John Fire Lame Deer Jr & Dr Stephan Götze: Casting the net for the (prospective) affluent, or: Hogwarts-on-Rhine just opened shop
Yes, dear readers: Hogwarts presents a new branch – the „University of Applied Management Studies“ in the town of Mannheim in Germany! (Its original German title is somewhat less impressive with an „Academy of Economy for Management“.) Its Wikipedia article is somewhat on the advertising side and offers but a modest list of references. Having taken up business in April 2011, the academy had 379 students in the winter term of 2014/15.
Already since 2013, Dr Stephan Götze has been working hard at reducing his employer to laughingstock teaching hogwash. Hired as a „lecturer for Sustainability and Marketing & Research“, however, this is not all he’s getting paid for. An unsavoury blend of professional work and private pastimes comes on top of that.
Besides Marketing & Research, Götze has been a „shamanic“ student of Archie Fire Lame Deer. Although Archie Fire was trained as a medicine person, he was viewed highly controversially by the Lakota for accepting white persons at ceremonies and teaching and training them. Mr Fire has helped to produce a plethora of Wanabi shame-ons training more and more „shamanic“ exploiters who picked up little, understood only part of that, and pass on even less. Mr Fire also caused the first reported fatality of a Newager when his client Ronald Delgado died in a vision quest led by Fire on July 12, 1980.
Already in 2013, Götze published a book titled „Keeper of Creation: The Indian Way to Heal the Earth and Humans“. It may come as a surprise to Götze that there is no generic „Indian“ way or culture, but he will probably dismiss this as mere peanuts. On p. 30, he mentions how he met Archie Fire, and throughout the book he explains which ceremonies he did and learned, and – oh yes: his „initiations“. E.g. an initiation rite to become a Heyoka in 1997, at an alleged sacred place in Austria (p. 72). So Lakota spirituality does know sacred places, but these are all in the ancient Lakota homelands, not in Europe. And contrary to Götze’s account, Lakota spirituality knows no initiation to become a Heyoka, nor does one get trained as one.
In his book as well as in interviews with Newage magazines, Götze also claims he received the task to act as a „Lakota Communicator“. Nice one indeed, and it speaks of a generous helping of supremacy and entitledness implying the Lakota were not able to do this job themselves but needed a white person.
But Götze is a man of many talents: in an interview, he also claims to have seen „the apparition of Crazy Horse, the last chief of the Lakota“. Which sounds impressive as long as readers don’t know that Tashunka Witko was no „chief of the Lakota“ and certainly not the last one.
Additionally, Götze says in his 2013 book: „I obtained the agreement [for the book] of the Lakota family in Europe, and of John Fire Lame Deer Jr and Josephine Fire Lame Deer“. The family name, by the way, is a mere and modest „Fire“, but already Archie Fire began using his father’s Lakota name Tahca Ushte in English translation, as the elder John Tahca Ushte Fire was a renowned and respected medicine person. John Jr who was named after his grandfather and his sister Josephine have taken up Archie’s business of selling ceremonies to Euros and Euro-Americans. But which „Lakota family in Europe“ is Götze on about?
In a similar way, Götze exaggerates his connection to the Lakota when he has a local newspaper write:
Since years, he is friends with the Lakota.
All of them? Every single one? In the USA and Canada? We should be duly impressed, if it were not for the racist under(?)tones of this description – a whole nation one single man is friends with, the Great White Newage Father patronising his „red children“.
To this end, it is of course also permitted to exaggerate the role of those Lakota Götze wishes to add to his fame and glory, as another Mannheim newsproject writes:
Specially arrived from USA is John Fire Lame Deer, chief and spiritual leader of the Lakota Sioux and Speaker of the indigenous peoples of North America.
Unfortunately, all this is just buckets of polish and no facts. John Jr is no chief, particularly not of all Lakota who today are scattered on several reservations in the USA and Canada. John Jr is no medicine person, has never been trained as one, and any evidence that he is regarded as a „spiritual leader“ by all seven Lakota groups or even just one of them would certainly be interesting to see. Even more ridiculous is the claim John Jr was „the Speaker of the indigenous peoples of North America“; such a position is unheard of, does not exist, but quite the material Wanabi wheeler-deelers and shame-ons would use to impress clients.
In September 2015, Götze and John Jr also founded a non-profit association which goes by the name of „indi gen e.V.“; it’s aim is said to be „the research and communication of the ancient nature teachings of indigenous peoples. Basically, this is about preserving creation“. The charter says: „It is the aim of the association to further the connection between indigenous wisdom and the perceptions of modern science for the benefit of all living creatures and an intact nature. […] Indigenous primordeal knowledge may be consulted from a science theoretical view to allow the formation of theories in research“.
It further contends: „To experience oneness and the nature of things we also offer ceremonies with and for nature in ancient ways passed down. These will be done exclusively in the respective original form of indigenous peoples and will be accompanied by persons who are really qualified and recognised to do this. We aim at providing access to such ceremonies to as many interested persons as possible.“ While the qualifications claimed need to be disputed, as plastic shamans and their former students will definitely lack such qualifications as a rule of thumb, the latter goal seems only too true – provided these interested persons can afford to cough up the fees. It must furthermore be doubted that ceremonies will be done in their original form, since it is well-known even in Newage circles that Archie Fire Lame Deer used to teach his own ways of ceremonies which thus were not in correspondence with the original ways of doing them.
One sentence seems to sum up the non-profit’s aims: „The exchange of experience in „indi gen e.V.“ will be effected in seminars and camps with primordial ceremonies of indigenous peoples“. And we take due not of the plural forms in „ceremonies“ and „peoples“.
President of the non-profit is Stephan Götze, Vice President is Ute Rühl who gets introduced as an assistant professor at the Academy for Technics, Economy, and Design in the town of Konstanz, and a business consultant. Additionally, readers are informed that Rühl has been a friend of the Lame Deer family for more than 20 years. This means Rühl, too, has been a student of Archie Fire Lame Deer who died in 2001, when John Jr took up the business. John Jr does not seem to be on the board, his task was probably confined to adding a dose of exotic flavour.
When it comes to adding flavour, Götze seems to be quite adroit, as his non-profit’s website and local news projects claim:
On May 17, 2014, John Fire Lame Deer and Prof Dr Dr h.c. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker established a cooperation between the indigenous peoples at HdWM Academy of Economics for Management in Mannheim, in the name of the plenum of chiefs of the North American Tribes, with economy and industry.
With the founding of the non-profit which took place at the premises of the Academy’s campus in Mannheim-Neckarau, they aim at introducing an international contribution to the world-wide issue of sustainability. Initiators are the board chairman of IB Internationaler Bund, Thiemo Fojkar, Prof. Dr Uwe Hochmuth, a philosopher of economics, and Dr Stephan Götze, assistant lecturer for Marketing Management and Sustainability at the Academy.
Another newspaper, another title brushing up fame. There is no „plenum of chiefs“, provided they mean an assembly of traditional chiefs. The NCAI (National Congress of American Indians), which does exist, is an organisation of elected tribal government leaders, and their website does not say anything about such a cooperation established in their name.
Albeit having been founded officially in September 2015, the non-profit apparently organised its first seminar from June 4-7, 2015: The three-day seminar offered two sweatlodges done by John Fire Lame Deer Jr; John Jr gets characterised as „John Fire Lame Deer is the chief of the Lakota and at the same time representative of the plenary meeting of Chiefs of North American Indian Tribes“. Unfortunately, he is neither. In real life, John Jr happens to be a carpenter, but this of course would not qualify him for anything the non-profit advertises.
But this is apparently not thought sufficient to polish up John Jr’s profile, since the flyer for the seminar also claims: „Like his father he is thus the ‚Sundance Chief of all north american Sundances‘ and the so-called ‚Interceptor‘ between the ‚Great Spirit‘ and humans.“ A Sundance Chief of all North American Sundances? Ridiculous.
And they can still do better than all this: „In 2001, Lame Deer became the successor to all his legendary ancestors as a chief. His great-grandfathers signed the treaties with the American government and, together with Red Cloud, led the Sioux in the battle of Little Bighorn. His family is looking back to several thousands of years of knowledge about nature and healing methods.“
Some of his ancestors may probably have signed treaties, but his ancestors go conveniently unnamed, and the position of a chief is not hereditary in Lakota culture. However, Red Cloud did not participate in the battle at Little Bighorn, as he had become an advocate against war and had agreed to live on Pine Ridge Reservation before this battle took place. The military leaders at Little Bighorn were Crazy Horse and Gall. It is also not quite feasible that John Jr’s great-grandfathers fought at Little Bighorn, since his grandfather John Sr was only born in 1903. Well, we have seen before that Newagers know how to do maths when their income is concerned, but not when it comes to dates of birth and generations of particular ancestors.
Another lecturer at the seminar was Barbara Wittmann, a Munich IT consultant and author. She is advertised as having long-term experience as a „Vision Quest Guide“ who particularly guided numerous executives. She authored the book „Meetings in Moccasins. Leadership with wisdom and maturity“ and runs her own consulting company which apparently got renamed at least twice. Initially, it seems to have been named „tribal wisdom“, along with the method she claimed to be teaching, then it was „The First Violin“ (which in German language implies „to call the tune“); meanwhile her site is a plain „barbarawittmann.de“. It must be noted, however, that a „Vision Quest Guide“ as described above is unknown in Lakota spirituality.
The seminar flyer even announced guests, like one Thiemo Fojkar who is the head of IB „Internationaler Bund“, a large „non-state-owned provider in the educational field with 13,000 employees and 300 agencies“. At the same time, IB is the majority shareholder with the Academy who happens to be Götze’s employer. Ah so.
Another guest mentioned was Rapahel Mankau, owner of publishing House Mankau-Verlags who gets praised for his major efforts which made founding the non-profit possible. While „indi gen e.V.“ says the publishing house’s main activities were in the field of health and psychology, its publications in fact deal with Newage and pseudo-medical issues. Some of its core areas are homoeopathy, Schuessler salts, paint-on homoeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, „Healing with numbers“, and „Healing with cosmic sounds“.
All this indicates the non-profit is out to target customers who don’t need to worry about a few Euros give and take, and wishes to attract a rather affluent clientele of executive managers who often enough won’t have to pay out of their own pocket, but whose participation will be financed by their employers. Quite a different kettle of fish than the run-of-the-mill Newage audience of sometimes modest means whom one will have to grant reductions. Therefore, a mere weekend seminar with „indi gen e.V.“ amounted to € 990 plus VAT. In fact, prices in Germany must include VAT – except for offers which are to address an audience of self-employed, free-lancers, CEOs, owners of companies etc. For a more or less two-day seminar (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon), this is quite a bit of money. Even if the maximum number of participants was limited to 30 persons, and the amount including accomodation, catering, and seminar material, the left-overs will have provided quite a heart-warming amount for the „indi gen e.V.“ coffers.
While the mix of „spirituality“ and consulting is certainly not new, this combination of using one’s employer, an academy, to promote one’s making a little on the side plus acquiring paying customers plus, last not least, for providing the air of respectability, science, and trust is a rare example of brazenness.