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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Back to nature

Cree descendant teaches American Indian ways

By Carol Lynne Levin

January 3, 2004

ESCONDIDO Colette Fields honors the laws of nature as a way of life.

"To be grateful for the wind, trees and water that we drink ... to look at the regeneration around us, and taking time away from oneself ... creates a feeling of comfort and peace," she says.

Fields also is known as Colette Lady Hawk and calls herself a medicine woman.

She teaches classes in shamanism at Body Nurture Wellness Center, a holistic health center on Pennsylvania Avenue.

With a doctorate in psychology from Golden State University and a doctorate in Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Fields can offer a variety of approaches to her students.

She calls shamanism a belief that "contacts the living spirit within all things." It is a practice that uses natural elements, such as herbs, and a belief in spirits.

Fields has had an interest in shamanism since her teenage years. Her interest increased 30 years ago when she visited her family in Canada and learned of her Cree Indian ancestry.

"I always knew that I was different when I was younger," she said.

Since then, Fields said, she has studied shamanism with several American Indian tribes and has been adopted by some.

In the 1960s, she worked as a licensed vocational nurse for the University of California San Diego Medical Center in the trauma and burn units, administering inhalation therapy. She also worked with alternative therapies for children with cystic fibrosis.

In 1991, Fields founded a nonprofit organization called Core of Discovery, through which she teaches American Indian traditions to children. She and other instructors teach the youngsters music, dance, storytelling and games to create cultural awareness.

Fields has presented the program at the Boys & Girls Clubs in City Heights and Solana Beach and hopes to bring it to Boys & Girls Clubs throughout North County.

Duncan Smith, program director of the Boys & Girls Club of Imperial Beach, observed Fields' presentations when he worked at the Solana Beach club. He said he valued Fields "raising awareness of Native American culture and the breaking down of stereotypes."

Smith also was branch director of the Boys & Girls Club of City Heights of San Diego, where Fields shared her program.

"She always connected with the kids," he said.

Fields' classes at Body Nurture Wellness Center attract teens and adults from varied professions including health care and science.

As she teaches, she uses music to help students become more open to opportunities for "regeneration," she said. This may include playing a drum on a student's body so that he or she can "absorb the instrument's vibrations."

"This is a soothing technique to get stress out of the body," Fields said.

She said drums also are used in shamanism to change a pattern in a person's life. While drumming, the person is encouraged to take a visual journey, find his or her "totem animal" and connect with spirit guides.

Her classes in Escondido are held on an ongoing basis. Sometimes the sessions are outside, where the planting and harvesting of herbs are taught in accordance with native traditions.

"Herbs are powerful medicine that need to be treated with respect and knowledge," Fields said.

At the end of each class, Fields and her students sing a song of thanksgiving and prayer.

Classes cost $20 each and are limited to 10 people. For more information, call (760) 294-3206.

Carol Lynne Levin is a freelance writer based in Fallbrook.

Copyright 2004 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

Rob's comment
Fields allegedly wants to break down stereotypes, but her schtick reeks of stereotyping. It's your classic New Age "spirituality": "Lady Hawk"...shamanism...herbs...drumming...animal totems...spirit guides...etc. People like Fields are a dime a dozen on the Internet and elsewhere.

It's unusual to see a pseudo-shaman like her profiled in the mainstream media. You expect more skepticism from a major newspaper that serves San Diego County's many tribes. Can Fields prove she's of Cree descent? Are her beliefs consistent with Cree beliefs? Which tribes have adopted her, exactly? What do Native people think of her teachings? What about the widely held belief that genuine medicine men and women don't eploit their knowledge for monetary gain?

You won't find any answers in this article. For more on the subject, see New Age Mystics, Healers, and Ceremonies.

Related links
Indian wannabes and imitators
Tipis, feather bonnets, and other Native American stereotypes

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