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History: The sweat lodge originated with the arrival of Europeans in North America. With the corruption of the native culture by alcohol and brutal treatment, a spiritual cure was needed. The sweat lodge helped to replenish not only natives’ minds but also their bodies. It also served as a connection to the spiritual world to answer prayers and to prepare for important ceremonies or hunts. Originally the spiritual was the only purpose for the sweat lodge and it is only until recently that it has been implemented into physical healing practices.

Sapling Frame (usually willow)

Originally: animal skins Contemporary: blankets

Small flap door to encourage crawling

Stone Pit

Works Cited: Bruchac, Joseph. The Native American Sweat Lodge: history & legends. The Crossing Press: Freedom, CA. Dunn, Samantha. Rituals of Healing: Native American sweat lodges and spiritual healing. Natural Health Vol. 34, Issue 2. Gale Group Inc.: 2004. Hardison, Barefoot Bob. The Native American Sweatlodge: A Spiritual tradition. www.barefootsworld.net. Accessed: 1/27/10

Altar to keep dazed individuals from fire

Fire pit to heat stones

Ritual & Symbolism: The full ritual is spread over a period of about 30 hours. After a 24-hour fasting period, a peace pipe is passed around the fire pit as rocks are being heated. The circular lodge is representative of the womb of mother earth. Crawling on your hands and knees through the door shows respect for the living earth. The flap door faces east towards the altar and fire pit, and the rising of Father Sun, who is the source of life. The cleansing steam, is seen as ancient knowledge from the rocks which symbolize the elders. The ritual is split into four segments, each lasting about 45 minutes and geared toward a certain spiritual subject. During each, a talking stick is passed to hear everyone’s story and spiritual songs are sung or chanted. After a segment, participants may jump into a nearby stream as a break for the mind and body. When finally leaving, the altar keeps dazed individuals from falling into the fire and participants leave feeling enlightened and cleansed. Health Benefits: The high body temperature reached in a sweat lodge creates a hostile environment for viruses and bacteria. This cleanses not only the mind, but also the body. Copper, lead, and mercury are flushed from the system as well as excess salts. As blood flow rapidly increases, soreness or stiffness of joints can easily be relieved during a sweat.

The Native American Sweat Lodge Andrea Mast & Ryan Chapman ENVD 3310 - 17


Rock Placement

Ritual Movement Key Leader Movement Participant Movement Hand Movement Passing of Object Short Term Activity Medium Length Activity Long Term Activity

Ritual Steps 1. Fast for 24 hours 2. Sit around fire pit 3. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 4. Participants crawl in clockwise 5. Sweat leader closes door 6. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 7. Recognition of Spirits - spiritual songs and chants - talking stick passed to allow speaking 8. Sweat leader opens door 9. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 10. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 11. Participants crawl in clockwise 12. Sweat leader closes door 13. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 14. Recognition of Courage, Endurance, Strength, Cleanliness, & Honesty -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 15. Sweat leader opens door 16. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 17. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 18. Participants crawl in clockwise 19. Sweat leader closes door 20. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 21. Individual Prayer -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 22. Sweat leader opens door 23. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 24. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 25. Participants crawl in clockwise 26. Sweat leader closes door 27. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 28. Spiritual Growth & Healing -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 29. Sweat leader opens door 30. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 31. Participants leave feeling cleansed and enlightened

Works Cited: Bruchac, Joseph. The Native American Sweat Lodge: history & legends. The Crossing Press: Freedom, CA. Dunn, Samantha. Rituals of Healing: Native American sweat lodges and spiritual healing. Natural Health Vol. 34, Issue 2. Gale Group Inc.: 2004. Hardison, Barefoot Bob. The Native American Sweatlodge: A Spiritual tradition.

The Native American Sweat Lodge Andrea Mast & Ryan Chapman ENVD 3310 - 17


Ritual Steps

Integrated Ritual Diagram

Timeline

1. Fast for 24 hours 2. Sit around fire pit

Images go here

3. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 4. Participants crawl in clockwise 5. Sweat leader closes door 6. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 7. Recognition of Spirits - spiritual songs and chants - talking stick passed to allow speaking 8. Sweat leader opens door 9. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 10. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 11. Participants crawl in clockwise 12. Sweat leader closes door 13. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 14. Recognition of Courage, Endurance, Strength, Cleanliness, & Honesty -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 15. Sweat leader opens door 16. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 17. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 18. Participants crawl in clockwise 19. Sweat leader closes door 20. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 21. Individual Prayer -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 22. Sweat leader opens door 23. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 24. Sweat leader brings heated rocks in 25. Participants crawl in clockwise 26. Sweat leader closes door 27. Sweat leader pours water over rocks to invite spirits 28. Spiritual Growth & Healing -spiritual songs and chants -talking stick passed to allow speaking 29. Sweat leader opens door 30. Participants may plunge into a nearby stream 31. Participants leave feeling cleansed and enlightened

Works Cited: Bruchac, Joseph. The Native American Sweat Lodge: history & legends. The Crossing Press: Freedom, CA. Dunn, Samantha. Rituals of Healing: Native American sweat lodges and spiritual healing. Natural Health Vol. 34, Issue 2. Gale Group Inc.: 2004. Hardison, Barefoot Bob. The Native American Sweatlodge: A Spiritual tradition.

The Native American Sweat Lodge Andrea Mast & Ryan Chapman ENVD 3310 - 17

Native American Sweat Lodge (Research)  

Part of a project regarding research on different historic bathing and spiritual rituals led us to investigate the ritual behind the Native...

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