October 26, 2010

Jemez cancels cultish Halloween

Slaying spurs Jemez Pueblo to cancel Halloween

Leaders suspect cult activity in grisly death

By Tom Sharpe
Jemez Pueblo has banned trick-or-treating this Halloween over fears that a grisly killing there last month was caused by cult activity.

Jemez Pueblo Gov. Joshua Madalena said Tuesday that the ban was ordered "because of the violence that happened."

"That really made me and my Tribal Council and my religious leaders step back and take a look at where are we now," he said. "The religious leaders had told me that this (Halloween) is not a part of our culture. Many of them are older men and stated that, 'When I was young, we didn't have this. When did it start? And look at now, you know. We've lost control.'"

Last month, Lucas Michael Ray Steven Toledo, 22, of Jemez Pueblo was charged with stabbing to death Matthew Panana, 21, also of Jemez Pueblo, then trying to disembowel him.
And:The governor said that when he was young, only children went trick-or-treating, but now some older people participate while intoxicated.

"We've made it a big deal, but our day that we're really respectful of is All Souls Day (Tuesday, also known as Day of the Dead)," he said. "That's something that's very traditional and very spiritual to the Jemez people, so that's something our elders and myself want to continue to focus on and not lose that connection."

A local, non-Indian pastor said he figured the ban on trick-or-treating was because Jemez Pueblo leaders "want nothing to do with Western culture or demonic activity. They're trying to keep that away during this time, so they're not going to have any kind of Halloween stuff."

But the pastor asked that his name not be published because it would cause problems for Indian churchgoers who told him about the ban. "People who come to church, they've got to keep it quiet there ... because they can't have Christianity there," he said. "There's a lot of fear in the people to not speak about different things."
A few comments on this article:If they want nothing to do with Western culture, tribal members would have to cancel a lot more than Halloween, which at its best is an innocent celebration that most kids enjoy. What about Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, Christmas, July 4th, and Easter, to name a few Western holidays? While as an "Anglo," I don't think it's such a bad idea to eliminate some of these rather hypocritical celebrations, most 21st century Indians and non-Indians would not be willing to do that!

The tribal leaders show great courage in taking such an unpopular stand. I believe they are correct. The traditions of Native peoples are just as valid, in fact often more so, than those of non-Native cultures. A person can live with one foot in the native world and one in the non-Native, so long as he or she understands the differences. A valid example is the simple fact that most 'white man' medicines and medical procedures are tested on and developed for non-Native peoples. It is no wonder, then that Demerol has toxic side-effects with Natives, or that the rejection of prosthetic implants is higher in Natives than whites. Most 'Indians' that I know will spike a fever on a sterile saline IV. There are differences, and we should acknowledge and celebrate them.
Comment:  Leave it to a pastor to demonize both Halloween ("demonic activity") and Jemez ("a lot of fear in the people"). Good job reinforcing the idea that white Christians are the norm.

For more on Native religion, see:

Shamans did it for sex and money?
Eagle rite = "satanic sacrifice"?
Native spirituality is "demonic"?
Native truth vs. Christian lies
Indian gods = space aliens

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