I tend to growl and roar when something angers me. But after a bit, I can calm down and think more rationally and then give the reasons why I was mad and why I feel something is wrong.
I originally wrote a blog post on my website shortly after the sweat lodge deaths in Sedona, Arizona. I was going to run that post this week since Dateline ran a story on the situation on Saturday June 11, 2010. But, after re-reading my website post, I felt that, while my points are justified and valid, they don’t express what I am really trying to say. So here is the addendum to my original post: “The Sweat Lodge deaths: My Lakota perspective.”
Okay, first of all, I need to let you know that while the majority of the world calls it a sweat lodge, to Lakotas our ceremony is known as the Inipi, a purification ceremony. With that in mind, this man was doing nothing more than a sweat lodge. He is not a medicine man, he has no tribal affiliation, and was not given an altar by the creator. I will continue to call it a sweat lodge in this article because to call it an Inipi would be like calling a lion a mouse.
Second, there are many other tribes that do sweat lodges but who don’t call them Inipis; they have their own culturally significant word. I’m using my words and my references because I am a Lakota, and this is my perspective.
Now, I’m angry at this [James] Ray guy because he is a white man trying to replicate a Lakota ceremony known to us as an Inipi — a Lakota ceremony that is first and foremost a sacred ceremony given to us by the White Buffalo Calf woman who brought us our seven sacred ceremonies. These seven ceremonies are exactly that, sacred. We are not to talk out of context about them, meaning, what happens in Inipi, stays in Inipi. We are not to film them, record them, “expose” (read: exploit) them to the outside world. We are NOT to take money when performing them; they are a sacred meeting between individuals and the creator.
I know how very fiercely many wasicus guard their organized religions, so let’s take that, think about whatever ceremonial-type things or religious rituals you do or have, and then have someone who is not of that religion come in and do the most sacrilegious thing to that particular ritual. How would that make you feel?
Third, there are rules, if you will, of what you can and can’t ask for in a sweat lodge. You cannot ask for money. So, this pompous jerk makes his strike two right there, which only ups my anger at him.
Now, in order for Ray to have been able to run this “sweat lodge”, he had to have been in one. See, this is the problem when people go into our ceremonies with the wrong idea, wrong intent, wrong place. He had NO right to run that. Yet he did. He probably doesn’t know a anymore of the Lakota Inipi than I know of how it feels to be a pumpkin.
Okay, this is clearly going to have to a multi-part piece.
In Part 2, I will talk more about how the resort where the ceremony was held should be responsible for this. I will also talk about some ideas on how the people all ended up there, and why things went so terribly wrong.
*Wasicu: “taker of the fat”
Photos by Mary Black Bonnet
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