Desecration of Ceremony is Cultural Genocide

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

How can you educate the dominant culture, a mindset, that the desecration of Native American ceremony is cultural genocide?


As early as 1933, Raphael Lemkin proposed a cultural component to genocide, which he called “vandalism.” However, the drafters of the 1948 Genocide Convention dropped that concept from their consideration.

One must make a connection between making profit from cultural components considered sacred, and to the severe damage done to the indigenous culture being preyed on and profited from. While indigenous people yet suffer the effects of a 500 year Holocaust, the overall dominant culture adheres to genocide denial. Plastic Medicine men charging money for fake ceremonies and the people who pay them is the issue at hand. Why is the desecration of Native American ceremonies cultural genocide? One word – relationships.

Crossposted at Native American Netroots

A Medicine Man, as known in the “public domain,” is one chosen through tribal custom within a series of relationships or clan. However, a Plastic Medicine man is self proclaimed and arrogantly so. How arrogant would it be to barge into a Sovereign Nation and proclaim you’re a leader? It’s laughable, but enter one lesser known aspect of real Medicine Men: they have responsibilities they can not refuse. Ask a Plastic Medicine man for a healing ceremony at an inconvenient time, and their wallet will outweigh your needs. Sounds somewhat like the Health Care debate, doesn’t it? But Plastic Medicine men go way beyond that.

Plastic Medicine men take a little of this, combine it with a little of that, and then create a “product.” Next, they market it as authentic.

During the exterminations there were also survivors; or, the raw materials for a Plastic Medicine man’s “product” from their point of view. Survivors, like their exterminated relatives, were hunted like animals. Indeed, I know someone who related a story of historical trauma. His friend’s grandparent still wore shoes when they slept at night and
kept all their belongings in boxes, because as a child they were always fleeing Custer. This person’s cultural beliefs are that there are sacred objects, sacred ceremonies, and sacred land given to their people to survive.


The Oct. 9 headlines read: “Sweat lodge disaster” and “2 dead, 19 taken to hospitals, 64 people in sweat lodge.”

Except that it wasn’t a real sweat lodge. It was a bastardized version of a sacred ceremony sold by a multimillionaire who charged people $9,695 a pop for his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat in Sedona, Ariz.

The man responsible, self-help spiritual entrepreneur James Arthur Ray, claimed the New Age retreat would absolutely “change your life.”

And their sacred sites are tied to their sacred ceremonies and to their sacred objects. Sacred sites of many tribes are yet being encroached upon by energy companies and the military. So land theft continues, while Plastic Medicine men present Frankenstein as a Holy Man and charge a hefty price for their freak show.…


But don’t ask which sacred relics he robbed from indigenous graves to bring his or her monster to life, you might end up dead.


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.


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  1. In Orange

  2. Can’t blame you for the resolution.  

  3. the exploitation and abuse must stop

  4. I live in the Midwest, in the heart of what was once the home of the Potawatomi. This area has a rich Native American heritage and unfortunately also a long history of desecration of local village sites and mounds. But the story I will relate is not concerned with this area or the Potawatomi.

    I have a friend of many years who is in possession of a war bonnet that was procured in the late 1920s’ from Wooden Leg, (1858-1940), a Cheyenne warrior who at the age of 18 fought against Custer at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn). This war bonnet is a magnificent specimen, about 6′ long with perfectly preserved eagle feathers that have been kept in excellent condition as my friend is an archivist, and it is only brought out on special occasions.

    About 15 years ago I was able to personally see this beautiful headpiece and was even afforded the opportunity to put it on my head. Not knowing then what I know now I jumped at the chance and put it on, I felt a rush of archetypal pride and history, it is hard to explain, it was a hallowed feeling and an honor. But looking back on it now, I wish that I hadn’t put it on my head.

    Wooden Leg was not the original owner of this bonnet, it had been passed down to him. I’d love to tell you that it was his headpiece and he wore it proudly in battle against the bluecoats, but at the age of 18 at Greasy Grass he was much too young to possess a bonnet of this caliber. The original owner was undoubtedly a very prominent individual, maybe a chief, probably a relative, but no one knows for sure. The reason so much history is known of this piece is because there exists a handwritten letter from the man who purchased it from Wooden Leg, and therein lies the crux of this story.

    This letter was written in the hand of the man who bought the headpiece, I know his name as the letter was signed but I won’t disclose it. The letter was passed on with the bonnet as provenance of its’ authenticity. It describes the circumstances of the whole sordid affair and tells a sad tale.

    This person desperately wanted the headpiece and had tried time and time again for a couple of years to convince Wooden Leg to sell the bonnet to him. Again and again Wooden Leg refused, he wanted to be buried with it and obviously it was very precious to him. Finally out of frustration this jerk man threatened Wooden Leg. He told him that if he didn’t sell it to him that he would dig up Wooden Leg’s grave after he died and steal it anyway. At that point, being around 70 years old, and not wanting the unthinkable idea of his burial site disturbed, Wooden Leg acquiesced and sold it. This was a sad and sorry example of how far a man would go to quench his thirst for greed.

    The man who bought the bonnet in the late 20’s kept it in his possession until he died and then it was passed on to his son. His son then sold it to my friends father in 1956. When my friends father passed away it was left to him. He is now in his 60’s and is in negotiation to donate it to a museum. I have tried to convince him to return it to the Cheyenne, but it is his decision and donating is certainly better than the obvious alternative of selling it to someone else (and yes I know that is illegal). I will try once again to convince him to return it back to where it rightly belongs. Wooden Leg must have felt like he was selling his soul.

    Mans’ greed is boundless.



  5. … also know all about the bastardization of their culture for commercial purposes.

  6. My tradition is not Native American, never has been. I still have too much respect for it to pretend that I should participate in a sweat lodge ceremony. I will NOT attend a ceremony that has been traditionally barred to women, and I will NOT participate in Sioux ceremonies when on my “moon time”. These are not my taboos, they are those of the Lakota Nation, and I know better than to disrespect them!

    I was born here, I am third generation and that is ONLY the degree to which I am “native” American. My path is that of my ancestors and it works for me. I honor this my land knowing there were many here before me, and I honor and respect other paths, asking only that they respect mine in return and in kind.

  7. I take it that she’s misrepresenting her origins and performing “ceremonies.”  I think that should be denounced.  But I’m wondering why the person calling her out as a fraud is wearing a mask.  Is there a reason for anonymity in this?  

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