Sweat Lodge Coordinator
Role Type: GOC Event Coordinator
Role Purpose: The GOC Sweat Lodge Coordinator has over-all responsibility for all sweat
lodge activities during the GOC. This includes making sure lodges are available and
erected, sweats are led by qualified leaders, sweats are scheduled, all materials and
supplies needed for a sweat are available, and that the lodges are taken down and the
lodge area returned to the same condition as it was before the GOC.
Before the GOC:
Lodge Structure: The Coordinator should arrange to have lodge structures for the GOC.
The GOC has two portable lodges because local materials are not available. Two lodges
are preferred, with a minimum of one lodge. It is the Coordinator’s responsibility to
select the locations for the lodge structures. Optimally, the lodges should be erected
Tuesday before the start of the GOC. If that is not possible, then they can be built during
the day Wednesday, at the latest, before the formal start of GOC activities. Part of the
sweat lodge experience is building the lodge, so the Coordinator should solicit the help
of many volunteers in building the lodges. The fire pit for heating the stones and the pit
in the lodge must be excavated. The stones should be piled near the fire pit so they can
be placed on the wood for the fire. The fire and an altar should be built and blessed with
tobacco. The lodge should be blessed during construction with tobacco and prayers in
the holes that hold the rib materials. After completion of the structure, the lodge should
be blessed with tobacco and purified with cedar and sage. The Lodge should be
connected to the fire with a power line and tobacco.
Materials Needed: In addition to the Sweat Lodges, the Coordinator should assure that
there is an adequate supply of firewood, lava rocks, and water for the lodges. The
Coordinator also is responsible for making sure the wood can be split, so an ax and/ or
splitting maul must be available. A rake, shovels, and/ or pitchfork needs to be available
for tending the fire and transporting the stones. A bucket, ladle, and drinking water jug
also need to be available. These items may be provided by the Coordinator or the
Coordinator can arrange for someone else to provide them, but it is the Coordinator’s
responsibility to make sure they are available.
During the GOC:
Fire: The Coordinator is responsible for laying the fire for each sweat,
in conjunction with the leader for that particular sweat. The sweat leader will specify
the number of stones to be included for the lodge, any special instructions for laying the
wood, oversee blessing the fire and stones, and will be responsible for lighting the fire in
time for the lodge to start at the scheduled time. It is imperative to include appropriate
fire-starter material since the wood may be wet and there is a high probability of rain
during the GOC. It may be necessary to cover the wood to keep it dry, both the wood
supply and after the fire is built.
Sweat Leaders: The Coordinator is responsible for selecting qualified sweat leaders. In
the event that the scheduled sweat leader is not available to lead the sweat, then the
Coordinator will select an alternative leader. The sweat leaders will be responsible for
selecting a fire-keeper and someone to transport the rocks. The sweat leaders also will
be responsible for fire safety after lighting the fire, during the sweat lodge, and after the
Scheduling Sweats: The Coordinator is responsible for scheduling the times for sweats at
the GOC, but it would be good to discuss plans at the GOC Planning Meeting. “Standard”
practice has been to schedule separate men’s and women’s sweats Thursday
evening and a co-ed sweat Friday night after the Dance, but a sunrise sweat, a Children’s
Sweat, and a “sweatless” sweat Heart Circle have been offered in addition to the
After the GOC:
Tearing Down the Lodge Structure: It is the responsibility of the
Coordinator to assure that the lodge structures are taken down after the GOC and
loaded for transport by the owner. Any remaining fire should be extinguished with
water. The fire pit and stone pit should be filled in with lava rocks and dirt. Rocks that
were used around the lodge structure to hold the tarps and blankets down should be
spread around. Any trash in the vicinity of the lodge areas should be picked up. Any
items remaining on the altars should be picked up.
Traditions Description: There are many sweat lodge traditions, and the Sweat Lodge
Coordinator needs to honor the tradition of each Water Pourer for that particular lodge.
Sweat Lodge participants need to be clothed, men wearing shorts or swimming trunks
and women wearing skirts, dresses, or wraps, with a top. It will be up to the Water
Pourer for the Women’s Lodges how to deal with women on their Moon Time. It has
been a GOC tradition that the Lodge after the Dance MAY use four separate Water
Pourers, one for each of the Directions, but that is up to the Sweat Lodge Coordinator to
Revised 05/04/2018 by Mike Andrews.