The Lakota Ritual of the Sweat Lodge: History and Contemporary Practice

Overview


For centuries, a persistent and important component of Lakota religious life has been the Inipi, the ritual of the sweat lodge. The sweat lodge has changed little in appearance since its first recorded description in the late seventeenth century. The ritual itself consists of songs, prayers, and other actions conducted in a tightly enclosed, dark, and extremely hot environment. Participants who “sweat” together experience moral strengthening, physical healing, and the renewal of social and cultural bonds. Today,...
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Overview


For centuries, a persistent and important component of Lakota religious life has been the Inipi, the ritual of the sweat lodge. The sweat lodge has changed little in appearance since its first recorded description in the late seventeenth century. The ritual itself consists of songs, prayers, and other actions conducted in a tightly enclosed, dark, and extremely hot environment. Participants who “sweat” together experience moral strengthening, physical healing, and the renewal of social and cultural bonds. Today, the sweat lodge ritual continues to be a vital part of Lakota religion. It has also been open to use, often controversial, by non-Indians. The ritual has recently become popular among Lakotas recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.
 
This study is the first in-depth look at the history and significance of the Lakota sweat lodge. Bringing together data culled from historical sources and fieldwork on Pine Ridge Reservation, Raymond A. Bucko provides a detailed discussion of continuity and changes in the “sweat” ritual over time. He offers convincing explanations for the longevity of the ceremony and its continuing popularity.
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Meet the Author


Raymond A. Bucko is a professor of anthropology at Creighton University.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Orthographic Key
Entering the Lodge 1
1 Ethnohistorical Accounts of the Sweat Lodge 24
2 The Contemporary Lakota Sweat Lodge 59
3 Continuity and Change in the Sweat Lodge 97
4 Language and the Sweat 122
5 Stories of Power and Weakness 145
6 Personal Accounts of the Sweat Experience 168
7 Harmony and Alliance versus Discord and Separation 215
Leaving the Lodge 252
Notes 260
References 295
Index 310
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    A great research tool

    The book is not exactly what I expected. It is as objective as can be for such a subject, however it lacks much insight or speculation. This is what I was expecting. The book is great, though, because it can be used a resource for the complicated subject of sweat lodge ceremonies.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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