American Indian Movement

American Indian Movement (AIM) – Under the banner of self-determination, AIM has campaigned since 1968 for the rights of Native Americans, with notable success regarding treaties, sovereignty, and the U.S. Constitution and laws. Following the resolution of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Tradition Elders Circle in 1980, AIM in 1984 declared a resolution against the appropriation of Native spirituality by non-Natives and the selling of such material by Native teachers. Such well-known shamans as Sun Bear, Wallace Black Elk, and Brooke Medicine Eagle (named “Ego” here) were singled out as inauthentic spiritual leaders who prostitute Native spirituality for profit. Neo-shamans continue to advertise workshops, vision quests, retreats, and other “native” ceremonies nonetheless, often at extortionate prices, in which both Natives and non-Natives may participate. Issues of cultural appropriation are complex and culturally specific (e.g., work by Michael Brown): in some shamanic communities (such as the Shuar), payment for shamanic apprenticeship is not uncommon, while in others (e.g., Lakota), fiscal return is not in keeping with tradition. Cultural copyright is a burgeoning issue; for example, the people of Zia Pueblo successfully sued the state of New Mexico for its use of a Pueblo symbol in the state flag.


Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007