Oneida Indian Nation wrong to exploit sweat lodge
By Nick Swan (Hehaka Ite Wakan)
One of the many questionable activities by Turning Stone is their desecration of the Native American sweat lodge ceremony. They are selling it by misrepresenting the Oglala and Lakota Sioux tribes of South Dakota as partners. These tribes have NEVER joined with the Oneidas of Turning Stone to sell their (Lakota) ceremony. Yet they make this outright false claim on their Turning Stone/Skana Spa/Sweat Lodge page.
It is an insult to the Lakota people who endure third-world conditions, while the wealthy Oneidas exploit the culture of the Lakota. Why does Turning Stone need such a sweat lodge anyway? Why doesn’t Turning Stone market and sell one of their own sacred Iroquois ceremonies? It’s because the Iroquois would never tolerate such a transgression.
So Turning Stone uses the Lakota sweat lodge, which is equally an offensive transgression to those whom cherish that way of life. Thus, Ray Halbritter has ill-aligned his unscrupulous actions directly to James Arthur Ray, who notoriously oversaw a pay-to-pray sweat lodge in which three people died last year. Obviously this group of exploiters is really only interested in one tribe, the almighty tribe of Benjamins.
Actions speak for themselves, and for these characters to play dumb is their final act of contempt to us all. Lastly, the Oneida leadership insults the integrity of their own people, of whom the vast majority does not condone such exploitive behavior.
No tribal ceremony at sweat lodge
By Chuck Fougnier, Wolf Clan Representative
Nick Swan’s Sept. 23 letter attacking the Oneida Nation and its sweat lodge at Turning Stone was the ravings of a disgruntled employee.
His concerns are not fact-based at all. As Indian guide for the sweat lodge, Mr. Swan directed the guest experience for the past 16 months. From when he was first hired he knew that our sweat lodge was not ceremonial like those he knew from home, but a resort experience that guests paid to take in.
For facilitating this guest experience, he received regular paychecks and benefits from the Oneida Nation, as well as accepting generous tips from guests pleased with their time in the sweat lodge.
I was one of the Oneida leaders who went to South Dakota to learn about sweat lodges and talk to the Oglala and Lakota people about building one at Turning Stone, not as an avenue to be part of a ceremony but as another high-end resort amenity.
We then employed Milo Yellow Hair, a Lakota Indian skilled in this ancient practice to construct an authentic sweat lodge at our resort. Knowing that tribal ceremonies conducted in sweat lodges are sacred and private, as are our Oneida ceremonies, we went to great lengths to give our guests the experience of being in a sweat lodge and nothing more.
The answer--at least the present answer on the Turning Stone website:
But the Lakota don't own the concept; other tribes have sweat lodges too. Therefore, I'd say Fougnier's argument seems to be ahead at the moment.
For more on Native spas, see Sweat Lodge at Oneida Spa and Native-Themed Spas. For more on sweat lodges in general, see The Myth of Detoxification and How Sedona's Sweat Lodges Operate.