Joseph Bruchac,
The Native American Sweat Lodge:
History & Legends

(Crossing Press, 1999)

The Native American Sweat Lodge: History & Legends is an intriguing book. Although it is a compilation of Native American stories taken from a wide variety of tribes across the country, it is an instructive manual. The stories are meant to illustrate the symbolism, use and importance of the sweat lodge in native cultures.

Joseph Bruchac devotes roughly a third of the book to explaining the history of the sweat lodge and its role among Native Americans. He explains the types of sweat lodges, the parts, and details how they are erected. There are photographs, illustrations and drawings scattered throughout the book.

The book is divided into the following sections: Historical Survey, The Parts of the Lodge, Creation, The Lodge of Testing, When Trickster Enters the Lodge and The Healing Lodge. The latter three sections are the story sections. Each of the 24 stories will each tug at your heart and engage your imagination, taking you back in time or across the country to a very different world.

Bruchac's lively and descriptive writing style will thrill you. You will see these stories in your mind, especially the one about the two braves that wanted a sweat lodge and their stolen puppy. If you are not acquainted with this man's work, you should definitely order a couple of his books today. He is a wonderfully gifted storyteller who specializes in Native American folklore. He will make the culture come alive!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 7 June 2003

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