Jon Funmaker was a serious-ass Indian. Poor you if you participated in one of his sweats and farted around. Jon saw sweats as one of the last ways that you could communicate with your dead people. Poor you if you were in charge of heating the stones or splitting the wood into manageable wedges or pitchforking them into the hole in the makeshift tent and fell short because of a lack of solemnity.
Chances were you weren't ever going to be invited to another Jon Funmaker sweat. And that was that, so you can imagine the white people that primarily attended the sweats actually enjoyed the mystical pomp and acted as if they were entering a portal to a netherworld. What they were actually entering was an almost perfect semi-circle rigged with sturdy branches and twine. Covering that rigged semi-circle were multiple blankets, sheets, and canvas swaths of no discriminate pattern, no dominate color, completely and utterly chromatically improvised. The color of the covering was motley and the blankets that comprised it smelled of dreads of smoke and soot. Or, like horses, smoldering horses.
Funmaker freelanced for the Mt. Morris Ski Lodge as a spiritualist and sweat lodge consultant. What were his credentials, you ask? Well, for one thing his name was Jon Funmaker, a truly Indian moniker, through and through. Jon's mother had been a Hopi Indian and his father had been Lakota. Usually this type of union would bring scorn and the basest feelings out of Indians, but Funmaker's parents were hippie vagrants that had hitched from their respective reservations to meet by chance in Woodstock. That's right, Funmakers parents had been at Woodstock, but they never actually went to the festival. On the day that they met (in a Woodstock petrol station), Jon Funmaker's parents decided that they would live and work in Woodstock and spent the festival week trying to find work and a place to live. They ended up at the Aleghany Mobile Home Court after finding work as a waitress and cook at the Blue Hippo Diner.
Most sweats go through five distinct stages. One should say either grandfather or Tunkasila when addressing the Indian deity. One should ask for blessings for themselves but show discretion because blessings are not wishes. The first invocation goes to Tunkasila because without him we would be another rock without a clue. The second invocation goes to your ancestors, dead progenitors, and extinguished lineages. The third invocation, the selfish invocation, goes to oneself and the projects, angles, hustles one may be presently pressing. The fourth invocation is an extension of the third, namely, that of adding umph to your third invocation. Also, all sweaters must recite Tunkashila's name as they enter and leave the rigged hut.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.