General => Welcome & News => Topic started by: dontpaytopray on June 20, 2008, 01:49:21 am

Title: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: dontpaytopray on June 20, 2008, 01:49:21 am
Summer Solstice is approaching and so is the chance of someone dying again in a New Age sweat lodge. Please remember the victims of the New Age commodification of our culture in your prayers this week.  They were all human beings and none of them deserved to die this way.

In Memoriam

Rowen Cooke 37, Melbourne Australia
died in a sweat lodge November 4, 2004
Kylie Watts, 30 Byron Bay in New South Wales
died in a sweat lodge in 2003
Kirsten "Kris" Babcock 34 Redding, California
died in a sweat lodge on June 21, 2002
David Thomas Hawker, 36, of Union City, California
died in a sweat lodge on June 21, 2002
Gordon Reynolds, 43 of Twickenham, West London died in a sweat lodge on November 21, 1996
Kelly Rice, 35 of Austin, Texas, housekeeper and masseuse, died of accidental heatstroke inside a sweat lodge in June1993
Ronald Delgado of Santa Barbara California was killed in Archie Fire Lame Deer's 'Vision Quest' on July 12, 1980

Many of these people died in sweats held on very hot days around the summer solstice. With the popularity of the twinkie sweat lodge ever increasing there’s an increased probability that someone will die this weekend.

Please don't let these deaths be forgotten. If you have time, please consider grass roots organizing to educate people about the dangers of these sweats and the harm that they do to native people or to protest any sweat lodges in your area.

Don’t Pay to Pray has been keeping statistics on the number and cost of non-NDN sweat lodges since 2001.  We found that the average cost of sweats reported to us from people across the United States and Canada has increased from $46.67 in 2001 to $95.00 in 2007 and it skyrocketed to $965.26 in 2008.  The number reported to us has risen nearly 900%.  It appears that the sweat-lodge cottage industry is not a mainstream high-end service.  This only increases the liklihood that someone will die this weekend.  We’ve noticed that many of the more expensive sweats now require waivers.

(Note: SOTEMS is the group that was running the sweat where Rowan Cooke died. He was only 37 and he had a young son.)

It tells you a lot about the true character of people when you see that their primary response to this horrible mistake was to protect themselves legally in the event of future deaths.

We've noticed that those who conduct these sweats are getting bolder in insisting on payment for their services and more and more people are simply taking them at their word. Most frauds are now claiming that payment is merely an “exchange of energy??? and that it is no longer appropriate just to give the twinkie shame-man blankets, food or gas – we’re hearing over and over again that it’s appropriate to give large sums of “energy??? (that means money).  As activists, we can’t let our voices be drowned out by those who would commercialize our spirituality.

Every year we post the solstice sweats and ask for help getting the word out. Today, a cousin pointed out to me that it’s probably now true that more non-NDN people have participated in sweat lodges than have NDN people. Through their numbers and their resources, non NDNs have barged into our communities and have nearly supplanted us from our own cultures. This weekend millions of people all over the world will attend twisted versions of sweat lodge ceremonies believing they are doing something good that is sanctioned by indigenous spiritual leaders. The price of the average twinkie sweat lodge is rapidly growing beyond the means of the poorest people so the frauds have priced out everybody but the richest, whitest people from the trendiest sweats. I don’t really think this is completely unintentional. Whether they intend it or not, those who claim to respect our religion are supplanting authentic native people from our own religious practices.

We have compiled as much information as we can find, but we need help to get the word out about these frauds.  Please take some time today and get the word out about them. Feel free to forward the list to any listserves or organizations that you think might be helpful.

The list can be downloaded from the files at Debunking Debunkers rule

The Wall of Shame web site:

or from my blog:

I’m also going to a clickable list on my blog:

Thank you,



Al,  I didn't know where to put this since you all do one fraud at a time and we work in big old lists. You can put it wherever you think it best fits.  Please email me if we goofed up and included anyone half-way legit or if you have anyone to add.

Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: educatedindian on June 20, 2008, 02:16:50 pm
Good to see you again Heather. I reposted your warning a couple other places and urge others to do the same.
Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: Kevin on June 20, 2008, 02:25:31 pm
That's a good piece of work there, Heather. Twinkie death trap is more like it
Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: Defend the Sacred on June 20, 2008, 03:05:23 pm
Agreed - good work, and great to see you, Heather. I've used your sites as a resource for many years now, and I thank you for all you've done. Keep up the good work!
Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: Ingeborg on June 20, 2008, 09:59:48 pm
I've done a German translation and posted it in the forum at

Thanks very much, Heather, for this excellent text!
Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: chiefytiger on June 27, 2008, 04:31:03 pm
Greetings Heather ,my guess is that from participating in a swet lodge ,from what i have been told is if I had any medical problms or any other illness,heat stroke and heart problems ... But as for anyone dying in a sweat ,it can happen ,but those who participate should also let the one whos conducting it be aware of any medical problems
Title: Re: Will Someone Die in a Sweat Lodge this Week-end?
Post by: dontpaytopray on June 27, 2008, 05:28:59 pm
Thank you all so much for your support.  I really appreciate it.

I was raising the issue of accountability from an indigenous perspective, not from a Western, legalistic one.  For tens of thousands of years we did not have legal disclaimers to protect us from charges of negligent homicide.  This was never our way.  I'm inviting analysis from thoughtful people about what happens in the process of subjecting sacred rites to Capitalism.

In another group someone also raised the point that there's no way to tell what "herbal detoxification" concoctions these people are taking and most people don't think as herbal products as medicine so they are unlikely to disclose an herbal product that can contribute to increased blood pressure, heart rate and dehydration.

Should SOTEMS be allowed to go on doing what they do simply because they've protected themselves legally?

You'd be hard pressed to find someone at a pow wow who thinks this is accountability.