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Montana News

Helena Hospital Opens "Smudging" Room For Native Americans

Saint Peter’s Hospital in Helena Wednesday dedicated a new room where Native Americans can carry out a traditional healing practice called “smudging.”

A drum circle just outside Saint Peter’s main entrance heralded the opening of the hospital’s new “Culture Room”, a former office just off the hospital’s main chapel, which can be used for “smudging”, a ceremony in which sacred plants such as sweet grass are burned to cleanse a person of negative energy.

Little Shell Tribal member Daniel Pocha said getting hospitals to allow smudging has always been hit and miss.

“The individual you ask might say yes, the next one might say, go out in the cold. So it is really great that this has come to fruition.”

Great, not only because the culture room is convenient, but also because it acknowledges the needs of patients who follow native spiritual traditions.

The room is decorated with murals depicting a waterfall, and a bald eagle carrying sage and sweetgrass.

Any patient can ask to use the culture room, for healing ceremonies, meeting with hospital staff, or quiet reflection.