Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 18, 2009

Lakota Nation files lawsuit against parties in sweat lodge incident

Donna says, Skywriter subscriber Mimi Boothby forwarded me this important article from, “the internet voice of Sedona.”

Lakota Nation files lawsuit against parties in sweat lodge incident

(c)11-12-09 by Nina Rehfeld

 “SEDONA, AZ (November 12, 2009) – In the aftermath of the tragedy at Angel Valley Retreat Center, where an incompetently conducted “sweat lodge” held by Californian self-help guru James Arthur Ray killed three participants, political steps are being taken by several native people across the United States. While local Indians from Arizona are forming a Council for Indigenous Traditional Healing to reclaim native ceremonies, the Lakota tribe of North and South Dakota has filed a lawsuit against the United States, the state of Arizona, James Arthur Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center…

“The Lakota Nation considers its sweat lodge ceremony, the Oinikaga, one of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota. “This is a way of life, not a religion”, said Sam Longblackcat, who introduced the lawsuit to the public at a press conference in Phoenix on November 2nd.

“The lawsuit refers to the Treaty of Fort Laramie between the United States and the Lakota Nation from 1868, which states that “if bad men among the whites or other people subject to the authority of the United States shall commit any wrong upon the person or the property of the Indians, the United States will (…) proceed at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States, and also reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained.”

“The plaintiffs hold that James Arthur Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center have “violated the peace between the United States and the Lakota Nation” and have caused the “desecration of our Sacred Oinikiga by causing the death of Liz Neuman, Kirby Brown and James Shore”. The lawsuit further holds that James Arthur Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center have committed fraud by impersonating Indians and must be held responsible for causing the deaths of the victims and injuries of the survivors, and for the destruction of evidence through the dismantling of the sweat lodge.”   

Read the rest of this powerful statement by Native American spokespeople here:

You might also like to hear an interview that Michael Lovitch, Cofounder of  The Hypnosis Network, conducted with Cult and Persuasion Expert
Dave Lakhani. Lovitch, in describing the interview says, “Not only is Dave an internationally recognized persuasion and sales expert, he was actually raised in a cult.  Dave is  a former DEA agent who worked undercover in a drug dealing, Satanic Cult in Mexico.  This guy knows his cults!   In the interview, Dave goes through the steps coersive gurus take to break people down. He notes that the people that get sucked in to these things are not stupid, in fact they are usually quite intelligent and well off.  The fact of the matter is that the guys who do this are really that good at modern persuasion.  This is why it is so important that more people understand the nuts and bolts of this stuff.  Knowledge is power.”

You can hear the interview here:  That’s a much darker view of Ray’s power over the attendees than I had contemplated, so I’m not sure what I think about it.   Donna


  1. I can only imagine their outrage, reading about how their sacred ceremony was used improperly and for great financial gain.

  2. Hey, Donna, thanks for the article. I’d been wondering if the deaths of these people had been forgotten. Check this out:

  3. Be good to see James Arthur Ray’s natal chart….

    • Some information about it is in the first post on this topic. Unfortunately the comments section doesn’t create links, but you’ll find it in the category “Famous People’s Charts.”

  4. Do you think that this Ray character will ever have a trial and jury, or do you think he’ll opt for some sort of a plea agreement?

    • I haven’t heard any more since his arrest, Gary. I’d bet he wants the least publicity possible, so whatever gets him that, he would do. Donna

  5. You should be grateful that the White People died at HIS sweat lodge rather than YOURS, my Native American brethren! If you are wise you will have all participants sign liability waivers at every sweat lodge you conduct from now on!


    • I’ve never conducted a sweat lodge or any other group ritual of any religion or spiritual tradition, but I agree with you 100% . Donna

  6. Warriors take responsibility for deciding whether or not to go back into a sweat lodge. It is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to know when they are dying and NOT GO BACK IN!

    If they go back in when their bodies are telling them they are dying they have NO ONE to blame but themselves for whatever may happen as a result!

    • Mr. Crazy Horse, this is an astrology blog and has nothing to do whatsoever with sweat lodges. The message you are trying to carry is a valid one, but this blog is not about Native American rituals, so you are wasting your time here. Donna

  7. Mr Crazy Horse, I think you are confusing warriors with the seekers who pay thousands of dollars so that they too can be enlightened. The key to the whole situation is their inability to think for themselves and instead rely upon a guru to make decisions for themselves.

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