For those Men and Women who are new to the Inipi or (Sweat Lodge) tradition we have gathered a few of the common questions asked about the Lodge and the protocols surrounding it. If you have a question not found among those listed below feel free to contact one of the people listed on our CONTACT US page.
Q – How many people usually attend a Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – This varies depending on the type of ceremony but usually 12 to 15 people.
Q – What type of clothing do MEN and WOMEN wear into the Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – For the sake of modesty we suggest boxer style swim trunks for the MEN and non-see through long dress (which is traditional) or gym style sweat pants and a non-revealing top for the WOMEN. People often use a towel to sit on or drape over the shoulders.
Q – Is the Sweat Lodge Ceremony appropriate for people who have fear of closed in spaces?
A – Many of us who have benefited from the Sweat Lodge have started our journey with fears of this kind. The Sweat Lodge is the perfect place to face and resolve deep seated fears. People who come to lodge find strength, support, and encouragement because they find that they are not alone with that feeling anymore.
Q – How should a person prepare themselves mentally and physically for a Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – Mentally, a person intending to come to the sweat should take time, the few days before the ceremony, to reflect on their need or purpose in attending. Physically, a person should stay away from Alcohol or drug use for four days prior to the Sweat. Traditionally we fast from food all day until after the completion of the Sweat Lodge but some prefer a light breakfast.
Q – Do you have to be Native American to attend a Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – Traditionally it is a Native American Ceremony but generally all may attend. The main focus at American Lake is for Veterans but can include active duty personnel of all services.
Q – What do you do to keep the Sweat Lodge Ceremony safe and positive?
A – Our lodges are conducted in a sacred manner with the highest concern for the health and safety of all. Those conducting the Inipi (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony follow a healing path and traditional ways. By listening and learning from the Tribal Elders and participating in hundreds of lodges and Ceremonies they have earned the “RIGHT” to lead.
Q – What time should I arrive?
A – Try to be respectful of Sweat Lodge starting times and come early if possible. For our regular lodges we enter the lodge around 12:00 P.M. and everyone needs to be present by then. But the ceremony actually starts with laying the fire a couple of hours before. All are encouraged to be here for the entire ceremony but definitely be present when we go in. So, plan on being here by 11:30 A.M.
Q – How long is the Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – The length of the Ceremony depends on the number participants. At the American Lake Sweat Lodge we are usually in the lodge from 12:00 to 3:00 – 3:30 (Indian Time). Participants usually stay in for the entire lodge; but there is no rule or requirement to do so. If you are feeling unable to continue you can leave (the Elder who is pouring the lodge ALWAYS has the safety of the participants as their first priority). With the traditional eating afterward the Sweat Lodge you can expect to be here for 3 to 4 hours and wrapping thing up by 4:00 PM.
Q – How hot does a Sweat Lodge get?
A – The experience is different for every person. This is a ceremony that has been used for many generations to help the youngest to the oldest members of our communities. Most find the experience exhilarating.
Q – If it rains will you cancel the Sweat Lodge Ceremony?
A – Usually not; if we can get the fire going we will have lodge.
To Contact Us:
Mike L>>>—> Point of contact Male/Female
Ceremonial Elder (Blackfeet)
Marty Martinez – Men’s Lodge Contact
Elder Council / Point of Contact
Ralph J. Dalisky (ACSW, LICSW),
Social Work Supervisor