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  • Thank you for this information. I hadn’t realized that any of North America or Native Alaska’s original people used the word shaman (or its derivative “samanaq”). I had always associated it with Siberia, Russia, Mongolia, and Manchuria. Unfortunately the word has been appropriated by anthropologists, ethnographers, and many New Age Euro-Americans to mean elements of spirituality shared by indigenous people throughout the world. Although the popular concept of “core shamanism” does express commonalities among ancient peoples, it creates an illusion among non-Native people that one can practice indigenous traditions without connection to land or language and without accountability to a specific people. For example I once met a white health practitioner in Syracuse, New York who told me that he was a shaman. When I asked him if the local Onondaga Nation approved of his use of the term, he asked me “Who are the Onondaga? Never heard of them.” In other words he was not even aware of the people on whose land he lived and worked. The term “shaman” as used by most Americans lacks context, and thus, as an educator, I have argued against its use. It is good to learn that the word is appropriate in the history and culture of some of Alaska’s First Peoples. With Respect and Warm Greetings, Ken Cohen (Colorado)

  • Dale Richard Lee

    I was almost going to answer yes I am a
    shaman, but that was before I read the article. After reading the article, I
    realized it was a trick question. I am a white guy. I don’t wear any special
    garb, except when doing ceremony. I live in a area where the Ute Indians were massacred
    many years ago. With their permission, I crossed a number of the earthbound Indians
    over to the light. I didn’t get permission from any tribe to call myself a
    shaman. I heal people with energy medicine. I clear heavy energies, I do soul

    train others how to do what I do. We teach our students specific techniques
    that they can use on themselves and others. Each class helps them create major
    positive personality shifts, increases their intuition, helps them clear their
    energetic field

    An engineer calls herself an engineer. A
    doctor calls himself a doctor. I call myself a shaman. Hopefully we will never
    have the government regulating shamanism like they regulate physicians, nurses,

    I met a Lakota that lives in the area and
    he told me that shamans are witches, practicing black magic, so he would never
    call himself a shaman. I disagree. Some may practice the black magic. Karma’s a

    I talked to another fellow related to
    Rolling Thunder, who told me that Rolling Thunder would be offended if someone
    called him a shaman. Yet if you read the amazon review of his book, shaman
    comes up many times. See the review at the bottom of this page. http://www.amazon.com/The-Voice-Rolling-Thunder-Medicine/dp/1591431336/

    You don’t need permission to call yourself
    a shaman. You don’t have to be born into it. Getting struck by lightning a
    couple of times does help though. Becoming a shaman is accessible to many
    people. You can be trained to be a shaman, though in the end it is between you
    and Spirit if you become one.

    The real qualifier is: You call yourself a
    shaman. Show me what you got.