Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Age Death Sweat III - Response by Chief Arvol Looking Horse (Lakota)

Chief Arvol Looking Horse's statement, released today:

Lakota Pipekeeper’s Statement Concerning Sweatlodge Deaths

As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, I am concerned for the 2 deaths and illnesses of the many people that participated in a sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona that brought our sacred rite under fire in the news. I would like to clarify that this lodge and many others, are not our ceremonial way of life, because of the way they are being conducted. My prayers go out for their families and loved ones for their loss.

Our ceremonies are about life and healing, from the time this ancient ceremonial rite was given to our people, never has death been a part of our inikag'a (life within) when conducted properly. Today the rite is interpreted as a sweat lodge, it is much more then that. So the term does not fit our real meaning of purification.

Inikag'a is the oldest ceremony brought to us by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit). 19 generations ago, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Oyate (people), were given seven sacred rites of healing by a Spirit Woman Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman). She brought these rites along with our sacred C'anupa (pipe) to our People, when our ancestors were suffering from a difficult time. It was also brought for the future to help us for much more difficult times to come. They were brought to help us stay connected to who we are as a traditional cultural People. The values of conduct are very strict in any of these ceremonies, because we work with spirit. The way the Creator, Wakan Tanka told us; that if we stay humble and sincere, we will keep that connection with the inyan oyate (the stone people), who we call the Grandfathers, to be able to heal our selves and loved ones. We have a gift of prayer and healing and have to stay humble with our Unc'i Maka (Grandmother Earth) and with one another. The inikag'a is used in all of the seven sacred rites to prepare and finish the ceremonies, along with the sacred eagle feather. The feather represents the sacred knowledge of our ancestors.

Our First Nations People have to earn the right to pour the mini wic'oni (water of life) upon the inyan oyate (the stone people) in creating Inikag'a - by going on the vision quest for four years and four years Sundance. Then you are put through a ceremony to be painted - to recognize that you have now earned that right to take care of someone's life through purification. They should also be able to understand our sacred language, to be able to understand the messages from the Grandfathers, because they are ancient, they are our spirit ancestors. They walk and teach the values of our culture; in being humble, wise, caring and compassionate.

What has happened in the news with the make shift sauna called the sweat lodge is not our ceremonial way of life!

When you do ceremony - you can not have money on your mind. We deal with the pure sincere energy to create healing that comes from everyone in that circle of ceremony. The heart and mind must be connected. When you involve money, it changes the energy of healing. The person wants to get what they paid for; the Spirit Grandfathers will not be there, our way of life is now being exploited! You do more damage then good. No mention of monetary energy should exist in healing, not even with a can of love donations. When that energy exists, they will not even come. Only after the ceremony, between the person that is being healed and the Intercessor who has helped connect with the Great Spirit, the energy of money can be given out of appreciation. That exchange of energy is from the heart; it is private and does not involve the Grandfathers! Whatever gift of appreciation the person who received the help, can now give the Intercessor what ever they feel their healing is worth.

In our Prophesy of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, she told us that she would return and stand upon the earth when we are having a hard time. In 1994 this began to happen with the birth of the white buffalo, not only their nation, but many animal nations began to show their sacred color, which is white. She predicted that at this time there would be many changes upon Grandmother Earth. There would be things that we never experienced or heard of before; climate changes, earth changes, diseases, disrespect for life and one another would be shocking and there would be also many false prophets!

My Grandmother that passed the bundle to me said I would be the last Keeper if the Oyate (people) do not straighten up. The assaults upon Grandmother Earth are horrendous, the assaults toward one another was not in our culture, the assaults against our People (Oyate) have been termed as genocide, and now we are experiencing spiritual genocide!

Because of the problems that began to arise with our rebirth of being able to do our ceremonies in the open since the Freedom of Religion Act of 1978, our Elders began talking to me about the abuses they seen in our ceremonial way of life, which was once very strict. After many years of witnessing their warnings, we held a meeting to address this very issue of lack of protocol in our ceremonies. After reaching an agreement of addressing the misconduct of our ceremonies and reminding of the proper protocols, a statement was made in March 2003. Every effort was made to insure our way of life of who we are as traditional cultural People was made, because these ways are for our future and all life upon the Grandmother Earth (Mitakuye Oyasin All my relations), so that they may have good health. Because these atrocities are being mocked and practiced all over the world, there was even a film we made called Spirits for Sale.

The non-native people have a right to seek help from our First Nation Intercessors for good health and well-being, it is up to that Intercessor. That is a privilege for all People that we gift for being able to have good health and understand that their protocol is to have respect and appreciate what we have to share. The First Nations Intercessor has to earn that right to our ceremonial way of life in the ways I have explained.

At this time, I would like to ask all Nations upon Grandmother Earth to please respect our sacred ceremonial way of life and stop the exploitation of our Tunka Oyate (Spiritual Grandfathers).

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!

Namah'u yo (hear my words),
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White
Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle.

Note: This statement was released before the third person died as a result of James Arthur Ray's fraudulent ceremony. Ray is also implicated in another death at one of his earlier seminars - a woman who died mysteriously during one of the events. Additionally, it has come out that in at least two previous plastic sweats he led, many people became very ill. There were many warnings that this was coming. There are still many others leading these untrained, unethical, confused attempts at sweats at newage and Neopagan events around the world. If people don't face up to what's going on here, there will be more deaths.


Cassandra said...

Of all I've learned and studied and meditated, you have it right. Thank you for your tenacity and diligence to remain true and honorable. Blessings to you and your people.

Chas S. Clifton said...

If you read him literally, you could not pay ceremonial respects to Grandmother Earth because his people own her. Or something like that.

Kathryn Price NicDhàna said...

@Chas: Huh? Where are you getting that? I don't hear him saying that at all. The point is that those who aren't part of the Lakota culture, who haven't been properly trained in the Lakota ceremonies, and acknowledged by the elders as a ceremonial leader, should not be trying to lead Lakota ceremonies.

The reason I specify Lakota here is that Arvol is speaking as a Lakota ceremonial person, and by all eyewitness accounts, James Arthur Ray was attempting to mimic a Lakota sweatlodge (albeit with grandiose and dangerous changes to what fragments he knew).

Lakota ceremonies are the most-mimicked and exploited of Indian traditions, as they were shared extensively with non-Lakota during the start of AIM in the seventies. Other nations that have the sweatlodge have different ceremonies, though there are some similarities between the related Nations. Some feel the Lakota Nation will never recover the integrity of some of their ceremonies, due to those who abused the knowledge that was so generously shared. Arvol is one of the Lakota who is working to preserve what they have left, and set some boundaries on the exploiters. I've never heard him say anyone should not pray or do ceremony in the way of *their own* ancestors. The point is not to misappropriate the ceremonies of other cultures, or assume titles and rights of leadership that were never granted by the elders.

What we see with James Arthur Ray is not only the danger of an untrained person leading and perverting these ceremonies, but what can happen when someone is flying free of the system of checks and balances that exists is a functioning community with elders and peers.

By laying out some of the details of what is required to be an Inipi leader among the Lakota, I have some concern that Arvol has given a bit more information to exploiters who will now lie and claim they have such authorization. But my understanding is that Arvol wanted to make it clear to people what a serious role this is, and how it is earned over many years in community. People who've earned this right in a legitimate way aren't out leading ceremonies for white people, or if they are, they are violating the consensus of the Plains representatives who've agreed to close ceremonies to outsiders.

Arvol did acknowledge that non-Indians are sometimes given healing, or included in other ways. But this usually only happens when someone is a family member or close friend. And being welcomed as a guest at a ceremony in no way gives a person, of any ethnicity, the right to then go out and try to lead that ceremony for others.

If someone who has been given this gift goes out and uses it without permission, it will be taken away and bad things will happen to them, including the loss of the community and family that made the mistake to trust them in the first place.

Anonymous said...

hi im robert gordon.

your peoples teachings sound beautiful. i feel beauty in heart when i read them. and yes your peoplese teachings are very important and must not be ignored. thank you for sharing them here