Romanticism of Native Traditions goes bad in Sedona Sweat Lodge

Anglo’s romantic notions about Native cultural traditions can lead down the wrong path. Those searching for spiritual fulfillment sometimes use vacation time to experiment with Native American ritual practices. Unfortunately non-Natives conducting First Peoples’ ceremonies and rituals and catering to tourists don’t always get it right.
Angel Valley resort located in Yavapai Indian Country includes Oglala Sioux-type tepee.
This could be the case at the Sweat Lodge Ceremony gone bad in Sedona, Arizona Thursday night. Two people died and an estimated nineteen others were taken to area hospitals. Fox News reports that about 50 people were in a “sweat” structure located at Angel Valley Resort in Sedona. The facility provides spiritual retreats for visitors to Sedona’s famous Red Rock Country.
Angel Valley retreat center claims on-property vortex sites
Living in Indian Country, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Native sweat lodges. I’ve turned down invitations by Native people to participate in sweat lodge ceremonies. But I have never seen a traditional sweat lodge that could sit 50 people. That’s where I get the opinion that the 50-capacity sweat lodge must be an Anglo-version of a typically healthful and safe Native tradition. Thursday night’s tragedy shocks and horrifies us local people living in northern Arizona. It saddens me that those on a journey to spiritual fulfillment never had a chance to find it. I pray that those who survived will chose to walk where the good way is. “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ ” Jeremiah 6:15-17

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey’s Free Travel Tips:

  • As in “buying only Native-made silver and turquoise jewelry,” likewise “buy” only Native-operated Indian ceremonies, practices or tours.
  • trust your own body, if you start feeling sick, get out of the situation
  • When in Sedona, visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross for the weekly Taizé service on Monday at 5pm. Light a candle for the victims of this tragic spiritual experiment.
_______ Stacey Wittig is an Arizona travel writer based near Sedona, AZ. She offers free travel tips and travel advice. Subscribe to this site in the right column and you won’t miss the latest travel news for your next trouble-free vacation.
Today I can’t stop exploring the world (I blame it on my father’s Viking blood) and write about my adventures – many as a solo woman traveler. Life isn’t always rosy; I lost my firecracker reasoning skill to head injury in a horrific rollover accident that should have taken my life. Brain injury hasn’t stopped me from traveling, although it sometimes makes for amusing travel antidotes that I hope you will enjoy. That’s why they call me “UNSTOPPABLE!”

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