What Happens in the Sweat Lodge Stays in the Sweat Lodge

| 10/20/2009 4:25:27 PM

Sweat lodgeWhat does the American Indian community have to say about the deaths of three spiritual seekers at a sweat-lodge ceremony in Arizona? That’s a ridiculous question to ask, of course: There is no central “Indian community,” nor is there a great chief who speaks for everyone with indigenous blood. With that in mind, we hit the web to survey reactions to the tragedy from various voices across the native world. Here are some of them:

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse in News from Indian Country:

My prayers go out for [the victims’] families and loved ones for their loss. . . . 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. . . . 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.

Tim Giago in Native American Times:

I am not going to dance around the consequences of [lodge organizer] James Arthur Ray’s stupidity because he was blatantly using a religious ceremony of the Native Americans to enrich himself, and what is worse, he didn’t know any of the sacred rites that accompany the inipi nor did he know the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota language, an intricate part of the ceremony.

Many Lakota are concerned about the deaths attributable to a botched sweat lodge ceremony. They have a lot more than this to worry about.

Sunday Michelle Weiss
10/21/2009 1:46:52 AM

My Grandmother was a Wels/Cornish immigrant, and a teacher, in Phoenix AZ, she loved and learned about Native American culture, and her husband was half choctaw. She took myself and my brothers and sisters to many Native American craft classes like beading, native american dancing, and sand painting, she collected Kachina's and readto us about Kachina's. When we learned about the Native American story's we were told that the Native American sand paintings allowed people to meditate about healing and pray to the creator, when adults used sweat lodges, they were always encouraged to leave the lodge if they felt ill. And the Native whp was guideing the lodge watched out for the others in the lodge for signs it was time to break. I never heard of a spiritual leader to encourage the people in the lodge not to leave no matter how bad they felt. So I am trying to understand that, since it was different from the ways I know native american culture to be taught.

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