Indian ritual at the center of controversy in Mahnomen
MAHNOMEN - A battle is brewing in Mahnomen. At the center, drumming, loud singing, and fires 20 feet high until late hours of the night, several nights a week.
A Native American says his federal rights are being violated after he was cited for performing the Indian ritual, angry neighbors say they're fed up.
At this hour, another ceremony surrounding the controversy is going on. It involves a sweat lodge. Native Americans build a fire and go into a hut of sorts to get rid of evil spirits. Part of it involves singing and drumming. That noise at night is leading to countless complaints.
Damian Bad Boy pounds a drum and sings spiritual words as a cleansing process. Sweat lodges have been part of the Native American culture for thousands of years. Now they are dividing Mahnomen.
Bad Boy has held the rituals for two years and demand is leading to more of them. Tonight's is the 14th this month alone, all start at 10 p.m. when bad boy says spirits are stronger. They can last several hours.
Neighbors say they are fed up. Bonnie Liebl has lived across the street for 30 some years. She says Bad Boy is causing trouble in town.
"My religious belief doesn't interfere with their lives," Liebl said. "There's does with the north end of Mahnomen."
Liebl says Bad Boy isn't respecting the community. The noise keeps her and dozens of others up at night.
"Drum, yelling, screaming, fires 15-20 feet high, ashes flying over our home," Liebl said.
While Liebl says she wants Bad Boy to stop the ceremonies, he says federal law and the constitution allow for such events, no matter the time of day.
Bad Boy has been ticketed once for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He says authorities have also threatened to arrest him. Bad Boy plans to appeal that ticket, meantime Liebl says she might move.