Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roger Williams' Indian Hothouses

via Syndey Blackwell:

Roger Williams excerpt:
“Pesuponck: An hothouse…This hothouse is a kind of little cell or cave, six or eight foot over, round, made on the side of a hill (commonly by some rivulet or brook.) Into this frequently the men enter after they have exceedingly heated it with store of wood, laid upon an heap of stones in the middle. When they have taken out the fire, the stones keep still a great heat. Ten, twelve, twenty, more or less, enter at once, stark naked, leaving their coats, small breeches (or aprons) at the door, with one to one to keep all. Here do they sit round these hot stones an hour or more, taking tobacco, discoursing, sweating together. Which sweating they use for two ends: to cleanse their skin; secondly, to purge their bodies, which doubtless is  a great means of preserving them and recovering them from diseases, especially from the French disease, which by sweating and some potions they perfectly and speedily cure. When they come forth (which is mater of admiration) I have seen them run,  summer and winter, into the brooks to cool them, without the least hurt.”
Roger Williams, Narragansett Bay, 1641 from
Indian New England, 1524-1674 A compendium of Eyewitness Accounts of Native American Life
Editor: Ronald Dale Karr, 1999


pwax said...

Somewhere, Ernest Seton Thompson writes that the Indians explained rock piles as "someone was sick". Perhaps this meant, someone built a sweat lodge there.

JimP said...

I wrote my own paper on this, arguing that certain types of hot-houses in New England were built in stone. The piece to the puzzle, in my opinion, are the Saponis in North Carolina who we *know* built large oven-type hot-houses out of stone.

Anonymous said...

JimP-Is there a pointer to your paper on hot-houses?

Tim MacSweeney said...

That quote appears in here: (in something I wrote).

Tim MacSweeney said...

And this is a pointer to Jim's letter to the MA Historical Commission:

JimP said...

I don't make my research freely available anymore. I got tired of having my work taken by others without attribution and taking credit for it themselves. It's a sad thing. I spent years sharing my stuff. I know just about everyone in our community has had it happen to them. Maddening. So unfortunately there is nowhere I can point you. However, Tim has graciously given you some of my work, and I will point you to Scott Preston Collins on the use of two different types of Saponi sweat-houses -- one more permanent made of stone like an oven, the other more temporary made with saplings and animal skin.