Medicine Men for Rent by Avis Little Eagle Lakota Times Jul 9, 1991
Sacred rites of the Lakota are performed sacrilegiously for a naïve and eager public seeking enlightenment but in reality merely getting their wallets lightened.
Pipe ceremonies sweatlodges and vision quests along with Lakota Hunka adoption ceremonies are in demand by a New Age generation which believes pseudo medicine mens’ sincerity in teaching them.
Pan American Indian Association, Medicine Wheel Circle or Gathering, American Indian Church, Split Feather Tribal Council are just some of the groups to be wary of.
Sheridan Murphy, spokesman for concerned Indians and non Indians in the Florida area, said the American Indian Students Organization of Ballard University was formed at a time when there were no Indian rights groups in Florida.
He said groups such as the Split Feathers are “pseudo organization…created for money, proposals, and grants. You always find a Native American name to make them sound authentic.
Murphy said his group challenged several medicine men it knows are phony and are operating for the sake of money. He came across Buck Ghost Horse in the Tampa-St Petersburg area where Ghost Horse and his group were holding sweats and operating under the name Split Feather Tribal Council. Murphy said the group had set up three 8 foot sweatlodges that could seat up to 26 people at the Safety Harbor Museum. “Our organization went out there and confronted the Split Feathers. They claimed to be a tribal council and were made caretakers of a burial site in Safety Harbor.
Murphy said the group had a lot of spearpoints and other artifacts they claimed were their own and were using a “sacred pipe that looked like something out of Toys R Us. We heard quite a lot of complaints from people who lived around Safety Harbor. The Split Feathers were given exemptions for fire permits and then they were revoked because their fires were getting too big.
Murphy said he received numerous complaints that the group was using marijuana in the sweatlodges. The American Indian Students Organization challenged the Split Feathers by getting depositions from people who lived around Safety Harbor and “people who were getting ripped off. Ghost Horse was chased right out of Florida. I told him it wasn;t right to be selling sweats and so on.
Murphy said there are others who are selling sweats and medicine. “They are charging $100 a shot for a day of sweats.
RC Mowatt, a Comanche living in St Petersburg, also challenged Ghost Horse. Mowatt said he works with the United Network of Indian Tribes in Central Florida. It is working to establish an Indian center.
Mowatt has depositions and statements with Ghost Horse’s alleged BIA tribal enrollment number. “He wrote a letter for someone’s community service. His BIA number is supposed to be SH115906. His church tax number is 59-2627560, state number N12882.
No tribal affiliation claim was connected with his alleged enrollment number.
“We know they were doing a lot of hurting to people. A lot of people wanted him out of state. Down here white people are always looking for something to try to make them Indian. They are what is considered New Agers.
Ghost Horse and his crew “were doing acid and sending people out on their vision quests while they were tripping on LSD. They were paying $500 to get a vision quest like that.
Ghost Horse claimed in a Times interview that he learned Lakota spirituality from Godfrey Chips and Joseph H Eagle Elk, Wallace Black Elk and Gerald Ice. He said he knows he is part Hunkpapa, Sicangu, and German, but would not reveal his birth name to the Times. He is not recognized by the Sicangu or Hunkpapa as an enrolled member.
Ghost Horse denied taking money for ceremonies, but interviews with numbers of those who attended refute that claim. A 1985 story about him the St Petersburg Times indicated “The dreams began when the boy was still living on the Rosebud Reservation.
According to the article, his father took him to the “tribal medicine man??? who took him on a vision quest. “In a pickup truck, they drove deep into the reservation, 65 miles from the village, and left the boy in a rocky crater near the top of a mountain.
Coincidentally, Ghost Horse also claimed to be an Indian boy raised by white parents. He told the Lakota Times that Ghost Horse is a dream name. But he told the St Petersburg paper his parents died when he was 15, leaving five Ghost Horse children to be adopted out.
Anyone familiar with South Dakota knows there are no craters and mountains on the Rosebud Reservation.