you think you are “Indian by heart” or were “an Indian in a past life?”
Do you admire Native ways and want to incorporate them into your life
and do “your own” version of a sweat lodge or a vision quest?
Have you seen ads, books, and websites that offer to “train you to be
come a shaman” in an easy number of steps, a few days on the weekend,
or for a fee?
Have you really thought this all the way
through? Have you thought about how native people feel about what
you might want to do? Please think about these important points before
you take that fateful step and expend time, money, and emotional
- Native people DO NOT
believe it is ethical to charge money for any ceremony or teaching. Any
who charge you even a penny are NOT authentic.
traditionalists believe the ONLY acceptable way to transmit traditional
teachings is orally and face-to-face. Any allegedly traditional
teachings in books or on websites are NOT authentic.
medicine ways takes decades and must be done with great caution and
patience out of respect for the sacred. Any offer to teach you all you
need to know in a weekend seminar or two is wishful thinking at best,
fraud at worst.
Most of these FRAUDULENT
operators are not the slightest bit reputable. Some, such as Robert
“Ghostwolf” AKA Robert Franzone and Forrest Carter, have actually been
convicted of fraud.
Some are sexual
predators who prey upon their followers. “Sun Bear” a.k.a. Vincent La
Duke was a serial rapist who was facing numerous charges when he died,
including the rape of girls as young as fourteen. Women should be
extremely wary of any “ teacher” who claims sex is part of an alleged
Most of these FRAUDULENT operators have been caught making complete fantasies of what many whites WISH Natives were like.
way to say it is that they are outright liars and hoaxers, some, like
Carlos Castaneda, were exposed as long as three decades ago.
You probably are asking yourself, “Aren’t any of these people for real and a good way for me to learn?”
Please understand the following points about Native spiritual ways:
- Native belief systems are COMMUNAL, not focused on the individual’s faith like Christianity.
beliefs are TRIBAL-SPECIFIC. There is NO “generic Indian” form of
spirituality. There are as many differences from tribe-to-tribe as
there are between Hinduism and the Church of England. No one would
think of teaching those two as the same and calling them
“Indo-European,” yet many of these FRAUDULENT operators teach a thrown
together mishmash of bits and pieces of different beliefs.
Elders are very cautious about changing rituals and mixing different
customs, it does happen, of course, but only after lengthy discussions
that can take decades. These FRAUDULENT operators are very casual
and haphazard in what they do, in a manner that shows they have no
understanding of or respect for the sacred.
Elders DO NOT believe that any ceremony can be done by anyone who feels
like it. It’s that same caution and respect for the sacred. Yet these
FRAUDULENT operators will let anyone do their inaccurate version of a
ceremony if they have the money. Vision quests, for example, are
intended for young boys age 12 to 14, but boys don’t have much money,
so these FRAUDULENT operators sell “quests” for hundreds or thousands
to mostly middle-aged men and women.
is also the matter of telling people they can be shamans and charging
them for it. If you were interested in Judaism, would you pay money to
someone who said he could make you a rabbi in just one weekend seminar?
If someone did this and then claimed Jewish objections were foolish, we
would recognize he was being anti-Semitic. Think about the lack of
respect these operators show to native people and beliefs, not mention
their own followers, by defrauding people.
- Native people DO NOT use the label Shaman.
also about how it makes it harder for natives and whites to get along
when whites have been given an untrue picture of native cultures. We
have to learn to get along and we can’t do that as long as whites give
support to operators who push a fraudulent version of what we are like.
(native people and our supporters) realize that most of you do not know
any better, at least not yet, but we hope you learn about these matters
from more reputable sources and in a more respectful manner.
it says New Age or Shamanism on the cover, it’s not a good source for
learning about Natives. Find out which authors can be trusted before
you pay money to operators who harm us all.
Copyright 2001, Our Red Earth Organization
Contributed by firstname.lastname@example.org, Founder, New Age Frauds Plastic Shaman