Mike Lubke is the winner!
Nez Perce sweat house/lodge is the answer for Week 417 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country. Watch each day for another clue.
When you think you know the answer, drop us an email at: email@example.com. Please, let us know where you are from, if it is out of the area.
Join in the discovery!
Monday: Used daily
Tuesday: Dome shaped
Wednesday: Men and women participated separately.
Thursday: It was followed by something that was its opposite.
In the book, Be Brave, Tah-hy! The Journey of Chief Joseph's Daughter, the sweat houses are described from her perspective. The men and boys would go in first and then the women and girls, never together. The sweat houses were dome shaped and big enough for 10-12 people at a time. They were constructed of bent over green saplings covered with cattail mats or animal skins. A fire was built outside and special rocks were gathered and heated. They had to be careful what kind of rocks they used because some would explode when the cold water was put on them. Everyone would strip down to the skin. When everyone was seated, the hot rocks were picked up with green sticks and placed in a rock lined pit inside the sweat house. The someone, usually an elder would sit near the hot rocks. They would put their hand in a bucket of water and drip the water over the rocks. That produced the steam. When the people had had enough steam, they would run outside and jump in the cold river which was right by the sweat house.
The author, Jack R. Williams, says he lived on the Nez Perce Reservation from 1969-1975 and several of the elderly Nez Perce were concerned that the young people were not only losing their language, but their history and culture. It was felt that a book that could be used in their schools would be the best way to preserve those. He had the help of a number of the Nez Perce people to write the book. Tah-hy was the only one of Chief Joseph's children to reach adulthood and the book is told from her perspective.
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