Saturday, October 10, 2009

Romanticism of Native Traditions goes bad in Sedona Sweat Lodge

Anglo's romantic notions about Native cultural traditions can lead down the wrong path. Those searching for spiritual fulfillment sometimes use vacation time to experiment with Native American ritual practices. Unfortunately non-Natives conducting First Peoples' ceremonies and rituals and catering to tourists don't always get it right.

Angel Valley resort located in Yavapai Indian Country includes Oglala Sioux-type tepee.

This could be the case at the Sweat Lodge Ceremony gone bad in Sedona, Arizona Thursday night. Two people died and an estimated nineteen others were taken to area hospitals. Fox News reports that about 50 people were in a "sweat" structure located at Angel Valley Resort in Sedona. The facility provides spiritual retreats for visitors to Sedona's famous Red Rock Country.

Angel Valley retreat center claims on-property vortex sites

Living in Indian Country, I've had the opportunity to visit Native sweat lodges. I've turned down invitations by Native people to participate in sweat lodge ceremonies. But I have never seen a traditional sweat lodge that could sit 50 people. That's where I get the opinion that the 50-capacity sweat lodge must be an Anglo-version of a typically healthful and safe Native tradition.

Thursday night's tragedy shocks and horrifies us local people living in northern Arizona. It saddens me that those on a journey to spiritual fulfillment never had a chance to find it. I pray that those who survived will chose to walk where the good way is. "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' " Jeremiah 6:15-17

Vagabonding Lulu's Free Travel Tips:
  • As in "buying only Native-made silver and turquoise jewelry," likewise "buy" only Native-operated Indian ceremonies, practices or tours. 
  • trust your own body, if you start feeling sick, get out of the situation
  • When in Sedona, visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross for the weekly Taizé service on Monday at 5pm. Light a candle for the victims of this tragic spiritual experiment.
Vagabonding Lulu is an Arizona travel writer based near Sedona, AZ. She offers free travel tips and travel advice. Subscribe to this site in the right column and you won't miss the latest travel news for your next trouble-free vacation.


Linda said...

People such as this are no different than those who traffic phony Indian Arts and Crafts with one major exception. First of all these people who attend these types of ‘retreats’ are those who intend to gain certification of sorts by acquiring proof of attendance so that they can open up their own profitable undertakings using so called Native American teachings– see for yourself, do they get a certificate of completion? All anyone has to do is check for themselves. It is all for one purpose, greed, but the major difference between those who commit the offense of breaking federal law by trafficking phony Indian Arts and Crafts and these spiritual phonies is that it is not a federal offense, but to put it in trendy terms, this religious sacrilege is only EXTREMELY BAD Karma, sure these kinds of people have big name corporations and fortune five hundred celebrities endorse their new ‘pay for religion products’, but do they really understand what they are actually doing? Of course they do! Our economy is bad, people are losing their homes, people can’t afford heath care,, who is going to profit? At what cost? Do they really believe in what they are selling or care about any sort of spiritual, religious & moral or even LEGAL consequence to their actions by taking the very sacred way of life of a people that are healing from other atrocities already committed upon them, of course not, humanity is not ignorant of this, neither can they claim to be, especially if they also claim to have had a Native American train them– they wouldn’t have required the ridiculous exorbitant amounts of money. Now the religion is up for profit? Sweat lodge anyone?? But the difference is no one can buy Indian spirituality all they can do is try to emulate it in whatever strange and bizarre made up ways as they go about selling it,,, will this dangerously immoral sacrilege be available at Walmarts soon too?? Or will the true Native American Spirituality be obvious to anyone anytime soon? There are very spiritually and physically dangerous reasons Indians don’t go into sweat lodges ill prepared!! It doesn’t seem our spirits are very happy with these sorts of greedy charlatans, neither should the People of The State of Arizona be!!! SNAKE OIL FOR SALE, OLD INDIAN CURE, DRINK KEROSENE AND DIE BUT GIVE TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR IT FIRST!!!
Linda Medley (Chippewa in Michigan)

Linda said...

“Nine to ten thousand dollars for this? ‘out of body experience’?” to play Indian, when real Indians are living in poverty on reservations, and other people are losing their homes because of the bad economy, How Shameful!!! This organization is compromising to real to Native Americans Indians.. and blatantly offensive. It’s a hard slap in the face to real Native Americans. Compromising to our culture with phony misappropriations of Indian spirituality. They are not a part of us,, not one of us,,, it is so sad,, should seek therapy to learn to accept and deal with your own culture and cease your outrageously ridiculous attempts at trying to emulate ours! These phony fabricated and distorted portrayals are compromising to our culture and damaging to our traditions by propagating ridiculous fabrications!!!! Genocide of a culture is not hip & fashionable!!!!! We are healing,,, Real Native Americans are healing ourselves from the atrocities that happened in our very own lifetimes, and that is what is now being copied by every self appointed Indian ‘Spiritualist’ from here to kingdom come,,,, and then marketed as just some new fad that happens to be hip & fashionable at the time, but this is our religion, we are Indians,, because we are Indians,, not because we trying to become someone else! Saying to ourselves, “Lets seek a new religion because ours is too condemning..” you tell yourselves, “..and because we’re too old to use drugs anymore to drop out and escape reality & morality so now we’ll pay 10k to have an out of body experience instead, lets take away our bibles and erase our ten commandments because it is not healthy for our positive affirmations,, we don’t need to hear about our ‘SINS’ and how our ‘GREED’ has gotten us into the recession we are in by spending what we don’t have.”
Nine to ten thousand dollars for an ‘out of body’ experience,,, How Very Sadly Ironic!!!!
Linda Medley (Chippewa in MI)