A response to New Age Mystics, Healers, and Ceremonies:
I was reading a section on your website blue corn commics, in the newage part. It was a very distastful section (or at least to the people you were bagging on) about the authentic part of selling books. The only author that I can even relate to is Jamie Samms. I have only read "Dancing the Dream" and was wondering how her book differs from your commics. She overly states in her book that anything she talks about is her experience and is not to taken as a teaching. It's hard for me to believe that she is stealing Native American Spirtuality. She is making profit, but arent you with your commics? Your commics seem more commercialized and profit driven than her book.
I am a white male, 25 years old, and have a distaste for my own born to religion (catholic) and I read Dancing the Dream about 4 years ago. I have more respect for the Native Americans after reading this.
So please help me out. You tell me not to buy a spirtuality book from her, but now your going to tell me to buy your comic to learn about Native American Spirtuality?
I find that kind of odd, and my instincts tell me that your negativity is commercially driven.
Please tell me where I can find a third party to back your accusation up.
Thank you for time,
>> It was a very distastful section (or at least to the people you were bagging on) about the authentic part of selling books. <<
New-Age appropriation of Native religions is a distasteful subject.
>> The only author that I can even relate to is Jamie Samms. I have only read "Dancing the Dream" and was wondering how her book differs from your commics. <<
I don't think I've read any of the New Age authors listed on that page. Nor did I say I had.
In fact, the posting came largely from Terri Jean, an activist on Native issues. I appreciate her views, but I don't know if every author she lists is equally problematical.
>> She overly states in her book that anything she talks about is her experience and is not to taken as a teaching. <<
You don't have to be a teacher to misuse or abuse Native religions. Here's what Terri Jean said again:
Their traditions and beliefs blend with others to form counterfeit concepts -- intertwined with stereotypes found in books or movies -- that is now marketed as an actual "religion."
So just combining Native religions with other beliefs and traditions helps distort them. It doesn't necessarily matter if you're "teaching" Native religions instead of just describing or studying them.
Besides, you can learn something even if Samms isn't trying to teach it. If she describes a Native practice and you emulate it, her words and actions have shown you the way. She's taught you the practice whether she intended to or not.
>> It's hard for me to believe that she is stealing Native American Spirtuality. <<
Stealing, appropriating, exploiting, distorting, obscuring, cheapening, trivializing...it's easy for me to believe. But as I said, I haven't read anything by Samms.
>> She is making profit, but arent you with your commics? <<
Not yet! But they are a commercial venture, if that's what you mean. And it's "comics," not "commics."
>> Your commics seem more commercialized and profit driven than her book. <<
How do you figure? For starters, she must charge way more for her book than I do for my comics. That makes her work more commercial and profit-driven by definition.
Also, I've built a website with 1,400 pages to support my comics. That's a nonprofit website, mind you. I've probably put 50 or 100 times as much effort into the free information as I've put into the for-profit comics.
Overall, I'm sure a much greater percentage of my work is non-commercial and not profit-driven. Therefore, my motives are purer than Samms'.
>> You tell me not to buy a spirtuality book from her, but now your going to tell me to buy your comic to learn about Native American Spirtuality? <<
No, I'm not going to tell you to buy the comics to learn about Native spirituality. You should buy them because they recount a good adventure story with bits and pieces of reasonably authentic Native culture (not spirituality).
The comics pointedly stay away from most genuine aspects of Native religions, beliefs, and practices. They barely scratch the surface of Native spirituality. I wrote them that way precisely so I wouldn't offend any Native person's sensibilities. That is, so I would not come across as a typical New Age exploiter.
>> I find that kind of odd, and my instincts tell me that your negativity is commercially driven. <<
Don't you mean Terri Jean's negativity? After all, my page mainly quoted her. Do you think she works for me and has a secret agenda to promote Indian comic books? If so, she hasn't told me about it.
In fact, her essays are distributed everywhere via e-mail and the Web. They have nothing to do with me or my comics. If someone read her essay on my site and said, "Wow, great stuff. I don't think I should buy books like Jamie Samms'. I think I'll buy Rob Schmidt's comics instead"...well, that would be a pretty unlikely train of thought. Judging by the e-mail I get and the comics I (don't) sell, nobody has made that connection.
Besides, critics of New Age believers are all over the Web. Do you think they all have hidden agendas? Are they all working for me to sell my comics? Or are they trying to sell their own products? Don't you think at least some of them are sincere?
I do. And I'm as sincere as they are. Like the vast majority of them, whether or not I sell my comics is irrelevant. My arguments are "negative" because that's what the subject requires, not because I have some dark motive.
Check out the dates on some of my Author's Forum postings. You'll see they go as far back as 1994. Meanwhile, I published PEACE PARTY #1-2 in 1999. That's proof enough that there's no necessary connection between my nonprofit opinions and my for-profit comics.
Correspondent wants evidence
>> Please tell me where I can find a third party to back your accusation up. <<
Which accusation? That Jamie Samms is trying to "steal" Native spirituality? "Steal" is your word, not mine or Terri Jean's. It's nowhere to be found on my New Age page. Read the page again, because the arguments are more nuanced than you seem to realize.
If you want more information on the subject, see:
Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sun Dances: New Age Commercialization of Native American Spirituality
Here, I'll help you with the part about Samms:
Native American activists have greatly castigated these works for their trivialization and commercialization of Native American spirituality. Nevertheless, the number of plastic shaman authors, not to mention their commercial success, continues to swell. Jamie Samms is a former country-western singer who claims to channel Leah, an entity supposedly living on Venus six hundred years in the future. Samms later seized on Native American spiritual themes. Samms claims that she was taught by the "thirteen clan mothers" who took human form during the Ice Age and then disappeared, leaving the "thirteen crystal skulls," one of which Samms claims to have seen. Samms teaches her readers how to call up the thirteen clan mothers by focusing on them, each of whom has her own shield and her own special abilities.
From what I can tell, Samms' belief system promotes the idea that Indians have some exotic, other-worldly connection to the planet Venus, magic crystals, and Ice-Age clan mothers. Which is far from the truth. So she's bastardizing genuine Native religions with her made-up fantasies. And according to this passage, she is teaching phony Native practices.
Suppose someone who knew nothing about genuine Native religions read Samms' book. Is there anything to tell this person that Samms' book is a complete fictionalization of Native spirituality, unrelated to the real thing? If so, it's not apparent. So many people who read and believe Samms' fabrications will misunderstand Native religions.
And such readers may share Samms' claims with others, thus harming Native religions even further. How can one person harm another's religion just by sharing it? Simple. People who think Native religion is a matter of praying to clan mothers, waving dreamcatchers, or fondling crystals are missing the real story. They aren't going to care, get involved, protest or vote when the genuine article is threatened.
The friends they've deluded won't care either. More important, neither will the politicians who decide the issues or the journalists who report on them. When developers pave over a sacred site or ranchers kill a sacred buffalo, New Agers will be happily daydreaming in their sweat lodges, oblivious to what's really going on.
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