Opinion

Harlan McKosato: Indian people are still being denied basic rights






Building a sweat lodge. Photo: Darin Barry

Why do Indian people need permission to practice their own religion? Radio show host Harlan McKosato, a citizen of the Sac and Fox Nation, plans to rebuild a sweat lodge at his home even if the fire department comes calling again:
All this talk about banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S. based on their religion reminds us that it’s an American tradition to ban religions that white folks aren’t familiar with or comfortable with because of their utter lack of cultural sensitivity. But Indians have had a few generations to adjust to this kind of thinking and these kinds of attitudes.

One of the first adjustments we made was to take our religious ceremonies underground and hold them under the secrecy of darkness. When I was younger I sometimes wondered why our family held our Native American Church meetings at night. For my people it was because we were being persecuted for possessing and utilizing peyote we had to hold our services at night for our own protection. It became traditional.

Over the years, as I spoke to tribal people here in the Albuquerque area who were from other places, many from distant places, there seemed to be one big regret; it was hard to make it home for ceremony. It was either money, transportation, couldn’t take time off from work or school, or all of the above. I was suffering from the same withdrawals. That’s why I decided to build a sweat lodge in my backyard well within Albuquerque city limits. That was about 10 years ago, and we had many good sweats over the years. One of my fondest memories was when a group of Maori from New Zealand came to my house to partake in the lodge.

Read More on the Story:
Harlan McKosato: Religious Freedom, Sweat Lodges and Being Denied Our Basic Rights (Indian Country Media Network 4/8)