Manataka American Indian Council

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Random Smudging of people at events and gatherings, particularly the emergency services personnel assigned to perform their sworn duties.

By Spirit Bear The Reverend Dr. Fred D. Wilcoxson, PHD Episcopal Priest, Spiritual Elder


The ancient art of smudging, uses the various types of Sage, white Sage most popular. Smudging with smoke from the Sage is a form of cleansing and sweet aroma for relaxation, the cleansing of houses or objects, and cleansing and creation of purity, spiritual enlightening in preparation for ceremonies, meetings, and gatherings. The protocol for smudging varies from tribe to tribe within the Indigenous/Native American Indians.


The attention, awareness, and the spiritual values of smudging have been adopted by large numbers of non-Indian populations. These groups have defined their own protocols and uses, which unfortunately is done for non-Native healing, and require payment. The traditional Native American takes ceremonial smudging very seriously and does not request payment.

Recently there was an incident where there was a situation where a female with smoking Sage began smudging an on duty Police officer. This brought a strong reaction from the officer. Media outlets picked up the story and spun it in a way that made the officer look like a bad guy.


I originally thought about writing an article directed as a training tool of emergency services personnel, dealing with and understanding of American Indian traditions specially 'Smudging'.


I talked with a number of law enforcement and fire rescue leadership and training officers. One used the comparison of smudging an officer while the office was working to walking up to a professional golfer on the green preparing to putt. The resulting distraction could negatively change outcomes. While the smudging can have a positive affect on the recipient, it must be done with the permission of the that person. Most emergency services leaders vehemently remind that in this day and time emergency services particularly the police have become targets and victims of deadly attacks. Their position is that it is not necessary to train the culture and tradition of Native America and non-Indian Spiritualists. When on duty these emergency services people are to be diligent, vigilant, and 100% focused on personnel safety, the saving of life and property, and protecting the public wherever they are.


My conclusion is heightening the public and Indian awareness of the potential in random smudging. If approached the potential recipient can wave off persons before they get into their personal space. Persons attending events and may be warned they may be smudge at random, event sponsors should warn participants and emergency services via signage, ticket information, and announcements. The best case scenario would be having a specified place that those who want smudging can go to be smudged, cleansed, and enjoy the sweet and relaxing smell of Sage.


In her article in Spirituality & Health Lisa Charleyboy quoted  Cat Criger, aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University of Toronto: “Native American medicines must be treated with reverence” This is a key point for all readers to read, mark, and inwardly digest.


For those who want more information regarding all things Native American go to You can Google your topic. You can go to other American Indian web sights. The bottom line is to learn more about the history, traditions, and culture of the Indigenous and First Peoples