Ceremonies and Symbolism
Before entering this section:
When something is sacred, it does not have a price. I don't care if it is white people talking about heaven or Indian people talking about ceremonies. If you can buy it, it isn't sacred. And once you start to sell it, it doesn't matter whether your reasons are good or not. You are taking what is sacred and making it ordinary.
— "Dan" (Neither Wolf nor Dog)
Spirituality cannot be bought or sold and nobody has the right to capitalize by attempting to do so. Prayer cannot be purchased. Those who participate with and support the fraudulent 'Pipe Carriers', 'Medicine Men', 'Clan Leaders' and 'Shamen' heal only the exponent's personal finances and, in doing so, assist in the destruction of not only Lakota culture but the spiritual ways of all traditional indigenous people.
— Lakota Oyate (www.lakotaoyate.com)
Declaration of War Against the Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality
statement passed on June 10, 1993 at the Lakota Summit V,
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; 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 disciples 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 shamanism"; 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 pseudo-Indian charlatans, cultists, "'wannabes", commercial profiteers, 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 we take immediate action to defend our most precious Lakota spirituality from further contamination, desecration and abuse;
Therefore we resolve as follows:
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.
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