What Is Involved in a Miwok Ceremony?

What Is Involved in a Miwok Ceremony?

There are many aspects involved in a Miwok ceremony, including dancing, rites of passage, subterranean gatherings, shamanistic practices, using a sweat lodge and the wearing of costumes. The shaman is the central figure in Miwok ceremonies. Previously, men and women did not participate in ceremonies together, though it is common today.

For the Miwok Indians of present day California, dancing was an integral part of their ceremonies and lives. They danced as a way to express appreciation, to ask for a good acorn harvest, to request for good weather and to appeal for war victories. They also danced to celebrate marriage, to cure the sick and to pray for the dead. The dances also served as social gatherings where stories were told or reenacted.

The Miwok often conducted ceremonies in semi-subterranean structures. The shaman led the tribe in understanding life experiences, dealing with grief and overcoming fear. He also conducted rites of passage for boys and girls entering adulthood.

During ceremonies, it is common for Miwok people to wear headdresses woven from beads, grass, shells and feathers. They also paint their bodies brightly.

The sweat lodge is another very important concept involved in Miwok ceremonies. Steam baths are used to purify individuals. The steam lodge is usually smaller than ceremonial house but also sunk into the earth.