Letters to SPIRIT
SPIRIT has received hundreds of letters in support of our campaign to stop cultural misappropriation in the ManKind Project. Here we are featuring excerpts from a few letters that we think may be informative for others.
I have just read the open letter to MKP regarding the appropriation of Lakota culture and ritual. I attended an MKP weekend 22 years ago. It was a pivotal moment in my life… I gladly participated in the "sweat lodge" as it was termed and felt a sense of wonder at how ancient traditions had been kept alive and "shared" with us, when all of our ancient rituals and spiritual connections [of my heritage] were wiped out…. I felt at ease participating, I had no sense or understanding of the harm, nor in fact that any harm was possible … til recently.
As I write this, I feel a great sadness, that knowing that my ancestors levelled such misery and genocide, and then we expect your traditions to be available to us, in whatever way we choose to adopt them. Real insult to injury.
For my part, my make up to you is:
To advocate for the respect of your demands when I hear doubt or defense of our actions
To continue to learn and face-in to the impact of appropriation as a deeply disempowering insult
I will continue to learn about my [cultural] roots … and seek a return to our rightful connection with the earth, and each other.
I wanted to apologize for my part in this, and also to express humble gratitude to you for fighting for what is sacred to you.
Best wishes in the campaign, I hope MKP reaches out to you with humility, and finds a way to connect with the soul of what you are saying rather than defending or ignoring.
I don't know if I can be part of the resolution of the conflict between the cultures of MKP USA Admin, LKS, Leader Body and The Indigenous Folks of SPIRIT and other Indigneous Groups, Communities and Tribes. Not that I was asked to help...
I do know I can begin the process of cleaning up my own act by studying and working to better understand the wide variety of Indigneous Cultures here in the US, as well as the impact of their near utter destruction over the past 500 years. I can also work to understand their perspective today.
I can try, through my current feelings around the actions of SPIRIT, to see how they may feel after hundreds of years of domination and powerlessness and perhaps let it inform how I pay attention to what they are trying to say.
I can encourage others to do the same and do so here and now.
I can encourage I Groups to change their ways and practices so that they don't land so heavily on the oppressed Indigenous Folks we live side by side with... and almost never truly acknowledge.
I have taken on my Hebrew name as my Spirit Name... it is the one my parents gave me at birth through ritual and tradition.
I gave away much of what was on my talisman and then burned the rest in a ritual way.
I no longer smudge.
I no longer say aho.
I participate in the directions , but more from a point of view that honors the archetypes.
I will not go into an MKP P&RC unless it is acceptable and I do not yet know what that means.
I will participate in the initiation of men for it is sacred and vital that we continue to create the heat of a container that allows men to crack open and become more truly the men they want to be.
I invite you to pause and breathe, and join with me to truly feel the grief of what is being or already has been lost and through that, see what is the way forward for you and for your I Group and perhaps your community. That is how we will make the change
I send blessings and gratitude for SPIRIT to have spoken up so I can snap out of this damned lethargy and be more joyous in connection rather than slumbering in not giving a shit.
I am a recent initiate of the Mankind Project’s (MKP) “New Warrior Training Adventure.” During the weekend, I was repeatedly informed that the rituals I took part in were developed with consideration to cultural sensitivity and with the necessary approval from the Lakota Nation.
While I found the rituals to be powerful and approached them with a sense of reverence, I now understand that my participation in them was a harmful act of misappropriation, and that everyone involved in the weekend was misinformed by the leaders of MKP. I take responsibility for my actions, as well as for my willful ignorance in my choice not to scrutinize the appropriateness of the situation.
I am committed to having the necessary conversations around cultural appropriation with other members of MKP, and I will refrain from engaging in any act of misappropriation that has harmed and continues to harm the Lakota Nation and Indigenous peoples. This is a serious issue, and SPIRIT has my support.
I am a former attendee of MKP circles. I just wanted to reach out and thank you for the information you've provided on your page.
I not gonna lie, I had questions about how communities and people's linked to the MKP practices felt about the group using them. I received the same answer you're fighting against: "it was gifted". Hearing a different story is definitely very impactful.
I can say, that the members I know all take the fight against misappropriation seriously. It has come up and the people that I know identified misappropriation as unethical.
I intend to go back to the group (I was given an open invite to return if I wanted) and have a conversation about the contents of your page.
I honestly believe, even if MKP global doesn't figure out how important this is and make an immediate change, most of the people I have sat with will take this seriously. If they're true to who I know them to be, they will elect to remove the misappropriative elements from future trainings and circle practices they have control over.
I've been in MKP for 13 years and I want to let you know I have expressed my wish that we adhere to your declaration that MKP stop using your rituals. Also that if it comes to a vote I will support you in your endeavor. I am truly sorry for any and all pain this has caused. I've always known the MKP men to be men striving to be better today than they were yesterday and we're not perfect. I send a blessing to you in your healing journey.
As some of the videos you shared say, I am complicit. I went on a weekend 4 years ago and was uncomfortable with what felt like white appropriation then. I asked questions about the 'animal names,' 'the purification and renewal,' and received the flimsy answers they have often given.
Near the beginning of the pandemic, I believe around the same time of the long video, our small group was told of 'an issue.' With no details, we were informed that some group has brought some complaints to MKP and how they were doing things. The elder in the group who informed us, and was a part of some national calls, called into question the timing and motivation of those bringing forward the complaints. No details were shared and we were told not to worry about it.
This Monday will be my last small group with MKP. I am going to own my own complicity and be present to hear and encourage others to read and listen without the dug in defensiveness people have been responding with. I had already been questioning and uncomfortable with part of the group practices and stances and this was the last step. I will continue my work elsewhere.
I know now that the 'medicine pouch' I was given was not given properly, not could it have been. Is there a proper way to dispose of it? I realize it may not matter as it's inauthentic, but don't want to do further harm.
Please let me know if I can be of service.
With apologies and respect.
I've recently become aware of the efforts your organization has made in conflict with MKP.
The internal response from MKP leadership has, in my opinion, not been sincere about the challenges you've made against them. An email was sent to members of MKP explaining the controversy and decision to cancel the weekends, but the listed dangers of continuing the weekend retreats was damage to the members public perceptions and reputations, and nothing to do with continued appropriation.
Thank you for what you're doing.