Change of Seasons: Rebuilding the Sweat Lodge at Clallam Bay
August 25, 2021
The completed sweat lodge at Clallam Bay Corrections Center with a tower in the background. (Jeffrey Adams, Religious Coordinator)
CLALLAM BAY – Sweat lodges are an important ceremony for indigenous people, where participants give thanks, heal, seek wisdom, connect with their spirit guides, and purify mind, body and spirit.
Earlier in July 2021, the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) Tribal Circle took down their sweat lodge, as part of their annual tradition for change of seasons. Members of the Circle then worked together to rebuild and re-bless the lodge. Wallace Perry, with the assistance of Theron Parker and Dominic Perry, collected the branches in an environmentally sustainable way and donated them for use in the rebuild. Mr. Perry is a member of the Makah Tribe and a descendent of the Shoshonne-Bannock and Lakota tribes.
“The way in which I live my life after my release from the Oregon correctional system has allowed the blessings I have now,” said Perry. “Once I got back to the teachings with which I was raised, my life got to what it should be. Living in a good way and keeping true to our ways helps the incarcerated get out and not return.”
Having these ceremonies and recognizing all cultures is in line with the Department’s values of respectful and inclusive interactions. Corrections appreciates and values individuals by promoting an inclusive and diverse environment. It also supports people’s success by understanding individuals, instilling hope, embracing change, and providing opportunities.
Jeffrey Adams has been serving as the religious coordinator at CBCC for close to a year and has developed a great rapport with the Native American population as well as other faith-based groups with whom he works. He has been impressed with the good relationships between incarcerated individuals and religious coordinators across the state have with the incarcerated individuals.
“Participants in Native American activities at CBCC take it very seriously, and seem to find purpose, hope, peace, and fulfillment in doing so,” said Adams. “I’m grateful we facilitate such things.”
Reentry is a key tenet for the Department. The Circle also feels these ceremonies help prepare members for release and with relationships with others and staff. Circle member Jon DeVon believes in the healing aspects of the sweats.
“This is our outlet. This is our healing. This is our peace. This is our time away from doing time.”