Wed 5 Apr 95 17:19 By: Berdache To: Tal Re: Lakota Declaration of 1/2 My dear friends, I a
Wed 5 Apr 95 17:19
Re: Lakota Declaration of 1/2
My dear friends,
I am publishing this and possibly violating net protocol by
putting this in some forums that might be inappropriate. I realize that
among some of my pagan friends, this will be either highly offensive or
(worse) they think it funny. It is very serious to the Native American
people whose shamanism many of us are vitally interested in. If we do
not wish to have "the door slammed in our face" and no more good, true
information to flow, we need to be aware of who/what is teaching us, and
the respect being given to this ancient way. The article I am copying
appeared on the Internet on Wednesday July 28, 1993. Moderators and
sysops are free to put this in the appropriate forum on their system.
Lakota Declaration of War
By Valerie Taliman
While Native Nations continue the fight for religious freedom
rights, "New Age" hucksters and other exploiters of Native spirituality
run rampant throughout the country, forcing Native people to take a
stand against the desecration of their spiritual ways.
As more people turn away from conventional religions and seek
spiritual solace in alternative beliefs such as the New Age movement,
increasing numbers of Euro-Americans "wannabe Indians" when it comes to
spirituality. But in their quest to learn and practice Native ways,
non-Natives have often abused sacred ceremonies and ceremonial objects
such as pipes and medicine bundles.
And that abuse of the sacred, say many medicine peoples, is
causing turmoil in Native societies prompting some spiritual leaders to
speak out against further desecration of ceremonial ways.
At the Lakota Summit V, an international gathering of US and
Canadian Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations, about 500 representatives
from 40 different tribes and bands of the Lakota unanimously passed a
"Declaration of War against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality". The
summit was held June 7-11. The Declaration is intended for those who
"persist in exploiting, abusing and misrepresenting the sacred
traditions and spiritual practices of the Lakota people." The Declaration
denounces individuals involved in the "New Age" movement, shamanism,
cultists, neo-paganists, and the men's movement who promote "intolerable
and obscene imitations of sacred Lakota rites."
"For too long we have suffered the unspeakable indignity of
having our most precious Lakota ceremonies and spiritual practices
desecrated, mocked, and abused by non-Indian wannabes, hucksters,
cultists, and self-styled "new age" shamans and their followers," the
"The absurd public posturing of this scandalous assortment of
pseudo-Indian charlatans, wannabes, commercial profiteers and cultists
comprise a momentous obstacle in the struggle of traditional Lakota
people for adequate public appraisal of the legitimate political, legal
and spiritual needs of real Lakota people."
Wilmer Mesteth, a traditional spiritual leader and Lakota
culture instructor at Oglala Lakota College, told the summit participants
that he was aware that sacred ceremonies were being imitated and even
sold by non-Indians as well as certain Indian people.
"We have to put a stop to it," Mesteth said. "We are the ones
who were given these ceremonies so that the people would remain together
and strong. We were told to take care of these ceremonies so that our
children and their children would have future.
"For a long time we have stood by and watched this abuse going
on and we see how it is affecting the people. But now its time to take a
stand to defend our people and our ways."
Mesteth, along with Darrel Standing Elk and Phyllis Swift Hawk,
was one of the principal authors of the Declaration which urgers Lakota
people to prevent "our own people from contributing to and enabling the
abuse of our sacred ceremonies by outsiders and certain ones among our
people who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish
again, with no regard for the spiritual well being of the people as a
It also urges people to identify instances where sacred
traditions are being abused and to work toward stopping the abuse
through demonstration, boycotts, press coverage and direct
With many spiritual leaders present and in support of the
document, Mesteth told the crowd, "Sacred traditions like our Lakota
pipe ceremony, vision quests, sweat lodge ceremonies and the Sun dance
were given to us by our Creator and have enabled Indian people to
survive a 500 year holocaust," he said. "Those sacred traditions are
precious to us and can't allow them to be desecrated and abused."
One hot spot that has attracted the ire of Lakota spiritual
leaders is California's Bay Area, where street vendors on Telegraph Ave.
routinely sell drug paraphernalia made from sacred pipestone.
New Agers in the elite section of San Francisco hold their
weekly "sweat ceremonies" with rocks heated in propane barbecue pits and
living room fireplaces. Many charge admission for imitation sweat lodge
ceremonies, vision quests and puberty ceremonies for young women that
are performed by self proclaimed "shamans".
Lakota songs and prayers are often used as are rituals from
many other tribes and mixed with non-Indian occult practices. Many
medicine people say that these groups are creating a hodgepodge of
harmful and offensive imitation ceremonies that exploit and abuse
spiritual traditions of the Lakota and other tribes.
To meet the growing demand for Native spiritual knowledge, Bay
Area universities and institutions have responded to the growing demand
for Native spiritual knowledge by offering classes that purport to
teach the particulars of vision quests, sun dances, shamanism and the
"Good Red Road" way of life.
As the epidemic of exploitation and expropriation of Indian
spirituality continues to spread, more Native people are taking direct
action to put a stop to the "spiritual genocide" being committed by those
who imitate Lakota ceremonies.
John LaVelle, a Santee Dakota living in the Bay Area, recently
was shoved and pushed into the street for confronting a Berkley street
vendor who regularly sells pipestone carved into marijuana pipes. Police
responded to the scuffle and assault charges were subsequently filed
against the vendors.
LaVelle's actions are part of the ongoing efforts of the center
for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and
Indigenous Traditions), a San Francisco based organization of Indian
people committed to halting the exploitation of Native ceremonies. The
Center in dedicated to protecting Indian spiritual practices and
traditions and is working to raise public awareness on American Indian
religious freedom issues.
Darrell Standing Elk, a Sicangu Lakota and long-time traditional
Lakota counselor who serves as board president of the Center, said the
situation in the Bay area reached a point where he and other Native
people felt that something had to be done.
The Center for SPIRIT has made a practice of confronting and
refuting books, literature and seminars promoted by self-proclaimed
"medicine people" such as Lynn Andrews, a Beverly Hills
housewife-turned-shaman. Andrews has written several best-sellers on her
journey to becoming a "medicine woman" under the tutelage of a Canadian
Indian elder and conducts expensive, and very popular, seminars on
At this year's Whole Life Expo, a conference of "New Age
thought" held in Los Angeles in March, Center staff and members of the
Local American Indian Movement confronted Andrews and tried to convince
her to admit that what she was writing about was fantasy, not Indian
Andrews is reportedly considering the proposal but has not
officially responded as she is negotiating a movie deal, according to
Patti Jo King, a publicist for the Center.
As Native nations lobby Congress and work toward strengthening
the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act (NAFER), Standing Elk
noted that it is imperative that supporters address the exploitation of
"We are in danger of having our sacred spiritual ways stolen
from us- the key to our survival," he said. "We must raise united voice
of protest against those who steal our spiritual traditions and tell
them 'You cannot have them, not today, not tomorrow, NEVER.'"
Valerie Taliman's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank