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Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality

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  • Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality

    Received this from a list this morning. Thought people may find it useful.

    Hi everyone,

    I read quite some time ago that the Lakota people have declared war on anyone "borrowing" (stealing!) their spiritual traditions, but this morning I received an actual copy of the statement. I know lots of Pagan folks who do seem to borrow bits and pieces of Native American spirituality (the mention of "totem animals" seems to be the most common). What do you all think of this? I have quite a bit of Native American blood on both my mother's and father's side (enough that you can see it in my face) but for some reason I've never felt a calling to their spiritual practices. Anyway, see the statement below -


    Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality

    WHEREAS we are the conveners of an ongoing series of
    comprehensive forums on the abuse and exploitation of Lakota
    spirituality; and WHEREAS we represent the recognized traditional
    spiritual leaders, traditional elders, and grassroots advocates of the Lakota people; and

    WHEREAS 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, commercial profiteers and self-styled "New Age shamans" and their followers; and

    WHEREAS with horror and outrage we see this disgraceful expropriation of our sacred Lakota traditions has reached epidemic proportions in urban areas throughout the country; and

    WHEREAS our precious Sacred Pipe is being desecrated
    through the sale of pipestone pipes at flea markets, powwows, and "New Age" retail stores; and

    WHEREAS pseudo-religious corporations have been formed
    to charge people money for admission into phony "sweatlodges" and "vision quest" programs; and

    WHEREAS sacrilegious "sundances" for non-Indians are
    being conducted by charlatans and cult leaders who promote abominable and obscene imitations of our sacred Lakota sundance rites; and

    WHEREAS non-Indians have organized themselves into
    imitation "tribes," assigning themselves make-believe "Indian names" to facilitate their wholesale expropriation and commercialization of our Lakota traditions; and

    WHEREAS academic disciplines have sprung up at colleges and
    universities institutionalizing the sacrilegious imitation of our
    spiritual practices by students and instructors under the guise of
    educational programs in "shaminism;" and

    WHEREAS non-Indian charlatans and "wannabes" are selling books that promote the systematic colonization of our Lakota spirituality; and

    WHEREAS the television and film industry continues to
    saturate the entertainment media with vulgar, sensationalist and
    grossly distorted representations of Lakota spirituality and culture
    which reinforce the public's negative stereotyping of Indian people and which gravely impair the self-esteem of our children; and

    WHEREAS individuals and groups involved in "the New
    Age Movement," in "the men's movement," in "neo-paganism" cults and in "shamanism" workshops all have exploited the spiritual traditions of our Lakota people by imitating our ceremonial ways and by mixing such imitation rituals with non-Indian occult practices in an offensive and harmful pseudo-religious hodgepodge; and

    WHEREAS the absurd public posturing of this scandalous assortment of psuedo-Indian charlatans, "wannabes," commercial profiteers, cultists and "New Age shamans" comprises a momentous obstacle in the struggle of traditional Lakota people for an adequate public appraisal of the legitimate political, legal and spiritual needs of real Lakota people; and

    WHEREAS this exponential exploitation of our Lakota spiritual
    traditions requires that we take immediate action to defend our
    most precious Lakota spirituality from further contamination,
    desecration and abuse;

    1. We hereby and henceforth declare war against all persons who persist in exploiting, abusing and misrepresenting the sacred
    traditions and spiritual practices of our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.

    2. We call upon all our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota brothers and
    sisters from reservations, reserves, and traditional communities in
    the United States and Canada to actively and vocally oppose this
    alarming take-over and systematic destruction of our sacred

    3. We urge our people to coordinate with their tribal members living in urban areas to identify instances in which our sacred traditions are being abused, and then to resist this abuse, utilizing whatever specific tactics are necessary and sufficient --for example demonstrations, boycotts, press conferences, and acts of direct intervention.

    4. We especially urge all our Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people to take action to prevent our own people from contributing to and
    enabling the abuse of our sacred ceremonies and spiritual practices by outsiders; for, as we all know, there are certain ones among our own people who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain, with no regard for the spiritual well-being of the people as a whole.

    5. We assert a posture of zero-tolerance for any "white man's shaman" who rises from within our own communities to "authorize" the expropriation of our ceremonial ways by non-Indians; all such "plastic medicine men" are enemies of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.

    6. We urge traditional people, tribal leaders, and
    governing councils of all other Indian nations, to join us in calling
    for an immediate end to this rampant exploitation of our respective American Indian sacred traditions by issuing statements denouncing such abuse; for it is not the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people alone whose spiritual practices are being systematically violated by non-Indians.

    7. We urge all our Indian brothers and sisters to act
    decisively and boldly in our present campaign to end the destruction of our sacred traditions, keeping in mind our highest duty as Indian people: to preserve the purity of our precious traditions for our future generations, so that our children and our children's children will survive and prosper in the sacred manner intended for each of our respective peoples by our Creator.

    Wilmer Stampede Mesteth; (Oglala Lakota); Traditional
    Spiritual Leader & Lakota Culture Instructor; Oglala Lakota College, Pine Ridge, South Dakota

    Darrell Standing Elk; (Sicangu Lakota); President, Center for the SPIRIT, San Fancisco, California, & Pine Ridge, South Dakota

    Phyllis Swift Hawk; (Kul Wicasa Lakota); Tiospaye Wounspe Waokiye; Wanblee, South Dakota
    ~ Mairwen

  • #2
    I don't know if i'm the right person to be answering this because i only know 2 Native Americans, and they are both very happy to share and teach their traditions. I'll have to ask them what they think of this statement.
    I must admit to being slightly puzzled by it, but then i'd be pleased if anyone, from whatever country, race, culture, belief system thought so much of my belief system to want to follow it also.
    Surely everyone thinks their belief is right, or they wouldn't believe in it. And i've always thought that it really isn't worth arguing about who is right or wrong, because there can only be one truth, and we'll all find out what it is one day.
    Do the Lakota think their creator created only them and not the rest of the world? If that was the case, there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of creators.
    And aren't we allowed to believe in and worship the same things and celebrate our spirituality as they do just because that's the way they do it?
    They do not want anyone to copy their traditions, but what if people genuinly think those traditions are the best way of doing something, are they not allowed to follow that belief because they are not Lakota (in this lifetime anyway). Which brings up another point - who started those traditions, and where are those souls now? Some of them could be the 'wannabees' the Lakota are complaining about.
    It seems very strange that they appear to be saying ' you can't believe the same things as us' when most of the rest of the world are saying ' you should believe as we do because we're right and you're wrong'!
    It now appears that people decalare war if you don't believe as they do AND if you do! Crazy!
    I hope i haven't offended anyone by anything i've said here. If i have, please accept my sincere apologies, it was certainly not intentional because, as i said previously, i don't know an awful lot about Native American sprituality. It's just my opinion from reading thrugh the statement once. I could very well change my mind if it could be properly explained to me.
    :D ladyrowan :D

    Yahoo Messenger - ladyrowan100

    The law doth punish man or woman / That steels the goose from off the common, / But lets the greater felon loose, / That steels the common from the goose.
    Anonymous, On enclosures, 18th Century


    • #3
      Hi all!
      Many groups etc are on the net that for a small fee will help you learn from a "traditional medicine man" the true spirituality of this or that tribe.It really angers many Native Americans when they see these blatant rip offs selling their culture.
      As far as people wanting to follow their practices because they see them as a better way.Some Native Americans would say,"So what,follow your own ancient religion but leave ours alone.We really don't want the white man screwing us over again.Do your own thing,just leave us out of it."Or words to that effect.
      Some Native Americans don't mind teaching a bit to a true seeker and will oblige.But they don't want people misusing or misrepresenting those beliefs,and certainly not selling them.Many Native Americans are offended when someone advertises a "Real Indian sweat lodge" to get people to come to a Pagan festival.
      I'm 1/4 Cheyenne and I can see their point.But I'm 3/4 other and see that point too.Most Native American beliefs are held closely,amongst the tribe or clan.For many of these,it is seen as an abomination of sorts to teach someone outside the tribe these beliefs.
      I think we should be true to our own beliefs,and very careful about taking those of Native Americans.Always doing so with the greatest reverence and respect.
      This is a people who were the victims of a genocide perpetrated by members of the Europeans.We can't ever forget that.Native Americans can't easily trust those of European ancestry who suddenly say they want to believe as the tribes did.
      Peace and Love
      Don't follow leaders,and watch the parkin' meters.
      Bob Dylan


      • #4
        i read the statement, but it appears to me not to be against seekers who privatly coopt portions that speak to them, but rather those who would sell artifacts and fake artifacts for money, or misrepresent themselves as Lakota and practice as preists...

        did i miss it?

        Pagan Broadcast Network


        • #5
          declaration of war

          First of all, I have problems with any group that calls itself a spiritual group declaring "war" on anybody. Sounds too much like the Taliban and jihads.

          Secondly, the Lakota did not invent the spiritual traditions that this particular group is attempting to defend. A lot of those spiritual traditions are common to many Native American tribes, not just the Lakota.

          Third: the Native American community is very widely divided on issues like this. This is one group; not all groups may agree with them.

          Fourth: Some of the fake shamans and ripoff artists that they are inveighing against come from their own ranks. There are quite a few Native American "medicine men" who would be more than happy to take your money in exchange for a load of psychobabble. Some of them even feel justified in doing it, because of the treatment that Native Americans have been given by the whites. To be quite blunt, they need to start policing themselves before they start declaring jihad on white folks (or any of the folks of other races who are interested in Native American spiritual practices).

          I realize that there is a lot of truth to Native American spirituality. However, statements like the one by the group above sound more like an edict from a pope, and indicate an underlying fundie-mentality that is every bit as limiting - and as wrong - as Christian fundamentalism or Islamic fundamentalism.

          That's my two cents worth. I hope I didn't say anything offensive but I was speaking my mind, and disagreeing opinions will be welcomed and considered, because I can always change my mind.


          • #6
            I've thought a bit more about this now, but still can't see why they decare war on people who respect and admire their way of life.

            And I see no difference to the people on this site who are interested in and following Welsh traditions - are the Welsh complaining? I think not.

            :D ladyrowan :D

            Yahoo Messenger - ladyrowan100

            The law doth punish man or woman / That steels the goose from off the common, / But lets the greater felon loose, / That steels the common from the goose.
            Anonymous, On enclosures, 18th Century


            • #7
              Originally posted by Xois
              i read the statement, but it appears to me not to be against seekers who privatly coopt portions that speak to them, but rather those who would sell artifacts and fake artifacts for money, or misrepresent themselves as Lakota and practice as preists...
              I agree.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Xois
                i read the statement, but it appears to me not to be against seekers who privatly coopt portions that speak to them, but rather those who would sell artifacts and fake artifacts for money, or misrepresent themselves as Lakota and practice as preists...
                did i miss it?
                I can't agree with this statement. Having read through it again, i see that only a quarter of the statement is directed at 'profteers'.
                The rest is denigrating followers of their traditions, ceremonies, shamanism and their way of life in general.
                It would appear that they are saying to the rest of the world
                "we will not allow you to believe the same as us, stick to your own traditions"
                There are many people who have converted to other beliefs and cultures, we are all free to live and believe as we choose, even if those beliefs are the same as the Lakota.
                I am not against any Native American, exactley the opposite, but i am against the prejudice they are displaying in issueing this statement.

                :D ladyrowan :D

                Yahoo Messenger - ladyrowan100

                The law doth punish man or woman / That steels the goose from off the common, / But lets the greater felon loose, / That steels the common from the goose.
                Anonymous, On enclosures, 18th Century


                • #9

                  Merry Merry,
                  I belonged to a yahoo club on "shamanism" for a long time ,, and one of the proponents of
                  this "war on culture stealers" posted there for a long time as well so many of these ideas are not new, but there were some responses that I havent seen in this thread so let me just contribute this....... "sweats" werent exclusively used by Native Americans, they were used by norwegians and japanese and chinese as well. The word shaman is actuall of european origin as well.A "Sacred Sweat" can be done in many traditions, and can be approached from a multicultural approach. I have been taught and empowered to build and faclitate a sweat, and it is a powerful tool, not to be toyed with, for health and safety issues as well as spiritual.
                  I despise a charlatan as well as anyone, but the natives here at the local powwows and trading posts are deeply sincere and sharing of their culture, and one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed was a womans healing song circle.... it was as beautiful and evoking as ANY church choir I have ever heard.
                  It is true there are only some who feel this way and this issue is divided among many "First People".
                  Love and Light
                  As Above So Below, As Within , So Without,


                  Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person
                  unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.


                  • #10
                    First, let me say, I do not wish to offend anyone, so if I do, sorry.

                    Now for the topic. In my limited readings of this, I can see some of both sides. The Lakota, like most if not all American Indians, have had religious supression. When Christianity came along, their religious/spirituality had to go underground. This has lasted for generations. Since religion/spirituality is completly in most cases, in grained in their culture of daily life practices when they spiritual side had to be oppressed, they lost part of who they are(were). Now, when they no longer feel that oppression and are regaining their culture/spirituality back, here comes a 'guru' and this person 'takes' away part of their culture/spirituality yet again. Not only does the 'guru' twists the meaning of a very spiritual act, treading on the Lakota's ancestors (who are spirit guilds themselves), but defiles it with profit. The Lakota, to me, are not 'eclectic'. They (some of them) hold their culture (by this, I include spirituality) very close to them. I believe, that they are upset about stereotypes and misrepresention.
                    "The New Age genre often presents only a small portion of the truth and can thus misrepresent the culture and ceremony it is intended to explain." Walking in the Sacred Manner by Mark St. Pierre and Tilda Long Soldier. Tilda Long Soldier is a Lakota woman and Mark St. Pierre is her husband. It is a good book.

                    I have read books that have taken bits and pieces from anywhere they could get. To me, it does not make sense, those ritals and practices. They do not come together in a fluid flow. For those of you interest, there is however a book on 'core shamanism' called Shamanism: as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life-by Tom Cowan. Even he warns, "Only with extreme care and sensitivity to the spiritual integrity of native peoples do we dare to adapt their spiritual traditions. I would argue that doing so requires training and permission from the elders of those traditions. This is especially true in the case of spiritual customs that are not widespread among other cultures (i.e., are not among the core shamanic practices) and that are so intimately interwoven into a particular people's way of life that any attempt to lift those customs out of the cultural and theological matrix that makes them sacred would be an act of desecration."

                    Sorry, I kindof got long winded
                    marevard, Queen of Krash


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Xois
                      i read the statement, but it appears to me not to be against seekers who privatly coopt portions that speak to them, but rather those who would sell artifacts and fake artifacts for money, or misrepresent themselves as Lakota and practice as preists...

                      did i miss it?
                      Xois ~ You've seen what so many have missed.
                      ~ Mairwen


                      • #12
                        I am 1/4 native American. I couldn't read all of the whereases. I can only say "Lighten up." When people adapt part or all of another's spiritual path it is because they are accepting it. Not a bad thing if you ask me.

                        I don't take exception to kichen witches and green faced uglies crashing their brooms into trees in October. Well, at least I don't take much exception. I never miss an opportunity to tell folks that that is not what a witch is, but I would never want to take away a 6 year old's scary Halloween fun.
                        Co-Moderator in the History Forum and New Pagans. If anyone needs me while I'm online I can be emailed or instant messaged at [email protected] or for Yahoo users - [email protected] Isis is my queen. Sekhemet my source of strength.


                        • #13
                          Freedom of religion (humor)

                          (distrought by the 'declaration of war', I adjourned for a week to go off into the woods, to meditate in my sweat lodge. After a few days, the heat evicted my spirit from my body, and my spirit animal guided me on a vision quest, where the great spirit imparted me with the wisdom to speak the following words)

                          Hey you stupid Lakotas,

                          You can't tell us what we're not allowed to believe! In this country we have freedom of religion. Hell, that was the whole idea when we set foot on your shores and started killing all you indians!! Remember the thing with the Pilgrims and all that?

                          Anyway, if these Lakotas are serious about defending their religion from charlitans, they should go the route of Scientology, and sue everyone and their brother that says anything bad about them. Write down and copyright all your religions documents as "trade secrets" and sue the pants off anyone selling it.
                          Cast out of Olympus by the Site Gods
                          Email: [email protected]
                          AIM: MayKen007
                          No community rules for you!


                          • #14
                            Moderator Mode

                            It has come to my attention that a post(s) made in the "Lakota Nation" thread may have caused some concern.

                            I realize personal opinion is important to our community, and everyone has a right to voice their opinion.

                            You are not being singled out, nor are you being reprimanded. As a moderator I must address concerns which arrise in my forum. I am not asking you to change your opinion, but to simply consider all community members when you post, as we hope they consider you.

                            This is a large community, and I know problems will come up. If you feel offended by something someone has said, please feel free to contact me or other moderators, but please do so before you post off-topic. I only ask this out of respect for you as well as the community.

                            Thank you for your future consideration.
                            Tigerwallah, Moderator History Forum


                            • #15
                              Hi all!
                              I've been talking to some Lakota friends.They've seen this declaration and agree with it.They feel that the free for all "borrowing" of their spiritual ways is nothing more than spiritual genocide,an added insult by whites.They feel that since the attempted genocide of their people by whites failed,these same people are trying a cultural and spiritual genocide.they also feel that some of their own people are responsible for this(as stated in #4 above)and these 'traitors" should be stopped also,and be dealt with more severely than whites.
                              One should check out Pine Ridge Reservation and others,see what these people have been through,try to "walk a mile in their mocassins"so to speak, before judging them too harshly for their strong pride in their culture.
                              I see no reason to insult the Sioux people.
                              Peace and Love
                              Don't follow leaders,and watch the parkin' meters.
                              Bob Dylan