Sweat Lodge Saga Continues; South Dakota Indian Tribe Suing James Arthur Ray For "Desecration of a Sacred Lakota Ceremony"

Phoenix New Times/November 25, 2009

The lawsuits are beginning to mount up against "spiritual warrior" James Arthur Ray and the latest suit is coming from someone who wasn't even at the sweat lodge retreat that left three people dead and dozens injured.

A man in Pine Ridge, South Dakota has filed a lawsuit against Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center, the site of the deadly ceremony, for "desecration of a sacred Lakota Ceremony."

Floyd Hand, Jr., who represents the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, claims that Ray and the owners of Angel Valley committed fraud for "impersonating Native Americans."

Ray may be the epitomy of a snake-oil salesman but "impersonating Native Americans?" Does Hand plan on suing the members of the Village People, too?

"Ray is a spiritual vampire who will use whatever means necessary to turn a profit. He and others like him that profit from our culture must be held accountable for their continual fraud and desecration," Hand tells the Rapid City Journal. "This ceremony comes from the Lakota. We maintain our cultural identity today and people like Ray are trying to mock it as a means to acquire material possessions. They cannot hide behind the Religious Freedom At. This is not a religion."

This is the latest of several lawsuits filed against Ray. The other lawsuits, filed by people who were actually at the sweat lodge, claim that Ray barred them from getting out of the sweat tent and intimidated people into staying despite requests to leave.

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