[Sweat-bath Water Sprinkler]


[Sweat-bath Water Sprinkler]
Oceti Sakowin
Sweat-bath water sprinkler made with buffalo tail stitched to a stick.

The people of the Oceti Sakowin used this specific item in a ritual known as the sweat-bath. This sprinkler would have been used to flick water onto the fire and create a manageable amount of steam. It was a spiritual act of cleansing oneself and being reborn upon exiting the hut. However, this practice was forbidden to be practiced when Christian missionaries expanded to the Dakota territories and forced the Oceti Sakowin people to assimilate into the white man’s society. Countless natives lost their lives in the war that followed between 1854 and 1891, and those that were not killed went to boarding schools to be educated on their new way of life if they wanted to or not.

This Sweat-bath water sprinkler was most likely taken from a destroyed sweat hut or chiefs lodging and kept as a souvenir of conquest, or it was recovered by salvage anthropologist attempting to preserve items of nations thought to be dying. It is unknown where this cultural item went after it was robbed from the Oceti Sakowin or how it eventually came into the hands of Lafayette College. It was first recorded in the college in the Kirby Museum with a label that read "[Miscellaneous: Stick with course black hair attached, 16” long. Originally in the Kirby Museum]". It has since been moved with everything else from the Kirby Museum to the Special Collections. Sadly, it can be heavily assumed that it has not been seen by anyone of its cultural making in over a hundred years.
In Copyright
Lafayette College, Special Collections and College Archives
Bibliographic Citation
Unknown artist, Sweat-bath Water Sprinkler, buffalo tail, wood. Special Collections and College Archives, Lafayette College, Easton, PA

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