Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans

By Robert J. Wallis | Go to book overview
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7

INVADING ANTHROS, THIEVING ARCHOS, WANNABE INDIANS

Academics, neo-Shamans and indigenous communities

Today, as we approach the millennium a new ethnological term has been coined: neoshamanismHowever, neoshamanism has nothing to do with the shamanism that was born in traditional societies.

(Taksami 1998:26)

And now, after all that, they’ve come for the very last of our possessions; now they want our pride, our history, our spiritual traditions. They want to rewrite and remake these things, to claim them for themselves. The lies and theft just never end.

(Margo Thunderbird 1988; cited by Kehoe 1990)

[T]he Zuni people have said that Estevan came into their Pueblo impersonating a medicine man. He demanded women as well as riches. Since the things Estevan requested were immoral and improper for medicine men to request, the Zunis killed him. Since that time our people have been in constant contact with non-Indian cultures.

(Zuni Pueblo 1 display, Our Land Our Culture Our Story exhibition, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Many (though not all) Native Americans argue that neo-Shamans ‘impersonating’ medicine people today are following in Estevan’s imperialist footsteps. A study of neo-Shamanisms would therefore be incomplete if: first, it neglected to discuss these Native American claims that neo-Shamans are committing ‘spiritual genocide’ when engaging with their ‘religions’ (e.g. Smith 1994); second, without locating these issues in the wider global context of neo-Shamanisms and inidigineity; and third, if as a neo-Shamanic practitioner and archaeologist producing this study I failed to examine issues in which I am implicated. For such analysis is politically sensitive, neo-Shamanic and archaeologist practitioner or not, negotiating complex

-195-

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