st. Pole — The state’s second-largest school district has made big changes in how it respects Indigenous cultures. Staining ceremonies are allowed in the classrooms of St. Paul Public Schools.
A small group of former Johnson High School students are the young voices who have raised their voices and pushed the policy to become official.
Smudging is a cultural practice of burning sage and other sacred herbs to heal and cleanse the soul of negative thoughts. The policy recognizes tobacco, sage, sweetgrass and cedar as traditional Native American medicines.
Audriana Wiley, a graduate of Johnson High School and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, said:
On Friday morning, SPPS students and staff formed a circle, one student walking around with a burning potion, and each incorporating the ritual in their own way.
“We are like sponges. Subconsciously, we notice a lot of things, grounding ourselves and sweeping away energies that I don’t hold onto.”
Parkhurst and Wiley are part of a group that helped create stigma and official policy within the SPPS district.
Wiley says they were unofficially dirty beforehand, but couldn’t do it in a safe way.
“It’s really hard, especially in the winter, when you have to go outside to clean up,” Wiley said.
Students may smear during lunch hours or in Native American classrooms where staff supervision is required. It is a responsibility that teacher Julia Littlewolf takes pride in.
“[The policy being passed]was a really powerful moment for high school students to have their own voice and be able to use it,” Little Wolf said.
This ceremony is an open door for interested non-native students to participate.
“We wanted to educate them so they weren’t ignorant on the topic thinking it was something it wasn’t,” Wiley said.
“For me, it’s also just a form of solidarity,” Parkhurst said.
The effort that went into making this moment possible was not just for today, but for the future.
“I’m really grateful because the students who come after me can benefit from it,” said Parkhurst.
https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/mciaa/index.html for indoor smoke protection when part of traditional Native American rituals such as smudging. increase. The SPPS district does not recognize defilement as a religious act.