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Benner Township Builds Sweat Lodge for Native American Population

October 23, 2023 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

A sweat lodge at SCI Benner Township.

​After a multi-year coordination effort, the first Native American Sweat Lodge and Sacred Area was built at SCI Benner Township on Oct. 6. Ten volunteers from across religious affiliations and members from various tribal nations, including Lakota, Dakota, Choctaw, Ojibwe, and Navajo, built the Inipi — as it's called in Lakota.

From the saplings used to create the frame of the lodge, to blankets for the cover, to the stones used to heat the Inipi, all materials were donated and came from as far away as New Mexico and as local as a Huntingdon farm. The day concluded with an Awakening Ceremony.  On Oct. 7, incarcerated individuals from Benner Township held their inaugural sweat lodge ceremony with the volunteers, which is a purification ceremony for the Lakota. The ceremony took place on the eve of Indigenous People's Day.

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