Photo from Steve McCollough website.
Published June 28, 2018
Is it Honor? Identity Theft? Cultural Theft? Or Just a Complicated Misunderstanding?
DAYTON, OHIO — Should there be a federal law addressing Non-Natives “practicing” Native American ceremonies, singing ceremonial songs, using Eagle Feathers, “dressing up” or misrepresenting themselves as Native American?
Some Native Americans in the southeastern area of Ohio are questioning that as they are calling for a Caucasian man to stop “dressing up and playing Indian” and having Native American “ceremonies” in Ohio. Steve McCullough, claims to have the right to be a Native American Medicine man, even though he is not Native American.
Does he have the right to do that? One elder explained it this way, “the Catholic Church would be very upset if a man put on a black robe and white collar and went about the countryside conducting Catholic Church services.” Can just anyone wear the uniform of priest? A rabbi? Native people believe that they deserve the same respect.
In many of the pictures on his website, Facebook page and throughout cyber space, Steve McCullough, also known as; “Chief” Steve McCullough, dons a bonnet made of eagle feathers, and clothing that give the impression that he is Native American. Even though he is not, it appears that he must have found it to be profitable because he has traveled extensively throughout the United States and in Europe drumming and being filmed having “sing alongs” at Stonehenge and calling it “Ceremony”, as can be seen on YouTube.
“You know, there is an Indian Arts and Crafts law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States, but I don’t understand why there is not a law to keep Non- Natives and New Agers from appropriating our Culture and Spirituality. You would think that Spiritual Property would be held to a higher regard then Creative/Artistic and Intellectual Property,” states Corine Fairbanks, a member of the American Indian Movement of Ohio.
McCullough and his committee are using flyers to promote a Native American “Sundance” in July outside of Seaman, Ohio-even having been told by Natives of the Ohio area, not to do so. Native Americans, friends, and supporters throughout the United States have demanded McCullough, and those like him, to stop. Earlier in June, the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council issued a statement denouncing him as a member of their organization due to his claims of membership to have to further his credibility within New Age communities and some Native circles and to continue to harvest more international followers.
“This is not acceptable no matter wherever you are in this world- not in England at Stonehenge, France, or Germany. This was not acceptable in Indiana where AIM Indiana/Kentucky put a stop to his ‘Sundance’ a few years ago, and it is definitely, not acceptable here in Ohio,” says Philip Yenyo, Director of AIM of Ohio.