin's Avatar Maximillian Martin

      You clearly know nothing about tribal religion, practices, or laws concerning them!!! They should have been left alone!!! And there are no "proper documents" for Aztecs since this government doesn't have a federally recognized Aztec tribe. But that doesn't mean that they can take and destroy religious or spiritual items from them!!! If so, let's spread the equal treatment to ALL religions including christian, jew, and muslim!!!

    2. Angelic Realms's Avatar Angelic Realms

      LOL... I lived in WA for years, and the border was like another state. But now they have self assigned emperor justin the bollywood blackface tyrant. It used to be fun and my uncle would go up and have a brew and lobster and buy candy at the duty free store from the UK.

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    THANK YOU BORDER AGENTS FOR DOING YOUR JOB. Sure sound like the agents were doing their job. They might be Aztec dancers, but they could also be smuggling in drugs, contraband and illegal animal parts. That IS the job of the border agents.

    One has to ask why the Aztec dancers BEFORE they left the country get their feathers certified and permitted by the wildlife department?


  1. Renee Grey's Avatar Renee Grey

    I want to send peace to them and I know that the win will be theirs! Everyone here is talking about the laws well, these laws are just as bad as the men who made them!

  1. Patricia Ann Gross's Avatar Patricia Ann Gross

    Any time I have crossed the border I have been asked if I have any animal or plant products. If they are processed and packaged, they are usually ok, unless there is a duty or limit assigned (like for alcohol or tobacco products). If exclusions are made for specific religious purposes, then they should have been honored, but at the same time, the people should have disclosed their purpose when being questioned about them. I'm not saying how they were treated was compassionate or even fair, but it is the way that people get searched when crossing the borders in this country. If they didn't disclose them (feathers are an animal product) then they would have been searched. How were the border guards to know otherwise? If a Catholic priest crosses the border with a bottle of holy water and annointing oil, I would expect them to be treated the same way, however I doubt that this happens.

  1. Gene Schenck's Avatar Gene Schenck

    Get a personal visit from Biden and give those stupid people of the border patrol an education give the people back the feathers along with 1000 dollars per day per person until every feather is returned. Put this on television news for one week nationwide.

  1. Dennis James Lieberman's Avatar Dennis James Lieberman

    Indigenous means born within the Land these imaginary borders are put up by colonization to divide us . They have every right to have those feather's for ritual & ceremonial use. There are key items used which are central tenents of indigenous culture . A'ho Kola's Mitakuy'e Oyasin

    1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

      In the spirit of keeping things straight, the Aztec knew quite a bit about borders and so did the surrounding villages. Everyone knew that if you entered Aztec land you were headed to the human sacrifice altar to be decapitated and dismembered and have their heart eaten. They also knew that when the Aztec left their borders they were looking for humans to sacrifice and cannibalize. About 15 million worth.

      Borders keep people safe, it's why so few Americans loose their head(for now)while so many Mexicans get decapitated and dismembered. It's why you have a lock on your front door, that's your border.

      Had they made arrangements with the Feds there would have no problem bringing them from Mexico. Still, the birds are dead now, just give the feathers back.

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    I thought indigenous people had the right to possess eagle feathers etc. Doesn’t Federal Law protect that right?

  1. Daniel Todd Kamm's Avatar Daniel Todd Kamm

    Per the above article: "However, per that very same website, 'exceptions do exist… for the use of feathers by Native Americans,' so enough said. The Border Patrol agents weren't confiscating feathers of the now extinct dodo bird, or trafficked birds, but commonly available feathers. Enough already!

    And someone needs to form a school , or at least a "School House Rock" to educate people about the differences between an economic system and a political system. Too many terms tossed about too freely with nothing more than poor rhetoric.

  1. Stephen P Singleton's Avatar Stephen P Singleton

    I’ve seen this group of dancers perform numerous times at Pow Wows in the LA area and hope they win their suit. This is another outrageous violation of rights by an absolutely out of control “law enforcement” agency of a Government that I hardly recognize anymore. Trump is gone, but the Border Patrol still operates like we’re at war. The magnificent regalia those Aztec dancers use are meticulously hand crafted and treated by them as sacred. I bet all of the dancers are either full US citizens or have the proper papers. This is just another example of the total disregard for indigenous peoples’ rights and the inability of “our” government to treat human beings at our borders with simple dignity and respect. It makes me ashamed of “my” country and more than a bit angry at a leadership that I actually voted for. I apologize for the blatant political tone of this comment, but the incident violates my sense of spiritual harmony and a mutual respect for all people; for Life.

  1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

    Obey the darn laws transporting such things into our country. This could be based on the fact of wild birds feathers such as hawks, also possible foreign insects which can harm our crops or American wild plants. It's only right. 1 million.dollars in grievances. Give me a freaking break. Another incident of victim calling racism. Screw them. They are not victims of discrimination.

    1. Dr. Jerry Moyes's Avatar Dr. Jerry Moyes

      The Constitution grants freedom of religion. The constitution overrides all other laws, codes, statutes, and ordinances. In fact, any law that is in conflict with, or attempts to modify, The Migratory Bird Act doesn't apply.

  1. Brandon Terry's Avatar Brandon Terry

    Peace be with you!

    I can truly see both sides to this issue. I strongly advise everyone to research into the laws of the country into which you are traveling, as we are all living in a world controlled by man and must follow these man-made laws. Enforcing these laws should be handled in a respectful manner, as we should all live humanely as we are instructed to do. Remember, we are all children of the same universe.

    On the aspect of religion, I strongly recommend we research into the reasons we are doing what we do. Actually, we should do this in everything we do—religious or not. There are many ideals and customs that we believe or do even in this modern day that would do us well to leave in the past.

    I’ve recently transitioned from Roman-influenced Christianity to becoming an Essene, and I have never been happier. It is truly one of the most loving branches of a Christ-led faith. As you comment on this or any other site, remember to ask yourself are your representing the best of the faith you represent? Be well!

    1. Pink Clover's Avatar Pink Clover

      "I can truly see both sides to this issue. I strongly advise everyone to research into the laws of the country into which you are traveling, as we are all living in a world controlled by man and must follow these man-made laws. Enforcing these laws should be handled in a respectful manner, as we should all live humanely as we are instructed to do. Remember, we are all children of the same universe.

      On the aspect of religion, I strongly recommend we research into the reasons we are doing what we do. Actually, we should do this in everything we do—religious or not. There are many ideals and customs that we believe or do even in this modern day that would do us well to leave in the past."

      Excellent, well thought out post. Thank you.

  1. Jennifer Christine Broxson's Avatar Jennifer Christine Broxson

    According to the article, without any further investigation:

    The Migratory Bird Act, "...extends to ALL feathers, regardless how they were obtained," though there is a religious exemption. However, according to her own words "...transporting feathers across the U.S.-Mexico border is against the law." These makes it clear she was is aware the feathers, whether gathered from domestic birds or not, are not to be transported over the border.

    Seems like a lot of effort was put forth into building a tempest in a teapot to get people up in arms over something that appears to be pretty cut and dried.

    1. Dr. Jerry Moyes's Avatar Dr. Jerry Moyes

      The Constitution grants freedom of religion. The constitution overrides all other laws, codes, statutes, and ordinances. In fact, any law that is in conflict with, or attempts to modify, The Constitution is invalid on the face. The Migratory Bird Act isn't applicable.

  1. Tom Herman's Avatar Tom Herman

    I have seen Aztec dancers. Their regalia use hundreds of feathers each in their costumes. 1,500 feathers would not be unusual for the whole troupe. What's lacking in the story is if these were part of their regalia or loose feathers being smuggled across the border. We really need more information to make a determination on the validity of the statements. What makes me suspicious is the demand for a million dollars each. Are we looking at the return of property for truly religious reasons or opportunistic greed? In any event, a little more information on the details of this issue would be helpful.

  1. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends

    First, I am under the impression that the feathers, at least some of them, came from across the border. Second, border guards have to enforce the laws, even if they make no sense. To accuse them of insensitivity is unfair. Third, I am disappointed in all the hate, accusations and bitterness continually on display here under the guise of love.. Enough said.

    1. Dr. Jerry Moyes's Avatar Dr. Jerry Moyes

      Here's a blatant example of the government ignoring The Constitution, which grants freedom of religion. The constitution overrides all other laws, codes, statutes, and ordinances. In fact, any law that is in conflict with, or attempts to modify, The Constitution is invalid on the face.

  1. Rolando Couce's Avatar Rolando Couce

    When you have the communist and Nazi party in control of your nation like now things like this will continue to happen you most get Trump back in to save this country

  1. Father Frederick's Avatar Father Frederick

    I can't answer the question about the feathers, but I can say this. When I see legal matters framed as "1,500 feathers were seized by officials while the group crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. They're now seeking $1 million in compensation per person", I truly wish that in the litigation, if the agent or agency overstepped their bounds, that the lions share of the costs come from the individual making the decision to seize their assets.

    Let me frame an example. I own a huge amount of land. I practice a religion. Someone does not like what I do, and uses the government to not only stop me from practicing my religion, but to seize all my land and assets. I then go to court, prove my innocence, and in my case I not only win back all that I had, but get a $1-billion judgement against those who wronged me, which is likely the state or federal government.

    Who do you think pays? I'm sure not the agency. I'm sure it's not the ones that used government as a weapon. I'm sure the individuals who joyfully said, "let's get him", do not pay. No, its usually the taxpayer who provides the money. Is that fair that you pay for the sins of others. Just a thought.

  1. Dr. Jerry Moyes's Avatar Dr. Jerry Moyes

    The dancers are correct. Here's a blatant example of the government ignoring The Constitution, which grants freedom of religion. The constitution overrides all other laws, codes, statutes, and ordinances. In fact, any law that is in conflict with, or attempts to modify, The Constitution is invalid on the face. There are additional layers to this, indigenous peoples are a constant target of US law enforcement, especially border guards. To add one more layer to the list of misdeeds, the culture and ancestral practices of these citizens are being attacked. It's time for The First People to stop being persecuted by the US government.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Very simple. They broke US Law and since they are not Native American, that part of the law does not grant them any protection. Maybe they should have spoken with the Border Agents and explained what was going on. if not then they have no complaints as the Migratory Bird Act has been law for over 25 years, most likely far longer then they have been dancing. As such they have no claim

  1. Dr. Mike's Avatar Dr. Mike

    I have been reluctant to enter into this fray, and have waited to see if their was any movement one way or the other in media sources.
    I am relatively certain these folks will never see those feathers again and their filing thrown out.

    The Migratory Birds Act, The Raptor Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act are all real things and are usually vigorously enforced. Yes, there are exceptions, usually for Native American Religious purposes: some are specific and some general. Regardless of which ones we are talking about they usually are wrapped up in what is religious and what is Native American. I am not sure, perhaps someone better versed in religious law than I on this site can say, but if you routinely charge a fixed price for an event is it still protected under the "religious" label? I do not Know.

    The second deals with what it is to be a Native American. My family always thought they were Indians and its how we refer to our selves. In fact a number of years ago a mixed bunch of us we sitting around and one fellow raised the question about how do you Native Americans White people wearing beads and feathers. A full blooded Pomo fellow said, "Aren't you a Native American, isn't so and so, and isn't he pointing to me. I replied, "Nope, I'm and Indian but I'm not a Native American" I wasn't born in this country and am a US Citizen by Congressional Mandate. The fellow was a little confuse, and I pulled out my BIA and Tribal enrollment cards.

    Some 50 to 55 years ago when I was much much younger I did the pow wow circuit: danced, drummed, took part in healing and other religious ceremonies. I carried a loose leave binder every where I went with copies of my tribal affiliation, any and all papers dealing with the acquisition of feathers, particularly the ones dealing with raptor feathers and parts, all federal permits for such. Keep in mind the laws were not quite as all encompassing as they are now, but I didn't look all that Indian.

    Which segues into the next thing, what it is to be Indigenous, First, Native, Indian?

    In the United States it's is up to the individual tribes to decide. Each and every tribe has its own standard of tribal membership. Usually it has to do with some amount of verifiable blood linage, this can be as little as 1/16th. It is up to the tribe. Mexico, however, has National standards which are incredibly rigid and much more limiting than the U.S. laws.

    You see the problems. So yes, in the absence of proper documentation they broke US Law. Before carrying on about Constitutional rights, probable cause and the whole magilla, understand that by crossing the boarder you have presented probable cause. The same applies to Fish and Game laws, only more so.

  1. Raeanna Perez's Avatar Raeanna Perez

    They SHOULD be compensated. End of story.

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