Tribal Traditions of Worship

June 18, 2007

Author: Margaret Ramirez

Source: Chicago Tribune

As Native Americans gathered Sunday morning beneath the scorching sun, Georgina Roy, an Ojibwa, lit the sage branch, sending sweet smoke from the sacred herb around the prayer circle. Then Roy brought the burning sage before each person. One by one, they used their hands to bring the scent closer to their faces, washing their minds and bodies with smoke meant to purify and bless their souls.

There was no sign of it here -- no crosses, no holy water, no images of Christ -- but this prayer meeting was sponsored by a center affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Anawim Center, a Chicago-based center for Native American prayer and spirituality, does not seek to impose the Catholic faith on the Indian community. Instead, it helps maintain spiritual traditions such as smudging, the purification ritual performed Sunday at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.