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Correspondence between MKP USA and SPIRIT

July 26, 2023

SPIRIT sent the following email to its list:

To All Leaders of the ManKind Project International (MKPI):

SPIRIT has been monitoring the situation within MKP, and feel that now is a good time to update you with our thoughts.

SPIRIT appreciates the many positive changes that have been made in most countries to your primary training, the NWTA. We are grateful that you took our concerns seriously and took action to remove cultural misappropriation from your curriculum.

For more than 30 years, SPIRIT has been dedicated to raising public awareness in relation to cultural appropriation, and communicating the decisions of Indigenous nations regarding how they wish to see their traditions respected. We continue to hope for a productive partnership with MKP, given your organization’s stated values and commitment to educational programs.

Nearly every day, we receive evidence of the intense internal conflicts within MKP, and believe that it is due to a profound lack of awareness. We have been disappointed to see that your changes to policy do not seem to be matched with proactive educational programs so that your members can understand the situation in a more balanced way. We believe MKP has a moral obligation to provide education to counteract the many years of misinformation your members were given by the “Lodge Keepers Society” (LKS), which acted in clear violation of the rights of the Sioux Nation. We are concerned that MKPI’s policy changes seem to be driven more by fear of consequences than by a sincere desire to acknowledge the harm that has been done and take steps to make amends.

Many of the men MKP trained to conduct sweatlodge ceremonies seem committed to continuing to market these ceremonies within MKP and beyond. Although the Lodge Keeper’s Society now officially exists as a separate organization from MKP, this does not resolve the situation. Even as MKP has tried to officially separate itself from LKS, there remains a great deal of overlap. This overlap continues to fuel infighting and makes it difficult for us to trust that MKP’s commitments will be implemented for very long.

For example, one of the primary architects and leaders of the LKS, Lonnie Hamilton, is next in line to be the Chair of the Board of MKPUSA. Even as MKPUSA made commitments to halt cultural appropriation, our sources report that Lonnie Hamilton attended the recent gathering of the Lodge Keepers Society and promised LKS members that he would fight to reinstate the Lodge Keepers Society once he takes over leadership of MKPUSA. Some of MKP’s staff members and leaders with strong ties to LKS have used their positions, and the infrastructure of MKP, to advertise LKS events, and to raise money for LKS from MKP’s donors.

While we respect that your internal politics are your own affair to manage, please understand that this makes it difficult for us to trust MKP’s promises, as it seems quite likely they will be reversed at the earliest opportunity. We remind you that Indigenous Nations have learned many hard lessons about the volatile politics of colonial powers, and the unreliability of treaties and promises made. We ask that you do not promote leaders who are involved in the efforts to break the commitments MKP has made.

We request that MKP take clear steps to more clearly and permanently separate itself from the Lodge Keepers Society, and to educate your members as to why MKP does not support LKS’s continued misuse of a sacred ceremony in any context. We encourage you to apply the “Prohibited Actions” section of your End User License Agreement to prohibit any individuals with ANY institutional position from assisting LKS with their activities. Apply the same effort you would to anyone using their position in MKP to promote other organizations or activities that MKP believes are unethical.

Here are the key things we are requesting from MKPI to resolve this matter:

  1. Make a clear, public commitment, signed by the leadership of MKP in every country, to never again use ceremonies or traditions derived from Lakota spirituality in your programs. Commit to not use any Indigenous traditions without the express permission of the recognized current leaders of that Indigenous Nation. Commit to transparency and swift action if any MKP leaders violate this commitment.

  2. Develop and launch educational programs to help MKP members understand why cultural appropriation is no longer permitted in your organization. SPIRIT remains ready and willing to collaborate in the development of educational programs, but we cannot do it for you and encourage you to develop draft programs and then ask for our feedback. We suggest the following as opportunities for these educational programs:

    1. A workshop included within the staff training for any NWTA.

    2. A recorded educational video to be shared with your members, which could potentially be a collaborative effort of SPIRIT, MKP, and leaders of the Sioux Nation.

    3. The core trainings required of all MKP leaders, board members, and staff should include a clear section with education about cultural appropriation.

  3. Publicly commit to full good-faith participation in a Truth and Reconciliation Process, which will be organized by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We will help MKP and the Sioux Nation negotiate the details of how this process will be facilitated.

As MKP meets the requests detailed above, SPIRIT commits to clearly publishing these commitments and updates on our website, and making the progress made immediately clear to anyone visiting our homepage. Please note that we have not significantly updated our website because we have little confidence that the changes you have made will reliably last given your internal disagreements. We are committed to accuracy and will make factual updates to our website as we learn more. We would welcome any formal requests from MKPI for updates to our website, if these are backed by clear evidence.

SPIRIT believes that an additional meeting to discuss any misunderstandings might be beneficial to everyone involved. We suggest that the Mankind Project International (MKPI) should organize a meeting that will be attended by the national leaders of every branch of MKP, and representatives of SPIRIT and the Sioux Nation.

SPIRIT has been expanding our relationships with Indigenous leaders, and we will continue to ensure that Indigenous rights are respected. We have the support of many Tribal leaders and have been asking them to hold off on taking any action so that we can try to resolve this amicably. We would very much like to wrap up this matter with the full cooperation of MKP, and then engage in more public awareness raising efforts as partners, not adversaries.

We would like to conclude with a note about our commitment to transparency. SPIRIT had committed to full transparency of all correspondence with MKP’s leaders, and you can see a record of most of that correspondence here. However, in recent months we have received several lengthy letters from MKPUSA that we have reluctantly decided not to publish at this time. These letters contain extensive misinformation, as well as copies of private email conversations that are missing important context. Publishing them would require us to also post a thorough rebuttal, which we believe would be counterproductive to our mutual desire to resolve this matter respectfully. SPIRIT also does not post private email conversations without the consent of the authors. We have copies of countless emails and documents that back up every claim we have made in this letter and all of our previous publications, but we do not intend to publish them unless forced to do so. We would like to resume publishing all correspondence, and ask MKP to carefully consider its response, with an eye towards ensuring that it moves us towards resolving this matter.

We hope this letter adequately addresses the current situation and lays out a clear path forward. We encourage MKP to focus on educational efforts that might help resolve the political infighting and instability within your organization. We hope MKPI will get back to us with the specific policy changes and commitments made by all branches of the organization, and with a few suggested meeting times if you believe that would be helpful.

SPIRIT has promised the Sioux Nation that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that MKP permanently end all misappropriation of their sacred traditions. We stand firm in that commitment, and we hope that you will stand with us.


The Council of SPIRIT

April 26, 2023

SPIRIT sent the following email to its list:

To All Leaders of MKP International:

SPIRIT would like to apologize for the delay in responding to MKP. We are grateful that MKP USA has shared with us the revised curriculum for their NWTA workshop. We are happy to see that it no longer includes adaptations of sacred Indigenous traditions—this represents welcome movement in the right direction. Several international branches of MKP have made similar commitments, and we hope to have confirmation from all MKP branches soon. Once we have a clear written commitment to these policy changes, signed by ALL branches of MKP International, we will publish that commitment on our website.

However, even as we commend the positive changes in the NWTA, we are concerned that MKP continues to tolerate cultural appropriation in other areas of the organization. The “Lodge Keepers Society” continues to operate, spreading false information about what they believe is their right to conduct sweat lodges. It seems that MKP’s funds and material assets are still being used by LKS members who persist in violating the clear wishes of the Sioux Nation.

We remain deeply concerned about incidents of threats and harassment in which leaders of SPIRIT and their families have been targeted. This was the only topic of discussion in the January meeting between MKP members, which Mr. Grehalva mentioned in his letter to SPIRIT. We see these threats and harassment as being connected to a lack of substantial education within MKP about cultural appropriation. It is further magnified by influential leaders who portray MKP as a victim. In emails and in meetings, these MKP leaders have been using heated rhetoric blaming SPIRIT and claiming that MKP has done nothing wrong and is simply “complying” in the face of a threat. We have seen no evidence that MKP is addressing this situation despite the discussion in the January meeting.

If necessary, we can publish documented examples of some of the heated rhetoric from top level MKP leaders that contradicts the official response of MKP as an organization. We continue to request that MKP leaders stop authoring and amplifying this kind of messaging. We would like to see evidence that MKP has made it clear to them that their tone, approach, and messaging matters, and is being monitored. MKP must ensure all leaders within the organization are clear in every context about why changes to processes are being made. This would ideally be done in concert with an educational program so the members have a more balanced understanding of the issue.

We are concerned that without substantial educational efforts, people will continue to engage in cultural appropriation when they believe they can do so without consequences, because they see it as an institutional capitulation rather than an ethical matter. Ever since our first communication with MKP in October 2022, SPIRIT has been asking MKP to collaborate with us in developing educational programs for its members. We continue to extend that offer, and hope MKP will accept.

Given that MKP will no longer allow sweat lodge ceremonies to be held in the organization, we would also like to know what MKP plans to do with all the materials it owns which have been used to conduct ceremonies. We would like to ensure that these materials do not remain accessible to those who might continue to abuse our sacred ways.

We would like to see MKP make meaningful efforts to educate its members and address the actions of its leaders. We are ready to work with you; we believe it would foster mutual understanding, and support moving towards right relation.

We continue to believe that MKP has done vitally important work with men. It has helped thousands of men learn how to work towards living in integrity and stepping more fully into leadership. MKP has navigated challenging topics with its members in the past and we see this conversation around cultural appropriation as another area where MKP can demonstrate its values of leadership and intercultural competency.

We would like to schedule a Zoom meeting with the chosen representatives from each country MKP operates in. We suggest May 9-12 as good days for this meeting, and we would appreciate it if all MKP national leaders would select a representative and find a time that will work for everyone you wish to attend this meeting.


The Council of SPIRIT

There has been additional correspondence between February 11, 2023 and April 26, 2023 but in the interest of keeping the size of this page manageable, it has been omitted here. SPIRIT remains committed to transparency; if you would like a copy of it, please email with “Request for copy of correspondence” in the subject line.

February 11, 2023

SPIRIT sent the following email to MKP and to SPIRIT's email list:

Members and Supporters of the ManKind Project and SPIRIT,

We are writing with an important update about the discussions between MKP and SPIRIT.

With the backing of the Sioux Nation, SPIRIT rejects the new sweat ceremony that MKP USA developed without any consultation.

We want to share with you the background information about how this decision was reached.

SPIRIT’s last communication with MKP was on December 7, 2022. You can see a recording of that meeting, and all correspondence to date between MKP and SPIRIT [below on this page]. The Council of SPIRIT was encouraged by what we felt was a productive first meeting. When asked to make commitments to no longer hold a ceremony derived from the Lakota Inipi tradition, the representative of MKP USA, Rich Grehalva, said that “nothing will get approved if it looks or appears to be anything that was done in the past. We’ve stopped it, is the bottom line.” SPIRIT offered assistance in developing a new process that could be used by MKP, and also offered to support educational efforts for MKP’s members.

Since that meeting, none of the leaders of MKP reached out to collaborate in any way, until January 22, 2023, when Mr. Grehalva had an MKP member pass on to us a copy of “Version 10 of the Grounding and Renewal Process.” After reviewing the descriptions of the process, SPIRIT concluded that the new process was still predominantly based on the Lakota sweat lodge tradition, now mixed with a few elements of a European sauna.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the most highly recognized spiritual leader of the Sioux Nation, asked SPIRIT to present on this matter on February 4-5 at the “Woope Omnic’iye” (Spiritual Law Meeting), which brought together more than two hundred holy men, tribal authorities, and legal experts of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations (collectively known as the Sioux Nation). SPIRIT’s Spokesperson, Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Najín, attended the entire Spiritual Law meeting and presented in detail about the situation with the ManKind Project.

The consensus of the leaders at the Woope Omnic’iye was that MKP has, for decades, deceived the Lakota people about its abuse of sacred ceremony and other elements of Lakota tradition. The ManKind Project has been willfully violating the clear will of the Sioux Nation by ignoring the Looking Horse Proclamation on the Protection of Ceremonies, and has violated the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The leaders of the Sioux Nation have told SPIRIT that MKP has had more than enough time to do what is needed to be in integrity and right relation. SPIRIT is deeply disappointed that MKP USA is not honoring its commitments to stop doing anything that resembles a sweat lodge. This new process is simply a rebranded and stripped down sweat lodge. Apparently it was developed by several members of the Lodge Keepers Society, who were responsible for the decades of abuse of Lakota ceremony and traditions. Although MKP USA promised to dissolve the Lodge Keepers Society, it seems to have simply been renamed. SPIRIT sees all of this as a betrayal of the promises made by MKP USA.

Due to the MKP Lodge Keeper’s Society’s history of deceit, including this most recent betrayal of the agreements made, SPIRIT and the Sioux Nation will no longer accept any version of a sweat ceremony in which former LKS members serve in a role akin to a “water pourer.”

The ManKind Project’s decision to develop a new sweat ceremony without prior consultation with SPIRIT is unfortunate. We would have been happy to share our experiences with other ways to honor indigenous wisdom without imitating our sacred ceremony.

Sadly, MKP USA has moved ahead with this ceremony before giving us a chance to respond. After sending us the 10th draft of this process on January 22, just a few days later MKP conducted another paid weekend training that included this ceremony in Texas. From February 8-12, MKP convened the leaders of their trainings for an annual meeting, and planned to seek their approval of this new sweat ceremony.

Regardless of the opinions of any MKP members, the revised sweat ceremony does NOT have the approval of the Sioux Nation, or of SPIRIT.

MKP USA has already scheduled many new events in which they intend to sell a weekend experience that includes this new sweat ceremony. SPIRIT asks that these upcoming events instead use a fundamentally different process.

SPIRIT appreciates the verbal commitments MKP has made to change its events to address our concerns that much of MKP’s training amounted to a commercialization of Lakota ceremony and tradition. However, to date we have seen no evidence that these changes are in fact being implemented. The only revised process we’ve seen is a rebranded sweat ceremony, which we oppose.

We believe that MKP has been misleading its members by giving them the impression that the organization is complying with the requests made by SPIRIT. We see little evidence of compliance, engagement, or collaboration.

While this letter has focused primarily on the actions of MKP USA, please know that SPIRIT is aware that the branches of MKP in other countries have responded with varying degrees of respect. In some countries, MKP seems determined to continue without any changes to their use of sacred ceremony and other elements of Lakota tradition. We will address this matter within other countries soon.

We want to reiterate that we support the mission of the ManKind Project, and we wish to help you resolve this matter in a respectful way.

We ask the ManKind Project to reflect on how well it is living up to its stated values:






Intercultural Competency



Considering the MKPs lack of effort at any collaboration, and the ongoing disregard for the commercial use of rituals based on a sacred ceremony, SPIRIT is now obliged to move forward with the actions we outlined in our letter and on our website over four months ago. We do so with the backing of the Sioux Nation.

We respectfully request a swift response from the leaders of the ManKind Project, in the US and internationally.


The Council of SPIRIT

P.S. Since preparing this letter several days ago, the Spokesperson for SPIRIT has had direct phone conversations with Mr. Rich Grehalva. In those conversations, Mr. Grehalva agreed that MKP USA would change the new MKP ceremony so that it is no longer based on the sweat lodge tradition. However, because SPIRIT has not received any evidence of changes to the ceremony, nor changes to the many other aspects of MKP’s trainings that were based on misappropriation of Indigenous traditions, we nonetheless feel it is necessary for this letter to be shared with the public so that there is accountability and transparency. Also, since MKP’s branches in other countries may not be aware of this conversation, we would like them to more fully understand our position as they make their decisions about what to do in the MKP events in their countries.


Due to widely circulating rumors and accusations, we are including this FAQ to address some of the misinformation that has been spreading.


Cultures all over the world use steam rooms of various types, so it’s OK for us to do this

  • The medical and spiritual use of steam is common in many cultures. However, most of the elements of the MKP sweat ceremony clearly comes from Indigenous tradition, particularly from the Oglala Lakota tradition which MKP openly admits it used at the basis of its sweat ceremony for decades.

The new Lodge is different enough

  • It’s obvious that it’s not meaningfully different. Fire, enclosure, darkness, hot rocks, steam, four rounds. MKP could have chosen to NOT include these, but instead, chose to retain the essential energy and process of an indigenous sweat lodge ceremony, with intention.

  • Changing the shape of the “lodge” and a few other details does not change the fundamental problem that this is a misuse of a sacred spiritual tradition.

MKP is still planning – nothing is set in stone

  • MKP has been working on this for over two years, all in secret.

  • During the December 7, 2022 meeting, SPIRIT offered to help MKP develop a process that would accomplish the goals of the previous Sweat Lodge. MKP didn’t accept the help and support of SPIRIT.

  • MKP selected only individuals who support their desired outcome (retaining the essence of an indigenous religious ceremony) for all this planning work done in secret. SPIRIT and indigenous nations offered help and support, but have been locked out.

  • Without asking for input or review, MKP is now “testing” what it apparently plans to present on future NWTAs beginning in less than a month.

  • All of this demonstrates a clear intention to move forward regardless of the valid concerns of SPIRIT and indigenous nations.

Re: the January 27th “alpha test” in Texas. MKP was just “testing” - there’s nothing finalized, etc.

  • MKP planned the “test” before knowing whether it was acceptable

  • Unacceptable processes don’t need to be “tested”

  • It’s OBVIOUSLY a modified Sweat Lodge – MKP is not proceeding in good faith.

    • There are hundreds, even thousands, of different alternative approaches

    • MKP chose the one that has one with a light-tight enclosure with hot rocks, water, four rounds, etc. CLEARLY bad faith!

But we’ve been working with you – in good faith!

  • Secret committees, working for two years, a new committee working in secret for three months… No communication for nearly two months, after committing to providing SPIRIT with an update in January? That’s neither good faith nor good deed: MKP is clearly not Accountable to what they committed to.

  • SPIRIT offered to collaborate. MKP has worked in isolation, with no explanation about why they are refusing input, help, and support.


MKP has fixed everything else

  • NOTHING has been shared with SPIRIT that substantiates this. No new NWTA process descriptions, protocols, etc., even though they exist and are being used.

  • Example: Regarding the objects given to NWTA Participants that mimic a traditional medicine pouch, MKP is already distributing its new alternative to the old “talisman”, but nothing tangible has been sent to SPIRIT for their review (no process description or protocols, and no sample of the proposed object to be given to Participants).

  • Why isn’t MKP open to input or feedback from SPIRIT and indigenous nations?


MKP has been and is open, transparent, and inclusive.

  • Closed meetings, secret committees with carefully selected members, etc., is not open and inclusive

  • Never publishing meeting notes or progress reports is not open and transparent

  • Not accepting offers of support is not inclusive

  • MKP will not publish any of the new NWTA protocols it’s already using, even on its own NWTA staff web site. Instead, it’s hiding what it’s doing not only from SPIRIT but from its own members.

  • MKP is distributing “new, revised” protocols during the NWTA, but not publishing them on their web site.

  • WHY WHY WHY all the subterfuge? What’s at risk to be open, transparent, and inclusive?

MKP has included Indigenous folks in the process - they helped plan the new stuff and they like it

  • A Spiritual Law meeting of the Sioux Nation’s civic and spiritual leaders and elders met. They see what MKP plans to do going forward. They see it for what it is - just a continuation of the cultural appropriation that’s been the hallmark of the history of the organization. MKP could have chosen to do so many other things, why must they persist in this way?

MKP doesn’t want to exclude the LKS

  • Not SPIRIT’s problem.

  • What LKS has done HAS BEEN and IS a problem. Their continued involvement is a non-starter, since they have acted in bad faith not only on NWTAs, but in wresting control of the revision process from the NWTA Leaders who should be in the Driver’s Seat regarding what happens on the NWTA.

SPIRIT doesn’t know MKP, it’s culture, what they do, what they’re trying to accomplish, etc.

  • SPIRIT thoroughly researched the organization, its history, and is very familiar with what happens in its various events, workshops, etc.

  • We understand that MKP has Core Values. These include Compassion, Generosity, Intercultural Competency (skills at dealing with marginalized or oppressed people/cultures), Integrity (doing what one says they will do), and most importantly, Accountability (taking responsibility for the impact of one’s actions). SPIRIT encourages MKP to honor and embody those Core Values in dealing with its long history of Cultural Appropriation and, more recently, committing to actions with SPIRIT that it hasn’t lived up to.


MKP can’t commit to a Truth & Reconciliation Process when we don’t know what will happen in it

  • SPIRIT doesn’t know what the specific processes will be either. Nonetheless, SPIRIT is committing to an independently and professionally facilitated T&R Process, because it wants the outcomes: SPIRIT wants Truth, and it wants Reconciliation between MKP and the Sioux Nation. .

  • Commitment to outcomes, like telling the Truth, and reaching Reconciliation, isn’t difficult. The only reason for not committing to the process is that you don’t want to achieve those outcomes.

  • MKP isn’t telling the truth, and isn’t earnestly attempting to reconcile with Indigenous Nations.


MKP needs more time. This is really difficult. This is really complex.

  • SPIRIT has offered to help. That offer of support has been ignored.

  • Two years of thinking, analyzing, and planning is enough. SPIRIT has seen nothing concrete – no new model Talisman (though they have already been distributed on NWTAs), no new educational programs that you promised that would successfully change MKP culture even outside the NWTA, etc,

What does SPIRIT want us to do? MKP has done everything SPIRIT wants. What does SPIRIT really want?

  • SPIRIT prefers a healthy and vibrant MKP that stands in its core values like Accountability, Integrity, and Intercultural Competency. The work MKP does is honorable, admirable and much needed in our world.

  • Using ceremonies, imagery, songs, symbols, sacred medicines, traditions, etc., that have been appropriated from indigenous peoples is not necessary to accomplish MKP’s goals. In addition, persisting in cultural appropriation against the wishes of Indigenous Nations is inappropriate and not consistent with MKP’s stated values.

  • The aims and wants of SPIRIT are posted on our website. What SPIRIT and indigenous nations ask is not only reasonable, it’s simple and easy, and it would 100% remediate the problem. MKP-USA has not done the simple things we ask – most of which would actually benefit the organization going forward.


SPIRIT really just wants MONEY, doesn’t it?

  • At no point has SPIRIT asked MKP for money.

  • SPIRIT will never ask for or accept any money from MKP.

  • Please note that we have not asked for donations or financial support anywhere on our website.

  • Everything SPIRIT has done has been the work of volunteers, often at great personal cost.

  • No amount of money can erase what MKP-USA has done and plans to continue to do.

  • Money will not be the solution to this situation. Doing whatever is needed to be in right relation with Indigenous peoples is the only path forward.


February 11, 2023

SPIRIT'S Spokesperson received the following email from Rich Grehalva of MKP:

Dear Verlinda,

The purpose of this email is to summarize our conversation on Saturday, February 11, 2023.

I am an MKP USA board member and the Indigenous Relations Lead for MKP USA. I have gained one hundred percent approval from our leadership effective today to do the following:

• The Grounding and Renewal Process Version 10, which was to be used as a replacement for the P&RC, will not be done.

• The objection from SPIRIT was that it still, in some areas, appeared to have components of a sweat lodge, specifically the Leadman, which appeared to you as a water pourer pouring water over hot rocks, creating steam.

• We will effectively today eliminate the use of rocks, water or steam and eliminate any man from doing so.

• We will instead, as I explained, continue the use of the four stages of the Hero's Journey, which is and continues to be at the core of our training, which is identified on our website.

• We will use the grounding and renewal process by building a small fire, and a leader will take the men through a guided visualization.

• We do not use tobacco, sweetgrass, or cedar; however, we use sage with smudging instruction by indigenous men and sourced from indigenous people.

• I also understand you will be sending MKP a letter addressing concerns; however, you will have a ZOOM meeting within the next two weeks to review our commitment to meeting your concerns.

• At minimum, you will move the December 8, 2022, ZOOM meeting video and letter to the homepage of your website.

Below is a brief overview of the process we will use, which was communicated to the USLB, Elders, and Community Stewards in attendance at the Houston Gathering this weekend.

The final copy will be provided to you next week.

I hope you agree that we continue our efforts in establishing right relations.

I look forward to our upcoming ZOOM call.


Richard Grehalva



• ● 1st Descent: Into the darkness of the Friday Night Greeting and the Ascent into the Light of Accountability

• ● Preparing to go home by becoming conscious of all that is out there by honoring the Directions


• ● 2nd Descent: Into the Darkness of Midnight Adventure and Ascent into the Light of Connection around the fire

• ● Words honoring our connection to everything and interrelatedness

• ● Men share what who they need to forgive


• ● 3rd Descent: Into the Hero’s Journey and Ascent to the Light of the Moment of Truth

• ● Men share what they need to let go of

• ● Men are invited to speak words for someone they know in need


• ● 4th Descent: Into the Trust Walk and Ascent to the Light of the Brother Dance

• ● Men share what they are grateful for



• ● Provide a somatic experience to ground men in their bodies

• ● To provide an opportunity for men to release, forgive, honor, and express gratitude after all their work.

• ● Prepare men to return to their lives by connecting men to the earth, the world that they hold sacred, and loved ones.

OUTCOME: Men are better prepared to go home with a sense of renewal and an appreciation for being connected with life.


October 6, 2022

SPIRIT sent an open letter to all MKP Leaders, and requested it be shared with MKP members.

October 15, 2022

SPIRIT received an email from Rich Grehalva titled “Response from MKP Board Member” that contained a recorded video message in which he asked to meet with the leaders of SPIRIT in person. (We will post that video message if Mr. Grehalva would like us to).

October 18, 2022

SPIRIT sent a response to Mr. Grehalva, offering to meet immediately via Zoom with him and a few other MKP leaders. The full letter is below:

CC: Chris Cefalu, Tony Wilkinson, Chance Taureau

Dear Rich Grehalva,

Thank you for responding to SPIRIT with the video you sent to us on October 15th. We have shared it with our council of elders and have been discussing how to best move forward.

We look forward to meeting you in person, but feel that it would be best to meet via Zoom in a few days, then find a time to come together in person when we can do ceremony with many of those involved. Many of SPIRIT’s members live far from each other, and we gather in person only occasionally.

We have received hundreds of responses since we sent our letter to the ManKind Project, and many of these letters include insights into the internal conflicts within MKP. We feel that meeting only with a representative of the MKP USA Board of Directors may lead to additional division and confusion with the other branches of your organization. We suggest that our meeting include representatives from the USLB, and the ILB, at a minimum. We are including them in this email. We are also requesting the presence of Chance Taureau, who we understand has played many roles at the national and international level in MKP, and has an important perspective to have in the room. We are open to suggestions of other MKP representatives to have in the meeting, even if primarily in a listening role. Please send a copy of your video presentation to everyone involved so that we are all on the same page.

We would like to meet with you next Monday, October 24th. Please coordinate with each other to find some times that will work for the representatives of the MKPUSA Board, the USLB, the ILB, and Chance Taureau. Let us know what times will work for all of you, and we will then choose whatever time works best for the members of SPIRIT’s council and our advisors.


Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín

Spokesperson for SPIRIT

Within hours, responses were sent indicating available times for Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Cefalu, and Mr. Taureau.

October 19, 2022

Mr. Grehalva sent a response to SPIRIT. We interpreted his email to mean that he rejected our request for the inclusion of other MKP leaders. The full letter is below.

Dear Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín,

Thank you for your quick response and invitation to meet with us. We, too, look forward to meeting with you and your council.

I understand the division that is within our organization. Like you, we have invited all MKP USA community members to voice their concerns to the Board freely. We read them every day as part of a Board working group. We have increased our meeting frequency to daily sessions to discuss what is being communicated to us in respect to concerns and wants, conversations we have had, and actions we are taking as a result. We are conducting internal communications to many circles within our organization. We have been clear that we welcome all viewpoints and advice.

Your MKP advisor would not know all of this, nor would he know all that has transpired, as events are moving quickly. Your advisor has omitted many other circles that must be represented in these important discussions, such as the LSKI and Area Stewards, to name just a few.

As I outlined in the video message, we recognize the division within our organization. I've started working on developing an internal group representing eight circles within our organization who will work with an outside facilitator/consultant to resolve our internal issues and return to balance. I was just contacted Sunday (10/16) by the two men from the USLB that will work with me on this initiative. You may also recall that I am a USLB Full Leader Emeritus.

Your letter was addressed to the Leaders of the ManKind Project, and it was received by the Board and you asked “We are sending this letter to the leaders of the ManKind Project in the hope and expectation that you will take immediate action, and that this situation can be resolved amicably.” The Board took immediate action and cancelled all US NWTAs for the remainder of this year. The MKP USA Board is the only group fully empowered to make such a decision and carries the heavy weight of what is needed to bring this training back to life.

Out of respect, I did not make this video message widely available until you and your council had an opportunity to view it first. Now that you have seen it and have responded, I will make it available to all the impacted circles within our organization.

I’m grateful that you are concerned about our internal issues. Our approach is to deal with each issue separately while realizing the interconnection and interdependence of all topics. We will start by improving internal communication and transparency with open meetings with all groups and community members twice a month.

Respectfully, the MKP USA Board is best positioned to make the changes that will impact the next seven generations and as such will participate in this initial call. As we progress in our discussions, we will consider other representatives that should participate from within our organizational constituency. It is best at this moment that we, representatives of the MKP USA Board, first meet with you to build our relationship in a space without others. Please know that I will communicate to all groups and men in the community what direction we will take in right relationships with you and ourselves.

We are available to meet at 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM central time.

With Respect,

Richard Grehalva

October 20, 2022

SPIRIT responded explaining why we requested the presence of the other MKP leaders we had invited to the meeting, and again asking them to propose times that all four of them could be available for a Zoom meeting. The full letter is below:

Dear MKPUSA Board & Mr. Grehalva,

We appreciate the decision of MKPUSA to cancel most of the trainings for 2022, although we regret that you couldn’t find a way to continue the good aspects of your work without including appropriated elements of Lakota traditions. Nevertheless, thank you for honoring our request. Although your public statement was that all NWTA events had been canceled, we understand that at least two of your trainings are in fact moving forward this year, and we would appreciate more information about that decision.

We are very aware of the inner workings of the ManKind Project. You refer to SPIRIT’s “MKP advisor” but you should know that we have many members of MKP advising us from all levels of your organization. Before sending our letter, we spent months meticulously researching your organization, and checking the things you assert as facts with our network on Pine Ridge, and with the leaders of the Lakota Nation. Since publishing our letter to you, we have received hundreds of letters from members at all levels of your organization, giving us an inside view of the discussions within your organization. All of which is to say, we did not make our request for participants from a position of “not understanding” the organization.

SPIRIT addressed our letter to “The Leaders of the ManKind Project,” which is not limited to the Board of MKP USA. That is why we sent our letter to every leader listed on your website, internationally, nationally, regionally, and locally. We understand that all have some ability to influence what happens within their spheres.

Given the Board’s track record of manipulating or withholding information from other branches of MKP, we want to make sure that our message is heard directly by at least a few of the top leaders. This will prevent our message from being interpreted by just one person (Mr. Grehalva) and then represented via him. We believe this will allow all involved to have more trust that SPIRIT is being heard clearly, and prevents us from having separate conversations with the other branches of MKP.

We understand that Mr. Grehalva has been given the authority to represent the MKP USA Board in this discussion. In addition, we are inviting the participation of the leader of the ILB, or a representative of his choosing, so that our message can reach the other countries where MKP operates without being filtered by MKPUSA. We are inviting the participation of the leader of the USLB because we understand that the “full leaders” have considerable influence over any changes to the curriculum of the trainings they lead, and that is what we will be discussing. We are inviting the participation of Chance Taureau because of his unique involvement in many roles in the organization, and because he was one of the Native men who brought this matter to our attention. If you would like to invite additional members of your organization to listen, you are welcome to do so. We would like to record the meeting, and will give you a copy, so that you can share this with the other branches of your organization.

We look forward to being in right relation with Mr. Grehalva and the other leaders of MKP. An in-person meeting will be more conducive to getting to know one another, but we understand that you have some urgency to resolve this conflict so for now we are focused on seeing if we can reach some concrete agreements so that MKP can move forward with the good work you do in the world. We expect there will need to be a longer process to fully understand each other and make amends for any harm done by either side, as we believe that all are here with good intentions. We have requested a Truth and Reconciliation Process to enable that understanding and repair to happen, but we know that it will take time. Our first priority is to reach an agreement on how MKP can resume its trainings, without any misuse of Lakota traditions.

At this point it seems we may need to schedule our meeting for sometime later next week. Please coordinate with the other MKP members who will be attending, and let us know some dates and times that will work for all of you.

You are welcome to share this message with anyone you would like.


Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín

Spokesperson of SPIRIT

October 18 - November 3, 2022

The four invited MKP leaders have included SPIRIT in their discussions of available times, but have not settled on any time that they could be available to meet with SPIRIT.

As of November 3, 2022, MKP has yet to propose ANY times that these leaders can be available to meet with SPIRIT.

November 4, 2022

The representative of the MKP USA Board responded with the following message:

Dear Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín and council, Thank you for taking my call Tuesday, November 1st, explaining that I was running into problems with scheduling, as I noted in the email I sent you Saturday, October 29th. Unfortunately, this did not get in your letter. The good news is I do have a day and time next week. The best time for all of the men you requested to be on the zoom call is next Tuesday, November 8th, at 2:00 PM eastern, !: 00 PM central, 11:00 AM pacific, and 6:00 PM GMT. As we spoke, I have the voice of the MKP board. After much discussion and meeting with multiple groups and over 400 men, we reached our position. I very much want to share this with you and your council. I'm looking forward to the zoom invite to meet with you next week. To respectfully move into harmonious relations. With respect, Rich Ashaat Huwut Grehalva SPIRIT sent the following response: Dear Rich Ashaat Huwut Grehalva, Thank you for responding with a proposed time to meet. Unfortunately, due to an upcoming medical procedure, the SPIRIT Council will not be able to meet with you on Monday or Tuesday of next week. We are available for a meeting on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday if the MKP representatives here are able to agree on a time on those days. We look forward to moving toward right relation. Sincerely, Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín Spokesperson for SPIRIT

November 9, 2022

Dear Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín,

Unfortunately, I'm still running into scheduling conflicts with the men you asked for to attend the zoom call. So, I have the following request to ensure our meeting is on time.

I’ve recently been asked by the board to not only serve as a board member but to lead the project in Indigenous Relations following my initiative of the Trust, Reconciliation, and Trust project I began earlier. In this role, I’m pleased to let you know we have, as a board, developed our position on this critical matter.

I very much would like to meet with you, so I respectfully offer that you set a day and time you would like to meet. Then, I will make the call; however, the only day I cannot is Wednesday the 17th as I have doctor appointments regarding my cancer.

Unfortunately, the lack of availability of the men you asked to attend should not prevent us from participating in the meeting. These men will make every effort to be on the zoom call. In addition, since you will be recording the call and have many email addresses, you can distribute the video to avoid misinterpretation.

I look forward to speaking to you and your council,


Rich Ashaat Hunwut Grehalva

November 21, 2022

Dear Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín and council,

Trevor informed me of your recent health issue. I’ve sent smoke your way and hope for a speedy and complete recovery.

I thought it would be essential to continue to update your council on our recent decisions to meet the request of your letter dated October 6, 2022, to the Leaders of the Mankind Project. In part, your letter said:

“We are sending this letter to the leaders of the ManKind Project in the hope and expectation that you will take immediate action and that this situation can be resolved amicably. However, if you continue to misuse our spiritual traditions in any way from this day forward, we will organize protests at every sweat lodge and training that you conduct. We will actively spread this information via social media platforms, Indigenous organizations, newspaper organizations, civil rights groups, and leaders of tribes across the country, inviting them to join us in protest…”

Since we got your letter, we have taken immediate action. First, on October 10, 2022, four days after receiving your letter, we canceled all NWTA's for the remainder of the year. We did this to allow us to devote time to this serious issue; after numerous meetings and discussions, we decided.

On November 8, 2022, thirty-two days later, at a special board meeting, a resolution was presented and passed to no longer conduct a Purification and Renewal Ceremony on any NWTA weekend. The Lodgekeepers were thanked for their service and informed of the board’s decision. A new and unique process will be developed to replace the P&RC. The Lodge Keepers will continue to support our community with a new name and purpose.

We have also changed, modified, or eliminated those areas you addressed in your letter. I’ve developed a video to inform you of what was changed. Please click this link to view the video

As you can see, we have taken action to remedy any misappropriations, and we believe we can resolve this amicably between us. I hope our quick and decisive actions have demonstrated our sincerity in moving towards right relations. I'm looking forward to how you will act in kind.

I hope we can meet soon once your feel better,

With Respect,

Rich Ashaat Huwut Grehalva

November 24, 2022

Dear Richard Grehalva,

I'm sorry we haven't been able to respond to your letters for several days. I was in the hospital for over a week, and am slowly recovering now. Thank you for the actions you have helped MKP take on this matter.

SPIRIT will prepare a more complete response to your letter and video and send that within the next few days.


Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín

Dear Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín,

I thank the Creator for your recovery. My health issues required a long hospital stay, so I understand. I'm glad you are home.

I look forward to your response.

With Respect,

Rich Grehalva

December 5, 2022

Dear Rich, Chris, Tony, Chance, and Geoff,

Our apologies medical issues have caused such a long delay in our availability to meet. The Council members of SPIRIT have found a brief period in which we would be able to meet with you by Zoom, before additional medical procedures that might require some time to recover from.

We would like to meet with you this Wednesday, December 7th, at 11am Pacific Time (2pm Eastern time, 7pm in the UK). Would all of you be able to attend at that time?

If you can either attend or send someone on your behalf, we will move ahead with this and send out an agenda for the meeting in advance. We anticipate a 90 minute meeting that is focused on reviewing each of the requests SPIRIT made of MKP, and hearing a clear response on each topic. We are interested in hearing what commitments are being made not only by MKP USA, but also by the branches of MKP in other countries.

We intend to set up a second meeting in the near future to get the Truth and Reconciliation process organized.

Our hope is to reach an agreement that allows us to collaborate with MKP in educating the public about why cultural appropriation matters, and how to move into integrity and right relation.

We hope to meet you via Zoom this Wednesday.


Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín

Spokesperson for the SPIRIT Council

December 7, 2022

Dear Rich, Chris, Tony, Chance, and Geoff:

We are looking forward to meeting with you in a few hours.

We understand that Geoff and Chance may not be able to attend for the entire 90 minutes, and would be happy to have them join for whatever portion they can.

Here is the agenda that we would like to follow:



Review of each request made by SPIRIT

Response from MKP representatives on each point


Commitment to a formal Truth and Reconciliation Process

Opportunities for collaboration

December 8, 2022

The first meeting between MKP and SPIRIT took place by video. Mato Tá Pejuta Wákan Nawjín, Spokesperson for SPIRIT, spoke with leaders of the ManKind Project. Here is the full recording:

Also, SPIRIT sent the following email to provide context for the video:

Members and Supporters of the ManKind Project and SPIRIT, The Council of SPIRIT would like to express our gratitude for a productive first meeting between SPIRIT and the leaders of the ManKind Project (MKP). As promised and agreed by all present, we are making the full recording of this meeting publicly available, and you can watch the full video on our website and see the full record of correspondence between MKP and SPIRIT.

SPIRIT sees this entire situation as an opportunity for the ManKind Project to demonstrate the values that organization teaches, especially multicultural awareness and recognizing the difference between intention and impact. In the meeting we discussed the possibility of collaborating with MKP to create educational programs for MKP members as well as for the general public. We are hopeful that MKP can model accountability, integrity, and how to work towards right relation with Indigenous peoples. We believe that the full participation of MKP in the upcoming Truth & Reconciliation Process is essential for the healing of everyone involved in this matter. SPIRIT will continue to closely monitor the actions and words of the ManKind Project, and soon we will share more detailed thoughts on how events are unfolding.


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