British rockers the Cult have sold almost 400,000 copies of their latest album, Ceremony. But they’re not very popular with South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota Sioux nation, whose Tom and Jennifer Crazy Bear DuBray recently filed a $61 million lawsuit against the group; their label, Sire Records; and Time Warner, claiming that a photograph of their son, Eternity, 11, appears on the cover of Ceremony without permission. Attorneys say the picture may have been taken at a 1984 North Dakota powwow.
The photo also appears in the video for ”Wild Hearted Son,” in which the boy’s image, along with pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon, goes up in flames. Eternity, whose Native American beliefs associate the burning of objects with death, saw a clip on MTV while in a motel with his parents in North Carolina last fall and now refuses to participate in tribal ceremonies or to leave his house by himself, says Pam Liapakis, a lawyer for the DuBrays. ”Eternity’s father said to me, ‘They’ve condemned my son to death before he’s had a chance at life,”’ she says.
The DuBrays, Time Warner, and Sire Records would not comment; members of the Cult and John Running, the Arizona photographer credited on the album cover, could not be reached.