Close-up of a sage bundle during a smudging ceremony.
Equity and Inclusion

New Smudging Policy Clears the Way for Native Campus Community Members to Engage in Traditional Practice

The new Policy for the Burning of Material Offerings for Ceremonial, Cultural, Traditional, or Religious Observance (a.k.a. the Smudging Policy), initiated by the Native Advisory Council and implemented in partnership with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), recently cleared the way for Native students and others to safely engage in traditional practices like smudging, offering incense or lighting candles.

Smudging is a practice common among Native and Indigenous communities that links smoke with spirituality. The tradition involves the burning of one or more botanicals—or medicines—gathered from the earth. Because smudging ceremonies involve smoke and fire, Native people's access to this practice at institutions of higher education has been limited, due in part to fire safety regulations and restrictions. 

Learn more about the practice and the ways the new policy makes the UMass Amherst campus more inclusive for many members of the community.