Selling Videos and Books on Native American Ceremony II
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Joe West
Posted on: March 5, 2001

In your answer lies the answer. No, I had not seen the video, but you did not consider if these people were known to us. The video contains offensive material – period.

You have written it in your own words. That these people use euro-herbs should’ve been a clue. It is clear you are ignorant of our ways. There are plenty of assimilated natives up there to tell you what you want to hear to make a buck.

You want to preserve our knowledge... that is not your place. We would rather the knowledge die with us than it be prostituted for money.

You want to hold and sell our knowledge of plants... you will not, you will only sell that which will bring harm to the ignorant and innocent. You will learn reciprocity.

It was offered to explain things to you but you refused, bottom line. You have been asked and you have answered.

You will not find us on websites. You will not find us in books or videos.

We don’t for a moment profess to be an expert in your ways. Nor are we experts at Ayurvedic or Chinese or African herbalism. By your logic we should remove every book and video on these subjects too. We judge books and videos to the best of our abilities, but we do not vouch for everything that each book or video contains.

You don’t explain why you find the "Native American Healing" video offensive, except to imply that the people in the video are not authentic. That may be true, but to simply say that they are wrong and no good without elaborating, doesn’t help. The implication is that we ought simply to accept what somebody says about these people, something we do not do unquestioningly.

You suggest that the use of European herbs shows that the herbalists are not authentic. Virtually every herbal tradition I know of has adopted herbs from other cultures, so adopting foreign herbs is not such a definitive mark against them in our view. If you are using yarrow, then you are using a European herb that has been naturalized in North America for hundreds of years, maybe even longer. Dandelion, plantain, and others are European herbs that are now widespread and have been used by Native American healers for hundreds of years.

If you can give specific reasons why the video is offensive and dangerous that would be a big help. If you can refer to the transcript of the sweat lodge segment from the video, showing why it is wrong, that would be a help to us. And, if you can suggest an alternative, authoritative book or video or other source that you regard as acceptable, that would be an even bigger help.

There are dozens of books professing to be authentic accounts of Native American healing. If they are not authentic and you want to stop people from buying and selling them, then you need to help people understand why they are not authentic. Simply pronouncing them as offensive without explanation does not help.

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