Sweetgrass Braid: Many Native tribes in North America use sweetgrass in prayer, smudging or purifying ceremonies and consider it a sacred plant. It is usually braided, dried, and burned. Sweetgrass braids smolder and doesn't produce an open flame when burned. Just as the sweet scent of this natural grass is attractive and pleasing to people, so is it attractive to good spirits. Sweetgrass is often burned at the beginning of a prayer or ceremony to attract positive energies.
Densmore (1974) describes that among the Chippewa (Ojibwa), "young people, chiefly young men, carried a braid of sweet grass and cut off 2 or 3 inches of it and burned it for perfume. Young men wore two braids of sweet grass around their necks, the braids being joined in the back and falling on either side of the neck like braids of hair."
Sweetgrass is used to "smudge"; the smoke from burning sweetgrass is fanned on people, objects or areas. Individuals smudge themselves with the smoke, washing the eyes, ears, heart and body. Mi'kmaq have long used sweetgrass as a smudging ingredient, often mixed with other botanicals. Sweetgrass is one of the four medicines which comprise a group of healing plants used by the people in Anishinabe, Bode'wad mi, and Odawa societies. The other three are tobacco, cedar, and sage (Mary Ritchie 1995).
Among the Chippewa wicko'bimucko'si (sweetgrass) is braided and used in pipe-smoking mixtures along will red willow and bearberry, when it is burned, prayers, thoughts and wishes rise with the smoke to the creator who will hear them. Densmore (1974) describes the story of "a hunting incident in which a party of men placed sweet grass on the fire when the camp was in danger of starving and they were going again to hunt. Medicine men kept sweet grass in the bag with their medicinal roots and herbs".
A tea is brewed by Native Americans for coughs, sore throats, chafing and venereal infections. It is also used by women to stop vaginal bleeding and to expel afterbirth. It is warned that because the roots contain coumarin, that sweetgrass tea may be considered a carcinogenic. (Foster & Duke 1990)
-adapted from nativetech.org