A "shamanic" retreat in Alaska. Photo: Dance of the Deer Foundation

Group defends 'shamanic' retreat despite criticism from Alaska Natives

A group called Dance of the Deer Foundation plans to go ahead with an expensive "shamanic" retreat despite complaints from the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

In a post on Facebook, Sealaska Heritage described the upcoming event as "another form of appropriation from Native cultures and societies." A letter from Rosita Worl, the president of the institute, said self-puported shaman Brant Secunda and attendees would not be welcome on their territory in Juneau.

“Shamanism was not a commercial enterprise. This is a violation of a most sacred tradition of Native peoples,” Worl said in the letter, The Juneau Empire reported.

But while the group apologized for not reaching out to Sealaska Heritage in advance, the event will still take place, The Empire reported. A letter sent to Worl claims the Huichol people of Mexico support their efforts.

"We have come to Alaska for over 24 years to honor the sacred land and offer our energy in support of Mother Earth," the foundation said in the letter. "We hope that you will support us in continuing to honor the power of your beautiful homeland and we want to do whatever we can to support and respect the indigenous peoples of the region."

The retreat is taking place June 22 through July 1. Despite the group's attempt to explain the connection to the Huichol people, the event appears to play up the Alaska Native aspects of Juneau and the surrounding region by promising "pilgrimages to honor ancient glaciers and hidden waterfalls" and interactions with eagles and whales.

Read More on the Story:
This New Jersey-raised man wants to hold expensive ‘shamanic retreat’ in Juneau. Alaska Native leaders are not having it. (The Juneau Empire January 19, 2018)
Alaska Native group slams planned shamanism event (The Associated Press January 20, 2018)
A capital place for shamans and charlatans (Must Read Alaska January 21, 2018)

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