Sage workshop displays Native American traditions to Mason students

Students tie sage bundles with blue string to emulate the sky (photo by Walter P. Parrish).
Students tie sage bundles with blue string to emulate the sky (photo by Walter P. Parrish).

The Native American and Indigenous Alliance and the Office of Diversity kick off the month of November by teaching Mason students the spiritual and practical uses of sage.

November is National Native American Heritage Month. On Nov. 4, 2013, members of the NAIA gathered to wrap sage bundles and talk about the significance of sage, a small perreniel evergreen shrub, in the Native American community.

T. Carter, historian and fiber artist, lead the event telling the students about her time at George Mason when she was president of the Native American and Indigenous Alliance. Carter started the event by lighting up sage in a stone bowl, saying that the smoke would cleanse the participants. Walking over to each person, she let them waft the cloud of smoke north, south, east, west, and finally to their heart. According to Carter, the sage was special because it was brought to the event from the Black Hills of South Dakota where she grew up.

In the Native American culture, sage is traditionally used to ward out evil, to cleanse, and for tea. It helps to clear away negative energy and to attract positive ones. Its smoke purifies the mind and body.

Carter taught participants how to wrap blue string, to symbolize the sky, around bunches of sage. At the end of the workshop, the bundles were collected to be passed out as gifts at George Mason’s University’s 11th Annual Veterans’ Powwowthe major event this week for National Native American Heritage Month.

By the end of the evening, the participants created 98 bundles of sage wrapped with blue string.

The NAIA and Office of Diversity will also be hosting the Eleventh Annual Veterans’ Powwow on November 7 in Dewberry Hall from 1 to 9p.m. According to the Office of Diversity, it is currently the longest running powwow in the region. There will also be a Native American Heritage Lunch on November 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southside.

There is a complete calendar of this month’s events at


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