Manataka American Indian Council
MANATAKA ELDERS INSTRUCT CLERGY ON
AMERICAN INDIAN SPIRITUALITY
ATLANTA -- A delegation of elders paid what some
have described as an historic event to explain Native American spirituality to a
gathering of religious leaders here.
Elders from the Manataka American Indian Council of Hot Springs, Ark., gave 16 hours of intense presentations for the 3,500-member Association of Professional Chaplains annual convention May 3-10.
Central to the presentations were handing out 3,000 copies of MAIC’s 16-page brochure titled “Native American Spirituality: An Informational Guide for Health Care Providers, Hospital Staff and Administrators, Chaplains, School Administrators, Funeral Directors and Others Regarding Ceremonies, Rights and Obligations.”
“To our knowledge, nothing has been done like this before. We are grateful that a national, global clergy organization has for the first time opened its doors to American Indian spirituality,” said MAIC Chairman David Quiet Wind Furr.
MAIC, a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), cultural, educational and religious organization, was invited to the conference to meet with Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders to formally recognize American Indian spiritual beliefs for the first time.
“It is our hope and prayer that this program will serve as a template for more presentations to a broader audience of religious leaders, lay persons and the public. The value and far-reaching social and religious effects of this project are enormous,” Furr said.
In addition to the overview of traditional practices for religious and health care providers, the MAIC representatives gave talks and demonstrations of Native American culture and belief.
The delegation included Peter V. Catches, Jr. (Zintkala Oyate) Keeper of the Spotted Eagle Way of Lakota medicine, MAIC Elder’s Council Chairman Rev. David Quiet Wind Furr, MAIC Spiritual and Ceremonial Elder Jim PathFinder Ewing (Nvnehi Awatisgi), Lee Standing Bear Moore, and Rev. Linda James.
The brochure was prompted by various incidents in which indigenous spiritual elders were turned away from treating patients in hospitals and health-care settings, most notably with the case of Baby Lupita Amador Nov. 1, 2003. Despite prayers from across the United States and beyond for this 3-year-old girl dying of cancer, a visiting Lakota holy man was barred by a home care nurse who threatened the family with turning the child over to state welfare authorities if “pagan rites” were administered.
“We wrote the brochure so that Native peoples would know their rights and so that health care providers, physicians, hospitals, chaplains and others would know that the First Amendment and specific federal laws guarantee free exercise of religious and spiritual beliefs,” said Ewing.
“It is our hope that not only will there never be another incident of the type that occurred with Baby Lupita but that every hospital and health care provider in America will have a copy of this brochure,” Ewing added, noting that 10,000 copies have been printed and a CD and PowerPoint presentation is in the works.
According to Lee Standing Bear, the goal of the seminar was to increase understanding and reduce stereotypical labels attached to Indigenous spiritual beliefs.
"We encouraged participants to become advocates of policy changes within their work places that would foster acceptance of American Indian spiritual beliefs and increase actual participation in those practices," said Bear.
"We achieved our goal at this historic meeting to bridge the gap of understanding and increase tolerance for American Indian spiritual beliefs. The reaction of religious leaders was warm and accepting. We were impressed with the depth and sincerity of the overall comments of participants," said Bear.
The MAIC committee responsible for organizing the event plans to create a CD presentation and organize future seminars around the country that will emphasizing American Indian spirituality. Committee members include MAIC Elder’s Council Chairman Rev. David Quiet Wind Furr, MAIC Spiritual and Ceremonial Elder Jim PathFinder Ewing (Nvnehi Awatisgi), Lee Standing Bear Moore, Rev. Linda James, Annette Ewing, Bob Donaldson and Aimee Dixon.
Copies of the brochure are available from MAIC, www.manataka.org, or e-mail: Manataka@sbcglobal.net; or write: P.O. Box 476, Hot Springs, AR 71902.
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