DER Documentary

Sweating Indian Style: Conflicts Over Native American Ritual


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by Susan Smith
Produced at the Center for Visual Anthropology, University of Southern California
color, 57 min, 1994




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This documentary is about a group of non-Native women's search for self in "other". The focus is on a specific group of New Age women in Ojai, California who construct a new sweat lodge and perform their own ceremony. We meet each of these women as they prepare themselves for the ceremony, and hear about the reasons why they have chosen this path.

We also meet and hear the various points of view of Native Americans. Some Native American groups report "declarations of war against the New Age". They believe their sacred ceremonial rituals should not be shared with outsiders, while others are open to "sincere non-native seekers of truth".

Other members of the video production team include Richard Grounds, a Yuchi-Seminole and a Henry Kendall Fellow with the departments of religion and anthropology at Tulsa University, and Rayna Green, a Cherokee who is director of the American Indian Program at the Smithsonian Institution.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Commendation, Society for Visual Anthropology, 1994



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