Native Americans Seek Control over Spiritual Ceremonies

May 24, 2003

Source: Lincoln Journal Star

On May 24, 2003 the Lincoln Journal Star reported that "crossing of boundaries has kindled a new sense of urgency among Native people seeking to regain control of their ceremonies. Spiritual leaders are meeting today at the sacred site of Bear Butte in South Dakota in an attempt to stem what they see as the exploitation of Native ceremonies... Reports abound of abuses that include molestation, money for prayers, drug use and even death during such ceremonies... Many feel Native spiritual leaders and non-Native practitioners have corrupted a spiritual way of life once central to tribal communities... Past attempts at seclusion -- a proposal to ban non-Natives from sacred ceremonies was brought before South Dakota's Pine Ridge Tribal Council in 1997 -- have been futile... But in March, Looking Horse, who represents his family as the 19th-generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, issued a directive attempting to keep non-Natives from Lakota prayer altars."