The plea by Lakota spiritual leader Arvol Looking Horse comes in response to the recent deaths at a sweat lodge-type ceremony in Arizona. (See previous post, here.)
The so-called sweat, which claimed two lives, took place during a five-day retreat in Sedona, Ariz., run by white self-help guru James Arthur Ray. Ray’s Spiritual Warrior programs charges people almost $10,000 apiece.
As this piece in Black Hills Today points out, traditional Native sweats are spiritual and the idea of charging for them is anathema. “It appears that once again greed interfered with common sense,” the piece says.
And it quotes Looking Horse, a 19th-generation keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, who says, “I am concerned for the two deaths and illnesses of the many people that participated in a sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona, that brought our sacred rite under fire in the news. I would like to clarify that this lodge and many others, are not our ceremonial way of life … My prayers go out for their families and loved ones for their loss.”
In 2006, Looking Horse received the Juliet Hollister Award for promoting peace and interfaith and secular understanding by the Temple of Understanding, joining past recipients Nelson Mandela, Ravi Shankar and the Dalai Lama.
Looking Horse says that while non-Native people have a right to seek help from First Nations intercessors, he has a plea:
“I would like to ask All Nations upon Grandmother Earth to please respect our sacred ceremonial way of life and stop the exploitation of our Tunka Oyate (Spiritual Grandfathers).”