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For all those Who were Indian in a Former Life

For all those Who were Indian in a Former Life - Warning...

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Warning Concerning Copyright Restrictions The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. Printing note: If you do not want to print this page, select pages 2 to the end on the print dialog screen. Mann Library fax: 607 255-0318 www.mannlib.cornell.edu
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Viewpoint For All Those Who Were Indian in a Former Life by Andy Smith The New Age movement has sparked new interest in Native American traditional spirituality among white women who claim to be feminists. Indian spirituality, with its respect for nature and the interconnectedness of all things, is often presented as the panacea for all indi- vidual and global problems. Not surprisingly, many white "feminists" see the opportunity to make a great profit from this new craze. They sell sweat lodges or sacred pipe ceremonies, which promise to bring indi- vidual and global healing. Or they sell books and records that supposedly describe Indian traditional prac- tices so that you, too, can be Indian. Lynn Andrews, author of Medicine Woman, Jaguar Woman, et al., is one of many profiting from Indian spirituality these days. On the surface, it may appear that this new craze is based on a respect for Indian spirituality. In fact, the New Age movement is part of a very old story of white racism and genocide against the Indian people. The "Indian" ways that these white, New Age "femi- nists" are practicing have little grounding in reality. For instance, Agnes Whistling Elk, the "medicine woman" in Lynn Andrews's works, is undoubtedly fictional. She is Cree, but she speaks Lakota and Hopi. Medicine Woman describes no genuine Cree practices. True spiritual leaders do not make a profit from their teachings, whether it's through selling books, work- shops, sweat lodges, or otherwise. Spiritual leaders teach the people because it is their responsibility to pass what they have learned from their elders to the younger generations. They do not charge for their services. Furthermore, the idea that an Indian medicine woman would instruct Lynn Andrews, a white woman, to preach the "true path" of Indian spirituality sounds more remi- niscent of evangelical Christianity than traditional Indi- an spirituality. Indian religions are community-based, not proselytizing religions. For this reason, there is not one Indian religion, as many New Agers would have you believe. Indian spiritual practices reflect the needs
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