It was a beautiful evening for the ND tribal flags dedication ceremony at Fargo City Commission. The five flags are now...

Posted by Fargo Native American Commission on Monday, October 7, 2019

City in North Dakota shuts down sweat lodge used by urban Indian community

The largest city in North Dakota has shut down a community-run sweat lodge due to concerns about health and safety.

A January 2020 memo from the planning director in Fargo stated that the sweat lodge was being operated in an "inconsistent" manner. The concerns contributed to its closure in December 2019.

"We need to further define liabilities and ensure volunteers and users of the facility are adequately protected," the memo stated. "Until this can happen, the sweat lodge needs to be closed until new management can be vetted by the Native American Commission, the City Commission, and the City Attorney."

The memo was written to the Fargo Native American Commission, a city board. A follow-up said the city plans to hold meetings with the community to decide how to move forward.

"By taking these steps and including all community members, we hope there will be no unanswered questions or things left unsaid," the February 28 memo read. "We hope we can come to a resolution as a community that everyone can feel good about."

Community members contacted by the Associated Press expressed concerns about the closure of the sweat lodge. But two women -- including a member of the Fargo Native American Commission -- told the the AP that they haven't always felt comfortable with the way sweats were run by certain individuals.

The sweat lodge represents a small but growing portion of the commission's expenditures, according to minutes published in December. Most of the budget in recent years has gone toward sponsorships, events and toward planning for a potential Native American Center. Some community members said the sweat lodge could eventually be located at the site, the AP reported.

Native Americans represent about 1.4 percent of the population in Fargo, according to the 2010 Census.

Read More on the Story
Native Americans scramble over shutdown of Fargo sweat lodge (The Associated Press March 8, 2020

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