All that matters is my heart beats. In the spiritual life of Native Americans, ceremony plays a unique performance-based, dialogical, and interpretive role in communities. For Native Americans in prison, the fastest growing reservation in the United States, this is an amplified experience. The sweat lodge ceremony, a part of Native American spiritual culture here at California State Prison, Los Angeles County, has been a part of life for indigenous people for centuries. As one Elder stated, “I did not choose to be Indian…I was born Indian.”
The power of the sweat is in the ceremony itself, enabling its participants to have continuing relationships with higher spiritual powers, and yet no revelation is universal. Just as there are many tribes, there are many different ceremonies and as time continues to pass, conditions change. Attending sweat lodge ceremonies is the single most important and widespread religious activity among Native American prisoners. It provides a unity of traditional and spiritual expressions and serves as a humbling experience. When someone enters the sacred sweat lodge, they do so on their knees, to symbolize their connection and closeness to the Mother of all: the Earth.
If you remain true to your faith and beliefs, you will begin to understand your path in life. I pray the Creator will continue to bless your journey.
AHO! All my relations,
Andrew Kicking Horse
Native American traditions, stories (like below), teachings and much more are rooted in oral translation. The father passes down to his son, the mother passes down to the daughter; seldom are words written in a book of how-to or know my history!
In prison, lessons are taught, usually during the second round inside the sacred Sweat Lodge. Those lessons are passed on. Once you learn this lesson, you are then responsible for passing it yourself!
- Andrew Kicking Horse
A long, long time ago, before the coming of the palefaces, there were only Indians and animals. Back then, the animals could speak with each other. Also, back then the Rabbit had a long tail.
One extremely cold morning, a Rabbit was out early hopping around and looked down the small trail towards the Dancing Rabbit Creek and saw a Fox coming towards him, and the Fox was carrying a string of fish.
The Rabbit hopped out there and met the Fox and said, “Hey Fox, where did you catch all them fish?” and the Fox said, “I went down to the creek, it’s frozen over solid, but I cut a small hole in the ice and I dropped my tail down through the ice and I sat there and after a while my tail got heavy so I pulled it out and that’s how I caught these fish.”
So the Rabbit took off like a swift arrow towards the Dancing Rabbit Creek and when he got down there, he cut a hole in the ice, then dropped his tail through the hold. He sat there and sat there and sat there and waited and waited. The weather kept getting colder and colder so after a while, his tail seemed awful heavy so he pulled and pulled but it wouldn’t come out. He gave one hard jerk and the tail snapped off…
That’s why the Rabbit has a short tail today!