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Back to Middle Ages: Banning Traditional Spirituality

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One doesn’t have to resort to time travel to witness an explicit ban on traditional spirituality by the followers of the Christian faith.

A sweat lodge built by Oujé-Bougoumou’s Redfern Mianscum was literally torn to the ground in accordance with a bylaw issued by the Council of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou from October 2010, The Nationreported.

According to The Nation, the resolution read that the Council of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou “exercisesits collective rights of the members who have expressed their concern with the type of traditional practices being done in the community” and “declares that the sweat lodge along with any form of Native Spirituality Practices such as pow wows, rain dances, et cetera, do not conform with the traditional practices and teachings of our elders.”

The sweat lodge was constructed in Mianscum’s friend Lana Wapachee’s backyard to help Wapachee heal after she split from her partner. Mianscum hoped that traditional healing practices would benefit her, as well as other members of the community:

“The reason I built it was because I have seen a lot of drug and alcohol abuse and people going through different problems,” Mianscum said, according to TheNation. “I have been there in my own community and I have also faced these problems. So I wanted to take part in the healing process and help people in the community. This is what I do as a sweat-lodge carrier—I try to help people change their lives.”

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Not so fast, buddy.

Christians in the community became upset by the presence of a traditional sweat lodge, and organized a petition to dismantle it. Glen Wapachee, Lana Wapachee’s father, said the petition had only 16 signatures on it. However, those 16 seemed to have created enough momentum for the bylaw to pass. “I was a councillor for 15 years in this community, and I didn’t agree with the way they set it up and the way this was done,” said Glen Wapachee, according to another Nation article.

His wife, Margaret Wapachee, noted that during the meeting in which traditional practices and ceremonies were outlawed, those who tried to defend the sweat lodge were prevented from speaking; and that Chief Louise Wapachee, Glen Wapachee’s sister, was very forceful in her pushing for the ban.

The heated religious conflict has split not just the community but the extended family as well.

Margaret, Glen, Lana, and other the pro-lodge relatives feel like their human rights have been violated, and plan on seeking legal council, TheNation reported.

In the meanwhile, an important question arises. What’s next… witch-burning?