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Native American Spirituality

The opinons expressed here are the authors alone and do not refect those of Lycos or anyone else.


Chief Arvol Looking Horse on the Events which occured at Sedona, Az and took two lives.

Concerning the deaths in Sedona Originally printed at

As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, I am concerned for the two deaths and illnesses of the many people who participated in a sweat lodge in Sedona, Ariz. 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 to the 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 inikaga (life within) when conducted properly. Today, the rite is interpreted as a sweat lodge. It is much more than that. The term does not fit our real meaning of purification.

Inikaga is the oldest ceremony brought to us by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit). Nineteen 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 the sacred Canupa (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 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 ourselves and loved ones. We have a gift of prayer and healing and have to stay humble with our Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) and with one another. The inikaga 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.

What has happened in the news with the makeshift sauna called the ‘sweat lodge’ is not our ceremonial way of life.

Our First Nations people have to earn the right to pour the mini wiconi (water of life) upon the inyan oyate in creating Inikaga by going on the vision quest for four years and four years to Sundance. Then you are put through a ceremony to be painted, to recognize that you have now earned the 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 makeshift 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 than 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, can the energy of money 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 help can now give is acceptable. They can give the intercessor whatever they feel their healing is worth.

In our prophecy, the White Buffalo Calf Woman told us 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 they would be shocking. There would also be many false prophets.

My Grandmother who passed the bundle to me said I would be the last Keeper if the oyate 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 have been termed as genocide, and now we are experiencing spiritual genocide.

Because of the problems that began to arise with our rebirth and 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 have seen in our ceremonial way of life, which was once very strict.

It is forbidden to film or photograph any of our ceremonies.

After many years of witnessing their warnings, we held a meeting to address the lack of protocol in our ceremonies. After reaching an agreement to address the misconduct of our ceremonies and to remind of the proper protocols, a statement was made in March 2003. Every effort was made to ensure our way of life of who we are as traditional cultural people, because these ways are for our future and all life upon 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, we even made a film 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, namahu yo (hear my words).

Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle.

New age religion practioners claim to do many things and most I don’t know enough about to make a comment about. When it comes to Native American spirituality I am not an expert but I do know that it can’t be bought and sold like so many Christian religions can be. You see, true spirituality is very personal, and just because some fraud knows about sweat lodges, sun dances, vision quests, and medicine wheels does not make them experts. These things are sacred, and no true elder would ever think of charging someone to learn about them or to experience them. What an elder would do is make sure the person seeking these things is ready, is sincere, and is not looking to exploit them.

Elders are the ones we learn from, they have learned from their elders, and weren’t charged for it. Elders hold the wisdom of the ancestors and I have never heard of a single elder who has asked anyone for money to share that wisdom. Monetary profit is a white concept, I give you money and you give me something in return just isn’t done in Native Spirituality. The seeker may give the elder a gift, and in return is taught or instructed in something; money does not come into play. You see all of these advertisements online or in newspapers or magazines offering a seminar or weekend in Indian knowledge and Spirituality, and think to yourself that you want to become closer to nature or to experience Indian life. You see the person(s) conducting the seminar is named Black Deer, or Running Water, or Stone Eagle, and think that they are Native American and are there forth legitimate. The fee for this seminar or weekend is anywhere from $200 to $20,000 and if you have the money to spare you decide to attend. What you actually get is a white person with little or no Indian blood who renamed himself/herself and maybe attended some other fake Indian’s seminar or weekend and learned what sweat lodges, medicine wheels, vision quests and sun dances are and maybe they even participated in one of these ceremonies conducted by the person who ran the seminar or weekend and were awarded “respected elder” status and certificates. What have you learned? Chances are you learned very little actual Native American knowledge, and you were charged a lot of money for it. You were ripped off, and realize this once you start talking to real Native Americans.

Danger Signs of fake Indians or “Plastic Shamans.”

1) The use of the word “shaman” should be an immediate red light. The word was never used in North America, it is of Siberian origin.

2) A request for money or other worldly or sexual rewards is an immediate danger sign, an elder does not profit from sharing his knowledge, and a tobacco offering or something similar should be all that is required.

3) A name ending in “Deer” or “Wolf” is another sign that things aren’t what they appear to be. White people think all Indian names have an animal included in them; some do yes, but not all. They use these names out of ignorance knowing their potential victims look for these names.

4) The term “Medicine Woman” is another danger sign, women did have some knowledge of herbs, etc… but the chief healers in most tribes were male.

5) Anyone telling you that men and women played the same roles in Native American society is a fraud.

6) Beware of anyone wearing a war bonnet, enough said.

7) Always remember that just because someone dresses like an Indian, and has an Indian name doesn’t mean that they have any Indian blood or any true knowledge of Indian culture.

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