American Indian Religions in 1916

Following the policies of the nineteenth century, during the first part of the twentieth century the United States was firmly convinced that American Indians could assimilate only if they became Christians. To aid in the “civilization” (i.e. Christianization) of the Indians, Congress had formally outlawed Indian religions in the nineteenth century. On the reservations, Indians could be jailed without a trial for practicing or promoting any traditional Indian religious practice. In addition to suppressing traditional ceremonies such as the Sun Dance, one of the concerns at this time focused on suppressing and criminalizing the so-called “Peyote Cult” (the Native American Church). Briefly described below are some of the events dealing with American Indian religions in 1916.


Opposition to the Native American Church has generally been based on: (1) it is an American Indian religion, and (2) the Church’s use of peyote as a sacrament. Peyote, often confused with mescaline, has been labeled addictive.

Representative Harry L. Gandy of South Dakota and Senator W. W. Thompson of Kansas introduced bills in Congress to prohibit traffic in peyote, including its sale to Indians. Support for the bill was provided by the National Indian Association, the Society of American Indians, the National Indian Student Conference, the Lake Mohonk Conference, the Indian Rights Association, and the YMCA. The presentation of anti-peyote materials was coordinated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Omaha Indians journeyed from Oklahoma to Washington to testify against the bills. The bills failed to pass. Anthropologist Omer C. Stewart, in his entry “Peyote and the Law” in the Handbook of American Indian Religious Freedom, writes:

“This was the beginning of a futile forty-seven-year effort to outlaw peyote federally. Twelve different bills were introduced into Congress to prohibit the use of peyote in the United States from the 1916 Gandy bill to the 1963 Fascell bill. No federal bill ever resulted.”

Harry Black Bear, an Oglala Sioux, was arrested in South Dakota for giving peyote buttons to other Indians. In a trial in Deadwood, South Dakota, a jury found him guilty, but the judge ruled that the prohibition under which he had been charged applied to alcoholic beverages and not to peyote. According to the judge:

“I am clearly of the opinion that this prosecution is not within the purview of this statute….[Peyote] is neither an intoxicating liquor nor a drug.”

In Oklahoma, the Indian agent for the Southern Ponca reported that half of the tribe’s 630 members were involved with the Peyote religion.

Sun Dance

In Idaho, the Shoshone and Bannock once again attempted to hold a Sun Dance off the reservation. Indian police from the Fort Hall Reservation tore down the Sun Dance structure, cut up the poles, and confined seven of the ceremonial leaders to jail for ten days.

In Montana, writer Frank Bird Linderman wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells asking that the orders requiring that Indian men cut their hair and prohibiting the Sun Dance be rescinded for the Chippewa and Cree on the Rocky Boy Reservation. Sells replied that there was no order to forcibly cut the men’s hair, but simply a strong suggestion that they do so. With regard to the Sun Dance, Sells strongly supported the ban on this ceremony citing a long-standing policy to discourage harmful Indian practices. The Indians, however, simply conducted the Sun Dance without official permission. In Reimagining Indians: Native Americans Through Ango Eyes, 1880-1940, historian Sherry Smith reports:

“Official permission mattered little to them and apparently nobody on the reservation tried to stop it.”

In Oklahoma, the Indian agent banned the Kiowa Ghost Dance because of its opposition to Christianity and allotment. However, several Ghost Dances were held on scattered allotments. The agent obtained a list of the names of 79 participants so that he could withhold their per capita payments.

Wellbriety 4 American Indians in OKC CANCELLED!

A bad spirit rides through the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and thinks to himself, “Nay, keep moving.” Then he rides on to the Center Point Halfway House in Oklahoma City where David Dobbs is the program director and says to himself, “Nay, keep moving, he’s full.” Last, he rides and sees the people that participate in Wellbriety and thinks, “OK, they’ll do.”  

So, why did not the bad spirit stop at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections or David Dobbs, the program director at Center Point where he just revoked the religious rights of halfway house inmates to participate in the Inipi (sweat lodge), and to go to Wellbriety meetings at a Unitarian Church after over 5 years of them being “allowed” to do so?

Too much competition, RIGHT???!!!

Mr. Dobbs has “decided” that since my relatives aren’t picked up by a man to go to the Inipi (sweat) Ceremony, that since sage smells like marijuana, and since he has some personal vendetta against the sacred tobacco required to smoke the chanupa (pipe) – that they just can’t do that no more!!!

Our small circle provides a bridge from the halfway house to being integrated into life after incarceration, increasing their chances of having a good life through the principals of Wellbriety.

The Wellbriety Medicine Wheel

Wellbriety summarizes the Medicine Wheel with the cycle of healing:

East: Recognize means I finally accept the fact that I am powerless or helpless over my addiction and my life is unmanageable.

South: Acknowledge means I am ready to do the hard personal work to allow what I recognized to actually come in and change me.

West: Forgive means to finally take off the backpack full of harms and hurts that I have been carrying around.

North: Change means that I stop doing all the negative behaviors that were associated with my drinking and drugging.

Please contact David Dobbs and encourage him to “allow” the Wellbriety members to have their religious freedom, and likewise with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on their Twitter page.…

Center Point, Inc. – OKC

Male:  200

Per Diem:  $33.75 (Work Release)

Per Diem:  $39.32 (Treatment)

5245 S. I-35 Service Rd.

OK City, OK  73129

Phone: (405) 605-2488

Fax: (405) 605-2487

David Dobbs, Program Director

Host Facility:  Union City CC

Mitakuye Oyasin  

Suppressing American Indian Religion with Military Force

When cultures are under stress from rapid change, particular change which is forced upon the people from outside agents, there frequently arise cultural and religious movements which attempt to revitalize the culture and resist change. Many of these revitalization movements are short lived, while others go on to become established religions. In some cases, particularly with regard to cultural revitalization movements among American Indian nations, these movements have been suppressed through military actions. One of these happened on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona in 1880.  

During the 1870s the U.S. military waged a war against the Apache bands in Arizona and New Mexico. The army also crossed into Mexico to attack the bands. The purpose of the military action was to pacify the Apache and to force the bands to live on small reservations which would be out of the way of American settlers who wanted Apache land. In some cases, military actions against the Apache seemed genocidal in their attempts to exterminate men, women, and children. The war against the Apache was urged on by the media, by the Arizona legislature, and by many civic groups. The Arizona Citizen, for example, called for the slaying of every Apache man, women, and child.

In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache Reservation was formally established by Presidential executive order in 1871. This reservation was to become the home to the Western Apache bands. As with other Indian reservations, lands were removed from the reservation when they were found to contain precious metals which non-Indians wanted to mine.

In 1880 a White Mountain Apache elder, Nakaidoklini, talked to the Apaches about a new religion in which dead warriors would return to help the people drive the Americans from their territory. He taught his followers a new dance in which the dancers are arranged like the spokes on a wheel facing inward.

Nakaidoklini announced that he would bring back two chiefs from the dead if the people gave him enough horses and blankets. When the dead chiefs failed to materialize, Nakaidoklini announced that they had refused to return because of the Americans and they would return when the Americans were gone.

In response to Nakaidoklini’s small religious movement, The United States sent soldiers with orders to arrest him or to kill him or both for his teachings. The soldiers entered his quarters and told the old man that he must come with them. Nakaidoklini quietly submited to arrest. On the return journey, the troops were followed by many Apache. As the Apache moved closer, their faces painted, the officer in charge ordered them back and the shooting broke out. The Apache scouts who had come with the troops, then began firing on the soldiers. The officer ordered Nakaidoklini killed and a soldier shot Nakaidoklini at point blank range.

Following this incident, three of the four Chiricahua bands left the San Carlos Reservation and began a series of raids which resulted in a prolonged campaign by General George Crook to “pacify” the Apaches.

The rebel bands, with 74 men and 300 women, included the Nednhi led by Chief Juh and Geronimo, the Chokonen led by Naiche (the son of Cochise), Chato, and Chihuahua, and the Bedonkohe led by Bonito. The Apache who remained on the reservation, including 250 Chiricahua, generally oppose the breakout.

Three of the scouts who turned on the troops – Sergeant Dandy Jim, Sergeant Dead Shot, and Corporal Skippy – were court-martialed, found guilty of mutiny, and hanged. Several others were sent to Alcatraz.  

Bear Butte, Blackwater, & Helicopter Rides…

“Mommy, I wanna see some real Indians praying! Can we take a helicopter ride, pleeeeaasse?” Johnny’s mother, pleased, replied “Yes sweetie, why Blackwater, the greatest homegrown American terrorist organization –

Blackwater Down

The frightening — and possibly illegal — presence of heavily armed private forces in New Orleans only demonstrates what everyone already feared: the utter breakdown of the government.

– has helicopter rides going over Bear Butte.”


Decision on Bear Butte issue 7-1-08

They spent a hour of the hearing testifying about military issues, and praising David Shoe, since he was previously involved in Blackwater, had been in Afganstitan and Iraq and apparently has secret service clearance, even today. They actually brought previous military personnel here to testify on behalf of David Shoe’s character, for a liquor license at a bar located at Bear Butte.

They used the war, they used the military service to gain sympathy and support from the Meade County Commissioners, to acquire the license license.

Does anyone see the irony here? Can someone please explain what the military has to do with a bar, at a sacred site and what they are doing here?

“But mommy, mommy, that Blackwater man said he might have to shoot an American citizen, would he shoot an Indian too?” “Don’t worry about that dear, we only commit cultural genocide against Indians and they haven’t been citizens that long,” the mother said. She continued, “I don’t know little Johnny, they ‘have already strong armed some American Indians who were on public land taking pictures,’ and don’t worry your pretty little head about it – you wouldn’t know if they did anyways and few people would care enough to do much about it.”

(Emphasis mine)

Subject: Protection for Mato Paha (Bear Butte)

Despite protests of American Indian People and other supporters, the county has granted alcohol licenses to the bars. Recently, a corporation has purchased majority ownership in the bar closest to Mato Paha and they are going to have helicopter rides over the butte. We are informed this corporation is affiliated with or are former Blackwater high clearance mercenaries and have already strong armed some American Indians who were on public land taking pictures.

“This is fun mommy! They have those funny – looking colored things around them and they’re weird. Should we be seeing this though mommy, isn’t this like if when you go to the priest and confess, having the confessional walls be made out of plexiglass?” She got angry. “Little Johnny. Those R——ns don’t own that land, even if we did promise it to them in some stupid treaty. The Lord gave us this land by his power and his word, and that’s the end of it!”

Little Johnny answered, “But mommy, if that happened to them, then can’t it happen to us one day if we do nothing about it?”

In Land Conservation, ‘Forever’ May Not Last

When people commit to conserving land, the commitment is often meant to last forever. This is true not only of national and state parks, but also of private land.

Private conservation agreements have protected millions of acres across America, but an unanswered question looms. If circumstances change, can “forever” be undone? That question is at the heart of a legal battle in Johnson County, Wyo.

She became enraged and yelled, “Where’s daddy’s belt!!!”