Archive for November 27th, 2011

Groups: Lessons to be learned from sweat lodge trial
The consequences of abuse of sacred Native traditions was highlighted in the case of James Arthur Ray, a self help guru convicted last week in the deaths of three followers who attended his sweat lodge ceremony, the Associated Press reports.

Indian groups hope the incident will be a reminder that traditions are complicated cultural ceremonies not to be taken lightly. Many Native groups have criticized Ray, several filed a lawsuit against him that was later dismissed. The focus now is on learning lessons.

    Bill Bielecki, an attorney representing the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, said the trial would encourage non-Natives to focus on safety when running sweat lodge ceremonies.

    “They’re going to look at the facts,” said Bielecki, who also was party to the lawsuit, “You don’t use a large sweat lodge, you make sure people can leave and you don’t coerce the occupants into staying beyond their limits or capabilities. If you do that, then you avoid gross negligence.”

Lawsuit to exhume, reclaim Jim Thorpe’s remains proceeds
Two of Jim Thorpe’s sons hope a judge’s decision this week to allow their lawsuit to go forward will help get the remains of their father back to his original home in Oklahoma.

Jim Thorpe (Photo courtesy of Archive Photos, Inc./

The sons, according to the Association Press, want to use the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to move the remains away from Pennsylvania’s “Jim Thorpe” borough.

    In a bizarre deal to draw tourists, the merging towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, Pa., brokered a deal with Thorpe’s third wife, Patricia, that renamed the community Jim Thorpe in 1954 and brought his remains to the town.

    It is that agreement that William and Richard Thorpe, sons of Jim Thorpe’s second wife, Freeda Thorpe, are seeking to overturn. William and Richard’s brother, Jack Thorpe, who died earlier this year, originally filed the lawsuit.

    Ward said the Thorpe brothers are trying to honor their father’s request to be buried in the old Sac and Fox Nation in present-day east-central Oklahoma. Jim Thorpe was a member of the tribe, which also is a party in the lawsuit.

Jenna Cederberg