American Indian Movement Resolution

Sovereign Diné Nation,
Window Rock, Arizona
May 11, 1984

Whereas the Spiritual wisdom which is shared by the Elders with the people has been passed to us through the Creation from time immemorial; and
Whereas the Spirituality of Indian Nations is inseparable from the people themselves; and
Whereas the attempted theft of Indian ceremonies is a direct attack and theft from Indian people themselves; and
Whereas there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of selling of Sacred ceremonies, such as the sweat lodge and the vision quest, and of Sacred articles, such as religious pipes, feathers, and stone; and
Whereas these practices have been and continue to be conducted by Indians and non-Indians alike, constituting not only insult and disrespect for the wisdom of the ancients, but also exposing ignorant non-Indians to potential harm and even death through the misuse of these ceremonies; and
Whereas the traditional Elders and Spiritual leaders have repeatedly warned against and condemned the commercialization of our ceremonies; and
Whereas such commercialization has increased dramatically in recent years, to wit:
The representations of Cyfus McDonald, Osheana Fast Wolf, and Brook Medicine Ego, all non-Indian women representing themselves as “Sacred Women,” and who, in the case of Cyfus McDonald, have defrauded Indian people of Sacred articles;
A non-Indian woman going by the name of “Quanda” representing herself as a “Healing Woman” and charging $20 for sweat lodges;
Sun Bear and the so-called “Bear Tribe Medicine Society,” who engage in the sale of Indian ceremonies and Sacred objects, operating out of the state of Washington, but traveling and speaking throughout the United States;
Wallace Black Elk and Grace Spotted Eagle, Indian people operating in Denver, Colorado, charging up to $50 for so-called “Sweat Lodge Workshops;”
A group of non-Indians operating out of Boulder, Colorado, and throughout the Southwest, and audaciously calling itself “Vision Quest, Inc.,” thereby stealing the name and attempting to steal the concept of one of our most Spiritual ceremonies;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Southwest AIM Leadership Conference reiterates the position articulated by our Elders at the First American Indian Tribunal held at D.Q. University, September 1982, as follows:
Now, to those who are doing these things, we send our third warning. Our Elders ask, “Are you prepared to take the consequences of your actions? You will be outcasts from your people if you continue these practices”... Now, this is another one, our young people are getting restless. They are the ones who sought their Elders in the first place to teach them the Sacred ways. They have said they will take care of those who are abusing our Sacred ceremonies and Sacred objects in their own way. In this way they will take care of their Elders.
We Resolve to protect our Elders and our traditions, and we condemn those who seek to profit from Indian Spirituality. We put them on notice that our patience grows thin with them and they continue their disrespect at their own risk.

CSQ Disclaimer

Our website houses close to five decades of content and publishing. Any content older than 10 years is archival and Cultural Survival does not necessarily agree with the content and word choice today.

CSQ Issue: