August 25, 2010

Prison "medicine man" ad canceled

A followup to my posting Prison Seeks Generic Medicine Man. First they changed the ad:

The Department of Justice Is No Longer Looking to Hire a Medicine Man[A]fter the Drudge Report this afternoon linked to the page on the web site, the job title was quickly switched to “Native American Services/Spiritual Guide.”

Prospective candidates will still need to be familiar with topics such as medicine wheel, sweat lodge, the sacred pipe, and eagle feathers.

Then they canceled it:

Another job lost:  Medicine man

By Barbara HollingsworthIt took just two days for the Duluth, Minn. Office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to cancel its August 17 solicitation for bids “from a responsible entity” for a “Native American Medicine Man“to conduct “sacred pipe,” “sweat lodge” and “smudging” ceremonies for federal inmates. Taxpayers would, of course, foot the bill for the spiritual guide.

The abrupt cancellation was perhaps due to a link on the Drudge Report. But sensitive prison officials might also have been stung by criticism that the job description was too generic, and that its blatant stereotyping would offend Minnesota’s Chippewa, Ojibwe and Sioux communities.

“What if a Navajo, Haida, Penobscot, or Miccosukee medicine man applies? (Assuming all these tribes have medicine men.),” one blogger asked. “What will the prison say? ‘Yes, you’ll do, because all Native religions are the same’? Or ‘No, sorry, our ad was misleading and we’ll understand if you sue us’?”
Comment:  That blogger was me! Glad to see more evidence that Newspaper Rock is having an effect.

A quick search didn't reveal any evidence that Drudge knew of my blog or had quoted it. Hollingsworth obviously knew of it. I don't know if she reads it...if she found it via Google...or if someone forwarded it to her.

Another point I just thought of is that the ad specified a medicine man. Some tribes have medicine women too. What if one had responded to the ad? The DOJ would face a sex discrimination suit or some inmates would rebel, saying, "My tribe doesn't allow women to do that."

I get the impression that Drudge and Hollingsworth were annoyed because the DOJ was paying for a medicine man. They probably think that's something like a fitness guru or a yoga instructor. But since prisons have chaplains and rabbis, a Native spiritual guide is a legitimate expense, in theory. The problem again is that each tribe has its own religion and spirituality.

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