Beliefnet
Do non-Native Americans have the right to practice sacred Native American rituals? Many Native American worshippers believe that some sacred rituals should only be performed by ethnic Native Americans. Many believe that non-Natives practicing these rituals could unknowingly be a danger to themselves and others. Native Americans, those of Native American descendants, and non-Natives discuss the topic further:

What Do You Think?

Should only those who are rooted in the culture be practicing Native American rituals?

Discuss

"If a person wants to learn specific practices from a tribe and clan because they have Indian ancestry, or simply to understand better and they're not going to exploit it, why is that wrong when it's not considered wrong to profess Christian beliefs along with Native American ones when you're Native American? I think it's reverse snobbery and reverse discrimination, and a "forked tongue" manner of speaking on the part of the ones who are doing it...."
--granny cougar


"The risks [in performing Native American rituals] are there. They exist and they can be very dangerous. It simply stands as an example of the true reasons most Natives are against this borrowing. It is a tit for tat. It arises from anger and a renewed grievance against whites in general and many years of seeing their practices performed by foolish and power hungry non-Natives who haven't a clue as to what they are doing. If the two sides of this disagreement could enter into a clear discussion about this issue then maybe they would accomplish something better than making the world an angrier place than it already is."
--Jersey

"One can say that the white man stole the american constitution, functional democracy, feminism, modern child care and many other concepts from native americans. Or you could look at it that the NAs have slowly been assimilating the euro-americans. After 500 years euro-americans are becoming proud of their NA blood, they are opening their eyes to more flexible religions, ecologically sound practices. You could take the leadership and save the entire planet from ecological disaster instead of huddling over some "ownership" issue of a ceremony. Intent is everything. When you pray it is your intent to heal that matters. I am not a wanna-be Indian. I am just attempting to find a path that works for me."
--giertruidis


What Do You Think?


"I am white also, but my heart is red...I do have some cherokee in me as well as scotch and irish. But I am like some of you. Shown prejudice because of skin color, when I have asked to be taught the old ways. There are people like me, that do not look to profit or profane the teachings, we just know that the other ways do not resonate with us. But I also know how ingrained mistrust is."
--RidesTheTiger

What Do You Think?

Should only those who are rooted in the culture be practicing Native American rituals?

Discuss

"I have no native american in me, other than perhaps in my heart, i follow a i guess youd call it eclectic pagan route, a lot of several beliefs, I go to the gatherings in my area here in Fla. no one cares that im not native american, they go out of their way to help teach me and help me understand things. but then I also know those who say to me your not native american, you have no right to join in with them. I guess as with any religion, there are those who wont accept you if you are not born to it. Regardless I found a local group who doesnt care if im black, white, yellow, green, or pink, as long as my heart, mind, and soul is in it."
--lilith1671


"My mother is Native American, my father is half Japanese and half Hispanic. I would never dream to be permitted to know the rich cultures of Japan and the Apache Nation, as my parents believed I would be outcast if they taught these things to me. To see people embracing 'religion' that is not theirs stirs something within me, truly. I wish I had the audacity to access the bigger picture, the languages, ceremonies, everything, and yet I envy that people are brazen enough to learn more than I know. I listen, and I am astounded, and I watch and I am awed."
--womanchilde

"When people say, 'I feel drawn to Native American spirituality...I feel an affinity with Native Americans...I feel a connection to the earth...' what they are feeling is God calling them. You are searching for a path and it is being shown to you. It is the way of the Earth. It is the earth spirit stirring within you. That earth spirit is God, the Creator of all of the human beings, calling you. Showing you the way. God doesn't care what culture you are, he created them...and why would he care what tone the color of your skin is, he gave them to us. *I* think he wants to see us celebrate them. When you attend a powwow, when you hear those drums, that is what you're hearing."
--little_flower


What Do You Think?


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