The Lipan Apaches at one time lived in the area of Southwest Texas and its border with northern Mexico until the 1880's, when Texas became a state and passed laws forbidding Native Americans from living in the newfound state. At that time, most of the Lipan Apaches moved to the mountains of Mexico and to several of the reservations in New Mexico and Oklahoma. Yet many of them continued to live in the area by changing their names and adopting the Mexican culture.
Robert Soto, a Lipan Apache, has been dancing for 40 years, since he was 8 years old. He has been a feather dancer for 34 years and has won many awards for his Indian dancing and artwork in various pow wows throughout the nation.
During his dancing career, Robert has had the privilege to perform and share his heritage and faith internationally. In the summer of 2000, he along with his daughter and six other Native Americans from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and traveled through Europe. His travels took him to France, Germany and Switzerland, performing 29 times in the 19 days in Europe. He also had the privilege to perform in the jungles of South America among the Xavante Indians and for the grand chiefs of eleven other tribal groups from Argentina and Brazil. Along with dancing abroad, he has performed in Mexico and Canada.
Robert Soto presently is the chairman of the South Texas Indian Dancers, a group which consists of about 45 dancers and 25 non-dancers from 16 different tribal groups. He also is the pastor of McAllen Grace Brethren Church and the Native American New Life Center in McAllen, Texas. The Native American New Life Center, a ministry of McAllen Grace Brethren Church, is committed to reaching out to both the spiritual needs and physical needs of our Native people in the community. The service is a Christ-centered ministry that strives to meet both our spiritual and cultural needs - from the order and style of worship to the songs we sing. Robert holds a B.A. in Biblical Education from Florida Bible College, and the degrees of Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian School Administration from Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. In past years, Robert has had the privilege of working with the Seminoles of Florida and the Pueblos and Navajos of New Mexico. He had the privilege of working as a dancer, alligator wrestler and snake handler for the Seminole Indian Reservation for three years, while in college. He also was a tutor at the Miami Urban Indian Center for two years.
Robert is an active member and serves on the council of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas as Second Chairman. He also is on the council of the United Apache Tribes of South Texas.
Recently Robert, along with the Native American New Life Praise Singers, has recorded his first CD called "Creator Came Down." It consists of eleven songs he composed, three in Apache and eight in English. They are pow wow-style songs that are sung around the drum during the worship service of the Native American New Life Center. He is currently working on two more projects, a second CD of church music (Eagles Dancing For The Lord - now available) and one of his flute music.
"The Indian Love Flute has been a source of comfort and inspiration. The songs I play come from the heart and soul of my personal experiences in life, and my relationship with my Lord and Savior and Great Creator, Jesus Christ. Anything in my life can spark up a song or melody. Some of the songs reflect times when all I had was my flute and my God. Others remind me of the awesomeness of His creation in the world around us. Wherever I go, at least one of my flutes travels with me. I even carry a small flute in my briefcase so that I can have one whenever a song comes to my heart. Every flute is unique. I collect flutes because each flute has a unique tone which will produce a unique song and sound. I do make my own flutes, but am always eager and ready to purchase one. Some of my favorite songs came when I simply picked up a flute from an Indian trading post and played a song for the first time, and if I do not buy that flute, that song will be lost forever."
Biography by Robert Soto
|THE SOUTH TEXAS INDIAN DANCERS
The South Texas Indian
Dancers Association was begun by the Soto family over 25 years ago. In 1972
the Soto family started dancing together as a group to help preserve a
tradition that was taken from them many years ago. Our people were the
Lipan Apache people who once ruled the south central and southwest region of
our great nation and the northern parts of Mexico. We are proud of who and
what we are and this is expressed through our intertribal dances. When we
dance, we dance not for ourselves but for the memory of our ancestors before
us and for future generations that will follow after us. We are forever
thankful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the God-given ability to
Copyright 1999-2003 Sandpiper