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Old 11-09-2005, 11:51 PM   #5
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I was fortunate to have read all of the 10-part series that Avis Little Eagle did. The following is an example of one of those articles in the series.

Sacred Pipe Keeper Fears Feds Will Step In
by Avis Little Eagle
Indian Country Today (The Lakota Times) - July 7, 1991

Rapid City -- Putting a price tag on Native American spirituality has become a way of life for many pseudo-medicine men and women who make a highly profitable living. Several magazines and fliers are circulated around the country, promoting Native American ceremonies and workshops that charge a fee to participants. Many others are more subtle, asking for contributions. It is getting hard to discern which tribe's rites are being promoted. Ceremonies are crossing tribal boundaries and mixing until it is hard to tell which rituals are authentic and which ones are made up.

The Lakota Times has a formidable collection of these fliers. Among them is one from Wapaha Canku Luta, Inc., (Red Road Society). It asks for con- tributions to perform a Sun Dance ceremony and offers national and overseas workshops on: Lakota Language, Understanding the Vision Quest, Understanding the Sun Dance, and the Sacred Pipe.

One 'New Age' man is Sun Bear, who claims to be a sacred teacher of the Chippewa. One of his advertisement reads, 'Sun Bear is looking for Spiritual Warriors. Become an apprentice.' According to these advertisements, he is an expert on crystals and 'The Path Of Power.' He has conducted the Sun Dance and charged non-Indians to participate in this sacred rite of the Sioux. It is not native to the Chippewa tribe. Mr. Sun Bear founded the Bear Tribe Medicine Society, which claims to be a group of people striving to re-learn their proper relationship with the earth. He has written several books, 'At Home in the Wilderness,' 'Buffalo Hearts,' 'The Bear Tribe's Self Reliance Book' and 'The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology.' Mr. Sun Bear writes a lot about mystic power, shamanism, and crystal healing. A Lakota man, who lived in Albuquerque, N.M. for several years, said Mr. Sun Bear uses a pipe studded with crystals which he claims 'could be wiser than man.' Mr. Sun Bear claims to have founded the first new tribe of this century. Because he is geared to 'New Age' people, it is hard to say which ceremonies are actually Chippewa, pan-Indian, or totally fabricated. The worst thing is that there are people out there who will pay large sums of money to seek ties to the earth and to fill a spiritual void within themselves. They never know when they encounter a true medicine man or are being taken in, for their money.

Another 'medicine woman' who is bilking the public out of its money is Marilyn Youngbird, an Arikara, from For Berthold, N.D. She advertises ceremonies to help people learn about themselves and to test their endurance, entitling them a 'Vision Quest.' Tim Giago, founder and publisher of the Lakota Times, heard of one such quest and joined a group of 38 people near Telluride, Colorado, to investigate the ceremony. Non- Indians were running the sweat and were preparing tobacco ties. Mr. Giago said participants had the most modern equipment and camping gear. A Japanese gentleman was out on the hill for his second day of a vision quest, the longest most people in this operation stayed out. The vision seeker was provided a dry, sleeping bag, because of the weeping skies, and a cup of water. In Mr. Giago's Pine Ridge Reservation experience, such a quest might last four days, but it was something agreed upon by the seeker and the holy man. The seeker went naked, except for his buffalo robe. And he consumed neither food nor water. Mr. Giago was appalled that this woman was performing ceremones in the wrong way and for the wrong reason -- money. She claimed it was her call in life to spread the spirituality of the Indian people -- for a price.

Wapaha Canku Luta, Inc., is run by Gerald Ice and Wallace Black Elk. Both are Rosebud Sioux who are capitalizing on Lakota spiritual ceremonies and are using honorable Indian names to lend credibility to the spiritual scams. Adelle Allison Hedgecoke-Lopez of Kyle, said she is upset that Mr. Black Elk and Mr. Ice use the Indian name of Bill Ice, her late fiance, and accept donations to Cangleska Maza (Iron Hoop) Memorial Fund, when in fact the fund is just a means to fatten their wallets. The money is not going to any honorable cause. She said Wallace Black Elk's birth name is Wallace Running Horse and that he is the son of Arthur Running Horse. He is not related to the respected Oglala spiritual leader Black Elk, but perpetuates that belief to gain credibility, she said. Nor is he a medicine man as he claims. She said he started to act like one after the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973. Wallace is Gerald's mother's brother, Cangleska Maza was Gerald's brother's Indian name. He (Bill) was against what they were doing. They are using his name to get money from white people. To me it's disrespectful. He believed in the Indian way and walked that way. Gerald isn't a medicine man and neither is Wallace. It's called the Cangleska Maza Memorial Fund. They never had a memorial or anything. I had one for him (Bill) in December 1989, the year he died. They make a lot of money off of white people, thousands and thousands of dollars, but it don't go to nobody. There is no headstone on (Bill's) grave. I don't know what they do with the money but it doesn't go to where they say it is. They sell ceremonies and all the relatives get blamed for what these two guys are doing. They bought some land in Colorado. That is where they are going to have white people Sun Dance. My only concern is when Bill was still alive he tried to stop them from doing what they are doing. I want to protect Bill's relatives that aren't participating with them, so they won't be blamed for Wallace's and Gerald's behavior. I'm also concerned that they are using his name. In his last days, he tried to put a stop to what they were doing. I'm hurt they are using his name just to scam white people. When Mr. Black Elk was associated with Ojai (California) Foundation, he was charging $1,200 for sweatlodge workshops, she said, and what they called a 'yuwipi' or spirit ceremony -- even though it wasn't a 'yuwipi.' They were also charging $350 to $700 for various other spiritual teaching. It's just crazy and sad too. My dad told me this is shaming all of us. Charlotte Black Elk of Wounded Knee, a granddaughter of the respected Oglala spiritual leader Black Elk, said Wallace Black Elk is disgracing her family name. She wants everyone to know he is in no way related to them and wishes he would stop perpetuating the myth that he is the grandson of the late spiritual leader. He's Rosebud and not no relation at all. I've never read his book but I was sent a photocopy of an introduction by Bill Lyons. It said Wallace isn't the blood grandson but the "spiritual grandson." This is a joke, she claims. No, he is not related to us. If people tell him, 'I read your grandfather's book [Black Elk Speaks],' he thanks them. He does everything to perpetuate that he is related. One of the things he did was to have a workshop and show one of the videos I did for Public TV. They said, 'Your daughter was great,' and he thanked them. Ms. Black Elk said she researched how Wallace came upon the name Black Elk. 'When I checked it out, it was a name they had in their family which used to be Black Cow Elk. Back then the Bureau (of Indian Affairs) wanted people to have two names or 10 letters in their name, so it was shortened to Black Elk.' Our name used to be Black Bull Elk. Wallace was one of the people censored by the Keeper of the Sacred Calf Pipe (Arvol Looking Horse of Green Grass). He had a whole list of people who were abusing the sacred pipe. He wanted people to know they were not medicine men.

(Wallace) started acting like a spiritual leader in the late 1970's. I always got the feeling he awaited until my grandfather died. One time I got a flier that Wallace was having a Sun Dance in the Black Forest in Germany. It was $90 for sweat, $1,000 to Sun Dance, and $5,000 to be adopted into the 'Elk' tribe. He has all these groupies and I really feel bad that some of these people are really looking for something. They are on a real spiritual quest. They are being sucked in by him and he's just using them for money.


"Be good, be kind, help each other."
"Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

--Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)
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