Tucson, Ariz. -- On the Internet, there are OtterMoon Stars and Coyote Butterflies. A cyber-shaman promises a "software-based psionic device" to deliver whatever you want from the universe.
Wananeeche sells "White Eagle Medicine Wheel Cards" for 40 English pounds. It comes with an autographed book.
David Silver Bear claims he grew up with Navajo elders and gives "medicine wheel massages" in Sedona, Ariz.
There is rainbow and wolf medicine. "Dances with Power Animals, "Tortise Shell New Age Nexus" and "Turtle Island Worm Band" are among the Web sites.
The abuse sounds an alarm in Indian country.
In Texas, Jeffrey "White Horse" Hubbell claims to be a Lakota sun dancer, chief and medicine man. Hubbell and his wife, Mary Thunder, are directors of the Thunder Horse Ranch near Austin. Hubbell has conducted sweatlodges and vision quests for 10 years.
The price for one of Hubbell's vision quests slated for Westminster, Maryland, in July was $325-$375.
Offering vision quests, sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies and contact with aliens, Thunder's group, Blue Star, is officially listed as a cult in the Watchman Fellowship's 2001 Index of Cults and Religions.
While marketing of native ceremonies proliferates on the Internet, so does its exposure. A list of vendors of Lakota sweat lodge cards, customized medicine bags, rainbow lodges and "quests" are listed on the Web site, "Guarding Indian Cultural Spiritual Beliefs."
On the list of offenders are Bear tribes, Ghost children and Cyber teepees. Wolf lodges are exposed, along with plastic medicine men and women: White Eagle, Medicine Eagle, Summer Rain, Swift Deer, Evening Crow and Grey Wolf.
The site reveals those who use ceremonies for personal profit or glory and those who infuse Indian spiritual ways into New Age or shamanic practices.
Victoria Redstarr, Nez Perce from Colville, Wash., said it is troubling because innocent people will suffer from the abuse of ceremonies.
Redstarr said all people must live their own truths.
"I think many of these shamans believe that if they take our ways, they will be saving themselves. Untrue. They need to go back to what they truly are, to save themselves. They have to live in their real way, not ours.
"They need to stop stealing what they cannot truly have."
Redstarr said the precious and sacred nature of ceremonies calls for vigilance in their protection and, perhaps, not telling everyone everything one knows.
"For the longest time, my people, Nez Perce, have been very protective of what we know," said Redstarr, tribal member from the Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce in Colville.
"We know there is danger for anyone tainting that sacred trust with money. This is the course Jeffrey White Horse Hubbell and others of his ilk are taking; that dangerous path that will hurt them and their children."
The Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Mon., took action after receiving complaints about a Connecticut imposter, Cherylanne Rainbow Star (real name Cherylanne Linares.)
Claiming to be Blackfoot, "Rainbow Star" is director of White Buffalo Society in Milford, Conn. Her catalog offers children toy pipes with legends, game rules for medicine lodges, plastic bear claws and eagle claws for making play jewelry.
In schools, she places paper feathers on the heads of children and then instructs teachers to be "chief" while sorting the children into clans.
Blackfeet Nation attorney Joe McKay said, "We want people to know Cherylanne Rainbow Star is not a member of nor sanctioned by or approved by the Tribal Council or Tribal Business Council of the Blackfeet Nation. Her stuff is not culturally consistent or appropriate for our people or tribe.
"She is misrepresenting native people and our people and in our view is fraudulently benefiting from her misrepresentation(s)," McKay said on June 28.
Two people died in Northern California in a sweat lodge with inadequate ventilation this summer. Kirsten Dana Babcock, 34, of Redding, and David Thomas Hawker, 36, non-Indian of Union City, died inside a sweat lodge covered with plastic sheeting during a "vision quest" in the El Dorado County Forest in Northern California in June.
Two decades ago, traditional Indian leaders gathered at Two Moons Camp on Rosebud Creek in Lame Deer, Mon. on the Northern Cheyenne Nation, Oct. 5, 1980. Many of those leaders have since passed to the Spirit World. They issued a warning of what would come to pass if plastic shamans did not halt the desecration of ceremonies.
Stating that Native American spiritual traditions are not for sale, the elders said the components of the religion must be kept in balance by highly-trained leaders who are the legitimate representatives of their tribes.
"We, the elders and our representatives sitting in Council, give warning to these non-Indian followers that it is our understanding that this is not a proper process and the authority to carry these sacred objects is given by the people, and the purpose and procedure is specific to time and the needs of the people.
"The medicine people are chosen by the medicine, and long instruction and discipline is necessary before ceremonies and healing can be done. These procedures are always in the Native tongue; there are no exceptions and profit is not the motivation.
"There are many Nations with many and varied procedures specifically for the welfare of their people. These processes and ceremonies are of the most Sacred Nature. The Council finds the open display of these ceremonies contrary to these Sacred instructions."
The elders said individuals claiming to be spiritual leaders should be asked: What nation, clan and society they represent, who instructed them and what is their home address.
Although they said there are many things to share with the Four Corners of humanity concerning a shared destiny, they said their concern was with those who misuse the ceremonies for profit.
"Therefore, be warned that these individuals are moving about preying upon the spiritual needs and ignorance of our non-Indian brothers and sisters. The value of these instructions and ceremonies is questionable, maybe meaningless, and hurtful to the individual carrying false messages."
Gathered at Rosebud Creek in the fall of 1980 were Austin Two Moons, Northern Cheyenne Nation; Larry Anderson, Navajo Nation; Thomas Banyacya, Hopi Independent Nation; Frank Cardinal, Sr., Chateh, Alberta, Canada; Phillip Deer, Muskogee (Creek) Nation; Walter Denny, Chippewa-Cree Nation; Chief Fools Crow, Lakota Nation; Peter O'Chiese, Entrance, Alberta, Canada; Izador Thorn, Washington; Tadadaho, Haudenassaunee; Tom Yellowtail, Wyola, Mont.
Redstarr said ceremonies were given to American Indian people for a divine purpose.
"We were separated down by war - the white man and the Indian. The Indian was given special practices to help them deal with these wars and the following pains and sorrows - so that we might survive and thrive through the Creator. These ways are meant to help us to the end."
Urging prayers for those abusing the ceremonies, she said the destruction caused by the abuse became evident in recent tragedies.
"All that money being made will turn black and evil before their eyes soon. Soon they won't be able to outrun and undo what they have started.
"The Creator knows what is here and what is right and real. These 'shamans' may be pretending with others, but they can't pretend in front of the Creator."