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Blackbear 11-09-2005 04:31 AM

Exposing The Fake Medicine Men And Women
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Notes from Indian Country

Exposing The Fake Medicine Men And Women

Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji 11/7/2005

© 2005, Native American Journalists Foundation, Inc

In the early 1990’s I asked my staff writer at Indian Country Today, Avis
Little Eagle, to write an investigative series on fake medicine men and women.
She tackled what turned out to be a 10-part series with trepidation.

It seemed that everywhere we turned in those days, there was another catalog
or news story featuring medicine men and women of dubious distinction. An
eerie similarity arose in the backgrounds of many of these would be healers and

So many of these new age shaman made similar claims. They had been adopted
by a medicine man (it was always a man and he was usually Lakota or Cherokee).
They had learned all of the centuries old methods of healing and ministering
by these traditional teachers and when they felt they were ready, they set
out on their own to spread the good news of Indian medicine and healing.

In the many catalogs where their ads were placed most had assumed names they
presumed to be Native American (Blue Dove, Swift Deer, etc.) and set up
shop. They developed a system of monetary charges for sweat lodge ceremonies,
vision quests and so on. Of course, every true Lakota and Cherokee knows that
there are no charges for the services of the medicine people.

Most of the new age shaman were not Indian at all. When questioned about
their roots by Little Eagle they became angry and defensive. Many proclaimed
their rights to practice Indian medicine by virtue of their adoption by Lakota
holy men. Many would not, or could not, reveal the names of their so-called

Others said, usually quite vehemently, that they never enrolled with an
Indian tribe and never would because it was the government’s way of keeping them
down. They would say, “I don’t need a Bureau of Indian Affairs number to
know who I am.” Most didn’t understand or realize that it was an Indian tribe
that considered who or who is not a tribal member not the BIA.

Little Eagle, who last month was elected vice president of the Standing Rock
Sioux Tribe and who is the editor and publisher of the McLaughlin, SD, based
Teton Times, a weekly newspaper that serves her tribe, began to grow more
apprehensive as her weekly series progressed because she was now receiving
outright threats.

One fake shaman, Harley Swift Deer Regan, became very vocal in his threats.
He had just been featured in an HBO Special called “Real Sex” in which he
allegedly revealed the sex secrets of the Cherokee people. Then Principle Chief
of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, protested the lack of authenticity
of this show to HBO executives demanding a retraction of the shows contents.
Of course, that never happened.

Regan’s phone calls to Little Eagle became more ominous. But he wasn’t the
only one. Some of the women shaman exposed in the investigative series by
Little Eagle also went from a defensive position to an extremely offensive
stance. They also threatened Avis with lawsuits and worse. Of course, as the
editor of Indian Country Today, Avis came to me with all of the threats and I had
to really encourage her not to give up on the series but instead to let me
handle the threatened lawsuits.

You have to understand that some of the false shaman professed to have
extraordinary powers. They attacked Avis with threats of a curse or they told her
that they would put bad medicine on her and her family. A series of personal
bad happenings to Avis totally unrelated to the series or to the shaman only
served to increase the fear that was developing in her mind.

At last Avis started to write Part 10, the final issue of the series. It was

a summation of all the nine other parts of the series and her conclusions.
As I walked by to pat her on the back as she labored at that last part she had
a look of great relief on her face. Her lunch hour came right in the middle
of it so she cheerfully headed home to eat.

Not five minutes had passed since her departure when her computer monitor
suddenly exploded in smoke and flames. Wow! All of the staff still in the
office reacted in horror. I immediately told the crew to get her monitor out of
there and replace it with an exact duplicate. Of course all of the memory was
in the hard drive so nothing was lost and her computer was just sitting there
ready for her to resume the article when she returned from lunch.

I swore my staff to secrecy and no one ever told Avis about the mysterious
fire that erupted in her monitor. In fact, this is the first time I am
revealing this because Avis did finish the 10-part series that day and breathed a
sigh of relief. I’m afraid she would have reacted quite differently if she knew
what had happened while she was at lunch.

A coincidence? One would suppose so, but no doubt those who delve into the
dark regions of illicit shamanism do so for a reason. Evil can be manifested
in many ways and in this day and age of modern technology; many of us do not
understand the depths of spiritualism, real and imagined.

The series by Avis exposed many false shamans and she believes to this day
that the new owners of Indian Country Today should retrieve her series from
the dustbins of the newspaper morgue and re-publish them because there are
still many false shamans out there.

(Tim Giago is the president of the Native American Journalists Foundation,
Inc., and the publisher of Indian Education Today Magazine. He can be reached
at [email protected] or by writing him at 2050 W. Main St., Suite 5,
Rapid City, SD)

Kiwehnzii 11-09-2005 09:46 AM

The expose' is all good for the non-indian who are the highest percentage of clientele for these "shamans".

For those who do learn the true ways from their elders in their homeland, it doesn't affect them. We do not go out in search of our identities from those we do not know. They are right here in our communities or neighbouring rezzes.

It's best for us to trust our own. Even the urban native people "go home" for their ceremonies. We know who is/isn't the real deal.

WhoMe 11-09-2005 10:37 AM

I have met Avis at a journalism conference and am sorry I missed her article.

I am proud of the work she does and the position she took on exposing those who exploit Indian culture.

Accountability needs to be brought to the public eye more often.

Thank goodness for powwows.com!


injunboy 11-09-2005 01:32 PM

the monitor thing was a coincidence in every possible way. its almost comical the way the author tries to connect the monitor and these holigans. lets just pretend and think about this... are these nuts cases really gonna blow up her monitor when shes not there as a show of force.. lol, first of all it shows their way of thinking and i might just pay them the cash they want just to so they can keep me entertained.

on a differnt note, the dude was right to keep his dillusions to himself and not push them on her. just because hes not confident in his own prayers and strength dont mean he can make everyone act all chicken. *like he is* haha,

Historian 11-09-2005 11:51 PM

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.


Historian 11-09-2005 11:59 PM

Every time you turn around in white society they pay. It's their culture, so they never question having to pay medicine men. Mr. Looking Horse is spiritual leader, saddened that spirituality is being used for monetary gain. He wants the people to know there are ways to tell if someone who claims tobe a spiritual leader is legitimate. First of all, you don't ask for money, for any spiritual teachings or assistance with ceremonies. Second of all, they have close ties with their reservations and they are respected and recognized as spiritual leaders by their people. He said the legitimate holy man will speak the native language. Sacred words are handed down and you cannot be a spiritual leader without knowing your own language, he said. He also has found that a legitimate medicine man will have a spouse of his own culture. It is pretty hard to practice your spiritual religion with a spouse who has other beliefs. Mr. Looking Horse said he knows Wallace Black Elk and Mr. Sun Bear and has no faith in the ways they conduct themselves. He said a longtime friend called him recently and told him she saw Wallace Black Elk and Mr. Sun Bear on a Caribbean cruise. They were doing sweat- lodge ceremonies for the voyagers. Mr. Looking Horse said he laughed when his friend told him there had been one point at which there was great fear the ship might sink. The friend described how Mr. Sun Bear practically climbed on top of women and children to get to the life boat, saying, 'I'm a medicine man I must be saved!'

Mr. Looking Horse said one of his main concerns is that the Lakota people became free to practice their spiritual beliefs only after the Freedom of Religion Act was passed. The government has tried to stifle freedom of religion by calling Indian beliefs paganistic. He fears that the government will use actions by people such as Mr. Sun Bear and Wallace Black Elk and Marilyn Youngbird, and other plastic medicine people, to put a stop to Native religious freedom. He urges people to look beneath the surface and examine the real motives of these so-called medicine men before being taken in by them.

The other 9 articles in the series written by Avis Little Eagle and published in The Lakota Times, (Rapid City, SD) were:

1991. After the Sweat: Caviar, Wine & Cheese.

1991. False Prophets Will Suffer.

1991. Lakota Rituals Being Sold.

1991. Medicine Men for Rent.

1991. 'Buck Ghosthorse': Lakota Impersonator.

1991. 'Oh Shinnah': Prophet for Profit.

1991. Paid Ads Call Her 'Medicine Woman'.

1992. Lakota Discuss Exploitation of Religion, Preserving Culture.

1992. 'Spiritual Orphans': Peddle Religion in Great Round.

A very interesting and related article titled, "The Plastic Medicine People Circle" is available by going to the following website:

White Powwow Dancer 11-10-2005 03:07 AM

Thanks for the info on these abusers of native culture. I would keep tabs on this person so called sun bear he not a rep of Ojibwe Nation. Did you know this so called Sun Bear had a partner in crime called Wabun Wind aka Morning Wind.

WhoMe 11-10-2005 10:20 AM


Thanks for the chance to read Avis' article. In my European travels, I have run into members of the Sun Bear tribe (who are not Indian). For some reason the European Sun Bear's tribal members I talked to said "their leader" was of Lakota origin.

Maybe there's two Sun Bears?


According to the Europeans I have recently talked to, Sun Bear died.

"In either case, Indian Religious practices for a price is very much alive and well today!"

White Powwow Dancer 11-10-2005 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by WhoMe

According to the Europeans I have recently talked to, Sun Bear died.

"In either case, Indian Religious practices for a price is very much alive and well today!"

Hi WhoMe
Who the person gave this info? So I can learn about this person. I did some digging on the web and I found this site about him goto http://liteweb.org/wildfire/ for the info.

Thank you WPD

White Powwow Dancer 11-10-2005 12:09 PM

Here is some info about his partner in crime Wabun Wind aka Morning Wind goto http://marlisewabunwind.com/ for the info on this fake.

WhoMe 11-10-2005 12:13 PM


Originally Posted by White Powwow Dancer
Hi WhoMe
Who the person gave this info? So I can learn about this person. I did some digging on the web and I found this site about him goto http://liteweb.org/wildfire/ for the info.

Thank you WPD


I have actually heard this from several Europeans on different trips. The most recent was this past February at the British Museum in London, after a lecture. This particular lady butted in to a conversation that I was having with a group of people in the lobby and told us that Sun Bear was no longer living.

Your article confirms his death in 1992. It also says he is the founder of the "BEAR tribe."

The people I have met in the mainland of Europe are members of the "SUN BEAR tribe." I think one of the ladies that approached me was named "Dream Seeker?"


Go figure. :rolleyes:

White Powwow Dancer 11-10-2005 01:20 PM


Originally Posted by WhoMe

I have actually heard this from several Europeans on different trips. The most recent was this past February at the British Museum in London, after a lecture. This particular lady butted in to a conversation that I was having with a group of people in the lobby and told us that Sun Bear was no longer living.

Your article confirms his death in 1992. It also says he is the founder of the "BEAR tribe."

The people I have met in the mainland of Europe are members of the "SUN BEAR tribe." I think one of the ladies that approached me was named "Dream Seeker?"


Go figure. :rolleyes:

Thanks for the info Who me.

Blackbear 11-10-2005 03:54 PM

Sun bear is dead, was actually native although I don't know what tribe.. he is also the father of Wynona LaDuke.

WhoMe 11-10-2005 04:35 PM


Originally Posted by Blackbear
Sun bear is dead, was actually native although I don't know what tribe.. he is also the father of Wynona LaDuke.


You're Kidding???

The SAME Wynona LaDuke that ran for Vice President of the United States???

Historian 11-10-2005 04:55 PM

Although the viewer needs to make a judgement for themselves, the following websites may relate in some way to this topic:

Wolf Lodge Cultural Foundation by Robert Ghostwolf (aka Robert Franzone)

Brooke Medicine Eagle (aka Brooke Edwards)

Arizona's Crossing World Journeys and Retreats

David Silver Bear

The Yunsai Society

Cherokee Visions Spiritual Guidance and Psychic Readings by Kat Lonergan (aka Shaman Neeshanha)

Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society by Harley SwiftDeer Reagan

Councils of the Whistling Elk by Lynn Andrews

Morgan Eaglebear

Josiane Antonette

The Human Circle of Life

Spirit Steps Touring Company

The Center for Life Passage

Mary Helen Laughing Waters

David Carson

Dhyani Ywahoo

Carl Big Heart (aka Carl Gamba)

Mary Thunder (aka Mary Grimes)

Medicine Wheel Tribe by Roy Wilson

Wind Wolf Woman

Red Elk (aka Gerald Osbourne)

Rainbow Eagle (aka Roland Willston)

Robert White Wolf (aka Robert Smith)

Walking Stick Foundation - Jewish & Native American Spirituality

Wolf Moondance (aka Charlene Venard)

Bear Tribe Medicine Society

Venerable Running Wolf (aka William Davis)

Spotted Wolf Woman (aka Sue Curtis)

WocusWoman 11-10-2005 06:17 PM

Winona LaDuke (1959 - ) is a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for election to the office of Vice President of the United States as the nominee of the United States Green Party, on the ticket headed by Ralph Nader.

LaDuke was born in Los Angeles, California to Vincent and Betty LaDuke. Her father was an Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe or "Chippewa") from an Indian reservation of Minnesota. He was reportedly an actor with supporting roles in Western movies, an activist and a writer. Her mother was a Jewish artist, employed as an art professor at the Southern Oregon University.

Winona was raised on the west coast of the United States, but after graduating from Harvard in 1982 with a degree in native economic development, she accepted a job as principal of the high school of the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota. She soon became an activist, involved in the struggle to recover lands promised to the Ojibwe by a 1867 treaty. She helped the Ojibwe buy back thousands of acres of ancestral land.


WocusWoman 11-10-2005 06:19 PM

May 21,2002
3 years, 5 months, 20 days ago
“Betty LaDuke: Honor the Earth” Exhibit at Willamette
Betty LaDuke is a highly regarded Ashland painter and printmaker whose work focuses on multicultural issues and her travels to Asia, the South Pacific, Central and South America, and Africa over the past forty years. A major exhibition of her African work, "Betty LaDuke: Honor the Earth," focuses on a wide variety of food- related themes. It opens June 8 and continues through August 3 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.

LaDuke was born and raised in New York, the daughter of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She traces her interest in other cultures to a multi-racial summer camp she attended as a youth and where she had an opportunity to work with African-American artists Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, both of whom she credits as important mentors and role models. LaDuke lived in Mexico for a time, married Native American activist Sun Bear (Vincent LaDuke), and eventually earned her BA and MA degrees from California State University in Los Angeles.

I guess so.....Blackbear is correct!

Blackbear 11-10-2005 08:53 PM

I had the same reaction when I was told that Whome.. LOL!

but she seems ok, and the child should'nt pay for the sins of the father unless they walk in their footsteps right?

badmaninc 11-10-2005 09:13 PM

This stuff is crazy. Next summer I am going to have a camp where I will make the people darker (sun tan) and within a week, they will be ndn. Course I am willing to trade sex practices of our people. 'Cept I'm married now so I don't get very much practice. AYE!!!!

Seriously though some people are just messed up.

injunboy 11-11-2005 12:51 AM

lets invite these people here to defend themselves.. should be real interesting.

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