indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: Beware of fake medicine men and fake medicine women

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: religion, tim giago
     
   

Black Elk Peak in South Dakota. Photo: Austin Matherne

Notes from Indian Country
Beware of fake medicine men and women
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)

For more than 100 years the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, plus the many other tribes of the Northern Plains, have opened up many of their most sacred ceremonies to non-Indians. They did so out of their sense of generosity and sharing.

However, that generosity has been badly abused by non-Indians over the past 50 years and spiritual leaders from all over the Northern Plains met on the Cheyenne River Reservation in Central South Dakota several years ago to discuss ways and means of protecting these most sacred ceremonies.

Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, was present along with the spiritual leaders, medicine bundle keepers, and holy men of the Northern Plains and Canada when they met to talk about protecting the sacred ceremonies of the Indian nations.

They were most interested in protecting the seven sacred rites: Wiwanyang wacipi, Sun Dance; Hanbleciya, Vision Quest; Inipi, Purification Ceremony, often misunderstood as Sweatlodge ceremony; Hunka kag, Making of a relative; Tapakah go ya, Throwing of the Sacred Ball, Wiyan isnati, Womanhood Ceremony; and Nagi gluha, Keeping the Spirit Ceremony.

It was the consensus of the holy men and women that only legitimate Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Medicine Bundle Keepers should handle any other ceremonies connected to the Hocoka or Center of the Sun Dance Ceremony.

Looking Horse acknowledged the fact that his father, Stanley Looking Horse, and the Lakota leader Fools Crow, had decided to allow other Native Nations to participate in the Sacred Rites of the Lakota. He said, “Their reasons were based on the fact that most Indian Nations had lost their ways through assimilation or the lack of teachers to teach them their indigenous ways. I cannot undo their decision out of respect for our Chief and Elder. It has also been in our history that our ancestors have respectfully shared our ceremonies with other Indigenous Nations.”

The spiritual leaders and elders began to fear what was happening to their sacred ceremonies because of this openness.

In the 1970s, white people attending the sacred ceremonies decided they would become Medicine Bundle Keepers, Medicine Men and Women, and some even believed they had been called upon by a greater power to conduct ceremonies in English for New Agers and other non-Indians. Oftentimes they created their own version of a sacred ceremony based more on showmanship than authenticity.

In 1989 I heard about a ceremony about to be conducted at Telluride, Colorado. As a journalist and syndicated columnist I decided to check it out. When I got to the site I was surprised to see that nearly all of the participants were from Japan. The ceremony they were offered for large sums of money was the Sacred Hanblechiya, or Vision Quest.

Several places on the surrounding hills had been prepared with circles of stones and the Japanese participants were scattered around the hills at these sites. They had people coming around to check on them to see if they were comfortable, thirsty or hungry. Of course, in the traditional vision quest the participant goes without food or water for four days.

The center of the vision quest was a large camp fully stocked with a cook tent to prepare meals and the Japanese visitors all had modern tents and vehicles. They went out to the vision quest sites for a few hours and then returned to camp only to go out again the next day.

Events such as this have been happening across America, Europe and in other countries now for several years. They are advertised in brochures and Shaman magazines geared to this very purpose.

One false medicine man even got a show on HBO’s Real Sex claiming he was a Cherokee Holy Man who could teach the ancient sexual rites of the Cherokee Nation. Then Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller (now deceased), threatened HBO with a lawsuit.

In countries such as Germany, Norway, and Sweden and in some Asian countries fake medicine men and women began to make a lot of money off of the half-baked ceremonies they had created out of whole cloth. The New Agers fell into line like so many ducks.

Several years ago Indian students from the University of Main heard about a ceremony about to be conducted in the woods near their campus. They went there and saw a large sweatlodge set up with many naked white people about to enter. The Indian students held up a sign that read, “We are watching. Now you can sweat.”

The point I am making is that Arvol Looking Horse and the other legitimate holy men and women of the Northern Plains had no choice but to try and bring these false practices to an end. Their fears are genuine. When outsiders are invited in to partake of and share the sacred ceremonies, they too often take it upon themselves to believe that a god has called upon them to take what they have learned to the world.

Unfortunately, what they have learned is nothing. It takes generations for traditional Lakota and other holy men and women to even touch the surface of the sacred ceremonies they have been called upon to lead.

Most traditional holy men and women believe that a ceremony has meaning only when it is conducted in the traditional language. Since the ceremonies themselves are thousands of years old they believe they have been conducted in the Native tongue for all of these years because it is the language understood by Tunkasila (Grandfather), the ancient people, the natural elements and the animals.

What was given freely was abused and the traditional pipe carriers and medicine bundle keepers have had it. They are angry that what they gave from their hearts has been exploited in the name of fame and money. One said, “You stole our land and now you are stealing our sacred rites.”

Looking Horse once said that the Catholic Church would be very upset if a man put on a black robe and white collar and went about the countryside conducting Catholic Church services. He feels the sacred ceremonies of the Lakota deserve the same respect.

There are already many attacking the traditionalists who attended this meeting and who made the decision to close some of their ceremonies to white people and other outsiders. But those outside of the circle must understand that it is up to the Spiritual Leader to decide whether to allow them to attend and support ceremonies. Many traditional Lakota, Dakota and Nakota stand behind Arvol Looking Horse and the other spiritual leaders all the way. When what was offered from the heart is abused so badly, it deserves to be taken away or at least protected.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is Editor Emeritus of the Native Sun News Today. He is the founder and first president of the Native American Journalist Association. He can be reached at najournalist1@gmail.com


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Family from Crow Tribe wins right to pursue lawsuit against federal agent
Mark Trahant: Republican health care reform bill impacts Indian Country
Steve Russell: Republican answer to Obamacare only benefits the wealthy
Hualapai Tribe learns more about citizen who was killed on duty in Vietnam
Zia Pueblo wants symbol removed from flag of city in far-away Wisconsin
Northern Cheyenne Tribe won't touch coal deposit despite economic woes
Life-saving road for Native village inches forward in Alaska and in D.C.
Two more Pueblo tribes challenge state's demand for gaming revenue
Wilton Rancheria won't comment on status of gaming compact talks
Trump administration rolls out first rule under historic trust reform law
Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed to New Mexico for hearing
House committee again leaves out Indian Country in hearing on Interior
Mark Maxey: Oklahoma tries to crush Native protesters with new law
Carletta Tilousi: Havasupai Tribe threatened by uranium development
Opinion: Don't be fooled by Jimmie Durham's claims of Cherokee heritage
Opinion: Economic development for Indian Country in upcoming farm bill
Government worker suspended after calling Native principal a 'rabid s----'
Kiowa citizen Tristan Ahtone to report on tribes for High Country News
New York Times features Dina Gilio-Whitaker in editorial on health care
Tribes break ground on monument to their history in Virginia's capitol
Warm Springs Tribes battle large wildfire that broke out behind casino
Spokane Tribe casino doesn't bother Air Force despite claims in lawsuit
Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.