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Reaching people just learning about their heritage

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[part 2]

Christopher Elia, head of the PTSD program at the VA center at Fort Mead, South Dakota, set up a sweat lodge 13 years ago and has seen veterans benefit from the sense of purification, forgiveness and thankfulness generated during a sweat.

Among the Lakota Sioux veterans he works with, "many of them feel they left -- for lack of a better term -- a piece of their psyche, or soul, on the battlefield," he said.

A sweat lodge ceremony, where hot rocks are doused in water to create steam, is how the Lakota welcome warriors home and how warriors reintroduce themselves to the community, Elia said.

"Traditionally, you give (your troubles) to the rock and burn them off. You no longer have to carry those burdens," he said.

Elia said he's unsure exactly why sweat lodges aid PTSD patients, but he's seen the experience of a sweat help veterans feel and express emotions and memories that other treatments, like talk therapy, have failed to uncover.

"Veterans will go into a sweat and say things they haven't said in five years of psychotherapy," Elia said.

Edward George Jr., a Navajo from Chinle, recently attended a talking circle presided over by Laughter, even recruiting a non-Indian veteran for the ceremony.

His spirits have been lifted by traditional songs, and George, a former reconnaissance Marine who struggles to be around people, has found it easier to communicate with others.

During the ceremony, George sat cross-legged on the floor of the teepee, his hands palms up. Laughter threw cornmeal onto the small fire and used pheasant feathers to swirl the smoke in a welcoming blessing over George's hands, shoulders and head.

"Coming back to our native culture in a way helps us find our way back, find our spirituality again," George said.


[Linda posted this]

Thank You Linda!

This is most interesting to me. And, you are right in the ending of your post too.

I'm curious about the way the Sweat Lodge would help with the PTSD. I suppose it could sort of put you in such a relaxed state of mind that you sort of re-connect with those parts & places that were too bad to be able to cope with. We could probably all do with this on occasion. My Friend Bobbie has suggested this to me, but I've turned her down so far, only because (I'm sure this seems stupid, but) when I get too hot I have horrible panic attacks! Now if I could just figure out a way to do that, but stay cool!

Be cautious before proceeding with this. Sweats run by people not trained and endorsed by traditional practitioners are slammed as "culture vultures." It's considered a religious ceremony. I guess the best analogy would be to suppose that you'd decided confession as practiced by Catholics is good for the soul, so you and your friend take turns playing priest and parishioner and then start telling folks you're bona fide Catholics. The Pope might take exception.

I am also interested in the ceremony of a sweat lodge. Does one have to be invited to one? I don't want to seem presumptious, but I would like the spiritual purging, if you will, that is said to take place - to reconnect.


I think that it is safe to ask around in the NDN circles etc and then ask the sweat leader where they may have earned it from, if they got froma book or they are just "doing it" then stay away from what they are doing.
Iam familiar with this and if you send me an email I'll respond more to your question but be cautious and take care.

[Tom -- wantiing to change the topic]

I didn't separate it the way I wanted to -- after


Linda posted this]"

the 2nd time Lynella was the poster.  Linda responded telling to be cautions.  Then Diedre posted then Tom.


I only realized the author of this article spoke of Navajo and later Lakota sources the 2nd or 3rd time I read it -- didn't cross my mind. There are about a thousand people who are members of that forum I think, most think of themselves as possibly having Indian ancestor, most live in Appalachia with some on the East coast in big cities. Most, like me, will pay no attention to the mixing of Navajo and Lakota ceremonies in the article.

They are the people who will fall for charlatains I hope they won't fall for that nonsense and I hope Linda finally sees the Pandora's box she has opened up.

BUT most of the people who read the forum never post or do so occasionally and may not understand that you don't mix Lakota and Navajo ceremonies, they might try something they know nothing about . . . She probably thinks this is censorship . . . bull . . . I'm through makin' excuses for her and defending her here at NAFPS, just makes me look silly and she benefits with her congrgation  on Saponitown still bowing and cowtowing to her.


Having read through this topic I realized it's mostly about www.saponitown.com, which has its own thread (also started by Vance_Hawkins) here:



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