Wood Shortage Hampers State Prison Sweat Lodge Ceremonies
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A shortage of donated firewood supplies is hampering sweat lodge purification ceremonies for South Dakota State Penitentiary inmates.
The Argus Leader reports the sweat lodge ceremonies are usually held six times per week, but lately, inmates have had to go weeks without a ceremony.
The inmates rely on firewood supplies donated by the city of Sioux Falls and the community. This summer has seen the slowest rate of donations that Mary Montoya has experienced in her nearly 20 years as a volunteer in the prison's chapel.
Cultural Activities Program Manager Tammy Mertens-Jones says the sweat lodge ceremonies help reduce tension. When there isn't enough wood, some inmates participate in a pipe ceremony instead. But Montoya compared that to saying the rosary instead of going to a full church service.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.