Native American lacrosse teams leagueless in South Dakota

In this 2017 photo provided by Franky Jackson, members of the Lightning Stick Society lacrosse team pose with their 2017 Dakota Premier Lacrosse League championship trophy. The team is one of three that was kicked out of the youth league this year amid concerns about racial abuse. (Franky Jackson via AP), The Associated Press

Travis Brave Heart was planning to spend his senior season this spring and summer tuning up to play college lacrosse in the fall. Instead, the 17-year-old standout from Aberdeen, South Dakota, is faced with the prospect of not playing at all.

His Lightning Stick Society team was one of three Native American clubs kicked out of a developmental league in North Dakota and South Dakota amid their concerns about racial abuse, leaving players and coaches upset and scrambling to find ways to continue playing a game that originated with their ancestors and means more to them than just competition.

“I got my anger out of the way,” Brave Heart said. “I went outside and practiced lacrosse, even though it was snowing. After I played, I wasn’t angry anymore. Then I thought, ‘What do we need to get past this? To get playing again?’”

The head of the league rejected any notion of widespread racism, and said the teams were removed not for complaining but for issues such as unreliable attendance.

Lacrosse is considered America’s oldest sport — an important part of Native American cultures long before the arrival of Europeans. It’s still used to teach Native youth about culture, values and life skills like keeping emotions under control. It can also be a path to college for players who often come from impoverished reservations.

The Dakota Premier Lacrosse League is part of a surge in popularity. Participation on organized teams — mostly youth and high school level — more than tripled over 15 years to a record 825,000 players in 2016, according to U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body.

Since the Dakota league launched in 2016, Native American teams have experienced racial abuse that they don’t experience in neighboring states like Minnesota and Nebraska, said Kevin DeCora, a Lightning Stick Society coach.

“Racism kind of goes across the board with all sports,” he said. “It’s the attitude and belief that people in the Dakotas have always had to the indigenous population, for hundreds of years.”

As an example, Lightning Stick director and co-coach Franky Jackson and others cited a 2015 incident in which Native American children were sprayed with beer while watching a minor league hockey game in Rapid City.

Brave Heart said he has endured taunts about his Native American ancestry from white players and their parents, rough play he feels crosses the line into abuse and what he views as biased refereeing toward white players. He described an incident after one game, as his team was resting in the shade under some trees, in which a parent from another team carrying a cellphone camera came looking for evidence of drugs or alcohol, “assuming we were a bunch of drunk Natives.”

This undated photo provided by Denis Brave Heart, shows Travis Brave Heart, front left, of Aberdeen, S.D., playing lacrosse. Brave Heart plays for a team that was kicked out of a youth league in the Dakotas amid concerns about racial abuse. (Denise Brave Heart via AP), The Associated Press

The primarily Native teams expelled from the Dakota league — Susbeca and 7 Flames are the others — say they were kicked out after asking the league to address their allegations. They provided copies of letters they said they sent to the league and to U.S. Lacrosse in 2016 and 2017, detailing the cellphone-toting parent incident and other specific instances of racial slurs and overly rough play.

League Administrator Corey Mitchell said he received only one formal complaint, in 2016. He said he investigated and found no evidence of misconduct warranting punishment, but he provided a copy of an email he sent to people in the league after the complaint informing them of a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or racial slurs.

Mitchell said the league had problems with the Native American teams including unreliable attendance and improper registration of some coaches and players.

“I think this is nothing more than a response to being held accountable,” he said.

Ali Vincent, who writes grant requests to fund the 7 Flames, said the teams dispute they did anything that warranted expulsion.

U.S. Lacrosse in a statement said “diversity and inclusion are essential components of our sport” and that it would investigate.

Mitchell acknowledged that the fledgling league has had its struggles, including inexperienced referees, but said it has strived to improve through such measures as requiring U.S. Lacrosse certification for coaches. He has formed a board of directors with Native American representation to run the league and said he will step down as director after this season.

None of the league’s predominantly white teams responded to requests for comment, though the association that runs the team in Fargo, North Dakota, quit the league and issued a statement saying it doesn’t condone racism. That association’s president didn’t respond to an interview request.

The Native teams said they are getting support and offers to play from teams around the country, and are lining up other opponents.

“At the end of the day, we only want these kids to play,” Jackson said. “We deal with disenfranchised youth that can’t even afford to buy a mouth guard half the time. We understand how to empower these kids.”

That’s true for Brave Heart, an Oglala Sioux tribal member who helped captain his team to a league championship last year and parlayed that success into an athletic scholarship at Emmanuel College in Georgia. But the sport means much more to him than a pathway to a future as an historic preservation officer.

“We play for the Creator, and we play for the community,” he said. “You think of all the people who can’t play, like people in wheelchairs and the sick, and when you play for them, you get this drive you just can’t explain.

“The day just gets better when you start playing,” Brave Heart added. “It’s definitely more than a game.”

___

By: Blake Nicholson The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

Advertisements

Human Skull Found in Car’s Trunk Belongs to Native American

(Photo: Angels Camp PD)

Authorities say a human skull found last month in the trunk of a car during a Northern California traffic stop belongs to a Native American that was dug up from a construction site.

The Stockton Record reports Tuesday that officials determined the skull was that of a Native American but experts are still trying to determine its age and whether it was extracted from a Native American burial site.

Deborah Grimes, a member of the Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians, says she went to the site and though she did not find additional human remains, she located tools used by the land’s original inhabitants.

Angels Camp police officers on Nov. 22 pulled over 41-year-old Joshua Davis of Murphys for failing to halt at a stop-sign. They found methamphetamine behind the fuel door and the skull in the trunk.

The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

1930’s Painting Appears to Show Native American man Checking his iPhone

‘Mr Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield’ (Picture: United States Postal Service)

Is this painting evidence of time travel?

An 80-year-old painting appearing to show a Native American man using an iPhone has taken the internet by storm.

The painting, ‘Mr Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield’, was committed to canvas in 1937 by Italian painter Umberto Romano.

The artwork shows the founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, William Pynchon, surrounded by Native Americans after arriving in what is now referred to as America. The event happened around the year 1630 nearly 400 years before the arrival of the “smart phone.”

But if you look very closely at the painting which has not been doctored, you’ll spot a Native american man holding what appears to be a iPhone.

Is he taking a selfie or checking out his Facebook? Probably not, because this is impossible of course; it was before electricity was invented, let alone cell-phone signals but the painting has sparked time-travelling conspiracy theories by those in search for proof of time travel.

There is a great deal of speculation online about what the device could be in the painting, and some people have said that it might be a case of time travel.

Although it looks like a member of a tribe was checking his iPhone, the general consensus is it’s probably a hand-held mirror.

For Native Americans, mirrors were symbols of wealth and prestige.

According to an article by Motherboard.vice.com, ― who spotted the anomaly ― when Europeans introduced such reflective devices to Indigenous peoples in the 1600s, many Native nations incorporated [mirrors] into tribal fashion and design.

Expert Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa in North Dakota, wrote a 2011 blog post about the history of mirrors in Indigenous culture.

West of Standing Rock, the Blackfeet Win their own Fight for Sacred Land

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

By Graison Dangor | PRI · Dec 12, 2016

As the Standing Rock Sioux celebrate halting, for now at least, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, another Native American nation is also seeing a victory regarding its holy lands.

The federal government has now canceled 15 oil and gas leases on land revered by the Blackfeet Nation. The Badger-Two Medicine area includes 168,000 acres in Montana, southwest of the Blackfeet reservation and to the south of Glacier National Park.

The government’s recent move caps two years of intense negotiations among the Blackfeet, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, US Sen. Jon Tester from Montana and Devon Energy — which owned the leases but had never drilled.

Blackfeet leaders consider these oil and gas leases, spread over 30,000 acres, to have been granted illegally in 1982.

“The federal government didn’t consult the tribe,” said Tyson Running Wolf, secretary of the Blackfeet Tribal Council. “They didn’t follow their own process on how to involve Blackfeet people on land that we still feel is owned by the Blackfeet themselves.

“We have documented historical data that we’ve been here for 10,000 years or longer.”

Badger-Two Medicine “includes a lot of our cultural, spiritual areas for the Blackfeet people,” Running Wolf said. He said a number of rivers are vulnerable to potential malfunctions of oil or gas equipment.

But despite the recent action by the federal government, the Blackfeet’s fight against development is not over. Running Wolf said two companies — the identities of which are unknown and being investigated by the tribe — continue to hold leases to develop an additional 11,000 acres of land.

It is just as important to stop those remaining leases as it was to cancel the first 15, he said. Until that happens, the whole area is still compromised, he added.

In the longer term, the Blackfeet want to have a larger say in decisions affecting the Badger-Two Medicine area, as co-managers of the land, said Running Wolf. Right now, the land is managed by the US Forest Service as part of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

“We want to be sitting at the table,” Running Wolf said. “We would like to put back to the two most important things on the landscape and that’s the buffalo and the Blackfeet.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-12/west-standing-rock-blackfeet-win-their-own-fight-sacred-land

No Charges After DAPL Security Ran Off Road, Used AR-15 At Oceti Sakowin Camp

dapl-ar15

  • Kyle Thompson, DAPL security guard aimed AR-15 Assault Rifle at Native American water protectors in Thursday’s incident
  • Authorities say Thompson released without charges 
  • Thompson’s statement of incident on social media 

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 01, 2016 

Authorities say a member of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) security disguised as a water protector last week is a victim of a crime and not a suspect, even though he was photographed aiming an AR-15 assault rifle at Native American pipeline protesters at Oceti Sakowin camp.

APTN News reports,The man, [Kyle Thompsonwho was driving a truck last Thursday owned by the Dakota Access LLC ― the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project ― was detained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents after he was run off the road and then confronted by demonstrators. He was carrying an assault rifle. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said the man fired several shots and that he was disguised as a demonstrator.

He then got out of the vehicle and “fired several shots from his assault rifle,” the tribe said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Thompson went into the nearby water, where he was followed by unarmed Native American protesters ― who prefer to be called water protectors. The BIA was notified about the ongoing incident.

DAPL Security

Kyle Thompson, the DAPL security guard who aimed AR-15 at Native Americans dressed as a water protector in Thursday’s incident. Photo:/Facebook

Thompson was dressed as a water protector. A red bandanna was used to cover his face, and arm sleeves used to cover his tattoos.

A spokesperson from the Sheriff’s Department told Red Power Media on Tuesday that no one was charged in relation to the incident.

Thompson was released without charges following the incident, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

A press release from Morton County says the man [Thompson] was told to check and photograph construction equipment.

He was told to leave the area.

A chase ensued in the ditch and the man’s truck was eventually forced through a fence.

He got out with a gun in hand and retreated into the Cannon Ball River.

He was approached by a handful of men and eventually taken into custody by the BIA.

No shots were fired in the incident.

Authorities say no charges will be filed in this case and that the man was using the gun to protect himself.

Insurance documents seized from the truck showed the vehicle was owned by Dakota Access Pipeline Access LLC.

The insurance documents showed that Knightsbridge Risk Management, a private security firm with a Springfield, OH, address, was insured to operate the truck.

meet-kyle-thompson-the-knightsbridge-risk-management-employee-that-was-disguised-as-a-water-protector-insurance

A security badge found in the truck identified the man as  Kyle Thompson.

Thompson served 15-months in Iraq

According to the Daily Haze, upon Thompson’s return home from Iraq he was greeted by former Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall. Hall gifted Thompson an eagle feather headdress, then a drum group played and sang songs to celebrate his arrival and his success in war.

“It meant a lot to me because of my heritage,” Thompson said.

Now, 10-years later, Thompson armed with an AR-15 and on the opposite side of the DAPL resistance, had to be ran off the road by Native Americans fighting to protect their lands, including burial sites, and the Sioux tribe’s drinking water.

DAPL armed security Kyle Thompson confronted by water protectors.

DAPL armed security Kyle Thompson confronted by water protectors.

Thompson’s response

Thompson has since taken to social media to claim that he was only attempting to get pictures of equipment, and had no intention of using his weapon. He claims instead that he grabbed his weapon after “over 300 protesters” were coming towards his truck that had been ran off the road. The post can be read below:

kyle-thompson

kyle-thompson-explanation-1

kyle-thompson-ending

Witnesses on the scene strongly dispute Thompson’s account and say that Thompson was a legitimate threat to people’s safety.

The incident happened near Backwater Bridge, October 27th, just as tensions reached new heights between protesters and police along Highway 1806.

RELATED:

142 people were arrested after Morton County Sheriff deputies assisted by the N. Dakota State Patrol, National Guard and law enforcement officers from seven States, launched a midday operation, ― with pepper spray, tasers, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets used ― to remove protesters from an encampment on private land in the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline’s path.

On Friday, Amnesty International dispatched human rights observers to North Dakota to monitor the ongoing repression of Native Americans resisting the pipeline.

Man Arrested For Painting ‘AIM’ On US Flag Gets $55000 In Lawsuit

_CaptureAIM

Associated Press | July 22, 2016 

PITTSBURGH – A man arrested for painting the letters “AIM” on an American flag that he flew upside-down at his house in protest has settled his free speech lawsuit against the township for more than $55,000.

Supervisors in Allegheny Township, Blair County, have approved letting their insurance company pay Joshuaa Brubaker, the Altoona Mirror first reported Friday. The supervisors approved a resolution on July 12 advising township police to no longer enforce the state’s flag desecration laws as part of the settlement, notice of which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Johnstown.

“The problem is that every couple years we get a report that someone’s been charged with insulting the flag or desecrating the flag under Pennsylvania laws,” said Sara Rose, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who filed the lawsuit in February. “The U.S. Supreme Court law is very clear that you cannot charge someone with using the flag for expressive purposes, like drawing on it or burning it.”

Brubaker, 39, is part Native American and says “AIM” stands for the American Indian Movement. Brubaker flew the flag on his porch in May 2014 about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh. He was protesting plans to route the proposed Keystone Pipeline through Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Wounded Knee is the site of a U.S. Cavalry massacre of some 200 Lakota Indians in 1890. In 1973, the Indian reservation town of the same name was seized by AIM and other activists in a 71-day standoff with federal law enforcement.

The dispute with the township began when another resident — an Army veteran who also happens to be part Native American — was offended by the display and contacted police.

Leo Berg III, who was then assistant chief but now heads the township department, seized the flag and charged Brubaker with violating two state laws: insulting the national flag, a second-degree misdemeanor that carries up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and flag desecration, a third-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

A Blair County judge dismissed the criminal charges against Brubaker a few months after they were filed, finding they didn’t apply in a case involving political speech.

Brubaker told The Associated Press when the lawsuit was filed why he displayed the flag the way he did.

“I figured with this generation, if someone drove by this house and saw AIM” that they’d search for the term online and learn more about the group and its causes, Brubaker said. Flying a flag upside-down is also a distress signal, and Brubaker said he believed the country is in distress.

Brubaker must pay his own attorneys’ fees and expenses and any taxes out of the $55,844 he’ll receive, according to the settlement.

[SOURCE]

Donald Trump, Pocahontas And The Cree Woman Who Stood Up And Spoke Out

Calgary blogger Nicole Robertson shouted out an objection when Donald Trump referred to a U.S. Senator as Pocahontas at a media scrum in North Dakota on Thursday. (@sarahmccammon/Twitter)

Calgary blogger Nicole Robertson shouted out an objection when Donald Trump referred to a U.S. Senator as Pocahontas at a media scrum in North Dakota. (@sarahmccammon/Twitter)

Find out what happened when Cree reporter Nicole Roberston came face to face with Trump

CBC, Unreserved, July 10, 2016

Before a rally in Bismarck, N.D., Donald Trump was speaking to the media. When asked a question about U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who identifies as part Native American, Trump responded by referring to Warren as “Pocahontas”.

Media consultant Nicole Robertson, a Cree woman based in Calgary, was the only person in the audience to challenge him.

Pocahontas is well known as one of the Disney princesses. The animated tale of her life portrays her saving the life of Englishman John Smith. In reality, she died in 1617 after being taken to England.

The problem with Pocahontas

Charges of whitewashing the colonial history of the United States are common. But there is also an issue with how Pocahontas is represented.

“Historically, that name has been used in a very sexualized manner,” Robertson said.

Given the rates of violence against Indigenous women, throwing the name Pocahontas out in a dismissive manner didn’t sit well with Robertson. And while she is happy she spoke out, looking back, she wishes she’d done more.

“I should have called it for what it was — racist.”

UPDATE: Parks Canada No Longer Charging Fee For Sweat Lodge Ceremony At National Historic Site

parks-canada-sweat-lodge

This ad offering a sweat lodge ceremony for $$59.50 per person

By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Staff, Updated June 1, 2016

UPDATE 

After a government website ad angered many Indigenous people in Manitoba and across the country, Parks Canada has decided to no longer charge a fee for sweat lodge ceremonies it offers at a national historic site.

Parks Canada was advertising sweat lodge ceremonies on three dates this summer, at a price of $59.50 per person. The ceremonies are to take place at the Lower Fort Garry National Historic site, near Selkirk, Man.

“This is not a recreational program, but an authentic and traditional experience coordinated in an appropriate manner by the recognized Sweat Lodge Keeper on lands that were important to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada,” read a statement from Parks Canada.

The statement also says, this pilot project was never a revenue-generating activity. The fee was only intended to cover the costs associated with planning and delivering the program. However, Parks Canada recognizes that this may have been inappropriate. We have re-evaluated this element of the program and will be now offering it at no cost.

ORIGINAL STORY

Parks Canada To Profit From First Nations Sweat Lodge Ceremony

The Native American sweat lodge a purification ceremony commonly referred to as a sweat; has been used by the Indigenous people of the Americas since time immemorial as a spiritual ritual for healing, cleansing and prayer.

Today, organized groups of Indigenous culture thieves, including large corporations and greedy department stores sell knock-off items of spiritual importance and well-known companies and sporting teams exploit Native images in the form of logos and mascots.

Now the Government of Canada is now cashing in on public ignorance and the growing need for spiritual guidance by the commercialization and selling of the First Nations, Sweat Lodge ceremonies.

The Parks Canada website is advertising Sweat Lodges at Lower Fort Garry a National Historic Site in Winnipeg.

Parks Canada on 3 separate days in the months of July, August and September is offering Sweat Lodges twice a day at the cost of $59.50 a person.

Paying for Native ceremonies is not a traditional practice, and profiting from Native spirituality goes against most tribal beliefs, but on the Parks Canada website a detailed description of the Sweat Lodge ceremony can be found including customs and how a ceremony is conducted.

Parks Canada also has a page titled Frequently Asked Questions for participants (up to 15 people) wanting to attend the Sweat Lodge.

The website does not name the Sweat lodge conductors but oddly enough describes the role of the lodge leader (He or she) as the one charged with protecting the ceremony and maintaining lodge etiquette.

Indigenous people around the world have been trying to stop their spiritual beliefs and practices from being bartered or sold at any price.

Native spiritual leaders and Indigenous activists have been speaking out for decades about the abuse of sacred ceremonies, and continue to oppose the appropriation and exploitation of sacred ceremonies.

It is common belief not exploiting Native ceremonies is one of many spiritual laws, but selling the sacred has been happening for far to long, and Parks Canada is just the latest to capitalize on it.

Cleveland Indians Fan Apologizes To Native American Activist After Viral “Red Face” Photo

Cleveland Indians Fan Who Wore Red Face in Viral Picture Two Years Ago Returned to Apologize.

Cleveland Indians Fan Who Wore Red Face in Viral Picture Two Years Ago Returned to Apologize.

By Zak Cheney-Rice, April 6, 2016

Baseball is back, which means the return of great American pastimes like Sunday afternoon ballgames, peanuts, Cracker Jack… and racism:

But this year, something is different. The photo above, showing Cleveland Indians fan Pedro Rodriguez (right) confronting American Indian Movement activist Robert Roche (left) outside the ironically named Progressive Field in 2014 is back in the news — only this time, the story has a happy ending.

According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Rodriguez apologized to Roche on Monday for his ugly display two years back. “He approached me and apologized,” Roche told the media network. “It shocked me. I never expected [that]. He said he was an avid fan, but he was sorry and he understood where I was coming from now.”

Rodriguez had previously claimed he “was honoring Roche” by wearing the headdress and face paint, but has since changed his tune, ICTMNreported. Local indigenous activist Bee Schrull captured Monday’s apology in a photo:

The incident comes amid an intensifying debate about racism and professional sports mascots. The NFL’s Washington Redskins have long been at the center of the discussion, with activists on one side claiming the mascot is racist and fans on the other arguing that changing it would be a slap in the face to the team’s legacy.

Baseball is no stranger to the debate, either. The Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo — a cartoonish caricature of a Native American — has beencriticized for years, with some fans even going so far as to rip the offensive logo off their Cleveland paraphernalia when they go to games.

The practice is known as “de-Chiefing” and has become emblematic of the tension between people wanting to support their team but not wanting to support, you know, racism.

In this context, Rodriguez’s apology can be read as part of an encouraging personal evolution. Too bad the Cleveland Indians organization — which has been de-emphasizing the logo’s prominence for some time now — still has yet to follow suit.

h/t Indian Country Today Media Network

https://www.yahoo.com/news/cleveland-indians-fan-apologizes-native-165900929.html

Soldiers Turn To Native American Sweat Lodges To Treat PTSD

Sweat4

Feb 23rd, 2016 | KOAA.com

Sweat Lodge Offers Veteran Warriors PTSD Relief

A sweat lodge on Fort Carson is leading the way for military installations around the United States.

The centuries-old Native American tradition has become a new form of treatment for soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What once was a ritual held in secrecy is now a growing trend among both active duty and veteran warriors seeking its legendary cleansing powers. In a remote section of Turkey Creek, the air is filled with songs and smoke at the Lakota Sioux inipi, a traditional sweat lodge made of willow branches and donated quilts.

The sweat lodge has been there since 1995.

“They didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing, and we weren’t telling them at the time,” says faith group leader Michael Hackwith.

Hackwith, a Marine veteran of the Gulf War, started the inipi with a couple friends who wanted to follow their own cultural religious practice. They got permission from the manager of the Turkey Creek ranch at the time. The participants pray, sing, play drums and sweat in the tent around dozens of hot stones, in complete darkness. It is a purity ritual designed to help sweat out negativity, a common problem for struggling soldiers.

Special Agent Kevin Cheek of the Air Force, now the military liaison for the sweat lodge, says, “I’ve deployed five times. I’ve been there and back, and all that negative baggage that you collect and the things that you see and stuff like that, this helps you cope. This helps you deal with all that.”

Fort Carson formally recognized the sweat lodge as a religious practice in 2005, the first ever on a military base. Chaplains now recommend the ritual to those with PTSD. Guided by natives belting out tribal chants, everyone else is encouraged to pray in their own faith.

335726

“You pray for your enemies and people that don’t like you,” explains Cheek. “And that’s difficult, and as a veteran, you’re praying for those people that actually shot at you. That helps you come to terms with a lot of the stuff.”

For some, discovering the sweat lodge came at the lowest point in their lives. John Charles Freyta, a Desert Storm veteran, found out about the ceremony at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He says, “I got shot by the police four times, and I told the police I was suicidal and I wanted to die, and I threw a rock at them and they shot me.”

Now rocks provide an escape. The stones heat over open flames for hours before being passed into the sweat lodge, where leaders pour sage and water over them to produce the steam.

Originally designated only for men of the tribe, leaders now welcome anyone to the lodge, especially soldiers. Women and men sit on opposite sides of the lodge, which seats up to 40 participants. Women wear loose cotton garb, while men wear shorts. After four rounds of sweating, the participants share a pipe filled with willow bark and eat ceremonial dishes that represent different aspects of life.

The leaders hope the tradition will continue for generations to come. Spiritual leader Wesley Black Elk says, “There’s not a whole lot of Native Americans left in this country, and the sad truth is someday we’ll be gone, and this is all they have to remember us by.”

You can now find sweat lodges at a few other military bases and Veterans Affairs centers around the country.

You can Read more about Soldiers healing with Ceremony on the KOAA Network.

[Learn More Here]