What is an Eastern Woodland Sweat?
I have never written about a Sweat Ceremony before because I was
taught that our Sacred Ceremonies are just that, Sacred!
is a certain book about sweats that was written by a non Native
from New England which is pretty vague and really not
about my People.
The book is
honest and up front, I believe, and did explain a lot, in
The author states that he
permission from all of the People
written about in his book and does
not go into anything sacred.
But, what is missing in all of this,
is the Traditional way that my People
and many other New England people
did their sweats.
After reading this book and with much prayer and permission from
am writing about my memories of the Traditional Sweats of my
Please keep in mind that up until the late 90’s my People were a
knit tribe and outsiders paid little attention to our village.
There have been very few Traditional Sweats in New England
my grandfather, the Sachem, passed.
Indian country is inundated with many casino Indians
they all want to get on board the money train.
our sweats, there was an alter, a pond, and a lodge
they all overlooked the Pequot River.
least once every moon (13 moons) we would have sweats
to clean our
minds and bodies from bad spirits.
Before first light on the day of the sweat, our Sachem (my
the elders would work on the alter getting it ready for sunset.
alter, which was about 20 feet from the lodge opening,
scrubbed clean and then prayers were offered
asking permission from Creator to
have this sweat,
the pathway and lodge was
cleared and cleaned by the clan mother’s.
fire pit was cleaned, cleared and prepared by the fire keeper
and his assistants.
This fire pit (along the side of the path) was a hole in the
ground with large boulders,
that as the fire gets white hot the ashes will fall away from
the sweat rocks.
sweat rocks are placed onto the fire and removed just before the
placed into the lodge pit without allowing ashes into the lodge.
There are a number of types of sweats done by my people,
but, for now, I will only talk about a men’s sweat.
Because the sweat lodge is some distance from the village, there
is no privacy problem.
the set time of the ceremony, men one by one, kneel at the alter
to ask forgiveness
permission to sweat, which is extremely important.
should not leave the alter until you are sure that you have a
clean spirit, Creator will know.
Next, everything is placed on the alter, keeping only
be decent while walking the path to and from the lodge.
The Sachem or leader is first,
followed by the
the rest of the warriors
Next, the fire keeper brings in the hot rocks and closes the
which always faces the Traditional direction.
sweat can last for hours, up until whenever.
the end of the sweat, one by one, depending on the time of year,
everyone came out, went into the pond or Pequot River and
into the Longhouse for a hot shower and a warm pot luck
may contact Sachem Walkingfox at:
sachemuncas at centurylink.net
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Last edited March 5, 2020
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