Construction and Symbolism of the Sweat Lodge

Dream-Catchers of the Seventh Fire  Soar Home with the wisdom of real dream-catchers
Dream-Catchers Home
History of Dream-Catchers
Gallery of Dream-Catchers
Dream-Catcher Kits
Weaving a Dream-Catcher
Order Dream-Catchers
Seventh Fire Prophecy-Protest-Principle
History of the Little Shell Band of Ojibwe
History of the Ojibways
Ojibwe Culture and Language
Native American Holocaust
Native American Medicine
Natural Serotonin

Photo Galleries Index
The Littlest Acorn
Stories Dream-Catchers Weave
Creating Turtle Island
Sage Ceremony for Dream-Catchers
Larry Cloud-Morgan
White Eagle Soaring

Real Dream Catchers' links
Comments about these Dream-Catchers

Four Directions Dream-Catchers of the Seventh Fire DreamCatcher Heritage Collection

Many Dreams Dream-Catchers of the Seventh Fire DreamCatcher Heritage Collection

Sunset Sunrise Dream-Catchers of the Seventh Fire DreamCatcher Heritage Collection

Real Dream-Catchers teach spirit wisdoms of the Seventh Fire

Real Dream-Catchers teach the wisdoms of the Seventh Fire, an Ojibwe Prophecy, that is being fulfilled at this moment. The Light-skinned Race is being shown the result of the Way of the Mind and the possibilities that reside in the Path of the Spirit. Real Dream-Catchers point the way.


The Wallum Olum: a Pictographic History of the Lenni Lenape, Root Tribe from which the Ojibwe arose

A Migration Legend of the Delaware Tribe 

Wallum Olum: The Deluge - Part II

Indian Tribes and Termination

Tracing the Path of Violence: The Boarding School Experience

Ojibwe Art and Dance

Ojibwe Forestry and Resource Management

Ojibwe Homes

Ojibwe Honor Creation, the Elders and Future Generations

Ojibwe Indian Reservations and Trust Land

Ojibwe Language

Introduction to Ojibwe Language

Ojibwe Snowshoes and the Fur Trade

Ojibwe Sovereignty and the Casinos

Ojibwe Spirituality and Kinship

Ojibwe Tobacco and Pipes

Traditional Ojibwe Entertainment

Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel - 2 - 3 - 4

Soul of the Indian: Foreword

The Great Mystery - 2
The Family Altar - 2
Ceremonial and Symbolic Worship - 2
Barbarism and the Moral Code - 2
The Unwritten Scriptures - 2

On the Borderland of Spirits - 2

Charles Alexander Eastman

Pycnogenol is a super-antioxidant sourced through Native American medicineMaritime Pine Pycnogenol  is the super-antioxidant that has been tried and tested by over 30 years of research for many acute and chronic disorders. The Ojibwe knew about it almost 500 years ago.  Didn't call it that, though. White man took credit.

Seroctin--the natural serotonin enhancer to reduce  stress and depression, and  enjoy better sleep

Plant by Nature is Organic Gardening Nature's Way

Accelerated Mortgage Pay-off can help you own your home in half to one third the time and save many thousands of dollars.

Get gold and silver. Protect your liquid net worth with real Liberty Dollars  in both gold and silver!

The Cash Cows of Personal Debt

I Want The Earth Plus 5% -- an allegory that's not a  fairy tale.

Collapse of the Dollar: How America Was Set Up to Take a Fall

Photo Gallery

Traditional Life of the Ojibwe Aurora Village Yellowknife
The Making of a Man
Little Dancer in the Circle

Friends in the Circle
Grass Dancer
Shawl Dancers
Jingle Dress Dancers

Fancy Shawl Dancer
Men Traditional Dancers
Powwow: The Good Red Road

Crater Lake Photo Gallery
Crater Lake Landscape

Flowers of Crater Lake
Birds & Animals of Crater Lake
Gold Mantled Ground Squirrel
The Rogue River

Sacred Fire of the Modoc
Harris Beach Brookings Oregon

Listen to
American Indian Radio
while you surf 

Willow animal effigies by Bill Ott after relics found in the Southwest Archaic CultureMuseum-quality willow animal effigies of the Southwest Archaic culture, art from a 4,000 year-old tradition by Bill Ott

Child Protection: How to keep bureaucrats out of family affairs

Get a course to promote your business online, explode your sales

Get software to promote your business online in less time

Get software to streamline your business and run it hands free.

Columbus exposed as iron-fisted tyrant who tortured his slaves

Columbus Day -The white man’s myth and the Redman's Holocaust

Excerpt from The Destruction of the Indies by Las Casas

Massacre at Sand Creek

Wounded Knee Hearing Testimony

The Wallum Olum: a Pictographic History of the Lenni Lenape, Root Tribe from which the Ojibwe arose

A Migration Legend of the Delaware Tribe 

Wallum Olum: The Deluge - Part II

Winter Count: History Seen from a Native American Tradition - 2 - 3

Ojibwe Creation Story

Paleo-American Origins

The Seventh Fire Prophecy

The Prophecies Are Fulfilled...but for one

Fulfilling the Seventh Fire Prophecy

The Story of the Opposition on the Road to Extinction: Protest Camp in Minneapolis

Who Deems What Is Sacred?

Savage Police Brutality vs Nonviolence of the People

Larry Cloud-Morgan in Memoriam

Mendota Sacred Sites - Affidavit of Larry Cloud-Morgan

Cloud-Morgan, Catholic activist, buried with his peace pipe

The sweat lodge is found among most—but not all—Indian cultures in North America. Today, participation in the sweats is often an affirmation of Indian heritage and culture for both reservation and urban Indians. For some people the sweat is done for purification, both physical and spiritual. For others it is a social and cultural experience. For a few, it is an experience of immense spiritual significance which connects the past with the present and the present with the future.


The actual structure of the sweat varies greatly from region to region and from tribe to tribe. In addition, different medicine people within the same cultural traditional may built their sweat lodges in a different manner. It is not possible to say that “All sweat lodges …”

     In this article, I would like to describe the symbolism involved in the construction of a modern sweat lodge. It must be stressed that this symbolism is not universal. What is described below is simply one way of visualizing the sweat lodge.

     One of the most common structural forms of the sweat lodge is based on the wigwam: a dwelling common among the Indian nations of the Northeast. Basically, the wigwam had a frame of bent saplings which resemble an inverted bowl. Over this frame some type of coverings are laid. In the Northeastern wigwam this covering was often birchbark or woven mats.

     For many people the sweat lodge structure functions to keep the light out (or the dark in) and to keep the heat in. For other people, particularly those who are deeply involved with a tribal medicine path, the structure of the sweat lodge has great symbolic significance. While there are those who view the sweat lodge as a functional structure, there are others who see it as a living entity, a structural which is alive.

     The basic construction of the sweat lodge involves placing saplings in the ground and then bending them over to form the form. Symbolically, it is important that these saplings be grounded in Mother Earth for this represents the role which Mother Earth plays in healing, in purification, in obtaining spiritual experiences. With the saplings grounded in the earth, the sweat lodge becomes a living entity.

     The first two poles are placed in the north. North is the direction of dreams. Dreams are the special gift which were given to human beings at the time of creation and as a spiritual entity, the construction of the sweat lodge begins by symbolizing this gift. By placing the first two poles in the north, we also symbolically show that we understand the creation story behind the gift of dreams to human beings.

     The western north pole represents old dreams, dreams fulfilled. The eastern north pole represents new dreams, dreams which are coming, dreams which have not been fulfilled. This pole may also represent those dreams which we do not yet understand.

     The next two poles are placed in the south. It is from the manitous (spirits) that live in the south that we obtain words. Words are living things and live long after they have been spoken. In placing these two poles, we symbolically show that we are aware of the power of our words and we ask that we speak words which bring about healing and harmony, which bring happiness and health. 

     The western south pole represents words which have been spoken. The eastern south pole represents words which will be spoken. 

      The four poles—the two on the north and the two on the south—are bent over and attached to each other. This action symbolically represents the connection between dreams and words. It shows the need to talk about our dreams and in this way to help complete the dream and to discover its meaning.

     The next two poles are placed in the west. The west is the direction of the setting sun and thus represents death. In many Indian traditions, death is not seen as something to be feared or as something which is unnatural. Death is a part of life. It is common to hear the expression “It is a good day to die” and many will add to this “as I have lived well.” Accepting death as natural means that one should try always to live well.

     The symbolism of death in the construction of the sweat lodge is not just a symbol of the physical death of the body, but of the death or ending of traits, characteristics, and other aspects of human life. Those who come into the sweat lodge seeking change in their lives are seeking the death or ending of certain things in their lives. 

     The northern west pole represents dreams of death, dreams of the ancestors, dreams of the past. The southern west pole represents the words and wisdom of the ancestors.

     The next two poles are placed in the east. The east is the direction of the rising sun and thus represents birth, rebirth, and new beginnings.

     The northern east pole represents dreams and visions of new ventures. This pole represents those dreams which challenge us to attempt new things, to change the direction of our lives. The southern east pole represents the words which need to be spoken.

     The four poles—the two poles on the west and the two poles on the east—are bent over and attached to each other. This act symbolizes continuity and harmony. It represents the continuous cycle of birth and rebirth, of reincarnation.

     By the act of symbolically connecting the west and the east, the dreams of the ancestors are directly connected to the dreams of the future. The words of the ancestors are directly connected to the words which need to be spoken.

     One pole is placed in the north, to the west of the first two poles. This pole represents moozo, the moose, and symbolizes our relationship with and our dependence upon the animal people. Traditionally, it was the animal people who sustained the human people and made life possible. 

     One pole is placed in the south, to the west of the second two poles. This pole represents adikmeg, the whitefish, and represents leadership. In many cultural traditions true leadership is not openly seen—there are no royal robes or crowns to symbolize who is the leader. Instead, leadership is based upon words—words of wisdom and true experience, words which bring about harmony and hold the people together, words which seek to restore balance rather than create dissention—and upon actions. 

     These two poles are bent over and attached to each other. This act symbolizes the importance of good leadership, of unseen leadership. It symbolizes the need for leadership which sustains and nourishes the people.

     One pole is placed in the north, to the west of the first two poles. This pole represents mahkwa, the bear. It is the bear who provides the sweat lodge with protection, who makes sure that nothing evil is able to enter this sacred place. The symbolism of the bear also serves as a reminder of the great healing power of sleep.

     One pole is placed in the south, to the west of the second two poles. This pole represent neegig, the otter. The otter represents the healing power of laughter and the need to enjoy life and to play. Some people, accustomed to the somber European traditions of religion, are sometimes startled to find that laughter and play are a part of the sweat lodge ceremony.

     The two poles are bent over and attached to each other. In this way, the strength of the bear and the playfulness of the otter are connected. Both are needed in spiritual healing and spiritual growth.

     One pole is placed in the north, to the west of the first moozo (moose) pole. This pole also represents moozo.

     One pole is placed in the north, to the east of the first makwa (bear) pole. This pole is another symbolic representation of the bear.

     The two poles—moose and bear—are bent over and attached to each other. With the act, the moose, symbolizing sustenance, is connected with bear, symbolizing strength.

     One pole is placed in the south, to the west of the first adikmeg (whitefish) pole. This is another symbolic representation of whitefish. 

     One pole is placed in the south, to the east of the first neegig  (otter) pole. This is another symbolic representation of otter.

     The two poles—whitefish and otter—are bent over and attached to each other. With this act, whitefish, representing leadership, is symbolically connected with otter, representing playfulness. In other words, leaders need to be playful, they need to maintain their sense of humor, they need to laugh with the people.

There are now 16 poles, each anchored in Mother Earth and therefore symbolically alive, which arch over to enclose the sacred space.

     The next step in completing the sweat lodge frame is to weave four horizontal rows of poles around the lodge to represent the four cycles of creation. For some ceremonial leaders it is important that each one of these rows form a complete circle.

     In many cultural traditions, the door of the sweat lodge faces east, the direction of the rising sun, thus symbolizing the rebirth of the participants as they emerge from the lodge. In some traditions, the door faces west; among many Plateau cultures, the door faces downstream (the Plateau lodge is always located near running water).

     The size of the door also varies from culture to culture. In some traditions, the doorway is kept low so that the participants must enter the lodge on their knees or on their stomachs, a reminder of their humility within the womb of Mother Earth.

     In the symbolism of the lodge which I have been describing, the door covering is fastened not to the lodge, but to the earth. Two long ropes reach from the top of the door covering, over the lodge, and then are fastened to the earth (either by stakes in the ground or by tying them to living trees). This symbolizes the cycle of death (the west) and birth (the east).


compiled by Dr. E. B. Eiselein for Spiritalk News. You might wish to add your name to their mailing list for their very excellent newsletter.

White Eagle Soaring: Dream Dancer of the 7th Fire


American Gold and Silver Currency is Back. Click here for the Liberty Dollar at a Discount.

See Real Dream Catchers' links

This is a crazy world. What can be done? Amazingly, we have been mislead. We have been taught that we can control government by voting. The founder of the Rothschild dynasty, Mayer Amschel Bauer, told the secret of controlling the government of a nation over 200 years ago. He said, "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes its laws." Get the picture? Your freedom hinges first on the nation's banks and money system. That's why we advocate using the Liberty Dollar, to understand the monetary and banking system. Freedom is connected with Debt Elimination for each individual. Not only does this end personal debt, it places the people first in line as creditors to the National Debt ahead of the banks. They don't wish for you to know this. It has to do with recognizing WHO you really are in A New Beginning: A Practical Course in Miracles. You CAN take back your power and stop volunteering to pay taxes to the collection agency for the BEAST. You can take back that which is yours, always has been yours and use it to pay off your debts. And you can send others to these pages to discover what you are discovering.

Disclaimer: The statements on  have not been evaluated by the FDA. These dream catchers are not intended to diagnose nor treat nor cure any disease or illness

© 2007,  Allen Aslan Heart / White Eagle Soaring of the Little Shell Pembina Band, a Treaty Tribe of the Ojibwe Nation