The tradition is thousands of years old, with the earliest sweat lodges used by small groups of native people before embarking on a hunt or going to war, said Vernon Foster, an Arizona representative of the American Indian Movement.
"It was a very private ceremony that took place, and usually it was one of our monks, and maybe four or five of the warriors," he
"Going into the lodge allowed us not only to be intuitive thinkers but to make contact with the intuitive world, to communicate with unseen things."
Lodges are typically constructed with willow saplings and use lava stones heated in a fire.
The ceremony might be conducted by several leaders, with the largest structures providing room for 12 to 15 people, Foster
The traditional sweat lodge is supposed to be round and emulate "Mother Earth," Foster said.
"It's not supposed to look like a stadium," he
added, in a reference to the size of structure used in the fatal event.
said ceremonies were typically designed to last 60 to 90 minutes.
"It's not something that was prolonged," he