The sweat lodge is a Native American cleansing/purification ritual. Every tradition had a form of the sweat lodge ritual. Most commonly these structures were built with willow saplings stripped and bent together to form a small domed structure. Skins, now blankets and canvas tarps, were used to cover the dome, and keep heat and steam in.

Heat was provided by burning rocks in a fire for several hours, then bringing them into a small pit in the center of the lodge. Water would be poured over the rocks releasing steam and raising the temperature in the lodge.

The saplings are to represent the bones of our ancestors, and the lodge is often thought of as the inside of a turtle shell. I was told that to go into the lodge was to return to the womb of mother earth to be purified and reborn.