Open Letter Regarding Daniel Foor & Ancestral Medicine

Summary

As of the publication of this letter, 26* students from the Ancestral Medicine practitioner training program have formally discontinued involvement and association with Daniel Foor and his business over explicit issues of misuse of power, and his failure to authentically follow through in a restorative process and to take personal accountability for his harmful behaviors. We firmly claim that Daniel Foor is unfit to be in a leadership role at this time. This is a public record so that people can make informed decisions about their involvement with the business of Ancestral Medicine.
*26 students of 60 total, from cohorts 1–3.

Who We Are

This is an open letter, written collaboratively in an imperfect process of love and care. We are a group of former students and practitioners. Some of us were also teachers and staff. In the writing process, we worked with complicated dynamics, including ones very much related to the impacts from harm we experienced in our involvements with Ancestral Medicine. Some who are signing this have contributed to the writing of this letter, others are signing on in support. We do not have full agreement on all aspects of this letter, but we agree on the importance of sharing this and its core purposes.

Why We Are Sharing This

Daniel Foor of Ancestral Medicine (AM) has caused harm, and continues to cause harm, to many people on many levels. There have been many unresolved attempts, both public and private, to address these issues since early 2018. We are deeply grateful for the work of all the students/practitioners who spoke about these harms over the past 2.5 years, and faced various forms of harm as a result. It took tremendous courage and emotional labor to do this. We recognize that there is repair needed in various relational directions among those of us who have been involved with AM, and that most of that is beyond the scope of the process of this letter.

Core Harmful Themes and Patterns We Have Experienced From Daniel Foor

Overall, we have experienced Daniel to enact harmful patterns of misogyny, white supremacy, classism, ableism and more, and has been actively and continuously resistant and incapable of engaging in any form of accountability/shifting/healing, even when offered a tremendous amount of support. Amidst this, Daniel has proclaimed to be, and presented himself to be actively working to shift these systems/patterns of oppression. Here are some more specifics of our collective experience:

More About the Context of This Letter

Although this letter outlines specific ways that Daniel Foor and AM organizational dynamics have been at the epicenter of causing harm, we recognize that it is also not useful nor transformative to center only him. AM as a for-profit business providing ‘spiritual’ trainings has grown exponentially onto a global stage within a very short time. We see how the combination of deep wounds of white supremacy and colonization and thus the deep need for ancestral connection, along with Daniel’s access to resources in order to put this work out into the public sphere, has caused his work to spread quickly. We want to support those reading this letter who may be seeking support with ancestral connection in their search to for this connection, and dispel any ideas that Daniel Foor holds any key elements to this connection. We are in our own continued reflection as to what elements of Daniel’s model are helpful, what is unhelpful, and what might be actively harmful. There are many who hold wisdom in the arena of ancestral connection.

Details About Attempted Accountability Process

In the summer of 2019, in response to Dare Sohei, a former AM student/practitioner, speaking publicly about their experiences of being harmed by Daniel/AM, followed by a handful of practitioners within AM — including Kai Wu, Christiane Pelmas, Lenore Norrgard, rain crowe, and Griffen Jeffries — writing letters outlining their experiences of harm, Daniel began to engage in a process within the organization. Daniel initially resisted outside support, claiming that true communities are able to handle problems within the community (such as “Indigenous communities” do), and therefore wanted to wholly deal with critical feedback through his inner circle and through singling out internal support in problematic ways in terms of power relationships. After extensive ongoing pressure and multiple internal call-outs, he eventually hired a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) auditing team, part of which included engaging practitioners in a laborious feedback survey process.

  • Suppressed the DEI research and audit findings, failing to share the results with the practitioner network as had been promised.
  • Disregarded the recommendations that centered issues of power abuse.
  • Only gave credit, responded to, and made available to the practitioner network the recommendations based in policy change and organizational structure.
  • Claimed the DEI team were unprofessional and disappointing, thereby placing blame on them and discrediting what they surfaced.
  • Deleted recordings of community meetings held throughout 2019, which were kept on a shared resources google drive folder for all practitioners to access, in which this process and various harms were discussed.
  • Held a single 2 hour student network meeting to “apologize” and relay the accountability process results, in which all participants were muted, the chat function was disabled, and staff were communicating with him privately to help him navigate and be “less defensive”. He proceeded to respond to each claim brought to him (reading from a document primarily written by a staff member) with defensiveness and dismissal, lacking expression of an understanding of the harm caused, or a plan for how he would do better. He closed the call by claiming he was “done” working with these issues and would offer a final circle in which each person would get two minutes to air any final concerns.
  • Used these collective expressions of harms and the laborious survey feedback to re-write and create new policies and organizational structures which effectively enable his behavior while simultaneously protecting him from further call-outs/scrutiny. Ultimately, he used the opportunity to update his website language to reflect inclusive words, and changed the structure of the organization.
  • Began to kick out of the organization anyone who did not follow a stringent and controlling set of rules around communication, particularly around any asks for accountability.