This is an evolving post. Evolving posts are kind of like drafts but drafts that I want readers to know that I am working on. This post in particular will be a gathering of sources from tribal councils and elders on the subject of Twylah Nitsch, a teacher of spirituality who was found to be fraudulent. She was of partially Seneca ancestry, but had no connection to the spiritual life or practices of the Seneca tribe. Most of the practices she attributes to the Seneca are actually Theosophy framed in shameful stereotypes about Indigenous Maizelanders. They even endorse her in their fake “rainbow warriors” mess. Ugh.
Though as an adherent of an African diaspora spirituality, I do not judge people who haven’t committed heinous crimes against humanity for what they may resort to in order to make a living, her followers were fooled, and those knowingly perpetuating her fraudulent claims are guilty of cultural misrepresentation for profit.
Now, this is old news to most of the English speaking world. So old in fact that it has been difficult to even find original records online to discussions about the Twylah Nitsch problem. I will find them though, or get permission to post the PDFs or prints of the documents because where I live now, in Israel, some people are attempting to sell this plastic cape pseudoshamanism to those who don’t speak or read enough English to keep track of Pagan community news from the U.S.
So bookmark this post and keep it for reference. As long as this site lives, this post will live because apparently it’s needed. I’ll make sure to update it every year because even though the tribe I’m associated with is different, Iswa, not Seneca, it grates my nerves to see Indigenous Maizeland people being stolen from. Haven’t we been through enough?
Continuing for the sake of transparency, so you understand that I am biased, and I cannot and will not be “objective” about this, a bit about me.
I am from what one could call a typical African American family from North Carolina in what is now called the United States. One of the reasons for the variety of complexions is what the Queen of my ile (Baalat Teva) likes to call the “tiny burr of Yggdrasil”, a bit of European genes. Another reason is the Indigenous Maizeland addition from the Iswa, also known as the Catawba nation. I have no idea what my blood quotient is, but it doesn’t really matter to us. I’m told that part of the history of our tribe is that we are a bit accidental and a bit on purpose a mix of many peoples who settled around the Catawba/Catalpa river in the 1500’s to 1600’s after smallpox and other diseases brought by European invaders wiped out around 90% of most Indigenous populations from South to North America.
So mixing is like a thing apparently, and the important thing about one’s identity is culture, and a huge part of our cultural mindset revolves around critical/independent thought. So much so that it may determine whether one lived or died when encountering one of our ancestors.
So because blood quotient means so little and the critical thinking aspect of the culture means so much, when one finds out that one has some degree of Iswa ancestry, it’s like great but tribal councils apparently come and go, and maybe it’s not such a bad thing to not give the federal government information about who and where you are and where your allegiance might be in a crisis.