October 26, 2008

Ioway investigates hauntings

Helena's ghost hunterFoster runs Paranormal Montana, an organization that investigates hauntings in the Helena area.

In addition, he leads a tour of dozens of downtown’s most notorious purported hauntings, dubbed Helena’s Ghost Walk, taking visitors on an hour-and-a-half stroll down Last Chance Gulch, up Reeder’s Alley and up to the area known as Catholic Hill south of Broadway along Ewing Street.
And:“I’m Roman Catholic, so I believe there’s eternal life,” he says. “I’m also Native American, and we believe everything has a spirit.”

He says 90 percent of the things people think are hauntings is explainable—wind, creaking floorboards, maybe a dream someone had as they were waking up.

“But there’s 10 percent that seem to be unexplainable by conventional means.”

A member of the Ioway Tribe, he grew up hearing stories of American Indian folklore and was fascinated by the many stories of Helena hauntings.

But it wasn’t until recently, when working in his last job as director of native rights in Hawaii, that he thought about pursuing ghost hunting. Part of that job included taking care of cultural sites, including burial sites.

6 comments:

Genevieve said...

Roman Catholocism as I have experienced it seems to reject the notion of human spirits remaining (or returning, as the case may be) in the earthly realm as opposed to heaven/hell/purgatory. What are Native cultural attitudes toward hauntings?

Also interesting but slightly off-topic; would you consider Native Hawai'ians as "Native Americans"? From what I've read and heard, the US government doesn't see or treat them as such, and there has been controversy between continental US Native groups and Hawai'ian Native groups over whether or not they should receive this label (and the benefits-- free tuition to schools, healthcare-- associated with it).

Melvin Martin said...

Re: The Hawai'ian Question

Native Hawai'ians do not share the special trust relationship that all federally recognized U.S. tribes have that involve treaties -and it is these treaties that provide for the so-called "FREE" benefits (and I am so sick of hearing that these services are free!) that were made between the various tribes and the U.S. government in exchange for land.

Genevieve said...

I wasn't trying to imply that the benefits in question were "free", that it's just how they are often thought of as and portrayed as.

I understand that the treaties made are the basis for said bennies, but native Hawai'ians are pissed because they were considered and treated as a sovereign nation under US law until they were overthrown and annexed (illegally, naturally). Supporters of the Akaka Bill want that sovereign nation status to be reinstated, and all the benefits that would go along with that (self-government, etc.).

Melvin Martin said...

Re: The Akaka Bill

It's a bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka that would extend federal recognition to Native Hawaiians as indigenous people. It would create a governing body for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians that would negotiate with the state and federal governments over land and other resources.

After languishing for years, the bill is heading for a Senate vote. This has prompted outraged editorials and op-ed articles warning that a Pacific paradise will become a balkanized banana republic.

Those worries are misplaced. The bill's central aim is protecting money and resources — inoculating programs for Native Hawaiians from race-based legal challenges. It is based on the entirely defensible conviction that Native Hawaiians — who make up 20 percent of the state's population but are disproportionately poor, sick, homeless and incarcerated — have a distinct identity and deserve the same rights as tribal governments on the mainland.

The Akaka bill does not supersede the Constitution or permit Zimbabwe-style land grabs. It explicitly forbids casinos, a touchy subject in Hawaii. Any changes a Hawaiian government seeks would have to be negotiated with state or federal authorities.

As has always been the case on those eight little islands, everyone will have to find a way to get along.

(From a New York Times editorial:
"A Chance for Justice in Hawaii"
Published: June 7, 2006) - MM

Rob said...

"Slightly off-topic," Genevieve? The only resemblance between this discussion and the original posting is that Hawaii sort of sounds like Ioway. ;-)

I just posted an answer to your Hawaii question in Are Hawaiians "Native Americans"? Let's move this discussion there.

As for your hauntings question, I don't know. My superficial answer would be that many tribes believe spirits are everywhere. They have specific ceremonies to call spirits forth, supplicate them, and send them away.

In Western cultures, anything we don't understand, even a bump in the night, may be "evidence" of an evil spirit. Native cultures accept the idea of spirits and therefore shouldn't believe as much in "hauntings." The idea of a spirit's hanging around when a tribe has performed a ceremony to banish it should be somewhat strange.

This is just supposition, of course. Perhaps someone who's well-versed in a Native religion can tell us whether I'm on the right track.

Rob said...

For more on the subject of hauntings, see Devils and Whites Haunt Indians.