Q2, Chapters 4 & 5
According to Chapter four, how has Native American Religion become a commodity? What does Sutler-Cohen mean when she says “You can own Grandmas songs”? Is there a cost to both native and non-native communities as a result of the practice of corporate Shamanism? Please be specific and cite examples from the reading.
Native American religion has become a commodity due to the fact that Neo-Shamans are more focused on giving a presentation and making a profit rather than the spiritual aspects of Native American religion. According to Cohen, “It is my belief that Westernized religion in general has become a commodity almost ad hoc in North America. It is a potential money making industry, and anyone can take part”. She believes that same attitude is being put forth to the native religions as well.
What Cohen means when he says, “You can own Grandma’s songs”, is that native religions are pretty much up for sale. Neo-shamans are in it for profit and presentation. These shamans are charging people to go into sweat lodges and also for the ceremonies themselves. Many of these shamans have no regard or knowledge of the spiritual aspects of these ceremonies. According to Cohen, “not only are neo-shamans sharing their knowledge with others (that is if one has the money to partake in the “sharing”) but also they are posing as spiritual teachers. For many Indian people this is the ultimate dishonor and disrespect. There are also dome issues regarding white privilege. Cohen mentions on page 54, “White privilege is set up in such a way that justification is not necessary nor is it questioned. For those exercising their white privilege, American Indian spirituality is simply available, and there is henceforth no accountability because of the imbalance of power dynamics. It is given that those in power are entitled to acquire and to own whatever they see as an “ownable” object”.
The effects of neo-shamanism on native and non-native communities is...
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