Saturday, April 19, 2008

Haudenosaunee speak out on Rachel Holzwarth

Rachel Holzwarth

There are lots of frauds out there - self-proclaimed "spiritual leaders" who are using aspects of Native American ceremonies, against the wishes of those in the very communities they are stealing from. In the Gaelic and CR communities we are dealing with this when some white person decides they will justify their theft by calling it "Celtic", and hoping people are stupid enough to not know that the ceremonies and beliefs of the diverse Celtic Nations are different from those of the various First Nations. While some settle for the ugliness of painting a triskele on a fake Indian drum and doing their idea of a chanupa (pipe) ceremony, the really shameless have even gone so far as to publicly tack a mis-applied Gaelic (or other Celtic language) name on their idea of an Inipi or smudging ceremony, stupidly thinking that no one out there who is actually part of these cultures will notice. Though not always confronted in public, these people are being laughed at by those who speak the languages (Native American and Celtic languages).

Sometimes the theft gets so egregious that the laughter turns to anger, and people rise up and go public with it, despite the fact that many of these frauds have a number of Newage supporters. This has been happening more and more lately, and as Native American protesters and their supporters are getting more organized, the trend is going to continue. A recent example of this is the movement against Rachel Holzwarth, aka Suraj Holzwarth (sometimes her last name has also been spelled Holzworth). She has renamed herself "White Eagle Medicine Woman", despite these being titles one has to earn, from communities she has no legitimate connection to. She is traveling around, selling "prayerformances", at which she wears Indian regalia and claims to present a Seneca ceremony. She is not Seneca. This is what an actual Haudenosaunee has to say about it:

For more on Holzwarth, check out the very long and detailed thread on NAFPS, and the briefer MySpace page by one of the groups organizing protests. The MySpace page also includes more pictures and videos. So far the group has been successful in getting many of her engagements shut down. The ones that have not yet been canceled... if she attempts to proceed, the protests are being planned.

When she performed in Massachusetts, Wampanoag warriors and their supporters stood up to her. The confrontation became bloody when her security, and the cops they called, attacked the protestors. In an act of desecration, Holzwarth walked up to Hartman Deetz, one of the Wampanoag men beaten by the cops, who was lying in a pool of his own blood on the floor; Holzwarth rubbed her hands in his blood, then proceeded to rub his blood into the skin of her drum.

Maybe she did it so now she can say she "has Native blood." And for the first time it won't be a lie.

Oh, btw, when asked her ancestry she has given a variety of conflicting stories. She's claimed she's Seneca because... she dreamed she's Seneca. She has also said she's "Seneca and Celtic." Great. Just Great. Guess what Rachel, we don't want you either.

crossposted to Craobh Caorann


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info. I was not able to attend that "ceremony". I am Wampanoag (Pokanoket)and Scottish (Dunbar Clan) so this is a concern for me doubly. It is very strange she put his blood on the drum. Blood covers. What about this drum needed to be covered? Perhaps their inability to connect with it? A fraud knows somewhere within they are one. Putting his blood on the drum shows their guilt. Through their hands they strike the drum / His blood is on their hands and that is that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. As a modern Pagan, I think about cultural appropriation quite a bit.

A few years ago, I met a white man calling himself a Native American Shaman in the Lakota tradition. His specialty? "Native American puppet theater for children." I kid you not. He'd said something about taking classes from "Wind Wolf Woman" out in California. Perhaps NAFPS might be interested in them.

Kanowakeron said...

I'm a Status Mohawk of Canada and find the Native Spiritualism Sales industry to be pathetic at best and completely disrespectful at worst.

I guess I have wonder about the sheer gullibility, desperation or just plain stupidity of those people who buy into this schlock. How braindead ARE these people? Is using an iota of common sense - or research - too taxing for these naive and intellectually lazy sheep? ANY nitwit who's capable of reading can discover the facts instead of myths. Holzwarth is merely capitalising on the ignorance and sloth of people who feel the need to be told instead of the need to find out.

If these people are too lazy to use the grey matter between their ears, then fine... dish out the cash and be no further ahead. But in the process, Holzwarth is denigrating and spreading lies and mistruths about a culture of which she is no part.

I take great delight in trashing the 'careers' of pompous poseurs; exposing their charade of fraud and deceit tickles me. Watching an entire life's work be flushed down the crapper is the icing on the cake.

Holzwarth deserves a life in penury - she's brought this on entirely by herself. She's an airhead from Long Island with some sort of Napolean Complex - not exactly impressive credentials and certainly no background to be telling others what constitutes 'Native spirituality'.

I sense her game is just about up and in a perverse way, we First Nations people can thank her for raisng awareness of ALL the shysters who're cashing in on the pop trend. This travesty has been going on for decades and hopefully, the collapse of Holzwarth's scheme will send a clear message to others.

'Appropriation' (AKA theft) of Native-anything (land, resources, culture) will no longer be tolerated.

Kathryn Price NicDhàna said...

Thank you all for your comments. While I am outraged at Holzwarth's fraud, I am very pleased to see how this has mobilized people to take action. I think that once she is taken down, the momentum will continue to build and more will follow. I am so proud of the great work everyone is doing.

Yewtree said...

Hi, I've posted this post to MetaPagan (collaboratively edited Pagan blog aggregator) via (social bookmarking site), so more people get to hear about this.

Fortunately in the UK the craze for all things Native American has died down considerably since the mid-1990s, as I think people here more or less got the message about cultural appropriation.

Anonymous said...

Kanowakeron sums it up and not much can be added to what he said. I too wonder at the pathetic ignorance of non-Indians who buy into such stupid bullshit coming from such an obvious white woman. Are people that freakin' desperate to accept this crap as somehow spiritual/meaningful in their lives?? Wouldn't it just be much easier to buy some street drugs and get high??

Kathryn Price NicDhàna said...

Updates here:

* October 14, 2008, Update on Plymouth Protests against White Ego Fraud

* September 14, 2009, The Return of White Ego Fraud

* September 21, 2009, White Ego Racist flocks to Long Island