Stunned Silence : Sacred Pipe Revisited

©2019 Turtle Heart
O-say-go:

The last year has been conflicting and strange. I find the election and presence on this Mother Earth of Donald Trump and his gang, especially the GOP, to be so disgusting, so unacceptable that it has nearly stunned me into silence. If society can tolerate Trump, society is in a crisis. That there are in fact so many tens of millions of people so unattached, uninterested and just plain stupid as to be OK with Trump? It is a jarring situation.

Gradually I have come back to a more normal state of mind. I turned 70 years earlier this year. As you might expect, it is a sobering milestone.

One of the revelations is that my lifetime of experience and knowledge, gained from the old Indians and from carrying that into the Waiting World is all inside of me and not in many other places. This blog has something of the history and experiences, nit very much.

I am starting now to post archival documents representing the collevted body of knowledge that I have gathered from my 50 years of work and study. Today I am reposting a paper on sacred Pipe for this, I hope, enduring blogger archive. So here you go: it is not a perfect document, I see it needs some edits and corrections. So a work in progress:

Sacred Pipe || 

The Original Instructions - Turtle Heart

 © 2019 Turtle Heart and sacredpipe.org. Original publication 2011. (repost).

Of all known religious, sacred cultural objects, Sacred Pipe is poorly understood and poorly represented out into the modern world. I sometimes speculate the in the present age it is possible for American Indian people and communities to do more to uphold the sacred objects of their people. I sometimes believe that tribal officers and advocates try something like this from time to time. The US Government and organized religions of all faiths do not listen to the indians. I wonder why the voice of American Indians cannot really
be heard out here in the modern world.

I have followed the way of Sacred Pipe all of my long life. My path of smoke, and wind, and fire has brought me to this place, the tiny island on the ancient Mediterranean Sea. Inside my body I feel time pulling at my eyes, at my muscles and bones. Time has the power to steal what is most precious in the space of a single breath. I am far from my home, but I am still on sacred ground, a land that knows me very well and holds me. I awaken to beauty. It is what I see when I open my eyes. It is what I feel coming up from my feet. Beauty fades. What is beautiful is beautiful because it fades. This is something I have learned from time as I watch its shadow in my dreams.

I have always chosen beauty, for what other choice, in what other direction would my satisfaction lead me? The perfect beauty of a storm, the perfect beauty of silence, the perfect beauty of thunder; so I send beauty my smoke and the songs of the old Indians and in thunder, or in flames or sitting still I accept the choices I have made. I smoke in a sacred manner. And I dream.

Following the smoke of the red stone I have traveled in eight directions. I have gone where I have never been before, where no American Indian has been before. It has taken only determination. There is and has never been a question about believing. I understand that my travels with this sacred bundle have

changed lives. Each changed life carries even more changes forward, into the seven generations. The changer is also the changed. I remember very well where I started. I started in Hell. Following the sacred smoke I made my way forward, one step at a time.
I have never been satisfied with the tribal reservation philosophy of more or less cowering before the modern world in paranoia and anger. I was never satisfied that my diverse ethnic origins, being part Welsh, Ojibwe and Catabwa would mean that any door in this world could be closed to me. Racial qualifications are a poisonous lie that celebrates fear over change and growth in my view. So no door has been closed to me. I went and breathed, looked into the eyes and lives of teachers from many American Indian tribes...and also from Japan, China, Tibet, South America,, Israel, Egypt and the Old South. I liked those homemade biscuits and the long dirt path to the houses of my old southern Catawba relatives. None of those people had automobiles. They lived deep inside the forest, not at the end of a parking lot like now. Yes, those old southern biscuits took me everywhere. Along with the tobacco that my old relations grew up from sacred beginnings, as food for heaven. There are many kinds of smoke my friend. If you follow smoke you will see this. Sacred smoke has its own color, movement physics and ambient. It is particular smoke.

Out into the world some ancient children of Nanaboozho were the first to go far away from the Ojibwe family lands, deeper into the unknown world. What they brought back became the foundation of our sacred rites and teachings. I understand those emotions that drove them forward. It is not a negative feeling, but it is not a feeling of being satisfied. There must be something more. Something more I can do. So I have started moving in this ancient way.
Today, people listen to what is said from far away. There are no ears to hear what is being said right in front of you. I understand this. In the modern world heaven is far away, another place than here. Following the smoke of sacred pipe keeps me inside my body, right where I am, where I happen to be. I treasure this. For me, the answers are not far away. They are nearby.
Over the long years in my private life I am usually alone, or with animals rather than people, something that is very precious to me. Inside the ceremonies I am wrapped up, a Yuwipi of ceremonial attention in making correction ceremonies....and at those times I am with the people, wrapped up in the waiting world and waiting for their hearts to show me what is possible. A ceremony with the people is a mirror and it can reflect only what those people who may be looking into it reveal. This, as well, is one of those answers that are nearby . Though no one is listening nearby. Their attention is far away, so I pass by unnoticed but not unfelt. Like smoke.

Sacred Pipe || The Original Instructions
The history of the ancient future.

Tribal North American Indians are drowning in an ocean of bad information, distorted information, the acted out fantasies of people without a culture of their own to teach them....on one hand. On the other hand they have divisive government policies, poverty , isolation, substance abuse and indifference, raging violence against each other...two rather severe struggles for a fragile minority in a powerful and modern society.
I have spent my entire life as a student and teacher of sacred ceremonial objects and ceremonies. There is no perfect way to explain in the English language how the object we call Sacred Pipe first came to the people of this Turtle Island. It is very ancient. The traditional keepers and sacred elders forbid revealing this information about it, except for the Lakota. Old Black Elk let the sacred cat out of the bag and the Lakota have been paying for it ever since. The object known as Sacred Pipe was ancient long before the Lakota Tribal Nation migrated from the ancient Southeast to its present lands in the Plains territories. Over such a long history there is much that can be said, and much that is impossible to say. The real truth can only be revealed or understood from within Sacred Space itself...by becoming one of those who are there at that time when the sacred is made on the earth. However, it is important for tribal people to embrace their responsibility to the world community and say what it is possible to say. It is impossible, absolutely, for one tribe to know or contain the full history of this Sacred Teaching called Sacred Pipe. When people speak of the sacred and say "it is only this", they are mistaken. At the very least Sacred Pipe is Eight Sacred Things. Sacred Pipe has many histories, many relatives, and many undisclosed mysteries.

Majorities of American Indian keepers of bundles prefer to remain silent on the details of their sacred rites and objects. Because so many of the people who really know keep silence, many people think the noise made by a vocal minority have some special affiliation with the truth. This is incorrect. An attentive and honest student of the sacred will understand this. It is more important than you know that someone try and change this situation. It may be to late for Sacred Pipe to truly help the world, given the many problems we will look at
in this document. But Sacred Pipe is only one part in the great wheel of the sacred original instructions of the old American Indians. Those instructions are contained in the sacred bundles and their ceremonies that exist in many tribes. There are other sacred bundles in motion that are not Sacred Pipe. The number and integrity of these things is a shrinking number, yet there is a count that can be made. I am one of those keepers of the sacred and I am one of those who made the count.

The first American Indians to embrace the Sacred Pipe were almost certainly the Creek-Catabwa, and their relatives, along the lower and upper Mississippi River, such as the Ahnishinabek-Algonquian groups. There is a direct river of ceremonies, language, corn, tobacco, and stones for ceremonial pipes between these groups, along this path, dating back more than 12,000 years. The archaeological evidence clearly supports this idea. The Plains tribes, such as the Lakota, received the teaching of Sacred Pipe less than 400 years, by comparison. For reasons not quite sound, the vast majority of published information addressing Sacred Pipe are attributed to, siphoned from, exploited by or associated with the Lakota. This imbalance or myopic fascination with one small group of people in a larger universe should be suspect, but it seems rather well accepted. The truth is, it is mostly nonsense. Quietly, off in the corners of American Indian country, Sacred Pipe works every day in ways the modern world, and the Lakota, will never know.

Asinii-opwaagan-ag || Sacred Tobacco Morning Fire

Sacred Pipe is a fundamental property and expression of what might be legally argued as a "Native American Religious Practice". However "religious" is not a natural tribal word. To most Native Americans religion is not faith-based; it has no hierarchy, and there is no central authority. Sacred Pipe is a way of life and a type of ceremonial behavior that is
based, at its best, upon the cycles of natural life. Sacred Pipe recognizes a greater reality than the "me", but also accepts a mystery element in life wherein information about the sacred is to great for a single mind to hold. New information unfolds with every ceremony, with every step forward into understanding how and why you must try and communicate with the four elements and the greater mystery life beyond them. Sacred Pipe is a language used to address the four great elements, directly. There is no abstraction or mysticism implied in this idea. This not really, then, a “religion”...it is something more ancient and less toxic than religion.
I have been a keeper of Sacred Pipe since 1970. For many of those years I have traveled around North America, and the world, with what my tribal teachers have named "Four Directions Unity Bundle (A Sacred Pipe)". This group of tribal sacred objects includes sacred objects and instructions from many tribes. Tribal elders gifted these sacred objects to this bundle from all around North America. This is a very rare and beautiful situation. They understood that, in time, (such as now) I would begin to talk about my experiences, to talk about what they said to me, about what I felt and thought.

Distribution of Sacred Pipe.

There are differences between Sacred Pipe cultures, as well as many tribal cultures that have no ceremonial pipes. Not all tribes use, or understand....or even....accept the idea of Sacred Pipe. The existence and behavior of persons and communities with Sacred Pipe are very well known in the Plains Tribal Nations. Sacred Pipe is also well established historically among the Woodland Tribal Nations immediately east and north of the plains. It is very strong in the Oklahoma Indian Country , among the Apache, Comanche and their relatives. Its oldest history seems to along the southern Mississippi River cultures, such as the Creeks. In this narrow geographic range were thousands of tribal villages who’s spiritual and practical existence upon this mother earth were established around the ceremonies, rituals, rites, songs, dances, dreams and politics of Sacred Pipe. In the modern age sacred Pipe has migrated to other tribes.

There is no similarity between Christian faith-based religion and the precise ritual of the mystery life ceremonies and objects of Native American tribal society. For many generations the language, the negative language, of Christian faith has been used to describe tribal spiritual practices in a very critical and demeaning way. It is challenging, now, to use that same language of our enemies to try and bring forward a more accurate, objective and clear view of these ancient tribal teachings.

Society is slowly recognizing that the ancient systems embodied in tribal ritual contributed to balanced and creatively rich communities; productive and honest lives; and a rich system of self-discovery and revelation. Unlike faith-based religions that demand belief in something outside of and far away from yourself, tribal ritual is a process of self- knowledge and acceptance of spiritual responsibility for your life and your community and your real days and nights.
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©2019 Turtle Heart


behavior and attitudes
uncontrolled objects is
uncontrolled. This has
disservice, but also
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This confusion does not mean that the

Theft, Imitation, and Acting Out of Tribal Ritual ||
In tribal society persons who hold Sacred Pipe on behalf of other people, for the waiting world, are bound by the laws and principles of the original tribal
teachings, as interpreted by their tribal elders. Right now in modern society there is a stampede of people all across western society that have picked up objects that look like tribal pipes. You can find them everywhere. They do not follow, or even take the time to know, the instruction and experience of the tribal communities who’s sacred they rob. These lost multitudes of new age thieves have poisoned and insulted the original teachings of the sacred of the American Indian. From the American Indian side looking out, we see an epidemic of acting out and theft of our tribal sacred. In spite of their “good” intentions, these people are poison.

In the literature that exists about tribal
people of the United States, the "story" about the coming of a Sacred Pipe to the Lakota is arguably the best known. This particular story, while popular, has lead to a lot of confusion in people's minds about tribal religions. The Lakota are a small tribe, their little word is not a reflection of all tribal society, but is often talked about in print in a way that implies all Indians are like the Lakota. Because of their media and new age popularity, the Lakota model is the most often imitated and abused, even by American Indian people. Sacred Rituals are copy protected. This does not mean that there is not an abundance of people right now acting out before a gullible public their imitation, their copies and projections about this ancient ceremony of the "red man". It is very unusual to find someone who pretends to be a Catholic Bishop. It is not common to find someone who pretends to be a doctor, or a Rabbi. Why are so many people pretending with Sacred Pipe, and pretending with American Indian identity? In a free society, tribal people seem powerless to prevent this very odd and damaging behavior. In a free society people do what they want. Part of the blame, now, must rest with tribal communities who are reluctant to speak for the record and publically about sacred matters. The very traditions that are being stolen by a "new world order of arrogant chosen ones" require humility, modesty, silence about the sacred elements of the life...these very qualities
have prevented most tribes from organizing some standards and authority such as that enjoyed by the clergy, the medical profession and so forth. The absence of professional standards is no accident.

The licensing system of Sacred Pipe is the permission, direction, and support of a circle of tribal elders who actually live or lived upon the earth and looked you in the eye and said you should do this work. Persons who hold any kind of tribal ceremony for the modern people and who DO NOT have this specific permission of tribal elders are behaving outside the law, outside of what is right. They are doing great harm.

In matters of the sacred ceremonies and objects, these matters are the property of the tribal elders and councils of their respective tribes. If you steal or copy Hopi or Zuni ceremonies a Federal Marshall may show up at your door. If you play make believe with Sacred Pipe no one will pound on the door or arrest you.

If you hold any kind of tribal object that does not have the breath of a tribal elder or other clearly recognizable tribal authority upon it, it is a dead object. If a tribal elder has not looked into your face and given you the blessing of that tribal object, it is a dead object. Dead objects cannot be used for sacred work. This is the true law of tribal sacred.

One can look at the outstanding security and protections that are used by a few of the Pueblo (Kiva) tribes of New Mexico and Arizona. The Tewa tribes have managed to keep control of their sacred rituals and objects. The tribes of Sacred Pipe have let that object out all over the place. These pipes have become like another stolen sacred object of the Ahnishinabe, the "Indian Dream-catcher" that are now sold in every culture on this earth. This little sacred object was made useless by mass production. Thank you dead world business people. Many people talk about pipes as the "way of the Indians" without any distinctions as to how inaccurate, even insulting to many tribal people, that such an assertion, such a sloppy use of language truly implies. It is possible to get all dressed up and have nowhere to go. The Tribal Human Beings call the "sacred" for a good reason, for many good reasons. That which is sacred reveals the truth and the truth is something Sacred Pipe shows us how to find within ourselves. It is not a journey you can pretend to make. You do not need someone pretending to hold the sacred to teach you this lesson. Sacred Pipe is a way of life. It is not a single event, but a process of unfolding and growing within a deep and very ancient teaching. I call this idea "the original instructions". Just because people come to a place and pretend they have done something, does not mean anything really happened. The US Senate
is a good example of this theory.

Recently I read how a woman who is "part Navajo" had "chosen" the Teton Sioux Tribe as her “life path” and was now doing "traditional pipe ceremonies" in new age centers in New York. Many things that are symptoms of a strange and toxic imbalance are in this story. Women are rarely (as in very rarely) ever given any authority or right to use Sacred Pipe before the public, tribal or otherwise. (There are good and honorable reasons for this). The Navajo have their own complex and beautiful religion. Their religion does not include in any way a tribal pipe, in any way. The final statement she makes is quite the revelation. Sacred Pipe is like the
marines...you don't choose them, they choose you. You don't just wakeup and hear an old drum and say, hey, wow, now I can carry the sacred rituals of the Teton Sioux. Isn't that cool? The Internet is filled with THOUSANDS of stories like this. Why are so many people lost inside this tragic lie?

Sitting Bull's Sacred Pipe || An exemplar

Theft and Profit and other odd characters of the broken sacred
A story I find curious was written by a woman, identified as such, who had
recently done a sweat lodge ceremony with one "carlo", a member of something called the Western Cherokee Tribe of Missouri, which is a 501c(3) organization and not a recognized or legal American Indian tribe in any way. carlo tells her and others that he owns Sitting Bull's famous Sacred Pipe. Sitting Bull is one of the most well known of all American Indian men in world history. She says they all smoked this powerful pipe together at the really great sweat lodge ceremony. Like the ones carlo conducts around the world.
Sitting Bull was a Holy Man of the Hunk Papa Sioux. His Sacred Pipe would be the property, morally and legally, of those tribal elders. Some research on the
Internet revealed that at some time in the recent past a Mr. Fenn put up for sale a pipe he claimed was of Sitting Bull. Attempts to verify this was the famous pipe concluded by admitting there was a possibility this pipe was in fact the Hunk Papa's original sacred object. Did carlo, a Western Cherokee Inc., buy this pipe? He must be very rich. I would think if it was authenticated that it would bring a price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tribal pipes from entirely unknown original owners from this period have brought in many tens of thousands of dollars at art auctions. I would imagine a verifiable Sitting Bull pipe would set a record. As of this writing I am trying to find out what can be known of the whereabouts of this tribal object. In traditional tribal history, pretending to behave with such a sacred object could be punished by death. This story is strange to me. When it was put to the author of the story that it was most likely impossible that this man would have this particular sacred pipe and be there with her with it, she was not convinced. Time may reveal more information on this strange story. The author of the story above replied to my inquiry. An academic, he stated that Sitting Bull had several pipes like this. He further stated that Sitting Bull's family showed no interest in these objects, concluding, in his little mind, also that these pipes were Sitting Bull personal property....and not "clan" or "medicine society" property. So, he said, several of pipes like this one pipe ended up on the market. He says there are several of them, some in museums, some in private hands. He also said, directly, that "Sitting Bull's Pipe was not a ceremonial pipe". There is a lot revealing information in the "professors" short email. How he knows whose property and what the procedure was for Sacred Pipe in the Sitting Bull family is an interesting question? How could he know what he claims to know? Answer: he can't know these things. None of these academic salesmen ever go and talk to the source. These are manufactured (made-up) facts by a phony intellectual who has zero direct knowledge of any tribal person on this sweet earth. This little scene demonstrates the multiple personality worlds in which Sacred Pipe must live, somehow. Academics have never really embraced the real idea behind Sacred Pipe, the knowledge system behind it and the many formalities around ceremonial pipes. They just don't get it, they don't see and they talk to fast to ever believe what the elders are saying much more slowly. It begs the question about what rights and hopes did the Sitting Bull relatives believe they had when their elder died? When a white man finds a Sacred Pipe on a dead American Indian, what is the protocol? For most American Indians, ceremonial bundles do not belong to families; they belong to the next generation of ceremonial leaders.

The dead world. That is what Sitting Bull called the modern society. In the dead world a pipe is just an object. Just another valuable example of the naive emptiness of the savage mind. Yes, in the dead world you can steal the sacred of another man and refuse to believe in his sacred and therefore diminish him even further. Academics know so little and comprehend so little of what they think they know of tribal sacred matters. Academics prefer to preen and dismiss any light not of their own making. Universities stopped embracing their sacred mission generations ago. Now most universities are indentured agents of the corporate norm. In the corporate norm an artifact from a dead famous American Indian is dry toast.
Has Sacred Pipe in fact been murdered and tricked and put into the hands of so many pretenders and lost souls... and disassembled by so many academic midgets, that it is now dead, like God? Can Sacred Pipe be rescued and salvaged and understood as it was in the original instructions? Is there hope that Sacred Pipe can prevail above this enormous noise made by crazy people in eight directions? I know some places and people where Sacred Pipe is still standing. Each one is fragile. And somewhat isolated and apart. Brave and clear and fragile.

Tribal leaders at tribal nations like Hopi and Zuni have been very active and have had some successes with regaining control of their sacred objects. They have been able to confiscate sacred items of their people from private collectors, museums and citizens from around the world. The tribal leaders whose tribes have historic responsibility for Sacred Pipe have yet to make similar efforts on behalf of the Sacred Pipes held in private collections, museums, and by "carlo”. All tribes have historical claims on the many sacred objects held in the dead world. Some of us hope that step by step the tribes will get these objects back from the dead world....or maybe not. I wish more of them tried.

Every culture has had endure the disavowal and discrediting of its belief system from oppressors, by “progress”. That is pretty much the entire history of the relationship of modern people to tribal people, worldwide. Diminish them by declaring their beliefs and objects are nothing. In the dead world Sacred Pipe has no friends, no elders, no home, no hope for a future because it is an object, a piece of personal property. Anyone who has studied intelligently the life of Native North Americans knows that property rights and issues of personal property were very different than what modern society recognizes and practices. The truth is the psychology of a traditional tribal person is not the same psychology as some academic stiff wearing a silk tie and driving a BMW to work. Though cultures must endure this behavior from the larger society does that mean they
should refuse to make a response? The ceremonies of the Four Directions Unity Bundle are a response. The Zuni's arriving with federal marshals to confiscate stolen sacred objects is a response.

I have discovered that there are in several people claiming to be holding "Sitting Bull's Pipe". One guy explained to his listeners that Sitting Bull made many pipes and gave them away in his travels. These stories are impossible to believe. Yes, perhaps it is to late for Sacred Pipe. So many lost people are holding these portable objects that it may be impossible to extract what is true from the lies and delusions that put these tribal objects within such easy reach. I
am ashamed of human beings for this behavior. Ashamed of the self-deceiving fools who abuse the sacred and the uninformed modern people who have no clue at all as to where and who the truth really is. I am ashamed of American Indians who have let their discipline and resolve vanish in oceans of self-pity, doubt, and government handouts and approval. In the end the only hope is that a person try to speak the truth from where they are standing right now. This will not stop the lies and pretending. However, it is the only defense possible in this dead world.

There are at least as many lost and lying reservation people, as there are in any other village or community ...that is a large number. Strangely, a confused or deceptive American Indian often has a willing audience, all over the world. Meanwhile the humble keepers of the truth are more modest and more cautious...and have a smaller audience for their revelations. This is the nature of the strange broken world in which we all live now.

Spinning Wheel || The Pearl

American Indian people have lost so much, and yet even now their religions and religious objects are being used by other people without their permission or participation. It is almost as if modern society is not satisfied with taking the land and lives of American Indians, but
must, like some sort of disembodied vulture, pick their souls clean as well. While tribes struggle to preserve and sustain their portion of sacred knowledge and worry about the future, modern people in cities like Sedona, Arizona tell everyone they live lives of great power and prosperity because they carry these stolen sacred objects. It is far from a victimless crime. It is a tragedy, a big problem hiding in the shadows of American culture. True progress towards the truth, any truth, is impossible unless those who are present take full responsibility for their behavior and the words that come out of their mouth. Real tribal rituals, the “original instructions” require the absolute truth from each person present. Truth can never be in balance when in the dark heart of a lost and desperate modern person there are so many lies. I emphasize that if the proper tribal authority have not given their consent (breath), then this truth, these sacred pipes, are impossible to carry .

This is such a serious problem that it must perforce appear at the beginning and throughout any serious discussion of these ideas and rituals of Sacred Pipe. These prevalent lies obscure our opportunity. The nature of this abuse is so painful to Native American people that it makes it much harder for any of them to trust or open up to the outside world. It makes it much harder to say what I could say. It is a long preamble of disturbing noise that must be filtered before we can arrive at a clear understanding.

In those tribal communities that embrace Sacred Pipe, the families and organized ceremonies of Sacred Pipe are practices of quiet dignity, the fabric of a daily rhythm of life. Most tribal Native Americans are quiet, humble and very conservative about discussing or demonstrating any information about their tribal sacred practices and ideas. I have heard many keepers of the sacred say they are reluctant to say anything at all because some person will take that information and use it in yet another fake acting out ceremony. It is a formidable obstacle. It is a flavor of distrust that precedes all other considerations. Good information is important to the survival of any culture. A sacred teaching cannot sustain itself based upon misrepresentations; clueless posturing and the projected acting out that modern people have imposed upon sacred Pipe. It is a big cloud of mud and mist now. Somehow this world of shadows must be understood and guarded against, and yet keep the idea alive and working for everybody . This darkness takes a massive amount of energy away from what could be a compelling and powerful dialogue between tribal spiritual and ceremonial leaders and the waiting world. People around the world are interested in American Indian ideas. I see this every day. Questionable people occupy the void that exists around this interest. In high places. In the mainstream.

In the protected privacy of tribal ritual, Sacred Pipe does not live in a mist or in the mud. There are some loud people who need to shut up and sit down. Otherwise it can be noted that Sacred Pipe does enjoys a rich experience in some families of the old Indians. So the world waits for good information. Slowly, slowly, slowly it may arrive.

The Sacred Rites and Sacred of the Lakota | | Yet another side of the Problem

Over the years unidentified persons claiming to speak for the Lakota Sacred Pipe make accusations and declarations of "war" against those people they perceive who use Sacred Pipe in ways the Lakota do not approve of. These diatribes and rants infer that Sacred Pipe is the property of Lakota spiritual culture and that everyone else is a thief and a liar.
One can be sympathetic considering the nature of the many abuses to the sacred that American Indians must endure. However, I have always felt information and education is better than war and rage. Some people seem to take these random Lakota hate documents as
serious declarations from tribal leadership. They are not. Angry people with their own private agenda make these so-called declarations. These declarations are not official documents in any way. They reflect passionate but often miss-directed views on a serious problem shared by all tribal cultures, not just the Lakota.

Sacred Pipe and many other powerful ceremonies exist in many tribal cultures other than the Lakota. The Lakota are only one small tribe in a great world of over 500 tribes. These Lakota can only speak for themselves. Many tribal leaders and tribal elders support sharing and educating with the traditional sacred resources of their tribal community and
history. These poisoned documents are often picked up by non-American Indians who circulate them in numerous ways as their way of “helping protect the poor old American Indians”. To say they are well intentioned fools would be to say too much about them. Yet, their garbage is spread like a broken toilet all over the Internet in particular.

More than 60 Sioux Nations families live around the Pipestone Monument. These families make a substantial part of their living making "peace pipes" for the tourist market from the red stone found there. Indeed, most of the "pipes" made for sale are in fact made by Sioux Nation Indians who live near the source of the red stone. Why not? There are very few
ways for an American Indian to make money in that part of the country. Were it not for the red stone objects sold around there, many families would have no income at all. Personally, I could never sell the sacred to strangers and merchants. I have confidence that somehow I can make my way without selling the sacred parts of our mystery life....but I understand the pressure they are under, the system of life in that part of white America.

Sacred Pipe is the Sacred teaching, not the Sacred Property.

Sacred Pipe is a ceremony, not a license. Sacred Pipe is a thread between
generations, a message from the beginning of time...not an act or object of personal power.
Sacred Pipe is a teaching of many tribes not just the Lakota. We cannot substitute the rage of justified or not made-up Lakota Declarations for the abuse and acting out of the tribal sacred by modern people. Two negatives cannot produce a positive. There is a right way to be in harmony with these sacred teachings. Rage is not part of that sacred process. Lies are not part of that sacred process. The Lakota Tribal Elders have never endorsed or written such angry and pointless declarations to anyone. Tribal Elders do not think this way.

Trying to build a productive base of good information is better than pointing fingers or offering to abuse people. Sacred of the tribal community is much, much larger than these angry outbursts by self-described guardians and their many apologists around the world. The Sioux have no right or responsibility to lecture other tribes or other cultures on what they are doing. You cannot change the behavior of other people...you can only hope to change yourself.

The Lakota may need one day to ask how they have contributed to and been the main source of this abuse of the sacred for so long? If you ever have an opportunity to read one of the many self- styled rants about theft of sacred ceremonies, the people making pipes for sale to the dead world, are usually other Sioux Indians. What they yell about the loudest is the abuses perpetuated by their own relations, even though they point the finger elsewhere.

To many written words by to many intellectuals who cannot see the American Indian forest for all the Lakota trees standing in the way ||

Most of the public information available about Sacred Pipe and other ideas, religious practices and theories of the quantum of tribal sacred are derived from numerous books published in the popular press. The majority of this toilet paper centers on historical ceremonial rites of the Lakota. I have read mountains of what has been published, where the subject might touch upon Sacred Pipe. I do not speak for the Lakota. I am an Ojibway man and I speak from that place. However, I am a free man and a thinking man also. I am disappointed in the mainstream media. I do not think the voluminous amount of published information on the Lakota has helped them very much. It seems to have created an uncontrollable force of imitation and confusion rather than clarity or understanding.....or respect for the diversity and clarifying differences between the many tribal communities in North America. We Ahnishinabek have our own very long history with Sacred Pipe. Sacred Pipe as an idea can be expressed this way : That Sacred Pipe in the hands of all those people from wherever they may be and whoever they may be is the same Sacred Pipe. The Sacred Pipe that is in the hands of a fool, and the Sacred Pipe that is in the hands of the enlightened tribal elders is in fact the same Sacred Pipe.

Having said that, it is possible to understand that specific Sacred Pipes have been and will be used by councils and tribal spiritual leaders to do specific work in the world. Many times within a "council" or" clan" or "society" Sacred Pipe is made to fulfill some mission, deliver a particular message or in support of some very specific work and group. Usually there is a very specific reason why pipes are made. Sacred Pipe of the Four Directions Unity Bundle contains a group of Sacred Pipes. An old and respected family of Pipe Makers near Pipestone Minnesota made one of those Sacred Pipes, and this family is from Rosebud on the Sioux Nation.

The So-Called White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe ||

Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe is the property and life of the Lakota and their relations. They have the right, and exercise it often, to speak or not speak about that Sacred Object. I claim or desire no authority to speak for that Great Bundle. However, I speak as Sacred Pipe from the Circle of understanding of my own elders and tribal teachers and have and will express my own views about Sacred Pipe. My words are my own and only I am responsible for them. My sincere respect and hopes are ever with the tribal elders of these tribal nations and the families who keep and protect their Sacred. The Great Sacred Bundle the Lakota hold and protect may offer some hope for all of humanity in the future, and its existence contributes to their own power to survive and endure. This is a great thing, if it is true.

White Buffalo Calf Woman was a Sacred Woman who brought this Sacred Object
to the Lakota. This happened around 400 years ago, within a margin of error, and possibly as recently as 350 years ago. She was a mystery life woman, a Manitou, we Ojibway would say. We do not believe she was in particular "A Buffalo" but rather a Sacred Woman, who at the end of her gifting Sacred Pipe to one Lakota man, shape-shifted into a white buffalo. Most people tend to get stuck here when they think about this. In my view the operative reality is Sacred Woman and not “white buffalo”. There are so many people who get all wound up when they hear of a white buffalo. I think they miss the point. It is a question as to when society will recognize and show as much excitement for Sacred Woman as they do for a random and predictable “white buffalo” born to some random rancher.
Many tribal keepers of bundles and ceremonies around North America know about this Lakota bundle. It is understood that, against all odds, it may have survived, this bundle of sacred things. Yes, a big surprise, is an understatement. In recent years, the world began to hear and read statements from one Arvol Looking Horse, who tells us he is the 19th generation keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe.

The Federal government finally, in the 1970’s, stopped putting American Indians in jail for practicing their original rituals and ceremonies. Now, American Indians, after decades of conditioning and experience, have learned how to perfectly sabotage and destroy their own sacred lives and teachings without any help from the outside world. Every step a real or imagined “chosen one” out in the fake new age world takes must be measured by the field of death and rage through which the American Indian must pass, over and over. Never forget that most American Indians, consciously, or unconsciously , make this journey every day . How many have survived with their ethics, honor, and perceptions intact?

The Ruin and the Rumors || 

There are rumors of course that the so-called White Buffalo Calf Woman story is myth and
that there is, in fact, no such tribal pipe in existence. There are other rumors that its contents were sold many years ago for six thousand US dollars. (note: in today's market, this particular object, if verified and sold legally, would be valued in the millions of dollars) There is an emerging rumor that the bundle Arvol Looking Horse claims to sometimes present before some people (the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle) is not the same bundle, that it is a fake with substituted objects. This recent rumor is gaining ground and some Lakota are asserting that the Looking Horse family has no authority or right to hold or speak for this tribal religious bundle. The Elk Head family states that they, in fact, are the legal and hereditary keepers of that Lakota bundle. They have made accusations. The Elk Head family has issued public statements asking Looking Horse to step down or present some “verifiable proof” that he is who he says he is. Finally we have a statement made by Arvol Looking Horse himself, that, out of worry and fear, Arvol Looking Horse has buried the “original bundle” in the earth somewhere, until he feels safe again. So, in that rumor, the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle, or its pretender, has disappeared. Buried in the earth means gone. It is a dangerous thing to do with such a sacred bundle....so dangerous, that if he really has buried it, I would consider this an argument that it is not in fact the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle. Then again, people do
the strangest things and the Lakota have done some very strange things indeed. All around American Indian communities across the USA there are keepers of sacred bundles and teachings that are semi-isolated, generally unprotected, and surrounded by less than sterling relatives, to say the least. Modern people, academics, experts don’t know this. Probably they don’t care. But it is true, and this is the least of the dangers that may come to the life of a man, or a few men and women, working to hold some sacred bundle and teaching together. It is not a job for sissies or the timid. As a keeper of a sacred bundle I have relied more upon my own self- reliance and tenacity to keep me safe than I ever have on any other person.

Many keepers of sacred bundles believe our internal relationship with those sacred things will protect us, and I believe they do to some extent. The forces of discontent, rage, and suspicion are formidable and dangerous as well. Most tribal authorities believe that until Stanley and Arvol Looking Horse became involved in the Lakota story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle that it had resided in great safety and dignity in a known and protected place. Now it seems to have disappeared inside the fears of a young Lakota man. To be sure, Arvol Looking Horse’s responses to requests for more information have been vague, inconclusive, and perhaps evasive. He has not answered questions with clarity, to the extent that he has said
anything for the public record.

If you really know much about tribal bundles, and really few people do, you would know that it might contain numerous objects. In the case of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe we know that there is one particular pipe accompanied by other objects. Over the years various tribal elders have described some of the contents of this sacred bundle, so some of us American Indians have a pretty good idea as to what it contains. Curiously, Arvol Looking Horse did post, in his defense, an old photo by ES Curtis showing a man holding a particular Lakota pipe. He points to this pipe as one of the pipes in the bundle of the White Buffalo Calf
Woman Sacred Pipe. It does not resemble any of the pipes or other objects that have been described by other tribal elders in the past. Also, the photo was taken in the early 1900s and proves nothing now. There is a little known drawing made of the contents of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle, including the celebrated pipe stem and stone bowl. This was made in 1941. The objects described so far by those around the Looking Horse camp do not resemble these drawings. The truth is anyone who can stuff a cookie in their face can get their hands on a “sacred American Indian peace pipe”. Anybody. There are a lot of pipes around. The tribal elders, the old Indians, know the real ones from the pretenders, even if you don’t. The others don’t matter at all. Pretend and act out all you want, nothing will come of it. This is true for Arvol Looking Horse or anyone else. Looking Horse often makes well-publicized presentations, or speeches where he offers prayers for world peace and things like that. However, there is no evidence that this Sacred Pipe is offered to or smoked in ceremony by Lakota tribal elders or any other American Indian elders. This seems just strange to me. Why not? The communities (reservations) of the Sioux Nation are among the most violent, impoverished and troubled places in North America. Yet you never hear that Looking Horse has gone into prayer with this sacred bundle with the leaders and citizens of their own tribe.

Other keepers of sacred ceremony would know about this if it happened.
It is also true that many reservation communities share a jealousy disease. Nearly every reservation community I know of is afflicted with this problem. It is easy, in some places, to find people who will talk bad about other people. The Pine Ridge territory, for example, has a lot of people willing to talk trash about other people. Under such circumstances all claims to represent "something", as well as all complaints "against it", should be viewed with some suspicion.

Can any of our established religious and spiritual (so-called) leaders be trusted?
Anywhere? Look at the situation the current pope (Ratzinger) is embroiled in? Look at the situation of the Dalai Lama of Tibet? Where is there a central spiritual resource or tradition that is not being questioned, not being indicted? I have seen beautiful totally “certifiable” American Indians lie, make things up, pretend and deceive everybody around them and be proud of it. Many times. Thousands of times. Today we have a lingering, building suspicion that the most well known of the so-called sacred pipes, the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe, may not be where we think it is, or even if it has truly survived. The case against Looking Horse is interesting....but fragmented and not presented very clearly. Add to this
another “rumor” that the contents of that bundle may have been secretly sold in the 1950s, that the original bundle no longer exists....a case that is compelling but not convincing....what do we have? This is the short version, present-day history of that particular sacred bundle.

Today || Red Nation Pipes are Everywhere

Use of ceremonial Sacred Pipes is only formally organized as an element of historical culture in a few northern regions and the lower Mississippi River valley. Pipe is however a portable object and it has great appeal to tribal people and other kinds of people everywhere. Many tribes have some kind of smoking practice, such as the tube pipes of the Tewa Kiva. Right now people, who are seriously sustaining sacred rites as tribal Native Americans, and a huge number of other people from around the world, collectively claim to hold some kind of object they believe is a Sacred Pipe. Thus, for the last 50 years or so these pipes are now in great abundance. They have found themselves inside the lives of tribal and non-tribal people everywhere. One would believe most of these people probably think doing this is ok. As free people the sacred pipe police will not arrest them if they buy a pipe from the Internet or steal one from an old Indian family. Meanwhile, really old ceremonial pipes are auctioned in private collections for tens of thousands of dollars....each one the stolen property of American Indian families. I call this situation "sacred pipe in the mud". In this great abundance of personal freedom, salable tribal artifacts, proud tribal egos, and scarcity of effective spiritual resources; who can change this situation? The whole subject is shrouded in layer after layer of confusion, accusation, acting out, and cursed by intellectual analysis. The odds that one modern person can completely get away with this bad behavior have become the social status quo. They are doing it all over the world right now. This may demonstrate the possibility that the possession of something of the tribal sacred, because you have money or friends is not always effective. There are as well a lot of macho tribal members who believe if some other guy has a pipe, he is going to have one. This is a false sense of entitlement that leads to diminished returns as well.

When I visited a modern mental institution, sometimes called the village of Sedona, Arizona, I encountered a crowded village full of pipe holders and "chosen ones" from every race, income level, and variable grasps on reality. Sorting out the foundation of what the tribal sacred elders (aneeg) have described as their intent regarding the use of these sacred objects and the gigantic posturing of a modern world filled with its own desire to have what it wants, is the work of generations I suspect. It may even be to late. I always felt the whole village of Sedona should be arrested. It is the proud testament to the destruction of a once sacred place by a self-contrived and self-appointed spiritual elite.

In the Mide-Wian (a sacred society) of the Ahnishinabeg Aneeg, we hold that every Sacred Pipe in every place in the world is the moral and ceremonial property of the River Otter Clan and its clan relations, and the tribal elders that direct them. In traditional tribal cultures, such objects were not casual possessions by any means. Possession of such an object, in most cases, at this moment, is simply an act of gravity....a function of the movement of valuable material objects around in a materialistic society.

The ego-gratifying thrill of possession. The tribal contracts with the mystery life have their own order and method for acquiring and moving these sacred things. Think on this. Possession of a sacred object does not come with any entitlement. That can only come from the living breath of those who set that sacred in motion. It cannot be imitated or improvised. It cannot be usurped by self- initiated entitlement.

Naturally , amid such confusion, the around so many itself completely become a great an important tribal leadership. original instructions regarding Sacred Pipe are missing or lost. But, all of this confusion and rights of possession have done great harm. The essential questions have become splattered with mud and language and the toxic argument of personal rights into a field of confusion and a maze of incorrect information.

There is No (Peace) Pipe ||

Words such as "squaw" or "buck" or "savage"; terms like "peace pipe", are descriptive, empty words coined and used by a society dismissive and indifferent to the ideas of tribal societies. This kind of language has always been incorrect. It describes more an attitude than a description of what something actually is.It is possible for eternal enemies to meet and share one moment with Sacred Pipe, not that most enemies have so much clarity and character to think of such a thing.

I had a dream once where Buddha and Jesus were riding a big (brown) buffalo. Jesus was in front with Buddha holding on. It was very lucid and made sense to me. I have had dreams where Sacred Pipe was shared with Seth and Thoth- Amon in a chamber made of gold. I met with Dalai Lama of Tibet in 1983 and later dreamed he was studying one Sacred Pipe deep in a forest with 8 Chinese Foo dogs keeping him company.

In Ahnishinabe culture, this dream life of sacred objects is called a second dimension or level of attention, of life. From within this space the ancient original instructions were brought forth from within the ceremonial inquiries of tribal cultures. Sacred Pipe is an invocation and an evocation from within an integrated dream life, for example and among other things. Those chosen or trained by councils, clans and societies (tribal elders and councils) are persons who have integrated this process. Such persons are rare, being only several in any particular generation. The tribal elders, the real Keepers of Sacred Bundles, know this process and these facts well. It is from within this space and context that they work. It is only from
this space that real sacred objects can even exist. Everything else is just ego and desire. Other than personal family pipes, the great Sacred Pipes are not just "pipes". A real Sacred Pipe is a "bundle", a gathering of objects and their associated songs, dances, prayers, silences, accompanying items (which can be numerous ) and other mysterious and variable things. A pipe is not just a pipe. When you see someone show up with a pipe, you should keep an eye out for the pack mule that brings all the other things that live with that pipe. Sacred Pipe has status as "person" and is not considered by tribal societies that embrace Sacred Pipes to be an "object".

If you pretend and lie and play make believe with the sacred nothing will
happen. This is the protection. I know we cannot stop people from doing whatever they want to do. People want to play pretend with the sacred. Let them. Let us try and find repositories for a fair portion of the truth. That is a well that is deep and you may draw the sacred from this deeper well, even if you are not Lakota, even if you are not any kind of Indian at all. That is the power you have. There are no sacred truths that contain anger, rage, accusation or lies. What is sacred is sacred precisely because of this. The truth always feels right, feels good, a feeling you can trust, even when the answer is one you do not like.

The Chosen One || Shadow Dancers

Being a portable object that can be purchased, stolen or even easily made, the American Indian Pipe is now in many dark places. There are many people who crave attention. Many people have a strong desire to be a "chosen one", someone who is special. A lot of people pick up these tribal sacred objects because they are easy to pick up and use in this childish manner. This hunger to be a chosen one is what we Ahnishinabe call a "falling sickness". It is not natural behavior and almost certainly is not good behavior.

Grandfather uses Sacred Pipe and Sacred Work to teach us how to see as truly and
clearly as possible the truth about yourself.....about yourself....not about the world, about yourself. The person who knows their own inner truth very well will not support or sustain the lies that come from taking action without enough information, with to much confusion inside your own soul. The work of the sacred is clarity. This is ironic at a gigantic scale. When people who are confused about who they are, attempt sacred ritual that has the purpose of revealing clearly what is real, then surprising things happen. Usually nothing. When the self-appointed chosen ones do these ceremonies nothing much happens. When the sacred people make the sacred work, something always happens, every time...clearly and with no
doubts. This is the difference. As I have said, the sacred is copy-protected. You can steal and run the program but nothing sacred will come out of it.

Sacred Pipe Goes to Federal Prison ||

I have participated with various tribal relations across the United States in helping American Indians who are in jails and prisons have some access to tribal religious activity and privileges. This has been some years ago now, in the 1970s and early 1980s.
When many years ago some American Indians began hoping for access to some
sort of religious time and services while in prison, most prisons had no idea how to accommodate them. Most refused. American Indian private citizens and volunteers contacted attorneys and other support officials. A resulting declaration of US Public Law stated that no federal agency or entity that receives funding from federal agencies could discriminate against or refuse to allow American Indians to observe their religious activities. This law, coming in the early 1990s, after centuries of murder and suppression over this very issue, was a quiet revolution in the official declarations between tribes and the US Government. This law was used to get sacred rites to American Indian inmates. It was very important.
All over the country handfuls of American Indian unpaid volunteers started bringing some religious rites of tribal people into the prison system. The first part of being able to make this work was in the effort to define to prison officials what was needed. Remember that tribal members have very diverse religious and spiritual requirements. Not all tribal members understand or use Sacred Pipe or other things like this. However, over time, most US Prison systems have accepted the following as fair attributes of tribal religious practice inside a prison: ceremonial sweat lodges, pipes, drums, tobacco ties, and eagle feathers.
I have brought six Sacred Pipes into six different prison systems. I have also donated drums and other objects that are needed where I can. Others have done this also, but not in any great numbers. Many if not most tribes have no "official" officers to reach out to those enrolled members who may be in a prison or hospital. Tribes don't have a red cross or a chaplain program for traveling religious leaders. This is something tribes could think more about providing. If I was a tribal community leader I would want to know that my enrolled members, my precious relations, were being taken care of if they were in prison or some other institution a long way from home. I hope in the future more tribal governments will take up this responsibility. So far most have not.

Volunteers who pay their own way and find their own support do most of this sacred, dangerous and powerful work. Think about that. Due to their un-praised and unrecognized efforts, there are numerous prison systems where something very powerful and interesting is happening with Tribal Sacred. Some of the most important work of Sacred Pipe in its long history may be taking place inside prison walls. I have experienced, and heard from the accounts of others; many strong and powerful events have evolved from this work that started in the early 1990s. We have also experienced some frightening behavior from prison officials when we try to arrive at their institutions to make this work. In one prison I visited in Washington State, the Warden expressed some irritation at having to make "special arrangements" to accommodate a sweat lodge for American Indians. I told the warden at that time that we would sweat everybody in his prison, including his staff if he wanted us to. He backed down from that. However, it does raise questions. In a federal system receiving federal money, they cannot discriminate in religious services. As a result, any inmate in a federal prison that has some form of American Indian spiritual practice must allow anyone who asks to participate and attend.

A Passion for Jabberwocky || ...an unrelenting tide of uninformed opinions

Much of the enormous amount of published information on American Indians is incorrect. Curiously, the more incorrect the information appears to be, the more passionately it is promoted and advocated. American Indians remain extremely curious about this circumstance. What is it about American Indian culture that has created so many confused and fanciful documents, promoted so much fabricated acting out?
People like to say things such as "red is the color of the east" in American Indian culture, for example. The truth is, the "colors of the creation" vary from tribe to tribe, individual to individual. People who assign these things to “the Indians believe” are missing the point entirely. Most tribes do have cultural teaching promoting colors. However, the ceremonies and ideas that sustain these behaviors encourage individual choice. Each individual has a unique place in the great circle of life, each person views this life from their place. Honest tribal people do not copy each other. Each tribal person who embraces their tribal ceremonial sacred is encouraged to awaken their own personal vision and perceptions from within. The tribal teachers believe this awakening of the individual is more important than the bizarre conformity that uninformed writers continue to attribute to tribal culture. That is the point. Perhaps modern society is itself so conformist that they imagine tribal people must be the same. They are not. Many people seize upon a single so-called "sacred fact" and use it like a club to beat down on the world their tiny view of a vast universe of possibilities. They seem somehow over-excited to have "discovered" some secret tribal teaching that they magnify it beyond all reason. This is profoundly true in the academic literature and pathologically true among Internet writers on tribal subjects. While the Internet is offering much greater opportunities to hear the news of the world, it also remains a shameless source of abuse of truth. The student must understand that the way forward is filled with danger. One of the greatest dangers of analyzing sacred information is that of becoming "moon struck". This is a condition that is delusional, when a person mistakes the reflected wisdom (light) from other teachers as his or her own. This is a condition that entraps many modern people when they consider the subject of tribal sacred teachings.

Sacred Pipe Circles the World || The world journey of a sacred bundle

From the beginning of the first encounters tribal people had with
modern people; ceremonial pipes have been a dramatic presence. There are so many shades of pipe behavior, ritual smoking. Though it has happened slowly, more and more actual American Indian people are moving out into the world with pipes. This trend is likely to continue well into the end of time. Some of these pipes moving out into the world are confused, in the hands of people who are more assertive of what they perceive as their self-assumed right to have a pipe. The old Indians were interesting to watch in how they behaved with objects like sacred pipes. Many times they would not in any way show or talk directly about sacred pipe. You could sometimes see it near them, or inside its house, but it was never opened or touched. A keeper of a pipe in time becomes the pipe he is keeping. If his character is sterling, the work he makes with this ancient object is likely sterling as well. The number of people and places where this might happen are really very few.

Most people will live their whole lives and not know these stories and these problems with the movement of sacred pipes in and out of tribal society. Perhaps most people do not need to know these things. Absent any prior knowledge or experience with sacred pipe rituals, the innocent may receive something from the experience that really helps them.
A battery needs to be fully charged to operate perfectly. A good map includes
what is known about what is hidden along the path. A good eagle needs two wings to fly. Sacred Pipe and the original instructions need to be combined with a polished and prepared keeper. How often does this happen? When we are dealing with a portable object, and one that is so easily available it is almost impossible to know where these pipes have come from and who these people are. We are left only with the evidence provided by our senses when we are present at such opportunities as the arrival of a ceremonial pipe.

It is common for people to have charms, talismans, good luck and feel good objects in their possession. This behavior appears to be as old as humanity itself.
There is a difference between personal possession of a ceremonial object and the passing to another of a multi- generational bundle containing songs, dances, teachings, rituals and sacred history. Our hope is that step-by-step the tribal teachers will send out the voices of those ancient keepers of the sacred truth. Much of the confusion that seems to exist today has been the result of silence from the people at the center of the sacred pipe. As I listened to and worked with my teachers, it became apparent that sharing clear and accurate information was in fact a great need. Writing some of these words is not easy. The problems and anger, and posturing around sacred objects and their teachings has created an atmosphere that is more argumentative and defensive than it is forward moving. Perhaps this is what the old Indians mean by the correction way. Sometimes, before you can move forward you need to make corrections.

There is some danger in exciting the defensive, argumentative and paranoid minds of other people. There is some responsibility to speak clearly, yet say nothing at this time about some things. The old Indians are very sensitive to the concept of what can be shared now and what must not be talked about at this time. I have tried, struggled to say what is possible, now. I have struggled as well to understand what I cannot say at this time, and not say it. This document is a work in real time, reflecting the real life of the one who is telling this story. This is not an academic document. It is a legal document from an ancient order of sacred teachings.

Personal Power ||

Real personal power has nothing to do with controlling events or other people. Real power comes from understanding and knowing yourself. Inside your own being are great powers that remain unopened, unused, unsuspected. The ceremonial life teaches us how to gather up the great energy of nature, of the four elements and the vitality in the creation and put it to work in our lives and carry us to new levels of awareness. Such a life has no interest in manipulating, controlling or exploiting others. This is the real rule or law of true personal power. It functions only from within a matrix of self-knowledge and responsibility.
World Journey Of Four Directions Unity Bundle: This ceremony is in many ways an experiment. We are trying to understand if we can use the life force energy of Sacred Pipe, the energy of those teachers who supported and gifted this work, the compassionately self- aware life energy of those who share the ceremonies, and the opportunity of the moment when we are together, and change everything...produce an enormous and productive field of positive energy...and change everything.

I can go half the way there by doing my part. Those people who are there at that time must do their part. Without these two parts being clean and directed, nothing useful can happen.

Sacred Pipe and the Internet ||

I maintain a Google alert to track stories appearing throughout the interwebs that mention sacred pipe. It is often a very puzzling, and sometimes, scary experience. The sheer volume of bizarre, well-intentioned trash that is posted on this subject must overwhelm, at this point, most efforts at a reasonable understanding of what is true about this ancient teaching and practice. Many people post stories about what they think they know about the Lakota pipes, or chanupa as they like to call them now. They talk about the White Buffalo Pipe as being the only American Indian pipe. They tell us it is thousands of years old. They tell us they can make you a sacred pipe for forty bucks. They tell you everything except what is real, what is contained in the original instructions. People seem to just be making up American Indian history as they write in their blogs and online forums. I have been following this Google alert for some years now. 99.9% of the thousands of references to sacred pipe are incorrect, or describe behavior that is not correct. That is, of course, my opinion but I stand behind it.

What is "Smoked" Inside Sacred Pipes?

There are many wild ideas circulating about what is smoked in ceremonial pipes. The real story is that there is no “one” plant that is smoked in ceremonial plants. What is used de pends on an almost infinite number of possibilities.

Ceremonial gold leaf tobacco was clearly the first and remains the central material used in ceremonial pipes. The difference between the tobacco used in ceremonies in ancient times is not at all the same tobacco that is sold around the world today. The difference is like that between natural life and artificial life. Between something made on the land by hand and something made by corporations to make money.

The methods of acquiring and preparing ceremonial tobacco are diverse and in general not authorized as public information. There are historically many clans, societies and other mystery organizations that have some instructions or traditions on what is smoked in a ceremonial pipe. Most of these have remained secret, if not lost entirely. They are secret only because mystery life teachings are private and deeply personal to the people involved in them.

Original tobacco has long ceremonies and teachings about how to care for it for the best ceremonial result. This form of tobacco was grown in small plots and prepared, grown, harvested, distributed and smoked according to the order and method of ceremonial teachings. The destiny of this tobacco was to become food for God, a direct connection to themanito, the wakan of all life.

Kinickinick is the one thing never
smoked in pipes until the rise of the plains pow-wow culture in the 1950s. Now it is talked about as “what the Indians smoke”, which is really absolute nonsense.

Blends of ceremonial plants were another category . The personal vision quest or revelations of individual keepers or carriers of ceremonial pipes may have had revelations about certain plants to smoke in ceremonial plants. In one exercise, for example, there is a ceremony where plants are gathered based on the timing of a ceremonial drum as people move through the forest. The refinements and sublime art of smoking mixtures in ceremonial pipes is beyond the imagination of modern people, and well beyond the grasp of the so-called publishers of misleading information on American Indian ceremonies.

It is better to be cautious and avoid making assumptions...avoid saying that one thing or the other is what “the Indians” use, this is always incorrect. The differences between tribes are like the differences between Swedish people and Italians...in other words, the differences are abundant.

In the modern age the original instructions have been over-written by babel and free will, free speech, do and say what you want. There is a great difference between what was and what is. Having said that, one should imagine that here and there are some ceremonial people who remember those original instructions and so preserve them.

Official Government Position on Sacred Pipes

The official nature of sacred pipe: there is not one.

There is no sacred pipe of any tribe, anywhere. All sacred pipes are in the hands of private groups or private people. This includes the so-called Lakota tribal bundle known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe, which is controlled by a private family, for example.

There is no official sacred pipe of the great Sioux Nation, or any other tribal nation. I am Ojibwe, and a keeper of what is almost certainly the first inter- tribal sacred pipe bundle in history. This is not an official Ojibwe bundle, for all this, it is the private work of the group of teachers and elders with whom I have lived my life. Even in clans, societies and organized groups of tribal people, there are no official “pipes”, only designated keepers who serve in support of their groups, but as private people. It is important, perhaps, for the modern world to understand this distinction. Tribal sacred pipes do not exist within a framework of authority, such as the religious office of Pope, or political offices such as President. They exist only within a consensus, and this consensus may, and often does, shift around over time and people and circumstances. It rises up and sometimes it falls down.

Pipe keepers or carriers are designated by a variety of circumstances and requirements. It is a very subjective process. These persons and circumstances change over time. The present circumstances of sacred pipes reflect a great deal of confusion, projected and imagined stories, amidst a rather weakened state. The complete absence of official tribal government endorsement or control of any sacred pipes has created this situation, in part. There are very few tribal communities that will claim or represent that any particular sacred pipe is endorsed by them in any way. Ceremonial pipes have never been included in tribal governments. By contrast, the Pueblo tribes, such as Hopi or Taos, have the ceremonies endorsed, protected and administered from within tribal government....but these tribes do not use sacred pipes. Their sacred objects are different.

In modern times it has become more common for people to have pipes
because they can have them. Peer acceptance demands that if ine man has a pipe the guy next to him will want one as well. This attitude is now very prevalent especially among the Plains tribes, where almost every man you meet is a “chief” and pipe carrier. One should realize the absolute corruption and nonsense that such an attitude has introduced into the long history of sacred pipes. In re-writing history arguments are made that every person, men in particular, have the right to have a pipe in their possession. This is true in a very limited sense. Personal or family pipes were traditionally small pipes and mostly without wooden stems attached to them. This new word “chanupa” that is being used by the
uninformed to talk about pipes, is really an old Lakota word that describes a stone bowl to which a wooden stem has been attached...so it describes a particular form of pipe. The act of attaching a long wooden stem to a stone bowl changes its character and brings it under the will and intent of ceremonial elders and the rules of sacred property.

In terms of United States Law, there are rules (public laws) that protect, now, the rights of American Indians to hold and practice their religious and ceremonial rites. They make no distinctions between private individuals, or communities. The singular source for stones for ceremonial pipes is national park, controlled by the US Parks system, not by tribal people. Pipestone Minnesota is protected in some way, because of this, yet the situation is also problematic. The government runs the Pipestone Monument as a tourist attraction for Americans, not as a religious or cultural resource for American Indians. The objects produced at this park are sold to everybody and could be made by anybody.
One should note that whatever power, sacred energy and mystery remains in the sacred pipe as of twenty eleven has been carried and preserved by an absolute handful of private people working from within their own private lives to make a difference. They do this
is the midst of a great roar, a noisy confusion of pretenders, actors, usurpers and outright liars.
****
So, anyway, now you can't say no one ever told you this.

©2010. Turtle Heart occasional updates

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Equinox of Spring 2017