The lawsuits are beginning to mount up against "spiritual warrior" James Arthur Ray, and the latest comes from someone who wasn't even at the sweat lodge retreat that left three people dead and dozens injured.
A man in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, has filed a lawsuit against Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center, the site of the deadly ceremony, for "desecration of a sacred Lakota Ceremony."
Floyd Hand, Jr., who represents the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, claims that Ray and the owners of Angel Valley committed fraud for "impersonating Native Americans."
Ray may be the epitomy of a snake-oil salesman, but "impersonating Native Americans?" Does Hand plan on suing that member of the Village People, too?
"Ray is a spiritual vampire who will use whatever means necessary to turn a profit. He and others like him that profit from our culture must be held accountable for their continual fraud and desecration," Hand tells the Rapid City Journal. "This ceremony comes from the Lakota. We maintain our cultural identity today, and people like Ray are trying to mock it as a means to acquire material possessions. They cannot hide behind the Religious Freedom Act. This is not a religion."
This is the latest of several lawsuits filed against Ray. The others, filed by people who were actually at the sweat lodge, claim that Ray barred them from getting out of the sweat tent and intimidated people into staying despite requests to leave.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.