Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota SpiritualityWHEREAS
we are the conveners of an ongoing
series of comprehensive forums on the abuse and exploitation of Lakota spirituality; and
WHEREAS we represent the recognized traditional spiritual leaders, traditional elders, and grassroots advocates
of the Lakota people; and
WHEREAS for too long we have suffered the unspeakable indignity of having our most precious Lakota ceremonies and
spiritual practices desecrated, mocked and abused by non-Indian "wannabes," hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and
self-styled "New Age shamans" and their followers; and
WHEREAS with horror and outrage we see this disgraceful expropriation of our sacred Lakota traditions has reached
epidemic proportions in urban areas throughout the country; and
WHEREAS our precious Sacred Pipe is being desecrated through the sale of pipestone pipes at flea markets, powwows,
and "New Age" retail stores; and
WHEREAS pseudo-religious corporations have been formed to charge people money for admission into phony "sweatlodges"
and "vision quest" programs; and
WHEREAS sacrilegious "sundances" for non-Indians are being conducted by charlatans and cult leaders who promote
abominable and obscene imitations of our sacred Lakota sundance rites; and
WHEREAS non-Indians have organized themselves into imitation "tribes," assigning themselves make-believe "Indian
names" to facilitate their wholesale expropriation and commercialization of our Lakota traditions; and
WHEREAS academic disciplines have sprung up at colleges and universities institutionalizing the sacrilegious imitation
of our spiritual practices by students and instructors under the guise of educational programs in "shaminism;" and
WHEREAS non-Indian charlatans and "wannabes" are selling books that promote the systematic colonization of our Lakota
WHEREAS the television and film industry continues to saturate the entertainment media with vulgar, sensationalist
and grossly distorted representations of Lakota spirituality and culture which reinforce the public's negative stereotyping
of Indian people and which gravely impair the self-esteem of our children; and
WHEREAS individuals and groups involved in "the New Age Movement," in "the men's movement," in "neo-paganism" cults
and in "shamanism" workshops all have exploited the spiritual traditions of our Lakota people by imitating our ceremonial
ways and by mixing such imitation rituals with non-Indian occult practices in an offensive and harmful pseudo-religious hodgepodge;
WHEREAS the absurd public posturing of this scandalous assortment of psuedo-Indian charlatans, "wannabes," commercial
profiteers, cultists and "New Age shamans" comprises a momentous obstacle in the struggle of traditional Lakota people for
an adequate public appraisal of the legitimate political, legal and spiritual needs of real Lakota people; and
WHEREAS this exponential exploitation of our Lakota spiritual traditions requires that we take immediate action
to defend our most precious Lakota spirituality from further contamination, desecration and abuse;
THEREFORE WE RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:
1. We hereby and henceforth declare war against all persons who persist in exploiting,
abusing and misrepresenting the sacred traditions and spiritual practices of our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.
2. We call upon all our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota brothers and sisters from reservations, reserves, and traditional communities
in the United States and Canada to actively and vocally oppose this alarming take-over and systematic destruction of our sacred
3. We urge our people to coordinate with their tribal members living in urban areas to identify instances in which our
sacred traditions are being abused, and then to resist this abuse, utilizing whatever specific tactics are necessary and sufficient
--for example demonstrations, boycotts, press conferences, and acts of direct intervention.
4. We especially urge all our Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people to take action to prevent our own people from contributing
to and enabling the abuse of our sacred ceremonies and spiritual practices by outsiders; for, as we all know, there are certain
ones among our own people who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain, with no regard for the spiritual
well-being of the people as a whole.
5. We assert a posture of zero-tolerance for any "white man's shaman" who rises from within our own communities to "authorize"
the expropriation of our ceremonial ways by non-Indians; all such "plastic medicine men" are enemies of the Lakota, Dakota
and Nakota people.
6. We urge traditional people, tribal leaders, and governing councils of all other Indian nations, to join us in calling
for an immediate end to this rampant exploitation of our respective American Indian sacred traditions by issuing statements
denouncing such abuse; for it is not the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people alone whose spiritual practices are being systematically
violated by non-Indians.
7. We urge all our Indian brothers and sisters to act decisively and boldly in our present campaign to end the destruction
of our sacred traditions, keeping in mind our highest duty as Indian people: to preserve the purity of our precious traditions
for our future generations, so that our children and our children's children will survive and prosper in the sacred manner
intended for each of our respective peoples by our Creator.
Wilmer Stampede Mesteth; (Oglala Lakota); Traditional Spiritual Leader & Lakota Culture Instructor; Oglala Lakota College,
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Darrell Standing Elk; (Sicangu Lakota); President, Center for the SPIRIT, San Fancisco, California, & Pine Ridge, South
Phyllis Swift Hawk; (Kul Wicasa Lakota); Tiospaye Wounspe Waokiye; Wanblee, South Dakota
Other Sites Dealing with 'Cultural Theft':
what is cultural theft? cultural
theft happens when you purposedly distort, exploit, misinterpret, a way of life pertaining to another ethnic group not your
own, to suit your own needs, for profit, political manipulation, ect. here are some good links relating to this subject: