Steve McCullough, who says he was adopted into a Lakota tribe (right),with Chief Frank Fools Crow year 1989. From Facebook
Published June 23, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS — Clyde Bellecourt (White Earth Ojibwe), co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the current national director of the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, issued a letter on Friday, June 22, 2018 denouncing “Chief” Steve McCullough as a member of the American Indian Movement.
McCullough, who identifies himself as an adopted Lakota, performs sundances that the American Indian Movement want stopped.
Clyde Bellecourt speaking at AIM-WEST annual conference in San Francisco.
Bellecourt says people such as McCullough, the New Age Movement and “Indian Hobbyists” are an equal, if not more insidious threat.
“They represent themselves as Native people, they take ownership and appropriate our culture and spirituality. hey skewer history with racial stereotypes, and ‘water down’ our traditional and cultural ways. They profit by preying on the spiritually lost and deprived to support their efforts; financially and socially,” writes Bellecourt.
McCullough has conducted the Salt Creek Sundance near Seaman, Ohio starting in 1991, according to the Salt Creek Sundance website. While he has a history of conducing the sundances as the “intercessor,” Native News Online could not find information about one being planned for this summer, other than a link that leads to the Salt Creek Sundance home page.
Corine Fairbanks, a AIM leader with the American Indian Movement of Ohio, who moved to Ohio last year from Santa Barbara, California, says she has heard about McCollough for years and wants to make sure he is not conducting the Salt Creek Sundance this year.
“He says he is a member of AIM on his website, but there is no way he ever was a member of AIM because AIM does not allow non-Indians to be members of AIM,” Fairbanks told Native News Online on Friday.
The following is letter written by Clyde Bellecourt, National Director, American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council:
The Grand Governing Council of the National office of the American Indian Movement publicly demands that Steve McCullough, also known as; “Chief” Steve McCullough, aka “Chief Red Spider Iktomi Sha”, stop identifying himself as a member of the American Indian Movement. Steve McCullough has never been a member of the American Indian Movement and will not ever be recognized as a member or supporter of the American Indian Movement by the National office.
The Grand Governing Council of the American Indian Movement also publicly denounces the so-called “Salt Creek Sundance.” McCullough has in the past proclaimed support from Dennis Banks, however Dennis Banks and other leaders, such as; myself, Vernon Bellecourt, Michael Haney, Kenny Kane, Kenny Irwin, Louie Erwin, Mary Crowdog, Charlene Teeters, and many others, demanded McCullough stop his fraudulent Sundance over 24 years ago. McCullough agreed to do this but has failed to do so. In the past 24 years, American Indian Movement Chapter Directors, Elders, members and supporters throughout Indian Country have called for him to cease and desist “performing” Sundances, and to stop appropriating Native American Culture and Spirituality, and he has blatantly refused and ignored their requests to do so.
Native Americans, since first contact, have died to protect and to preserve our languages, culture, religious and spiritual rights. This is one of the principal reasons that the American Indian Movement was founded in 1968. For the past 50 years, we have fought against the United States Government and various Christian sects that have sought the genocide and ethnocentric policy and strategy to annihilate Native people. “The Longest Walk” of 1978 was an AIM-led spiritual walk across the country to support tribal sovereignty and bring attention to 11 pieces of anti-Indian legislation. One of the outcomes to this walk was the Native American Freedom of Religion act, created to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts and Native Hawaiians.
However, people like Steve McCullough, the New Age Movement, and “Indian Hobbyists”, are an equal, if not more insidious threat. They misrepresent themselves as Native people, they take ownership and appropriate our culture and spirituality. They skewer history with racial stereotypes, and “water down” our traditional and cultural ways. They profit by preying on the spiritually lost and deprived to support their efforts; financially and socially. People like Steve McCullough, and those that associate with the “Salt Creek Sundance” appear to use social media to create a false image of credibility and to promote and package Native Spirituality as if to be consumed by an audience, all the while still disregarding the call from Native people to stop “performing” this Sundance and appropriating Native culture.
The Grand Governing Council of the National office of the American Indian Movement stands with the American Indian Movement of Ohio and the American Indian Movement Indiana/Kentucky in their efforts to educate and inform the public that Steve McCullough is misrepresenting himself as an American Indian Movement member, and that the American Indian Movement does not endorse this “Salt Creek Sundance” and in fact, views this not as a ceremony but as a fraudulent performance that should not occur.