New Arizona Sweatlodge Under Fire; Nobody Died This Time
This is what a real sweatlodge looks like.
There's a brand-new sweat lodge fiasco playing out in northern Arizona, but "spiritual warrior" James Arthur Ray has nothing to do with it and, thankfully, nobody is dead as a result.
According to court documents, Adam Yellowbird De Armon, a spiritual leader and executive director of the Institute of Cultural Awareness, has 30 days to tear down a sweat lodge he's built near Cornville and stop holding large gatherings there or he will be forced to pay a $5,000 fine.
Yellowbird, as you might imagine, isn't happy about it and says the order violates his religious freedom.
"The Creator has chosen me to be the first case to go into this hearing in Yavapai County since the James Ray incident," Yellowbird says in a video statement posted on Google Videos.
Unlike Ray's death tent, it seems as though this structure wasn't thrown together like a poorly ventilated shack in a third-world country, and Yellowbird wasn't charging people $10,000 to use it.
"This is our way of praying, this is our tradition, our religion," he said. "We don't use these ceremonies in a commercial way."
Yellowbird says he plans to fight the order and is organizing for other sweatlodgers to come together to make sure that the James Ray disaster doesn't destroy their "sacred way of life."
"We can do these 'Inipis,' these ceremonies, in a right and and safe and healthy way, as a cultural exchange," Yellowbird says.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.