Good alt journalism job on this one, Irene Messina!
(to which Red Star can only add the blurb, "Where have all the neocons gone..."
This is a good article. Glad there is something presented to the public in the tucson weekly to dispel misconceptions about the pagan community.
Whether she's a fraud or not, who can conduct them, whether sweats are even good, it is indeed good for many of the public to be educated on what a real sweat is like.
I am glad this article was printed.
(And the comments. I was glad to read them as well. Good stuff to study.)
Maybe it's a good thing......
Regulations sought in wake of sweat-lodge deaths
Jan. 19, 2010 02:35 PM
An Arizona lawmaker wants to regulate the use of traditional Native American practices after three people died last year in a northern-Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.
Sen. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels, announced on Tuesday that he plans to introduce a measure to sanction the use of Native American ceremonies off tribal land for profit without permission.
Self-help guru James Arthur Ray charged people more than $9,000 each to attend his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" retreat near Sedona that culminated in a sweat lodge ceremony on Oct. 8. Participants said they trusted that Ray, who touted training under a Native American shaman, knew what he was doing.
Three people died and 18 others were hospitalized after becoming overwhelmed in the 415 square-foot sweat lodge that was covered with tarps and blankets. The deaths and illnesses sparked outrage among American Indians, who drew distinctions between what Ray did and what would be considered a traditional Native American sweat lodge.
Hale, a member and former president of the Navajo tribe, said the bill is partly an effort to protect people from false advertising.
"This process has been a perversion of our traditional ways," he said. "The dominant society has taken all that we have: Our land, our water, our language, and now they're trying to take our way of life."
The Yavapai County sheriff's office has focused a homicide investigation on Ray, who has made millions of dollars by convincing people his words will lead them to spiritual and financial wealth. Ray has hired an investigative team to find out what happened, and his lawyer said the deaths were the result of a tragic accident, not criminal negligence.
Hale's proposed restrictions would not apply to ceremonies taking place on tribal land or with the authorization of a tribal government.
It's unclear exactly how the law would be enforced. The bill leaves those details up to the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs, but Hale said a violation would likely be a civil offense similar to a traffic ticket.
Sweat lodges are commonly used by Native American tribes to cleanse the body and prepare for hunts, ceremonies and other events. They typically hold no more than a dozen people, compared with more than 50 people inside the one led by Ray.
The ceremony involves stones heated up outside the lodge, brought inside and placed in a pit. The door is closed, and water is poured on the stones, producing heat aimed at releasing toxins in the body. In traditional ceremonies, the person who pours the water is said to have an innate sense about the conditions of others inside the sweat lodge, many times recognizing problems before they physically are presented.
"We need to be respected," Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said. "Our ways cannot be abused."
I have been to her sweat lodge and she did not charge us a fee for this service. You certainly can leave a donation if you choose to do so.
Fee or no fee, is this really the question to be asked? How about what benefit did the participants feel they did or did not get while attending this sacred ritual?
What makes it sacred? Do you have to born a "Native American" to make such a claim?
All people are indigenous somewhere, this is true, so everyone seeking such connections should engage in a tradition in which they have blood, roots or a legitimate connection as determined by the keepers of said tradition. Was the sauna once sacred? What about European herbal traditions? Maybe the people who claim that excluding non-natives shows a 'small-mindedness' or a 'lack of love in the lives' of native people should take a pilgrimage to their ancestral lands and open themselves to learning something. Don't do it tourist-style, either... Stop taking what is not yours and find out who you are, you will deserve more respect then.
From Arvol Looking Horse:
To: National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)
11/12/02 From: Arvol Looking Horse
Re: Protection of our Sacred Ceremonies
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, request the NCAI to address the issue of the protection our sacred ceremonies and to recognize our Traditional Spiritual Leadership with these responsibilities.
As you are aware the US Government had outlawed our ceremonial ways till the Freedom of Religion Act in 1978. Since that time, we have struggled to regain our strength as a People with an identity. We have proven that we are the original caretakers of this sacred land that our ancestors had laid their lives down for our ways to survive. There have been countless losses, in lives, land, medicines, animal nations, good water, our Sacred Sites that our ancestors used, food, pride, many songs, languages and cultural/traditional knowledge in securing these important needs. To secure the survival of our future generations, at this time we have to truly make a last desperate stand to protect the sacred ceremonies that will assist us in regaining the many losses that identify us as Soverign Nations.
Since twelve years of age, when I became the next Keeper of the sacred bundle, I have since witnessed the many changes that have desecrated the values of these sacred ways. As the strength of our ceremonies returned to our people for health in mind, body and spirit, there also came along another type of strength in the name of money, power and greed. These negative influences have distorted and destroyed these ceremonies as well. This has brought us to a very dangerous moment in our history. We are now witnessing abuses diluting these sacred ways by unauthorized persons performing our sacred rites. There have been demands of payment for participation, along with recent accounts in molestation, indecent mockery in our ceremonial practices, ending in death that was never been heard of before in our ceremonial history. If we do not recognize the significant Traditional Spiritual Leaders of the existing ceremonies in question and their responsibility to have a voice protecting these sacred rites, we will surely only exist as People in the ?Melting Pot? theory. This will leave our future generations with no connection to the identity of their ancestors or Indigenous knowledge to survive as Nations in their own right.
At this time, I would like to add my voice to the support of Bernard Red Cherries?, Northern Cheyenne Arrow Priest and Elk Society Headsman, to recognize the resolution that addresses protection and preservation of our way of life. Recently we have met in traditional government council discussions, to address these important issues. At this time we bring forth this important issue to be resolved with your support.
In the Sacred Hoop of Life, where there no ending and no beginning!
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
From the Cheyenne Nation Spiritual Leader, Bernard Red Cherries:
May 6, 2003
The Cheyenne Declaration regarding the Protection of Sacred Ceremonies:
The Cheyenne Nation will seek support of the Plains Sundance Nations for the following Declaration on May 10, 2003 at Bear Butte, South Dakota. This Declaration was authored by the Cheyenne Nation through its Elk Society's Headsman, Bernard Red Cherries, Jr.
UNIFIED DECLARATION REQUESTING CEREMONIAL AND CULTURAL INTEGRITIES PROTECTION
REQUEST CHANGES TO THE AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT, RELEVANT FOR THE PROTECTION OF OUR CEREMONIAL SUNDANCE, SWEAT-LODGE AND SACRED HEALING CEREMONIALS.
October 9, 2002
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
VICE-PRESIDENT RICHARD CHENEY - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF SENATE AND CONGRESS
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
WE hereby state and declare that we were given the Sacred Sundance as a way of offering and sacrifice by the Creator through his Prophets and spirits, and that the Sacred Sundance Ceremony is exclusive of the Plains tribes of which we descend. Our aforementioned Tribes practice and maintain the Sacred Sundance, sweat lodge and continue to heal our people in our ceremonial traditional Native healing ways. And that we reserve the right to protect, and ensure its preservation of these very sacred ceremonials for our People and our future generations. These aforementioned ceremonials are exclusive of our native peoples in our inherent right to offer sacrifice and worship not always understood by society at large. We the aforementioned Nations have come together in an unprecedented unified effort to seek remedy to protect and to preserve for our future generations our sacred Sundance, sweat lodge, and related Native American Indian healing ceremonials. We move and state that the following be considered:
1. THAT RELEVANT CHANGES BE MADE IN THE AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT.
We understand that this law was created for the purpose of ensuring the reservation of our Ceremonial and Cultural integrities of our most sacred ceremonial prayer ways. These ways have been left for us as a way of life and prayer expression by our Grandfathers, since time immemorial. We were born into this way of life and ceremonial prayer way and do not practice any other Nations ways of prayer or expression, choosing to respect their ways that was left for them by their Grandfathers, be it Christian, Muslim, Hinduism, etc.,..
2. WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR INHERANT RIGHT TO WORSHIP AS OUR GRANDFATHERS BEFORE US IN THE WAYS OF THIER GRANDFATHERS AND TO KEEP THESE WAYS SACRED AS IT WAS IN THE TIME OF OUR GRANDFATHERS, FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN AND FUTURE GENERATIONS:
As the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT has recognized this ever important factor in the Creation of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in its induction into our system of laws, that was provided for the benefit of our people, Native Americans. This law however has been, we feel, manipulated and protected non-natives and those who have no Traditional or biological connection to the peoples it was intended to benefit, NATIVE AMERICANS.
These very people are the very ones who continue to sell and profit from our Sacred Ceremonials and ways of life, and do not represent us but for their own motives and interests. We the undersigned Traditional, Validated, Legitimate Spiritual Leadership of our respective Tribes do come together in unison to request for these relevant changes after consulting with each other and respecting each others customs, and more importantly understanding together the abuses, and exploitation of our most Sacred Ceremonials, and its already devastating impacts on our Native American Peoples.
And requesting this help as it was this UNITED STATES OF AMERICA through their Representatives in SENATE and CONGRESS assembled, that under sec.2. of the American Indian Religious Freedom act states,
THE PRESIDENT SHALL DIRECT THE VARIOUS FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS, AGENCIES, AND OTHER INSTRUMENTALITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR ADMINISTERING RELEVANT LAWS TO EVALUATE THEIR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES IN CONSULTATION WITH NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN ORDER TO DETERMINE APPROPRIATE CHANGES NECESSARY TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CULTURAL RIGHTS AND PRACTICES.
We as Traditional Spiritual Leaders and Keepers of our Traditional and Ceremonial ways of life humbly come before you now in a unified Tribal effort. We feel that because of the blatant abuse of our Sacred prayer ways by those who do not know better, nor are neither Ceremonially qualified to give guidance continue to bring harm physically, spiritually and emotionally to those who innocently seek their guidance for spiritual enlightenment, sometimes resulting in grave danger or even death, as was the case in a "Solstice sweat lodge ritual", which is not of our culture, but imitated as such.
This supposed "Native ceremony" neither was under the guidance of a Traditionally recognized spiritual leader or "Medicineman". And as a result two (2) people of non-native descent died in El Dorado County, California., as was reported in the Sacramento Bee Journal, dated June 22nd, 2002. The following unfortunate incident is a direct result of what happens because of the illusion of seeking "Native American ceremonial experiences" without the proper guidance of QUALIFIED Spiritual Leaders, and combination of Laws protecting the innocent, and the Intended protectee, The Native Americans and their cultural & ceremonial integrities. We hope that these unfortunate incidents can altogether be avoided with the proper relevant changes to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, making it impossible for those non-natives to lead these sacred ceremonials, taking into account the element of our "Native language" which is our key component in summoning the Powers and Sacred Elements in prayer and song and which is exclusive of the Native Americans in our Inherent right to worship in the ways of our Grandfathers and theirs before them.
Each Tribe has their own Traditional laws that govern their ways of life and ceremonials, each provides for the traditional laws relevant for our protection and safety and guidance. These laws cannot exist and do the most benefit for the preservation of our sacred ways and for the protection of those non-natives who seek native traditional spirituality without the coordination of the UNITED STATES SENATE AND CONGRESS, through their representatives. All across this land and overseas as well, our Native Traditional ceremonials are being exploited in a fad like fashion, without regard to the impact it's effects will have on our Children and future generations, already we hold on desperately to what we have left, we are the Leadership entrusted by our customary traditional laws to uphold and to preserve our most Sacred Ways. We also feel that because of the blatant abuses and exploitations of our most Sacred Ceremonials, that this Earth and its inhabitants are out of balance and would rather resist this endeavor than to favor a stand on preserving our most Sacred Ways. We also at this time humbly and respectfully request of our white brothers and sisters to cease leadership, authoritarian and interpretive roles in our traditional ceremonies.
We request this as we need to restore balance and harmony to our traditional ceremonies and spiritual ways of life.
Moreover this document does not address the participation of non-natives in these ceremonies as actual participants, this is at the discretion of each tribe who have in place already existing traditional laws that address this issue. Each tribe since time immemorial have customary laws that address concerns relevant to this protection endeavor, and respects these traditional laws of each Nation as it pertains to their tribal customs. Our foremost concern is for the leadership and interpretations of our Sacred ceremonials and to maintain and stabilize our ceremonial and cultural integrities of the aforementioned spiritual ways.
We also have made it very clear that this is not a document of hatred or dissention of which its contents efforts have been mistakenly identified, but a very simple plea for the preservation of our most Sacred Ceremonial integrities, which are priceless and irreplaceable. We also understand that some Tribes make concessions allowing for the participation of other Tribes and non natives into their sacred ceremonials, however keeping for their own the cultural and ceremonial integrities, preserved in song and language.
We have also identified and all agreed that our key component in communicating with the Creator, Earth, Sacred beings, Stars, Moons, Seasons, Animals, Sacred Grandfathers and Grandmothers is our Native Language and songs which are priceless and irreplaceable and cannot be duplicated or fully rationalized by non natives. We believe that the guidance and interpretations of our Sacred Ceremonials belongs to the Traditional Leadership, made possible because of their Spiritual and physical participation in their Tribes Sacred Ceremonials earning this right and having been customarily taught the contents of these aforementioned Ceremonials, thus making it possible to offer the Sacred Ceremonials at the customary required and much needed times.
We come to you seeking remedy and consultation as it is this UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN SENATE AND CONGRESS ASSEMBLED that guaranteed the protection through it's creation of the AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT.
"WE THE FOLLOWING NATIONS HAVING MET IN TRADITIONAL COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY CONCUR THAT THE EXISTANCE OF OUR PEOPLE AND SACRED WAYS DEPENDS ON THE DEPTH OF OUR AWARENESS ABOUT THE EXPLOITATION OF OUR CULTURE. OUR CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE GENERATIONS AND OUR SUPPORT FOR ONE ANOTHER CAN BE BENIFICIAL TO ALL OUR PEOPLES BY HOW WELL WE SUPPORT ONE OTHER"
WE CONCUR ON THIS ENDEAVER TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE OUR CEREMONIAL AND CULTURAL INTEGRETIES AND THE WAYS OF OUR GRANDFATHERS FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN AND FUTURE GENERATIONS
I can understand the desire of native peoples to protect their heritage. I have been embarassed by various bastardizations and bad manners that I have witnessed. However, all native peoples are not in agreement with some of the exclusive comments I read here. All of us come from indigenous people at some point in time--there was a strong and widespread practise of earth religions in Europe before certain religious institutions (Catholic) murdered many of their practitioners. No one has a corner on consciousness AND, on the other hand, there are some pretty shallow attempts at ceremonies made by people who are stuck in their egos. In the end, such profound spritirual practises cannot be destroyed by people who perform them without understanding. The quality of the lodge attracts the same quality of participants, don't you think? I studied African Dance years ago, and all of the teachers I had who were actually from Africa (and some of the African-American ones) really wanted to pass on the beauty of that dance form irregardless of the color of the skins of the dancers. The people who criticized white dancers were some Afro-Americans who felt that it was a robbery of African culture. In a racist society like ours I can understand how this can happen. The wounds run deep. But, Lupita, if someone invites me, I will still attend.
I don't know Ann Marie Clock. When I checked her website, it appears that she doesn't charge for the sweat lodge, but only if someone is staying at her B & B or they are paying for a workshop, of which the lodge is part. I have only been in sweat lodges led by native americans and only when invited. It was not enough for them to be native americans, of course, but to also have trained for years in the ceremony. It is hard to imagine however that Ms. Clock is "just like" James Arthur Ray who charges almost $10,000 for his retreats and who encourages people to stay in the lodge even when they wish to leave. In all the lodges I attended, when someone asked for the door to be opened, that marked the end of that round. There was no shame in asking for the door to be opened and such a request was always honored. I know there are a lot of new age people who do their own versions of sweat lodges and that has always been uncomfortable for me. I have too much respect for it and as a white person, too little understanding. But as a human being, the experiences I had were very moving and truly humbling and wonderous. There are, or were, several local native americans who lead lodges in the Tucson area. To me, it would have been more appropriate to have contacted one of them. As upsetting as this article obviously is for many of us, I am still glad to see that someone is pointing out, that James Arthur Ray does not represent the true spirit and nature of sweat lodges. Too bad so many naive people fell for his narcissistic, self-serving ego trip. Some would say that it is dangerous to hold such ceremonies without the proper training and with a greedy agenda. In this case, such arrogance cost people their lives.
Anne Marie is not a fraud. I have been in her sweats many times. I have also been in a sweat run by her Native Apache teacher Delmar. She has a pure heart and it saddens me to see the above comments. Why do you have to hate? Anne has had many Native teachers and has sat with the Counsel of Grandmothers. If they acknowledge her as a spiritual teacher, then who are you to judge? So what if she is a white woman, race has nothing to do with spirit. And actually, I have seen many native people in her sweat. Her monthly sweats are on a donation basis, like any church. Wood costs money. She does charge for her retreats, but she provides food, lodging and her valuable time for a nominal fee. Perhaps those with negative comments need more love in their lives. How about a sweat? I know a good one! ;)
Dear AIM Arizona, It's Not About Me, traditshyouth, Lupita:
I can understand the anger you express due to past treatment of all Native American peoples. I do not understand however how it can be a bad thing for any or all other peoples to have a true, heartfelt desire to experience spirituality through Native American sensibility and ceremony. Are the Native Americans or for that matter all indigenous Indians of the earth the only ones who can love and revere Mother Earth?
Anger and separatism have produced the world we now live in. Change will only come when they are set aside and tolerance and unity become our guides. We all are brothers and sisters.
Wow, your small attitudes sound just like those of the people who gave Bruce Lee a hastle for sharing eastern knowledge with the world. I wonder how many of those small minded people are sharing their martial arts knowledge. If you have the ability to learn and to teach others, why shouldn't you. How else will we become less ignorant? Grow up, we share this planet and learning and participating in cultures of the world may help us learn tolerance.
I have been to the lodge. Participants bring food and monetary contributions if they can and are willing. Money is never talked about there. It is not the purpose of the lodge or the evening together. There is always a communal meal afterwards. Money is not talked about there either. I have often come with neither and always felt welcome.
Yes retreats are charged for, even the ones at my church are charged for. The money goes towards food and lodging, not for entry into the lodge.
White people took almost everything from the Indian people and now they also want to take their ceremonies and spirituality. Indian ceremonies held all over the United States are being conducted by nons with no knowledge of the language or of the deep meaning of the ceremonies. They have turned the sacred ceremonies of the Indian people into freakshows for their viewing and enjoyment of anyone willing to pay for them. The true spiritual practices of the Indian people are not for non-Indians and they are not for sale. Indian spirituality is for Indians only. We had these beliefs and ceremonies long before the white people came across the ocean and they withstood all of the assaults to destroy them. And yet, they still try to bastardize them. It is high time the Indian people took them back and closed their ceremonies to outsiders.
After you have been cleansed in the “Reverend’s” sweat lodge give me a call and we can set up a dinner with the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster. Dinner is only $200.00 per person, about what the good “Reverend” charges to go howl at the moon with her during the next summer solstice. At the dinner you will gain knowledge of all that is spiritual and be touched by His noodley appendages.
Ah, new age religious crap, aint it grand!
I have high respect for people who are native american and having authorized sweat lodges. I dont understand why a non-native american cannot be trained and authorized in doing this? Before i get attacked i want to let u know that i did have an excellent experience at a HOPI sweat lodge a few years back.
Not knocking but isnt this like saying that a non asian person cannot create asian dishes in an asian restaurant that they own with a food and business license?(btw this is just an analogy not meant to insult).
As far as her charging money for this when you have posted that she does not i must admit that is fraudulent then or the author of this article did not read the entire site to make that statement.
this story is insulting to me as a native american, and i would like to point at the fact that this women does profit from holding sweat lodge, if you actually search around her web site youll find that to be true. she has no right to be doing the things that she does, she is no better than James arthur Ray, she is doing the same thing he did just with a different line. People like this lady are a joke and should not be taken seriously, she says what she does is tradional ways of the native people, but you will never see a real traditional native at her " gatherings " next time you want to share your opinion on something that is about native culture, try talking to some one who is actually native.
Of course the woman is charging because she charges for the retreat in the first place, look at the website. Ceremonies belong within indigenous families and indigenous nations, period.
Ann Marie Clock is a FRAUD. She is NOT entitled to conduct a sweat lodge and she has twisted and perverted the sacred rite of the Inipi as much as James Arthur Ray has. She is NOT enrolled in any federally recognized tribe and she is NOT qualified to conduct a sweat lodge. The Apache do not have sweat lodges and NO ONE from the Apache nation has authorized her to conduct any ceremonies of any kind. It is totally irresponsible of you to print this article and to promote this offensive fraud who is contributing to the cultural genocide of indigenous people. The weekly should not be promoting anyone as a legitimate representative of ANY indigenous cultural practice without checking their facts first. It is irresponsible to present the fraud Ann Marie Clock as a representative of ANYTHING indigenous. She is NOT recognized by any legitimate federally recognized tribe and the Apache nation has no knowledge of her and does not endorse her activities. SHAME ON YOU for printing this New Age corporate propaganda.
" ... This is a place where you're going to say your prayers. ..." I don't see the problem. This was CERTAINLY true for those at James Arthur Ray's ceremony. No?
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