Pot and Pretendians: ONAC Rebuttal

Oklevueha Native American Church

We with Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) are directed by Native Medicine people, Creator and free people.

We do permit adults regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, religious or political affiliation, marital status and socioeconomic status to participate in our ceremonies, in hopes that all people will receive the invitation into the sacred hoop. This originally came about because of first leaders of the Native American Church and prominent roadmen like Quanah Parker (Comanche) and most recently because of direction by Chief Leslie Fool Bull (Lakota Sioux) to take this medicine to the White Man. Chief Richard Swallow (Lakota Sioux) reiterated that blessing and purpose years later. We honor and intend to protect the Native ways and ceremonies. We count many indigenous peoples in our membership and invite all (Native and non-Native) to participate with us in circle. History shows that we work hard to prevent mockery, conquest or genocide and have worked all our history to defend the native ways and protect and restore the culture and healing that is offered to the world. We strive to teach young and old to take 100 percent responsibility, which is empowering versus the position of being a victim, which creates a generational down spiral.

Here is the actual complaint and request for injunction mentioned in the Indian Country Today column.

Historically, Native Americans did not call their spirituality a religion. The concept of a Native American Church and protecting the use of Peyote in a religious context is a fairly recent development. However, it is a development that has the blessing of the US Government and by extension and intention, protects the ceremonies, culture and various medicines of the tribes regardless of their history. Originally when founded, ONAC worked only with Peyote. As natives and others came forward expressing how the medicines, ceremonies and sacraments of other groups in North and South America had blessed and healed them, we counseled together and realized that the traditions, new, old and current, of other tribes deserved to be protected as well. There has been a conscious effort by some in the US Government and in big business to wipe out Native spirituality and their medicines and ceremonies. Had it not been for Flaming Eagle’s grandfather’s argument for Native rights to seek Creator in 1918 before Congress, our ceremonies would have been eliminated. These entities still want more land, more wealth and more power – usually at the expense of native peoples that have already been decimated by wrong thinking.

Various types of natural medicine can bless most anyone. Medicine does not always need to be a pharmaceutical. And medicine does not always have to be ingested. Medicine can be a loved one’s laughter, a song, a good book or a smile from a stranger. Every tribe and indigenous people have been given spiritual and physical things such as natural plants, by the Great Spirit to assist them in healing, seeing and understanding - and to walk in a good way. Where is the love to exclude any group of people from ceremony or from something naturally given to us by Creator for our benefit? The Constitutional and God-given right of religion is a shared freedom. We believe these ideals are vital to support and defend.

We require the person who conducts ceremonies and administers the sacraments to strictly abide by ONAC Code of Ethics.

The article questions the legitimacy of James (Flaming Eagle) Mooney. Co-founders of ONAC, James Mooney and his wife Linda were arrested and cleared. The case went to the Utah Supreme Court where the judges unanimously decided it was proven beyond doubt and by DNA evidence that James and Linda are both Native American. This is in spite of the best efforts by the State of Utah legal authorities to disprove their lineage in the effort to lock them up for life. This is mentioned on a number of websites and in the official court records. The state’s zeal to discredit the Mooney’s is also an attempt to eliminate the healing reality of our ceremonies and Creator’s gifts.

The Mooneys have stolen nothing. Rather they have given all they have to give to simply share what is already free. They honor and give respect to the people and the ceremonies that are all our heritage. Oklevueha NAC shares with all people, in fact ONAC members and spiritual leaders from the many tribes participate with us and conduct ceremonies to include: Lakota Sioux, Paiute, Apache, Cheyenne, Navajo, Cherokee, Shoshone, Southern Ute and others.

ONAC leaders have served and are blessed in the following ways: sanctioned to conduct ceremonies on Naval ships of the US Navy; developed the most successful Prison Native American Program in the United States (which brought recidivism for participants down from 90% to less than 30%); and honored by a Mexican consulate proclamation endorsing our cultural/spiritual exchange with the Huichole culture of Mexico.

James Mooney is not only a blessed Sacred Prayer Pipe Holder through his Tribal Chief Little Dove and Her Tribal Council, but is a direct descendant of James Mooney, the Ethnologist of the Smithsonian Institute who was the author of the first Native American Church by-laws in 1918. These facts are easy to verify.

ONAC leadership agrees that James Arthur Ray, who was responsible for the deaths of three people on Oct. 8, 2009 along with countless others he harmed, is a shyster and conman and could have cared less about indigenous peoples, our beliefs nor for the sacredness of humanity in general. He required $20,000 for ceremonies. ONAC does not charge for ceremonies. We do accept gifts, as do all medicine people and leaders of churches of all faiths.

It is a common practice among Indigenous people not to charge for spiritual ceremonies nor sacred things. Our ceremonies and sacraments are not for sale from the Church. It is the Native Way.

In the Catholic Church this is called “simony.” Simony describes the act of selling church offices and roles. The name comes from Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-24 who tried to buy spiritual powers to impart the power of the Holy Spirit. Two disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, refused the payment.

Additionally, Paul wrote these words to his young protégé, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 5:17-19: “The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. The Complete Jewish scripture goes on to say, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain and, the worker is worthy of his wages.’” The Jewish scripture goes on to warn, “Never listen to any accusation against a leader unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.”

We agree that we must remain vigilant against those who seek to desecrate our ceremonies, dehumanize us and homogenize and erase our cultures. If we only allow the healing to be for the indigenous, what does that make us? We in Oklevueha NAC take a stand to protect the rights of the Ruth Hopkins’s of the world and every person who can be blessed by these ways and understandings. We speak for those who cannot stand for themselves. We give voice for those who are suffering and need help - red, yellow, black and white; and respect their right to choose whether they enter the circle or not. Let us celebrate not condemn. We invite everyone to join us in sacred circle as we each walk our own paths in a good way.

We believe individuals who are healthy and at peace will contribute to the peace of their families, their nation and the world. Individuals who are incomplete, fearful, and hopeless do harm to themselves, others and all of society. We believe Indigenous ceremonies, sacraments and medicines can assist all individuals in healing the effects of abuse, damage, fear and ailments. These approaches do not carry the side-effects of chemicals and can effectively heal the world.

We thank Indian Country for giving a voice to all people and for giving ONAC an opportunity to present truth. We are all related.

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dinagw's picture
You're quoting the bible to justify what your organization does, really? And in your history you invoke the book of Mormon as though that has anything at all to do with indigenous spirituality. ONAC is only the most recent group in Sonoma County to appropriate native spirituality and try to justify it. As someone who lived there for a long time I am well acquainted with this "tradition." From an indigenous perspective, there is so much wrong in what you do that is hard to know where to begin. But I will say this: you are wrong that at the core of native spiritual ways is respect for the earth. Yes, it's true that native spirituality is about respecting the earth. But at it's core it had a much different function, which is to maintain the existence of the community, based on a specific language, a culturally-specific worldview, and the relationship to a specific place with a very distinct history. This is all lost when you dilute these ceremonies to the lowest common denominator and claim that these ways are meant for everyone, just like Christianity does. They are not, and they never were. That is projecting a white man's view onto a native reality and saying that it is generated from a native perspective. And that is the ultimate fakery.
James Mooney's picture
dinagw, Speaking as an American Native Person myself, I find your commits 'extremely' prejudicial against Christianity. As stated in Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) by-laws your exhibition of prejudice is not tolerated or condoned in our churches. As an American Native person with an American Native wife and children being kicked out of the City of Gunnison Utah, and being fired from a state of Utah Correctional Facility for practicing my American Native Ceremonies, your type of exhibition of prejudice is vary familiar to me, as it is to all of my Federally Recognized American Native Brothers and Sisters. Forgiveness is one of the major principles that ONAC encourages it's member's to master. Forgiveness is what Native American Church of Rosebud Reservation President Leslie Fool Bull alluded to when he commanded me to take our Medicine's to the white-man, direct decedents of the people that slaughtered his ancestors babies, children, women and their elderly at the December 30, 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. I am honored to have a multitude American Native Elders teaching me, by example the benefits of Forgiveness. Aho!
James Mooney