BILD Dresden: When a clueless Newager and a clueless journalist think they’re doing a great job

The largest German tabloid, BILD-Zeitung, on May 24, 2016, ran a regional article on a planned event with Henry Red Cloud which was titled: „Please help my poor people | Greatgrandson of Chief Red Cloud begs Saxons“.

The article employs lots of stereotypes and desinformation – okay, we’re talking about BILD who built up a certain reputation for not caring too much about facts if and when these might stand in the way of a „good“ article:

„Henry Red Cloud (53) hopes to find salvation for his sorely afflicted people, gathering donations on June 1.
Sabine SunTurtle (49), his confidante in Europe: „The 28,000 Lakota belonging to the Sioux today live in a reservation of only 11,000 square kilometres in South Dakota. 85% are unemployed, suffering want at an annual $ 1,500 per person in social benefits. The lack of perspective causes many to become dependent on drugs and alcohol.“

Now, „Sabine SunTurtle“ is certainly not the lady’s real-life name – instead her name is Sabine Maria Böhler, an Austrian Newager, sidekick and „shamanic student“ of William Burchett aka William Jervis aka Medicie Turtle aka Turtle Winds, a white American citizen fleecing the gullible and naive as an alleged Cherokee medicine person which he is definitely not. It is also quite apparent that Ms Sabine does not know her behind from her elbow regarding the Lakota who do not just have one reservation in South Dakota, and of course there are more than 28,000 Lakota living in the USA.

Henry Red Cloud’s ancestor Mahpiya Luta gets attributed as a

„great chief, shaman, and peace keeper who in 1849 saved his tribe from the cholera with the help of a plant extract and, from 1866, successfully fought „Red Cloud’s War“ with 4,000 warriors against the whites who exterminated Indians and buffaloes and dug for gold in sacred ground….“.

So gold was only discovered a few years later, but what are facts against a „good“ story and a few years give and take are peanuts, aren’t they? It is somewhat difficult to establish what is true about the report of Red Cloud being a healer, since there are several websites (among them German Wikipedia, Karl-May-Wiki, „Welt-der-Indianer“) who mention Red Cloud was able to bring some relief to persons suffering from cholera with a plant extract. This is a pretty far cry from „saving his tribe from the cholera“ – and what’s more, none of the sites give any proof or source for this allegation. Another fact unfamiliar to Böhler and author Dr. Jürgen Helfricht may be that the Lakota do not have „shamans“ and never did. But that bit about „exterminating Indians and buffaloes“ – one simply must love this phrase!

The article also claims:

„Henry Red Cloud heard about the Saxon author of adventure novels Karl May (1842-1912) who made his ancestors immortal as Sioux chiefs […].“

We beg your pardon? Nothing the ancestors did seems to have made them famous in their own right, but being allegedly mentioned (in which of his books, please?) by a lesser German author – yup, that’s what it takes to be made world-famous and even immortal. Or so Helfricht’s article insinuates.

The article presumably means to draw a numerous audience to an event organised at some „Western Inn“ restaurant in the vicinity of Dresden. But why the article includes the „Karl May Society“ into the picture, plus mentioning the Karl May Museum was already digging up „forgotten items“ from its depot, remains unclear. Unless one starts to have a look at the author, that is.

Dr. Jürgen Helfricht, as already becomes apparent from a very brief Google search, happens to be a member of „Karl May Society“. Born in the town of Dresden in 1963, he studied journalism between 1985-1989, which means his course of studies was done in former German Democratic Republic and finished before the Berlin wall fell. Helfricht is described as a „historian of medicine and astronomy“ at Wikipedia, but the source mentioned for this information neither provides any proof, nor does it claim the said titles for Helfricht. The Karl May Wiki claims he specialised in the history of Saxony, once more without proof or source.

Helfricht has been employed at the Dresden editorial department of BILD since 1991. In this article, he seems to have been concerned with a catchy headline and a few easy-to-understand stereotypes, but neglected to check who his informers are. There is enough material published online providing information about William Jervis, Sabine Böhler, and their fake „Native American Medicine Academy“. In case one wants to find such information.

However, even the Karl May Wiki, basically covering Helfricht in a positive light, cannot help but admit: „His contributions at tabloid Bild are marked by a certain exuberance. This characteristic is also to be found in his non-fiction book „True stories about Karl May“ published in 1999.“

So the article is a cooperation of a more than over-zealous journalist who regularly gets carried away when writing about anything remotely connected, or connectable, to Karl May and the sidekick of a bad imitation of a plastic shame-on eager to cash in, and published in a tabloid with a certain reputation regarding facts.

On top of that, Bild also does not seem to be concerned with the comments left by their readers. Dresden – before 1989 nicknamed the „Valley of the Clueless“ as its population did not have accesss to West-German TV and radio stations – today is a hotbed of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment and organisation Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident), and apparently some of their finest have hit the article’s comment section with foam at their mouths. As an aside, only 2.9% of Saxony’s population are immigrants, while the overall figure for Germany is 9.3%.

It is very unfortunate that Böhler and Jervis exploit the good name of Mr Red Cloud to promote their own little „shamanic“ racket and push the sales of their fake ceremonies and workshops. It is more than unfortunate that they were given so much space to spread garbage in a large tabloid, even if in a regional version, without anybody bothered to check what they are on about. Karl May Society may feel the urge to rephrase their characterisation of a „certain exuberance“ for more outspoken terms, but the damage has been done already: they, too, were drawn into promoting Jervis and his endeavours. At the end of the day, all involved will have stepped into unpleasant matter – and the only one’s who don’t care about this, as they welcome any kind of publicity, will be Jervis and Böhler.

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