News and Announcements
What’s Happening In The ONAC World?
Watch here for updates, significant legal decisions or if clarifications or corrections need to be made, and news that concerns all of us as we work to honor and protect American Native Culture, Ceremonies, Participants and Sacraments.
New Page For Members Only – Highlights Upcoming Ceremonies
and Connections with Medicine People
Recent Articles of Interest
Read about how a Klamath Indian changed and defended the freedom of religion and why Al Smith is a hero in this article from the Atlantic.
A series of articles based on recent court actions was recently published that may be of interest to our members. Though some of the people quoted in the article are incorrect or have drawn false conclusions, the series is interesting to review.
Tribes on Reservations Now Allowed to Grow and Sell Cannabis
While it has been legal to use cannabis in ceremony either on the Reservations or in Oklevueha NAC ceremonies, this ruling removes some of the problems and cost of obtaining this sacrament for our members. Read this from US News and World Report.
Official Statement on Conflict Resolution
To Members and Leaders of Oklevueha NAC and to the general public (informational)
As we continue in the important work of blessing and discovering healing in the lives of our members, there are some important principles that all of us need to keep in our minds and hearts.
The most important of these is that we make efforts to grow individually and work to improve our integrity, courage and determination to walk in a good way. The values of Oklevueha (Gratitude, Humility, Faith, Respect, Honor, Charity and Forgiveness) are a wonderful guide to that personal growth.
Secondly, we always seek to bless, build, encourage and strengthen our fellow beings. It is unlikely that positive change and growth ever come from tearing down or accusing others, especially when we are unsure of the facts. It is true that occasionally there are those who are acting contrary to their commitments to each other or to principles of morality and integrity. When these things happen, it is important that we first go privately to those involved and work together to resolve any conflicts. In any organization where our actions reflect upon the other members (such as ONAC), if others refuse to seek such resolution we sometimes need to involve the leadership in assisting us to find a solution. This can always be done in a spirit of love and desire to bless, even when protecting or instructing others. One of the plagues of our times is that most people seek to hurt or punish those they have conflict with rather than seeking resolution. Sometimes it is necessary to separate ourselves or our organization from those who have negative intentions, but we do not need to fall into creating negative intentions in ourselves while doing so.
Recently, two experiences illustrate this concept. In one, a few people in our organization were working to subvert and destroy the work that we do for their own gain. A couple of our members became aware of these things and contacted the leadership to inform us. We very much appreciate their efforts. We were able to first, contact the people in question and invite them to come into compliance with our purposes and requirements. When they chose not to do so, we separated them from our organization. This would have been done quietly, but they made it impossible when they chose to attack our organization and our leadership and continue to portray that they were part of our group. At that point we had to make public announcements as to that separation from us so that people would not think they represented us or had authority to do the things they were doing.
In the second situation, concerns were raised about a different person by one of our members. They made the mistake of airing their concerns publicly rather than addressing them privately or through the leadership. We have asked them to choose not to do that in the future. We also (as is our policy in all such cases) assigned some of the leadership to investigate the concerns thoroughly. After this was accomplished, it became clear that the actions were not intended to cause trouble but were a result of some lack of care and follow through. We asked both the person that brought the concerns to us and the person in question to look within themselves and see what they could do better in the future. Because this procedure was followed, the problem was resolved without anyone having to be reprimanded, we found that everyone had good intentions and no desire to do harm, and peace has been restored. That is the outcome and desire of walking in a good way.
Hopefully all of us can learn how to use these positive principles in our lives and in any conflicts we encounter. Peace, blessings and self-improvement are the results as we do so.
Official Statement on Legal Authorization for Branches
Official Statement Concerning Legal Authorization for Native American Churches and the Branches of those Churches.
Because there has been some confusion about who can create Native American Churches and who can create branches of those churches, we seek to set in order the legal and moral authority by which these things can be done. We also desire to dispel confusion that has arisen because of the actions by some who may have been well-meaning, but do not understand the legal requirements involved.
The Native American Church in the broadest sense was created in order to protect the beliefs, culture, ceremonies and sacraments or medicines of the American Native Culture of North and South America. Because of efforts by some to destroy those things, many of the sacraments and medicines used through the centuries were banned and have since been listed as “Controlled Substances”. Membership in a specific Native American Church (there are many) protects the members legally in growing, using, possessing and transporting these medicines. Items considered sacraments by various tribes. These sacraments include Peyote, cannabis, San Pedro, Ayahuasca, Mushrooms and various other plants, herbs and other naturally occurring substances. All of these are provided by Mother Earth and Father Sky to be used with knowledge, reverence and understanding by all who live here for healing, spiritual enlightenment and personal growth.
Individual Native American Churches are only created when Tribal spiritual leaders bless that Church and/or the medicine person who cares for it. It is important to note that being blessed by a tribal medicine person does not give authority to the church leaders who have a blessed church to create other churches.
What this means for members of Oklevueha Native American Church and for the Branch Leaders of each branch is that no one can create branches of Oklevueha NAC except James Mooney or the Council of Elders he has created. Being a branch leader in ONAC does not give anyone the right to create additional branches. The members of any branch so created are not legally part of Oklevueha unless they also join Oklevueha NAC and they can not join as an Independent Branch member unless the branch they belong to is a legitimate branch of ONAC. If they are not recognized members of Oklevueha NAC, they are not protected by our church. We can not vouch for them or help in their defense if they get in trouble.
Additionally, branch leaders can assign someone in their branch as a medicine person for their branch only. It is important that anyone so assigned be trained and responsible for the safety and well-being of the people they work with whether it is in working with the medicines or sacraments or if they are in ceremony. Assigning someone as a medicine person who does not understand this serious responsibility and have the training and understanding to care for people under those conditions is careless and may open them up to legal problems if anything happens that is harmful or damaging to the participant’s relationships, health or emotional well-being. Those assigned as branch medicine people are not recognized as medicine people by the Oklevueha Native American Church leaders and members unless they are trained and approved by James and are issued a Medicine Card (which is different than a membership card).
These things are important to understand for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that, people who are not specifically part of a tribally blessed church or its authorized branches are not protected by the laws that were created to allow those churches to retain their culture, medicines, ceremonies and sacraments. Just because someone calls what they do a Native American Church does not give it legal standing and it does not give them legal protection in possessing or using sacraments that would otherwise be illegal. These protections do not extend to anyone who is not either a registered member of a legitimate Native American Church or a member of a Federally Recognized Tribe. If people who are not members are allowed to partake of these sacraments or even attend ceremonies where they are used, everyone there is in technical violation of the law and could be arrested. It is extremely important that you verify that everyone who attends or participates is a legitimate member of Oklevueha NAC.
Recent court cases have highlighted the fact that Native American Churches (particularly Oklevueha NAC) that have met these requirements are protected along with their members. Those who are not tribally blessed and those who claim association with those churches without authorization have no protection and in fact are often charged with fraud as well as possession and distribution of controlled substances. This puts their members in danger and should never happen. Please be sure your actions are consistent with these principles so that you and your members are protected morally and legally in all you do.