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Strength-Based Interaction Rituals: The Impact of Sweatlodges and Danza Mexica on Mexican American Well-being


This study draws from twenty-six in-depth interviews to explore how Indigenous ceremonies shape the well-being of working-class Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Through a combined strength-based and interaction ritual chains analysis, these interviews of non-participants, moderate- and high-level participants reveal how participation in sweatlodges and Danza Mexica exposes Mexican Americans to social and cultural strength-factors. These strengths include collective indigenous identities, social support systems, and micro rituals (instruments, songs, and incense) that help generate collective effervescence and enhance wellbeing. Previous research has found various health benefits associated with ethnic identity, social support, and forms of individual and collective healing resulting from participation in sweatlodges. Contributions in this study include: (1) micro rituals – traditional singing, drumming, and incense – utilized in sweatlodges and Danza Mexica, act as strength-factors that contribute to collective effervescence and well-being; and (2) the length of high emotional energy resulting from participation in sweatlodges and Danza may last a few days to a month based on the symbolism derived from rituals. This study adds to the literature on effectiveness of coping strategies for Mexican health, by identifying how Indigenous ceremonies act as strength-resources for coping with adversity.

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