Arapaho man pleads not guilty in ceremony flap - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Arapaho man pleads not guilty in ceremony flap

Updated:
CONCHO, Okla. (AP) _ An Arapaho man ordered by a tribal court not to hold a sacred tribal ceremony pleaded not guilty to violating the order after an attempt to conduct the ceremony last week led to violence.

The Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Court issued an order last year prohibiting Patrick Spottedwolf from performing the Sun Dance or other Arapaho ceremonies.

But Spottedwolf was one of several people who were building a ceremonial arbor near Concho for an Arapaho Sun Dance Ceremony last week when about 50 people raided their encampment, cutting down the arbor with chain saws and setting it on fire.

``It was like a movie, with 20 to 30 cars coming across that field, whooping and hollering,'' Spottedwolf said after Wednesday's hearing. The attackers threw personal and ceremonial objects in the fire, including buffalo robes, eagle wings and medicine that Spottedwolf said has been in his family 140 years.

No charges have been filed against any of those who raided the encampment. Charles Morris, the tribes' attorney general, said he did not receive police reports until Wednesday morning and had not had time to read them.

The attackers included about six men of the Northern Arapaho Tribe from central Wyoming, said Laverne White, a Northern Arapaho who came to the hearing.

``We came down here to take it apart, to saw it up,'' she said, referring to the ceremonial arbor. The tools they brought were solely to dismantle the arbor, she and other participants said.

Oklahoma Arapahos lost the right to hold the ceremonies because they allowed an anthropologist to attend and write about them, violating their secrecy, the judge's order said.

White said those who attacked the camp took the law into their own hands because the Bureau of Indian Affairs would not enforce court orders forbidding the ceremony. The bureau declined to comment, said Mike McCoy, assistant special agent in charge of the agency's Muskogee office.

Spottedwolf's contempt case was set for trial in September.

``We would like to see them go to jail,'' said Chris Schneider, the Northern Arapaho Tribe's attorney.

Spottedwolf, 63, said he does not believe that will happen because he thinks the court orders unconstitutionally infringe on his freedom of religion.
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