08 April 2011

Sweat it out!

I love Native Americans (or First Nations if you hail from the Northern lands of Canada).  I love their culture, their design, their historic clothing, their beautiful men..., their everything!  When I was younger I loved exploring the Native American exhibit at the museum that was blessedly situated near my house, and my love for them has only grown since then.  There has been, however, one facet of their design world that, when I was a child, I never quite understood: the Sweat Lodge.

The Native American Sweat Lodge functions a lot like a really big sauna.  It's typically a hut-like building (or hole in the ground covered in planks) that has a pit in the middle where the really hot rocks are placed.  The Lodges are primarily used for purification ceremonies which differ from tribe to tribe (obviously).  Sometimes the entire event is silent, or a tribal leader tells stories, or the whole group participates in songs and chants.  Whatever it is, consider yourself lucky if you're ever invited to attend.  Should you be asked to go, remember to ask about their expectations for you and whatever etiquette rules they may have.  You don't want to show up in a pretty floral bikini all slathered up in baby oil...especially if you're a guy.

image property of http://www.examiner.com
image property of http://www.yogasanga.net

Oh, and some advice if you do go, don't wear anything metal because it can get super hot and burn you.  Also, you're gonna want to take out your contacts and be really aware of your water intake so you don't become dehydrated.  And, not to cause worry, but if you're feeling lightheaded or dizzy, that's probably a good sign that you'll need fresh air asap.  Regardless, the once-in-a-lifetime visit to a sweat lodge ceremony would be killer experience, I'm sure of it!

Now, although I've never had the privilege to participate in a purification ceremony, I have added a sweat lodge visit to my "Hopefully-in-My-Life" bucket list.  I'm crossing more than just my fingers for this one!

So, now you all have to go out and visit Pow-Wow's and museums and Native American exhibits and visitors centers on reservations!  You'll be surprised what you'll learn about a people who have been around far longer than we have.  After all, they're our nearest neighbors we should get to know them.

:)