Traditional sweat lodge: A place of healing

Tribal men in Klamath seeking healing and spiritual experiences can now use a new sweat lodge made of rock, clay and redwood planks — the result of a recent collaboration among local tribal members, community organizations and individuals.

“Traditionally our men have been tied to a sweat lodge, so we’re building one to get the guys back in tune with something they’ve always been a part of,” said Yurok tribal member Skip Lowry, who helped oversee the project.

Traditional tribal sweat lodges, like this one built on Resighini Rancheria land, are commonly used for ceremonies that involve the burning of special herbs, prayer, songs and stones heated in fire to warm the interior of the structure.

To build the sweat lodge, volunteers dug out the ground, gathered large rocks, created clay from natural resources, and split and fashioned redwood logs by hand into planks for the walls and roof of the structure.

“I was lucky to work with a couple of (tribal) elders who taught me how to split the planks,” Lowery said. “Some of the elders are still here, but their knowledge is becoming a lost art.”

The project was spearheaded by the Resighini Tribe of Klamath. Redwood Voice interns and WRCF staff members Meng Lo, Elijah Brunsen and Jayden Cornett, who helped capture the project on video from start to finish, were invited to participate in the grand opening. See the video here.

Funders and donors of the sweat house project include the Native Cultures Fund, Humboldt Area Foundation, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, The California Endowment, Building Healthy Communities, Tom and Stephenie Perritt Community Foundation, Cal-Trans (California Department of Transportation), Green Diamond, Walt Lara Sr., and Sandra Lowry.

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