Sunday, December 28, 2008
Blue Jacket or Weyapiersenwah (c. 1737 – c.1808)
was a war chief of the Shawnee people, known for his militant defense of Shawnee lands in the Ohio Country.
Perhaps the preeminent American Indian leader in the Northwest Indian War, in which a pan-tribal confederacy fought several battles with the United States, he was an important predecessor of the famous Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
Blue Jacket was a legendary Shawnee war chief. Since 1877, decades after his death, a famous story about him has circulated and been made popular by authors such as Allan Eckert, but also caused widespread debate.
Little is actually known of Blue Jacket's early life, which may be why there is so much confusion about his identity. According to the legend, a young man named Marmaduke Van Swearingen, wearing a blue coat, was captured and adopted by the Shawnee around the time of the American Revolutionary War. His younger brother, Charles, watched him being taken but was not taken himself. The legend also claims that years later, after earning the trust of the Shawnee and rising to the position of war chief, the white man, now viewing himself as an Indian, killed his brother in battle.
Despite the persistence of this tale, many questioned its authenticity. Academic historians, such as Blue Jacket biographer John Sugden and the late Francis Jennings, considered Eckert's books, which are billed as history, to be works of fiction. In 2000, DNA testing of the descendants of Blue Jacket and Van Swearingen gave additional support to the argument that Blue Jacket was not Van Swearingen. According to Sugden, nothing in the contemporary historical record indicated that Blue Jacket was anything other than a Shawnee Indian by birth.
George and James Bluejacket was the chief's two known sons. Blue Jacket's second wife, "Metis" Baby, left Ohio in 1843 for Kansas Territory with James Bluejacket and his family, but she died shortly after arriving at the Shawnee Kansas Reserve on the Kaw River.
(Information has been presented that conflicts with the the original reporting of this sentence. SCCPSS offers a special thanks to the Quannah Parker Historical Society for offering this correction.
(blue jacket dressed in blue)
Struggle for the Old Northwest
Blue Jacket participated in Dunmore's War and the American Revolutionary War (allied with the British), always attempting to maintain Shawnee land rights. With the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War, the Shawnee lost valuable assistance in defending the Ohio Country. The struggle continued as white settlement in Ohio escalated, and Blue Jacket was a prominent leader of the resistance.
On November 3, 1791, the army of a confederation of Indian tribes, led by Blue Jacket and Miami Chief Little Turtle (Michikinikwa), defeated an American expedition led by Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory. The battle, known as St. Clair's Defeat, was the crowning achievement of Blue Jacket's military career, and the most severe defeat ever inflicted upon the United States by Native Americans. Traditional accounts of the battle tend to give most of the credit for the victory to Little Turtle. John Sugden argues that Little Turtle's prominence is due in large measure to Little Turtle's self-promotion in later years.
Blue Jacket's triumph was short-lived. The Americans were alarmed by St. Clair's Defeat, and raised a new professional army, commanded by General Anthony Wayne. On August 20, 1794, Blue Jacket's confederate army clashed with Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, just south of present-day Toledo, Ohio. Blue Jacket's army was defeated, and he was compelled to sign the Treaty of Greenville on August 3, 1795, ceding much of present-day Ohio to the United States.
In 1805, Blue Jacket also signed the Treaty of Fort Industry, relinquishing even more of Ohio. In Blue Jacket's final years, he saw the rise to prominence of Tecumseh, who would take up the banner and make the final attempts to reclaim Shawnee lands in the Ohio Country.
Blue Jacket has Shawnee descendants to the present day.
Sugden, John. Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees. University of Nebraska Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8030-4288.Sloat, Bill (Apr. 13, 2006)."Blue Jacket was Indian, not white, DNA shows". Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Bluejacket, an Outdoor Drama in Xenia, Ohio, Depicts the Life of Indian Shawnee Chief Bluejacket ...
Did you ever wish you could have lived in the 1800's?
Did you ever wish you could have seen a posse chasing a group of bank robbers?
Would you have like to have sight a fight between settlers and Indians?
Maybe you would have like to have seen the action--but from a safe distance? In Xenia, Ohio (about 10 miles west of Dayton, Ohio, and 50 miles north of Cincinnati), every year you can see an outdoor drama scheduled every year in the summer that depicts the struggle between the Shawnee Indian tribe and white settlers--Blue Jacket.
This is the 26th season for the play. If you attend a show you will get to see Native Americans ride thundering horses in the epic 2 ½ hour drama as the action comes to life in the outdoor Xenia, Ohio, drama. You will see the riders shoot flaming arrows on the outdoor stage.
The drama is about Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket and the Native Americans protecting their homelands in Ohio from encroaching frontiersmen. The play was written by W. L. Mundell and is based on the assumption that Chief Blue Jacket was originally a Dutchman named Marmaduke Van Swearingen who was taken by the Shawnees as a baby.
Some historians dispute that claim, however. Jo Anna Stevens, business development manager, said people should see the play, because everyone can learn from history. She said everyone learns something different by watching, and "it gives off such a wonderful feeling that makes you want to keep it with you forever.
" Chief Blue Jacket helped his men defeat U.S. frontier armies twice. The Shawnees participated in the battles 200 years ago. Tracy Leake, Chief of Operations for First Frontier, Incorporated, said the outdoor dram depicts an "epic" time in history. She added that the "theatre stands on land where most of the characters actually lived, fought, and died.
" She said that makes the play even more "beautiful" to watch. Even though there are some violent scenes in the outdoor drama in Xenia, the performers try to keep the scenes toned down, in consideration of children in attendance.
According to reports about the play, it contains something everyone will enjoy.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
December 18, 2008
Now another storm blasts through, this time with even worse life-threatening temperatures. The National Weather Service states that a person could suffer from frostbite within ten minutes or less in these temperatures. At -60*F, it takes only one minute for exposed skin to become frostbitten. There are many people on the reservations that do not have adequate heating and are suffering horribly in these brutal temperatures
December 18. 2008
Link Center Foundation (LCF), a non profit 501C3 organization, is desperately seeking funding for emergency heating assistance for the elders, the disabled, and/or the seriously ill on the Reservations. Also, there are often children found in the homes of elders. According to statistics, nearly 60% of the elders are raising their grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
"YOU Can Make A Difference!"
Our goal is to raise $20,000.We are not grant-funded at this time. We depend on YOU, the individual donor, to help these families in crisis.
Average income on the Oglala Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation is about $3,500.00 per YEAR. Jobs are extremely scarce; unemployment hovers around 85% on this 11,000-square-mile reservation which houses about 40,000 people. The other Lakota Reservations face similar economic conditions.
Death by hypothermia is always a concern on the reservations. Each winter (October – March), temperatures drop well below 0*F. Many families must choose between food and heat. In some cases, they have neither.
Federal LHEAP and Tribal Assistance Programs offer each low-income family approximately $300 per year. With the current rate of propane at $2.20 per gallon, this provides only 136 gallons – about enough fuel for 2 to 4 weeks (depending on the harsh weather).
Propane prices have already risen about 33% since last winter, and are expected to rise much higher as this winter goes on. Those families surviving with electric heat also face major increases in cost.
Propane companies require minimum amounts of propane to be purchased before delivery (currently $125 to $355 depending on the company). These minimum requirements are expected to skyrocket as the high cost of truck fuel increases. This makes families struggle even harder to accumulate enough funds at one time to ensure a delivery.
The Link Center Foundation has already received numerous emergency assistance applications that cannot be filled due to lack of funds. With propane, wood, and electricity prices continually rising, many more requests for help are expected to arrive.95% of ALL donations to our heating/utility fund are USED for the heating/utility fund. The remaining 5% covers bank, credit card, and processing fees.
All applicants are screened and documented
Payments are made directly to utility, propane, wood, or heat equipment companies
Donations carefully tracked and accountable
No donation too small
Note:As with all Non-Profits, your donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.Please consult your tax advisor.Please mark your check: "Utility and Heating Fund"Please send donations to:Link Center FoundationP.O. Box 576Firestone, CO 80520-0576
"The Arrogance of Ignorance; Hidden Away, Out of Sight and Out of Mind"
A Special Resource Report: Regarding life, conditions, and hope on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation of SD
This is an article of facts about the lives of modern-day American Indians, a topic most mainstream American news organizations will not discuss. It is not a plea for charity. It is not a promotion for non-profit organizations. It is not aimed for pity. It is not even an effort to detail cause and effect. It is, however, an effort to dispel ignorancex. a massive, pervasive, societal ignorance filled with illusions and caricatures which, ultimately, serve only to corrupt the intelligence and decent intent of the average mainstream citizen. Only through knowledge and understanding can solutions be found. But facts must be known first.
Then, it is the reader’s choice what to do with those facts.Hidden away, out of sight but dotting the landscape of America, are the little known or forgotten Reservations of the Indigenous People of our land. Sadly, the average U.S. mainstream resident knows almost nothing about the people of the Native American reservations other than what romanticized or caricaturized versions they see on film or as the print media stereotypes of oil or casino-rich Indians. Most assume that whatever poverty exists on a reservation is most certainly comparable to that which they might experience themselves. Further, they assume it is curable by the same means they would use.But that is the arrogance of ignorance. Our dominant society is accustomed to being exposed to poverty.
It’s nearly invisible because it is everywhere. We drive through our cities with a blind eye, numb to the suffering on the streets, or we shake our heads and turn away, assuming help is on the way. After all, it’s known that the government and the big charities are helping the needy in nearly every corner of the world.But the question begs: What about the sovereign nations on America’s own soil, within this country, a part and yet apart from mainstream society? What about these Reservations that few people ever see?Oddly enough, the case could be made that more Europeans and Australians know and understand the cultures and conditions of our Indigenous people better Americans do.Moreover, what the Europeans and Australians know is that there are a number of very fortunate Native American Nations whose people are able to earn a very good living due to casino income, natural resource income, a good job market from nearby cities, or from some other source.
They also know, however, that a staggering number of residents on Native American reservations live in abject, incomprehensible conditions rivaling, or even surpassing, that of many Third World countries.This article chronicles just one Nation: the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Yet the name and only a few details could easily be changed to describe a host of othersx. the Dineh (Navajo), Ute Mountain Ute, Tohono O’odham, Pima, Yaqui, Apache, the Brule’ Lakota (Sioux) x.the list is long.But this is not an article of hopelessness. Despite nearly-insurmountable conditions, few resources, and against unbelievable odds, Nation after Nation of Indigenous leaders and their people are working hard to counteract decades of oppression and forced destruction of their cultures, to bring their citizens back to a life of self-respect and self-sufficiency in today’s world.In the meantime, these words will serve simply to dispel a few illusions and make public part of that which is hidden away, out of sight, out of mind, in the richest country in the world. It seeks to dispel the arrogance of ignorance.
The Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian Reservation sits in Bennett, Jackson, and Shannon Counties and is located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, fifty miles east of the Wyoming border.
The 11,000-square mile (approximately 2.7 million acres) Pine Ridge Reservation is the second-largest Native American Reservation within the United States. It is roughly the size of the State of Connecticut. According to the Oglala Sioux tribal statistics, approximately 1.7 million acres of this land are owned by the Tribe or by tribal members.
The Reservation is divided into eight districts: Eagle Nest, Pass Creek, Wakpamni, LaCreek, Pine Ridge, White Clay, Medicine Root, Porcupine, and Wounded Knee.
The topography of the Pine Ridge Reservation includes the barren Badlands, rolling grassland hills, dryland prairie, and areas dotted with pine trees
The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to approximately 40,000 persons, 35% of which are under the age of 18. The latest Federal Census shows the median age to be 20.6 years. Approximately half the residents of the Reservation are registered tribal members of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation.
According to the most recent Federal Census, 58.7% of the grandparents on the Reservation are responsible for raising their own grandchildren.
The population is slowly but steadily rising, despite the severe conditions on the Reservation, as more and more Oglala Lakota return home from far-away cities to live within their societal values, be with their families, and assist with the revitalization of their culture and their Nation.
Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.
According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work. It is located 120 miles from the Reservation. The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.
Life Expectancy and Health Conditions
Some figures state that the life expectancy on the Reservation is 48 years old for men and 52 for women. Other reports state that the average life expectancy on the Reservation is 45 years old. These statistics are far from the 77.5 years of age life expectancy average found in the United States as a whole. According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
Teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group.
The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average.
More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease. Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and malnutrition are pervasive.
The rate of diabetes on the Reservation is reported to be 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
Recent reports indicate that almost 50% of the adults on the Reservation over the age of 40 have diabetes.
As a result of the high rate of diabetes on the Reservation, diabetic-related blindness, amputations, and kidney failure are common.
The tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average.
It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys. This infestation causes an often-fatal condition with infants, children, elderly, those with damaged immune systems, and those with lung and pulmonary conditions at the highest risk. Exposure to this mold can cause hemorrhaging of the lungs and brain as well as cancer.
A Federal Commodity Food Program is active but supplies mostly inappropriate foods (high in carbohydrate and/or sugar) for the largely diabetic population of the Reservation.
A small non-profit Food Co-op is in operation on the Reservation but is available only for those with funds to participate.
Many Reservation residents live without health care due to vast travel distances involved in accessing that care. Additional factors include under-funded, under-staffed medical facilities and outdated or non-existent medical equipment.
Preventive healthcare programs are rare.
In most of the treaties between the U.S. Government and Indian Nations, the U.S. government agreed to provide adequate medical care for Indians in return for vast quantities of land. The Indian Health Services (IHS) was set up to administer the health care for Indians under these treaties and receives an appropriation each year to fund Indian health care. Unfortunately, the appropriation is very small compared to the need and there is little hope for increased funding from Congress. The IHS is understaffed and ill-equipped and can’t possibly address the needs of Indian communities. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
School drop-out rate is over 70%.
According to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) report, the Pine Ridge Reservation schools are in the bottom 10% of school funding by U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Teacher turnover is 800% that of the U.S. national average
Housing Conditions and Homelessness
The small BIA/Tribal Housing Authority homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are overcrowded and scarce, resulting in many homeless families who often use tents or cars for shelter. Many families live in old cabins or dilapidated mobile homes and trailers.
According to a 2003 report from South Dakota State University, the majority of the current Tribal Housing Authority homes were built from 1970-1979. The report brings to light that a great percentage of that original construction by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) was "shoddy and substandard." The report also states that 26% of the housing units on the Reservation are mobile homes, often purchased or obtained (through donations) as used, low-value units with negative-value equity.
Even though there is a large homeless population on the Reservation, most families never turn away a relative no matter how distant the blood relation. Consequently, many homes often have large numbers of people living in them.
In a recent case study, the Tribal Council estimated a need for at least 4,000 new homes in order to combat the homeless situation.
There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (a home which may only have two to three rooms). Some larger homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
Over-all, 59% of the Reservation homes are substandard.
Over 33% of the Reservation homes lack basic water and sewage systems as well as electricity.
Many residents must carry (often contaminated) water from the local rivers daily for their personal needs.
Some Reservation families are forced to sleep on dirt floors.
Without basic insulation or central heating in their homes, many residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation use their ovens to heat their homes.
Many Reservation homes lack adequate insulation. Even more homes lack central heating.
Periodically, Reservation residents are found dead from hypothermia (freezing).
It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation need to be burned to the ground and replaced with new housing due to infestation of the potentially-fatal Black Mold, Stachybotrys. There is no insurance or government program to assist families in replacing their homes.
39% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation have no electricity.
The most common form of heating fuel is propane. Wood-burning is the second most common form of heating a home although wood supplies are often expensive or difficult to obtain.
Many Reservation homes lack basic furniture and appliances such as beds, refrigerators, and stoves.
60% of Reservation families have no land-line telephone. The Tribe has recently issued basic cell phones to the residents. However, these cell phones (commonly called commodity phones) do not operate off the Reservation at all and are often inoperable in the rural areas on the Reservation or during storms or wind.
Computers and internet connections are very rare.
Federal and tribal heat assistance programs (such as LLEAP) are limited by their funding. In the winter of 2005-2006, the average one-time only payment to a family was said to be approximately $250-$300 to cover the entire winter. For many, that amount did not even fill their propane heating tanks one time.
Life on the Reservation
Most Reservation families live in rural and often isolated areas.
The largest town on the Reservation is the village of Pine Ridge which has a population of approximately 5,720 people and is the administrative center for the Reservation.
There are few improved (paved) roads on the Reservation and most of the rural homes are inaccessible during times of rain or snow.
Weather is extreme on the Reservation. Severe winds are always a factor. Traditionally, summer temperatures reach well over 110*F and winters bring bitter cold with temperatures that can reach -50*F below zero or worse. Flooding, tornados, or wildfires are always a risk.
The Pine Ridge Reservation still has no banks, discount stores, or movie theaters. It has only one grocery store of any moderate size and it is located in the village of Pine Ridge on the Reservation. A motel just opened in 2006 near the Oglala Lakota College at Kyle, South Dakota. There are said to be about 8 Bed and Breakfast or campsite locations found across the Reservation but that number varies from time to time since most are part of a private home.
Several of the banks and lending institutions nearest to the Reservation have been targeted for investigation of fraudulent or predatory lending practices, with the citizens of the Pine Ridge Reservation as their victims.
There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College.
There is one radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation. KILI 90.1FM is located near the town of Porcupine on the Reservation.
There is no public transportation available on the Reservation.
Only a minority of Reservation residents own an operable automobile.
Predominant form of travel for all ages on the Reservation is walking or hitchhiking.
There is one very small airport on the Reservation servicing both the Pine Ridge Reservation and Shannon County. It's longest, paved runway extends 4,969 feet. There are no commercial flights available. The majority of flights using the airport are Federal, State, or County Government-related.
The nearest commercial airport and/or commercial bus line is located in Rapid City, South Dakota (approximately 120 miles away).
Alcoholism affects eight out of ten families on the Reservation.
The death rate from alcohol-related problems on the Reservation is 300% higher than the remaining US population.
The Oglala Lakota Nation has prohibited the sale and possession of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation since the early 1970's. However, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (which sits 400 yards off the Reservation border in a contested "buffer" zone) has approximately 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell over 4.1 million cans of beer each year resulting in a $3million annual trade. Unlike other Nebraska communities, Whiteclay exists only to sell liquor and make money. It has no schools, no churches, no civic organizations, no parks, no benches, no public bathrooms, no fire service and no law enforcement. Tribal officials have repeatedly pleaded with the State of Nebraska to close these liquor stores or enforce the State laws regulating liquor stores but have been consistently refused.
Water and Aquifer Contamination
Many wells and much of the water and land on the Reservation is contaminated with pesticides and other poisons from farming, mining, open dumps, and commercial and governmental mining operations outside the Reservation. A further source of contamination is buried ordnance and hazardous materials from closed U.S. military bombing ranges on the Reservation.
Scientific studies show that the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer which begins underneath the Pine Ridge Reservation is predicted to run dry in less than 30 years due to commercial interest use and dryland farming in numerous states south of the Reservation. This critical North American underground water resource is not renewable at anything near the present consumption rate. The recent years of drought have simply accelerated the problem.
Scientific studies show that much of the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer has been contaminated with farming pesticides and commercial, factory, mining, and industrial contaminants in the States of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Sovereignty and Tribal Government
By Treaty, the Tribal nations are considered to have sovereign governmental status. They have a special government to government relationship with the United States. Interactions with the U.S. Government and the Department of Interior (and its Bureau of Indian Affairs) are supposed to be through Treaty negotiations and most Federal programs (such as Indian Health Services) were purchased by the Tribal nations (usually with land) and guaranteed by Treaty. This is specifically true for the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribal government operates under a constitution consistent with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and approved by the Tribal membership and Tribal Council of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe. The Tribe is governed by an elected body consisting of a 5 member Executive Committee and an 18 member Tribal Council, all of whom serve a four year term.
Currently, there are various efforts underway to implement innovative techniques and solutions to Reservation problems. These projects include community volunteer groups, alternative education programs, wind or water energy initiatives, substance abuse programs, cultural and language programs, employment opportunities, cottage industries, promotion of artists and musicians, small co-op businesses, etc. However, funding for these programs is highly limited.
There are several very small projects now working to help with the housing shortage. Some of these involve using donated mobile homes, community-built sod housing, other community-built housing (such as Habitat for Humanity), exploring possible use of unused FEMA mobile homes, and other alternate solutions. Unfortunately, funding is highly limited.
The Tribal Council Housing Authority is working as hard as it can to build new homes and repair existing structures but it is limited by the small, limited amount of funding available.
There are a few reputable small non-profit organizations attempting to sincerely assist the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in their efforts to resolve and mitigate existing problems. However, funding for these programs is currently highly limited.
There is one small independent (non-IHS) clinic on the Reservation at the community of Porcupine. It was founded and is controlled by the Lakota community. It just recently obtained its first dialysis machine and runs an aggressive program to combat diabetes. However, funding is very limited and is obtained locally and through grants.
The Oglala Lakota are a determined, intelligent, and proud People who are working hard to over-come their Reservation problems. Against all odds, with minimal resources, they are slowly working to re-claim their self-sufficiency, their culture, and their life.
These statistics concerning the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation were compiled from recent Political, Educational, Government, Non-Profit, and Tribal Publications.
An earlier version was published by the same author in 2002 entitled, "Hidden Away, in the Land of Plenty."
Contact the author if you wish a list of the resources and publications used for this report.
This article may be reprinted and reproduced unedited with proper attribution and sourcing for non-profit, educational, news, or archival purposes.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"When the Eagle returns, we will again be a great nation."
Jonas Shawandase, Spanish American War Veteran & Tribal Elder of the 1950s -
"Our culture is derivative of the natural resources. If our culture dies, the only reminants are its physical attributes, which will soon be dispersed to the natural environment. If that happens, there will be no trace of our living culture."
Stuart Harris, a Cayuse Indian & senior staff scientist, Department of Natural Resources, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation -
Most all Native American Indian Peoples attach special significance to the Eagle and its feathers. Images of eagles and their feathers are used on many tribal logos as symbols of the Native American Indian. To be given an Eagle feather is the highest honor that can be awarded within indigenous cultures.
Both Bald and Golden Eagles (and their feathers) are highly revered and considered sacred within American Indian traditions, culture and religion. They are honored with great care and shown the deepest respect. They represent honesty, truth, majesty, strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom. As they roam the sky, they are believed to have a special connection to God.
According to traditional American Indian beliefs, the Creator made all the birds of the sky when the World was new. Of all the birds, the Creator chose the Eagle to be the leader... the Master of the Sky.
The Eagle flies higher and sees better than any other bird. Therefore, its perspective is different from other creations that are held close to the Earth, and it is closer to the Creator. The Creator also has a different perspective of what occurs below in this world of physical things in which humankind resides. The Eagle spends more time in the higher element of Father Sky than other birds, and Father Sky is an element of the Spirit.
The Eagle is considered to be a messenger to God. It was given the honor of carrying the prayers of man between the World of Earth and the World of Spirit, where the Creator and grandfathers reside. To wear or hold an Eagle feather causes the Creator to take immediate notice. With the Eagle feather, the Creator is honored in the highest way.
The wings of an Eagle represent the balance needed between male and female, each one dependent upon the strengths and abilities of the other.
When one receives an Eagle feather, that person is being acknowledged with gratitude, love and ultimate respect. The holder of the feather must ensure that anything that changes one’s state of mind (alcohol and drugs) must never come in contact with a sacred Eagle feather.
The keeper of an Eagle feather makes a little home where the feather will be kept safely and protected. It should be hung up within one’s home, not placed in drawers or cupboards.
Eagle feathers are never to be abused, shown disrespect, dropped or contaminated. Only real true human Men and Women carry the Eagle feather.
Many dancers use Eagle feathers as part of their dance regalia. The Creek and Cherokee have an Eagle Dance. If for any reason an eagle feather is dropped, it needs to be cleansed. The arena director’s job is to guard the Eagle feather and not leave the spot it is in until the proper cleansing ceremony is performed.
Eagle feathers were awarded to Indian Braves, warriors and Chieftains for extreme acts of valor and bravery. These feathers were difficult to come by, and were earned one at a time.
Regardless of where or how an Indian Brave accumulated Eagle feathers, he was not allowed, according to Tribal Law, to wear them until he won them by a brave deed. He had to appear before the Tribal Council and tell or reenact his exploit. Witnesses were examined and, if in the eyes of the council, the deed was thought worthy, the Indian Brave was then allowed to wear the feathers in his hair or Indian Headdress or Indian War Bonnet.
An Indian would rather part with his horse or tepee, than to lose his Eagle feathers. To do so would be dishonor in the eyes of his Tribe. Many of the old American Indian Chiefs had won enough honors to wear a double-trailed bonnet that dragged the ground. Only the great and important men of the Tribes had the right to wear the double-trailed Indian War Bonnets.
During the “Four Sacred Rituals”, American Indians wear or hold Eagle feathers. The “Flag Song” has its earliest origins during the period when some Indian Nations would honor the Eagle feather staffs of leaders from different other bands of Indian Nations.
Under both U.S. and Canadian law, a permit is required from official governmental conservation authorities of anyone to possess an Eagle feather legally. Native American Indians acquiring Bald and Golden Eagle feathers must use them for traditional ceremonies or teaching purposes.
Under normal circumstances, it is illegal to use, sell or possess Eagle feathers. Anyone possessing an Eagle feather without a federal permit can face stiff fines and imprisonment.
The American Indian holds the Eagle in the highest regard, and has a true "heart and soul desire" to keep it flying healthy and free for many generations to come.
“Prophesy says that it is time to share some of the sacred traditions of our culture. The four colors of man will be coming together to unite and heal. Creator has given different gifts and responsibilities to each of the four colors. Ours is to help preserve Earth for all the children. Time is running out. It’s time to act.”
- Indigenous Spiritual Leaders of the Americas -
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Early American Indians and settlers existed together in harmony with the wolf. Respected as a wise and cunning hunter, many of the wolf's ways were adopted by these pioneers. It wasn't until the white man became a "shepherd", later to be known as the rancher; raising livestock for food instead of hunting wild game, that the wolf became a threat to him, and therefore his enemy.
The inherent nature of the white man is to control that which he does not understand, otherwise destroy it. As he began to hunt wild game as a sport, this further decreased the wolf's popularity. As a result, he set out to destroy the wolf and nearly succeeded. As civilization rapidly progressed, he continued to distance himself further from the wilderness, while the wolf remained a wild predator.
It's not surprising that the Indian saw the wolf as a significant animal. Both were hunters of which the survival of their families depended. The Indian was very aware of the many ways in which his own life resembled those of the wolf. The wolf hunted for himself and for his family. The wolf defended his pack against enemy attack, as the Indian defended his tribe. He had to be strong as an individual and for the good of the pack. It was a sufficient system of survival; and in the eyes of the Indian, no animal did this as well as the wolf. The Indian worked to be as well intigrated in his environment, as he could see the wolf was in the universe.
The hunter did not see the wolf as an enemy or competitor, or as something less than himself. His perception of the wolf was a realistic assessment of the wolf's ability to survive and thrive, to be in balance with the world they shared. He respected the wolf's patience and perseverance, which were his most effective hunting weapons. To say he hunted like a wolf was the highest compliment, just as to say a warrior fought like the wolf was high praise.
The wolf moved silently without effort, but with purpose. He was alert to the smallest changes in is world. He could see far and his hearing was sharp. When an Indian went into enemy territory, he wished to move exactly like this, to sense things like the wolf.
The wolf fulfilled two roles for the Indian: he was a powerful and mysterious animal, and so perceived by most tribes, and he was a medicine animal, identified with a particular individual, tribe or clan.
At a tribal level, the attraction to the wolf was strong, because the wolf lived in a way that made the tribe strong. He provided food for all, including the old and sick members of the pack. He saw to the education of his children. He defended his territory against other wolves.
At a personal level, those for whom the wolf was a medicine animal or personal totem understood the qualities that made the wolf stand out as an individual. For example, his stamina, ability to track well and go without food for long periods
The definition and defense of home range was as important to the Indian as it was to the wolf. The boundries of most Indian territories, like those of wolves, changed with the movement of game herds, the size of the tribe and the time of year.
The tribe, like the pack broke up at certain times of the year, and joined together later to hunt more efficiently. Both the wolf and the Indian hunted the same type of game and moved their families to follow specific game herds.
Deer sought security from Indian hunters by moving into the border area between warring tribes, where hunters were least likely to show up, just as they did between wolf territories, where wolves spent the least time hunting.
The Indian believed that dying was not a tragic event. It was important to the Indian that he die well, with dignity, to consciously choose to die even if it is inevitable. This kind of self control in the face of death earns a warrior the greatest glory. This way of thinking is similar to the moment of eye contact when a wolf meets it's prey. This "conversation of death" determines whether the prey lives or dies. The prey must be willing to die. There is a nobility in this mutual agreement.
Among the Cherokee, was a belief that to kill a wolf was to invite retribution from other wolves. This way of thinking parallels the laws of the tribe, where to kill an Indian meant to expect revenge from his family members.
Wolves ate grass, as Indians ate wild plants, both for medicinal reasons. Both were family oriented and highly social in structure. Both the Indian and the wolf used a sign language.
Wolves and Cree Indians in Alberta maneuvered buffalo out onto lake ice, where the big animals lost their footing and were more easily killed.
Pueblo Indians and wolves in Arizona ran deer to exhaustion, though it might have taken the Pueblos to do it.
Wolf and Shoshoni Indian lay flat on the prairie grass of Wyoming and slowly waved, the one its tail, the other a strip of hide, to attract curious but elusive antelope close enough to kill.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Today, the wolf represents all that which is wild and free. They call us to the last retreats of our vanishing wilderness, where their songs carry on the wind, a wild defiant sorrow.
Roaming where few men dare, wolves pierce the silence with their powerful song. The howl begins low and melodious. The sound is lonely, haunting, surreal; as if the voices of our ancestors were howling through the canyons.
Soon, the ridges resound with the chorus of a wolf pack on the prowl. Then, as the last note descends, it is quiet, as the winds whisper like spirits of ancient times.
Remember that sound and treasure it. It is as old as time, wild as the wind and as poetic as moonlight on snow. It is the trademark of the wolf.
I awaken to the silence,
Softly it wraps around the world;
Dreams still float upon the air,
Not yet ready to loosen their memory.
Quietly I step outside,
The sleeping world unaware that I am there;
Above me the sky is still dark,
Stars still glimmer, but the moon is low.
All about me the air is hushed,
Breezes gently ruffle my hair; caress my cheek
First morning song of the lark gently wafts across the valley,
Seems for me she sings alone.
In the east there now is a faint luminescence,
A hint of pearly tones etch the edges of the tree crowned hills;
Strong and tall they await the coming,
Of a new day, filled with promise.
More light gently flows westward,
Now across the valley I see a vision;
The hills are wreathed in a living mist,
It moves, touches each thing in it's path.
The sky now is filled with glorious colors,
blue, cerise, lavender, the hues of dawn;
Mists slowly ebb backward into the forests,
Retreating, going home to await the night once again.
My prayers are now said,
Sage smoke still spirals to the heavens;
I touch the ground gently in a gesture of gratitude,
As Grandfather Sun now has risen over the hill tops.
The wispy mists now are gone,
No longer can they be seen anywhere;
Birdsong echoes from hillside to hillside,
The morning well greeted.
Day has come to Cherokee,
Peacefulness surrounds the Great Smokies;
Was it mist I truly saw,
Or was it old ones, keeping watch through the night?
Friday, November 28, 2008
The Medicine Wheel is representative of American Indian Spirituality. The Medicine Wheel symbolizes the individual journey we each must take to find our own path. Within the Medicine Wheel are The Four Cardinal Directions and the Four Sacred Colors. The Circle represents the Circle of Life and the Center of the Circle, the Eternal Fire. The Eagle, flying toward the East, is a symbol of strength, endurance and vision. East signifies the renewal of life and the rebirth of Cherokee unity.
East = Red = success; triumphNorth = Blue = defeat; troubleWest = Black = deathSouth = White = peace; happiness
There are three additional sacred directions:Up Above = YellowDown Below = BrownHere in the Center = Green
Winter=go-laThe color for North is Blue which represents sadness, defeat.It is a season of survival and waiting.The Cherokee word for North means "cold" u-yv-tlv.
Spring=gi-la-go-geThe color for East is Red which represents victory, power.Spring is the re-awakening after a long sleep,victory over winter; the power of new life.The Cherokee word for East is ka-lv-gv
Summer=go-gaThe color for South is White for peace, happiness & serenity.Summer is a time of plenty.The Cherokee word for South means "warm" u-ga-no-wa.
Autumn=u-la-go-hv-s-diThe color for West is Black which represents death.Autumn is the final harvest; the end of Life's Cycle.The Cherokee word for West is wu-de-li-gv.
RED was symbolic of success. It was the color of the war club used to strike an enemy in battle as well as the other club used by the warrior to shield himself. Red beads were used to conjure the red spirit to insure long life, recovery from sickness, success in love and ball play or any other undertaking where the benefit of the magic spell was wrought.
BLACK was always typical of death. The soul of the enemy was continually beaten about by black war clubs and enveloped in a black fog. In conjuring to destroy an enemy, the priest used black beads and invoked the black spirits-which always lived in the West,-bidding them to tear out the man's soul and carry it to the West, and put it into the black coffin deep in the black mud, with a black serpent coiled above it.
BLUE symbolized failure, disappointment, or unsatisfied desire. To say "they shall never become blue" expressed the belief that they would never fail in anything they undertook. In love charms, the lover figuratively covered himself with red and prayed that his rival would become entirely blue and walk in a blue path. "He is entirely blue, " approximates meaning of the common English phrase, "He feels blue. "The blue spirits lived in the North.
WHITE denoted peace and happiness. In ceremonial addresses, as the Green Corn Dance and ball play, the people symbolically partook of white food and, after the dance or game, returned along the white trail to their white houses. In love charms, the man, to induce the woman to cast her lost with his, boasted, "I am a white man," implying that all was happiness where he was. White beads had the same meaning in bead conjuring, and white was the color of the stone pipe anciently used in ratifying peace treaties. The White spirits lived in the South.
Two numbers are sacred to the Cherokee. Four is one number, it represented the four primary directions. At the center of their paths lays the sacred fire. Seven is the other and most sacred number. Seven is represented in the seven directions: north, south, east, west, above, bellow, and "here in the center" the place of the sacred fire. Seven also represented the seven ancient ceremonies that formed the yearly Cherokee religious cycle.
Cherokees of California, Inc.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Being that I am part native indian (cherokee),.....I cannot say,
with fact---that history states the truth..
But, aside from the injustice inflicted upon the native indians,
all thur history...(even yet today)...
"Thanksgiving".....needs to be a great world-wide holiday,
of "all" people comming together, in peace...
For oneday, to set aside, all differents..and "sit" in Thanksgiving of life
But than,"I am a dreamer"...
**THIS IS WHAT "HISTORY" SAYS THAT HAPPEN...but is history correct..
Monday, November 24, 2008
My grandfather is the fire
My grandmother is the wind.
The Earth is my mother
The Great Spirit is my father
The World stopped at my birth
and laid itself at my feet
And I shall swallow the Earth whole when I die
and the Earth and I will be one
Hail The Great Spirit, my father
without him no one could exist
because there would be no will to live
Hail The Earth, my mother
without which no food could be grown
and so cause the will to live to starve
Hail the wind, my grandmother
for she brings loving, life-giving rain
nourishing us as she nourishes our crops
Hail the fire, my grandfather
for the light, the warmth, the comfort he brings
without which we be animals, not men
Hail my parent and grandparents
nor anyone else
could have existed
Life gives life
which gives unto itself
a promise of new life
Hail the Great Spirit, The Earth, the wind, the fire
praise my parents loudly
for they are your parents, too
Oh, Great Spirit, giver of my life
please accept this humble offering of prayer
this offering of praise
this honest reverence of my love for you.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Cherokee Native American LoreAt one time, animals and people lived together peaceably and talked with each other. But when mankind began to multiply rapidly, the animals were crowded into forests and deserts. Man began to destroy animals wholesale for their skins and furs, not just for needed food.
Animals became angry at such treatment by their former friends, resolving they must punish mankind. The bear tribe met in council, presided over by Old White Bear, their Chief. After several bears had spoken against mankind for their bloodthirsty ways, war was unanimously agreed upon. But what kinds of weapons should the bears use?
Chief Old White Bear suggested that man's weapon, the bow and arrow, should be turned against him. All of the council agreed. While the bears worked and made bows and arrows, they wondered what to do about bowstrings. One of the bears sacrificed himself to provide the strings, while the others searched for good arrow- wood. When the first bow was completed and tried, the bear's claws could not release the strings to shoot the arrow. One bear offered to cut his claws, but Chief Old White Bear would not allow him to do that, because without claws he could not climb trees for food and safety. He might starve.
The deer tribe called together its council led by Chief Little Deer. They decided that any Indian hunters, who killed deer without asking pardon in a suitable manner, should be afflicted with painful rheumatism in their joints. After this decision, Chief Little Deer sent a messenger to their nearest neighbors, the Cherokee Indians. "From now on, your hunters must first offer a prayer to the deer before killing him," said the messenger. "You must ask his pardon, stating you are forced only by the hunger needs of your tribe to kill the deer.
Otherwise, a terrible disease will come to the hunter." When a deer is slain by an Indian hunter, Chief Little Deer will run to the spot and ask the slain deer's spirit, "Did you hear the hunter's prayer for pardon?" If the reply is yes, then all is well and Chief Little Deer returns to his cave. But if the answer is no, then the Chief tracks the hunter to his lodge and strikes him with the terrible disease of rheumatism, making him a helpless cripple unable to hunt again.
All the fishes and reptiles then held a council and decided they would haunt those Cherokee Indians, who tormented them, by telling them hideous dreams of serpents twining around them and eating them alive. These snake and fish dreams occurred often among the Cherokees. To get relief, the Cherokees pleaded with their Shaman to banish their frightening dreams if they no longer tormented the snakes and fish.
Now when the friendly plants heard what the animals had decided against mankind, they planned a countermove of their own. Each tree, shrub, herb, grass, and moss agreed to furnish a cure for one of the diseases named by the animals and insects.
Thereafter, when the Cherokee Indians visited their Shaman about their ailments and if the medicine man was in doubt, he communed with the spirits of the plants. They always suggested a proper remedy for mankind's diseases. This was the beginning of plant medicine from nature among the Cherokee Indian nation a long, long time ago.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Mother Earth teaches us to be human. She brings love to life and shares her gifts with us. In return for the gifts of our Mother, it is our responsibility as humans to care for all living beings living upon her.
The rock carries the wisdom of the ages and is known as the oldest teacher and is called, "Grandfather". From the rock we learn inner strength and faith. The rock is slow to move yet when the rock moves, the whole world pays attention.
The tree teaches us about honesty for the tree is able to move the nutrients from the roots to its uppermost branches. The sap moves through the tree just as we must learn to allow truth to move through us. For each human there is a tree that is just like you. If you are acting as though you carry the whole world upon your shoulders, you will see a tree that is bowed down. Some trees appear to be tall, straight and beautiful, yet that same tree may be rotten on the inside. Some people are like that. Crooked people will see crooked trees, just like them. We must strive to be tall, straight and honest and grounded with a good root system and to know that just as each tree is an individual and a member of a family, so are we.
Although it gets walked on, grass, keeps coming back. As humans we do that to one another, yet even when we get "walked upon" we must show kindness to ourselves and others and keep coming back. We also nurture, fertilize and care for the grass just as we must care for one another. A blade of grass has two sides to it just as we, as humans have a smooth side and a rough side. We must recognize this and be kind to ourselves in order to smooth out the rough edges.
The animals give us the greatest gift of all and that is the lesson of sharing. They give up their lives so that we can live. In the old days, our ancestors would offer a prayer to the Creator and ask for an animal to feed the people. When a hunter connected with an animal, that was an indication the animal was ready to die. After the hunter killed the animal, its heart was divided among the hunters and a piece of the heart was offered back to Mother Earth with a prayer of thanks.
As humans we need to learn to share with one another and give thanks for the gifts of life shared with us.
The four teachings of faith, honesty, caring and sharing which come with the rock, the tree, the grasses and the animals keep us connected with our Mother Earth.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
A Message from the Hopi Elders
You have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour....
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the hour....
and there are things to be considered :Where are you living? .....
What are you doing?
What are your relationships ?
Are you in the right relationship?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.Create your community....
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart , and they will suffer
Know the river has its destination.
The Elders say we must let go of the shore....
Push off into the river,Keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.
See who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally....
Least of all ourselves .
For the moment that we do, our Spiritual growth and journey comes to ahalt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves !
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary .
All that we do know must be done in a Sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for !
The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona , Hopi Nation.The Hopi People
trace their history in Arizona to more than 2,000 years,
But their history as a people goes back many more thousands of years.
The tribe's teachings relate stories of a great flood and other events dating to ancient times, marking the Hopi as one of the oldest living cultures in documented history.
A deeply religious people ,
they live by the ethic if peace and goodwill .
The Hopi Reservation ,
in northeastern Arizona , encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres .
Having inhabited this high and dry area since the 12th century ,
the Hopi have developed a unique agriculture practice " dry farming ".
Instead of plowing their fields ,
Hopi traditional farmers place " wind breakers " in the fields
at selected intervals to retain soil , snow and moisture.
They also have perfected special techniques to plant seeds in arid fields.
As a result ,
they succeed in raising corn , beans , squash , melons and
other crops in a landscape that appears inhospitable to farming .
Friday, November 7, 2008
Up to 1924 it was legal to turn in an Indian scalp and get a reward. One could kill an Indian and no harm would come to you if you were White. History, written by the White man is full of lies and the real true history can be told by only those who lived through the times. Fortunately, we have some Native Americans in their 80's and 90's who lived through this history.
Prior to that they could vouch for what was told them by their elders and teachers. I have gone out of my way to meet these elders and listen to them for hours. They speak the truth and it is just a matter of time before truth prevails!
We also have some Whites who now feel like telling the truth since they cannot run away from deception for ever. In no other country in the world, has no much injustice been done to the Native people, as have we in the United States. Imagine, thousands of Native Americans in just California robbed of their land, their homes, and treated as second class citizens. Even today many of them are home less and have been robbed of their self worth.
The Native American has ties to the land of his or her birth, tradition, Mother Earth, spirituality, rituals, the Spirits, so many important elements that Whites cannot fathom, because most Whites are spiritually dead! These may sound like harsh words but I myself have seen it with my eyes. Most Whites center their lives around greed and money! While money buys you some needs it cannot make you happy - spiritually! We have so many Living Dead.
Unlike the Christian concept, tradition passed from generation to generation plays an important role when any Native American passes away. Death is just a transition and one's sojourn on this earth requires that the spirits be respected. Native American human remains are sacred a concept that Whites find real difficult to comprehend!
Rich Native American languages are no more, traditions developed over thousands of years totally destroyed, people forced to inter marry to survive, many forced to commit suicide rather than suffer at the hands of the Whites. So many atrocities committed that it makes one's stomach churn and that too by the authorities who thought they were right!
The Catholic Church has been too slow to admit that much wrong was done to the Native Americans by the early missionaries. The missionaries destroyed many a noble Native American tradition in the name of King and Church!
The United States government has in its very short history been very unfair to the Native Americans. The U.S. government has lied and even today the Department of Interior (DOI) has blood on its hands. Millions of dollars of Indian Trust money was misused by the DOI. A Federal judge had to reprimand the agency and the agency apologized for its misdeeds, just a few months ago.
The Digital age could easily come to haunt today's civilization. While most think that the digital age can bring a lot of change and bring a lot of progress. Quiet the opposite is possible.
Some leading philosophers, physicists, computer scientists, and learned persons seriously believe that the quantum leap made by computers could destroy our civilization. Again and again we have had renegades use the Internet to destroy and down load programs and viruses that have played havoc. It is just a matter of time before whole cities will be brought to a halt.
Digital science gives anyone who is clever enough to manipulate programs and viruses that can cause tremendous damage, destroy progress, and bring nations to a halt. This is done by corrupting operational systems that are linked to computers. These computers have software that are fully prone to computer viruses without warning. In seconds what is fully operational can come to a grinding halt. Huge power systems, systems that control communications, hospitals, you name it.
Digital science is still probing ways to control certain progress by developing checks and balances. The problem is no one entity can be at the helm of affairs. Some one from a third world country can totally destroy thousands of man hours of work and bring computers and any industry to a halt on any given day at any given time. Some one can do it right here in the United States!
No one has fully addressed the elements that will arise from toxicity. Computer generated operations and toxicity go hand in hand.No one has fully addressed the transportation system. As it stands today Public Transportation at the Presidio of San Francisco - sucks. If every one will commute by car, imagine the traffic congestion, the pollution, the parking problems and so on.
The Presidio of San Francisco once inhabited by the Native Americans, stolen and exploited by the past and present authorities, will never be the same. How ever we can prevent it from going down the drain. Today, no one really fully cares about the future. What most in authority really care is greed and money!
"Whites in California hunted Indians 'as though they were wild beasts' and shot them 'with as much nonchalance as though they were squirrels."
quote from a Forty-Niner
Monday, November 3, 2008
Every tribe has its own unique spiritual history, but certain parallels can be drawn that connect all these people to the earth and each other.
The origins of Native American spirituality can be traced back a very long time, possibly as far as 60,000 years. There are many tribes, all with a rich store of myths, though many early bloodlines have now died out. Popular versions of Native American spirituality are often inaccurate as they homogenize the beliefs of these cultures within the Native American peoples. Each tribe has it's own creation myth and collection of legends that connect humans with the animal kingdom.
One With Animals.
The basis of all Native American spirituality is the connection with the natural world. The landscape is accorded great respect, and sacred presences are felt within natural objects. Animals play a large role in the Native American tradition as teachers and guides. Ceremony and ritual is vital as this creates and sustains a feeling of connection with all living things.
A Natural Philosophy
The Native American peoples believe that the earth is their mother and that she must be revered and respected. The tribes have always hunters and gatherers rather than cultivators and farmers. The relationship between the land and the people is mystical and totally inter-dependant.
The creation myths often describe how the earth and its creatures came into being through an altruistic creator, and there is a deep belief that everything has a place in the scheme of things. Everything is considered to be infused with spirit and there is a deep respect for all creatures and for natural forces such as the rain, wind and lightening.
The spiritual welfare and physical health of the tribe is the responsibility of the tribal shaman, who is either chosen by the current shaman as his successor, or is singled out through a defining experience that proves his worthiness. The shaman holds extensive knowledge of plants and their abilities to heal or to bring altered states of awareness. He presides over the ceremonies and rituals designed to increase the strength of the tribe, to heal the sick, to banish malicious entities or to call the spirits of the animals before a hunt. Paramount to the shaman is his sacred drum which, among its many uses, can bring about a trance state.
Before performing a ceremony or ritual, the Native Americans ensure that the body and mind are cleansed and purified. The leaves of the sage plant are bound together and lit until they smoulder in order to "smudge" and cleanse the space. Sweetgrass is also braided and lit for the same purpose. Sweat lodges are used, where members of the tribe gather in an enclosed space, usually a teepee, to sit around stones that are placed in a central fire until very hot, then are doused in water to bring forth hot steam. This promotes sweating and releases bodily impurities.
There are so many Native American tribes in North America, that often the cultures and traditions become mixed in interpretation as is the case in the exercise below You can use this meditation before a ceremony, or to attune to the natural world.
Create an altar with natural objects. Light a smudge stick of sage or sweetgrass and fan the smoke over yourself. Walk around and allow the sage smoke to purify the energy of your space. Then place the sage in a bowl and stand in the centre of the room.
Face east, where the sun rises. This is the place of new beginnings. Give thanks to the spirits of the east, and ask them to guide you. Turn to face the south, the place where the sun is at its highest, representing the power of life. Give thanks to the spirits of the south, and ask tem to guide you. Turn to the west, the place of sunset, of dreams and introspection. Give thanks to the spirits of the west, and ask them to guide you.
Turn to the north, the place of wisdom and reflection. Give thanks to the spirits of the north, and ask them to guide you.
Now you are ready to sit in meditation.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strengthto be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).
Respect means "To feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or somethin with deference or courtesy". Showing respect is a basic law of life.
a. Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times.
b. Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers, and Community Leaders.
c. No person should be made to feel "put down" by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
d. Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.
e. Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person's quiet moment or personal space.
f. Never walk between people that are conversing.
g. Never interrupt people who are conversing.
h. Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.
i. Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).
j. Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.
k. Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend her.
l. Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.
m. Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.
n. Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.
Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.
Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.
Always treat your guests with honor and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house, and your best service to your guests.
The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.
Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.
All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.
To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.
Observe moderation and balance in all things.
Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.
Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart.
Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.
Spirit of Earth will you hear me,And witness the fall of my fear?Blessed are the gifts that you cede me;Grant it that they become clear.
Wings to fight for my freedom,Horses to drum with my deathMountains to centre my silence;Serpents to circle my breath.
A heart to sing for the Sun in,Joy in the rhythm of pain;A sharp edge to cut to the truth with,A seed to herald the change.
A circle of stones to surround me,Blood from the heart of the earth;Trees of all nations to ground me,Winds to carry my mirth.
Fires to roar for my freedom,Waters to call for my birth;The moon and a feather to guide me,And a song to sing for the Earth.
(Wado to our sister Annamiranda in Australia, for sharing this beautiful prayer song with us which the Great Mystery gave to her)
Friday, October 31, 2008
The following was from the Gathering of Native American Men in June 1996 at Colorado:
The wisdom of Native Elders is contained in the Seven Philosophies and is offered to Native American men so that they may be better fathers, sons, husbands, uncles, relatives, friends, Tribal members and citizens of the countries in which they live. The Seven Philosophies point the way towards a return to the values of Native American culture for the healing of individuals, families and Native Communities
TO THE WOMEN
The cycle of life for the woman is the baby, girl, woman, and grandmother. These are the four directions of life. She has been given by natural laws, the ability to reproduce life. The most sacred of all things is life. Therefore, all men should treat her with dignity and respect. Never was it our way to harm her mentally or physically. Indian men were never abusers. We always treated our women with respect and understanding. So from now on:
I will treat women in a sacred manner. The Creator gave women the responsibility for bringing new life into the world. Life is sacred, so I will look upon the women in a sacred manner.
In our traditional ways, the woman is the foundation of the family. I will work with her to create a home atmosphere of respect, security and harmony.
I will refrain from any form of emotional or physical abuse. If I have these feelings, I will talk to the Creator for guidance.
I will treat all women as if they were my own female relatives. This is my vow.
TO THE CHILDREN
As an eagle prepares its young to leave the nest will all the skills and knowledge it needs to participate in life, in the same manner so will I guide my children. I will use the culture to prepare them for life.
The most important thing I can give to my children is my time. I will spend time with them in order to learn from them and to listen to them.
I will teach my children to pray, as well as the importance of respect.
We are the caretakers of the children for the Creator. They are His children, not ours.
I am proud of our own Native language. I will learn it if I can and help my children to learn it.
In today's world it is easy for the children to go astray, so I will work to provide positive alternatives for them. I will teach them the culture. I will encourage education. I will encourage sports. I will encourage them to talk to the Elders for guidance; but mostly, I will seek to be a role model myself.
I make this commitment to my children so they will have courage and find guidance through traditional ways.
TO THE FAMILY
The creator gave to us the family, which is the place where all teachings are handed down from the grandparent, to the parent, and to the child. The children's behavior is a mirror of the parents behavior. Knowing this, I realize the importance for each Indian man to build a strong and balanced family. By doing this, I will break the cycle of hurt and ensure the positive and mental health of the children, even the children yet to be born. So from now on:
I will dedicate my priorities to rebuilding my family.
I must never give up and leave my family only to the mother.
I am accountable to restore the strength of my family. To do this, I will nurture our family's spiritual, cultural, and social health. I will demonstrate trust, respect, honor and discipline; but mostly I will be consistent in whatever I do with them.
I will see that the grandparents and community Elders play a significant role in the education of my children.
I realize that the male and female together are fundamental to our family life. I will listen to my mates council for our family's benefit, as well as for the benefit of my Indian Nation.
TO THE COMMUNITY
The Indian community provides many things for the family. The most important is the sense of belonging; that is, to belong to "the people", and to have a place to go. Our Indian communities need to be restored to health so the future generation will be guaranteed a place to go for culture, language and Indian socializing. In the community, the honor of one is the honor of all and the pain of one is the pain of all. I will work to strengthen recovery in all parts of my community. As an Indian man:
I will give back to my community by donating my time and talents when I am able.
I will cultivate friendships with other Indian men for mutual support and strength.
I will consider the effects of our decisions on behalf of the next seven generations; in this way, our children and grandchildren will inherit healthy communities.
I will care about those in my community so that the mind changers, alcohol and drugs, will vanish, and our communities will forever be free of violence.
If each of us can do all these things, then others will follow; ours will be a proud community.
TO THE EARTH
Our Mother Earth is the source of all life, whether it be the plants, the two-legged, four-legged, winged ones or human beings. The Mother Earth is the greatest teacher, if we listen, observe and respect her. When we live in harmony with the Mother Earth, she will recycle the things we consume and make them available to our children and to their children. As an Indian man, I must teach my children how to care for the Earth so it is there for the future generations. So from now on:
I realize the Earth is our mother. I will treat her with honor and respect.
I will honor the interconnectedness of all things and all forms of life. I will realize the Earth does not belong to us, but we belong to the Earth.
The natural law is the ultimate authority upon the lands and water. I will learn the knowledge and wisdom of the natural laws. I will pass this knowledge in to my children.
The mother Earth is a living entity that maintains life. I will speak out in a good way whenever I see someone abusing the Earth. Just as I would protect my own mother, so will I protect the Earth. I will ensure that the land, water, and air will be intact for my children and my children's children - unborn.
TO THE CREATOR
As an Indian man, I realize we make no gains without the Great Spirit being in our lives. Neither I nor anything I attempt to do, will work without the Creator. Being Indian and being spiritual has the same meaning. Spirituality is out gift from the Great One. This day, I vow to walk the Red Road.
As an Indian man, I will return to the traditional and spiritual values which have guided my ancestors for the past generations.
I will look with new eyes on the powers of our ceremonies and religious ways, for they are important to the very survival of our people.
We have survived and are going to grow and flourish spiritually. We will fulfill our teachings and the purpose that the Creator has given us with dignity.
Each day, I will pray and ask for guidance. I will commit to walk the Red Road, or whatever the spiritual way is called in my own culture.
If I am Christian, I will be a good one. If I am traditional, I will walk this road with dedication.
If each if us can do these things then others will follow. From this day forward, I will reserve time and energy for spirituality, seeking to know the Creators will.
I will think about what kind of person I want to be when I am an Elder.
I will start developing myself now to be this person.
I will walk with the Great Spirit and the grandfathers at my side. I will develop myself to remain positive. I will develop a good mind.
I will examine myself daily to see what I did good and what I need to improve. I will examine my strength and weaknesses, then I will ask the Creator to guide me. I will develop a good mind.
Each day, I will listen to the Creators voice in the wind. I will watch nature and ask to be shown a lesson which will occur on my path.
I will seek out the guiding principles, which guided my ancestors. I will walk in dignity, honor and humility, conducting myself as a warrior.
I will seek the guidance of the Elders so that I may maintain the knowledge of culture, ceremonies, and songs, and so that I may pass these on to the future generations.
I choose to do all these things myself, because no one else can do them for me.
I know I cannot give away what I don't have, so I will need to walk the talk.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians food traditions (by William Bartram in 1789, From "Transaction of the American Ethnological Society," Vol. 3 Pt. 1. Extracts)
They use a strong lixivium prepared from ashes of bean stalks and other vegetables in all their food prepared from corn, which otherwise, they say, breeds worms in their stomachs.
The vines or climbing stems of the climber (Bigonia Crucigera) are equally divided longitudinally into four parts by the same number of their membranes somewhat resembling a piece of white tape by which means, when the vine is cut through and divided traversely, it presents to view the likeness of a cross. This membrane is of a sweet, pleasant taste. The country people of Carolina crop these vines to pieces, together with china brier and sassafras roots, and boil them in their beer in the spring, for diet drink, in order to attenuate and purify the blood and juices. It is a principal ingredient in Howard's famous infusion for curing the yaws, etc., the virtues and use of which he obtained from Indian Doctors.
Their animal food consists chiefly of venison, bear's flesh, turkeys, hares, wild fowl, and domestic poultry; and also of domestic kind, as beeves, goats, and swine - never horse flesh, though they have horses in great plenty; neither do they eat the flesh of dogs, cats or any such creatures as are rejected by white people. Their vegetable food consists chiefly of corn, rice, convelvulus batatas, or those nourishing roots usually called the sweet or Spanish potatoes (but in the Creek country they never eat the Irish potato).
All the species of cucurbita, as squashes, pumpkins, watermelons, etc. but of the cucumbers, they cultivate none of the species as yet, neither do they cultivate our farinaceous grains as wheat, barley, spelt, rye, buckwheat, etc. (not having got the use of the plow amongst them, though it has been introduced some years ago). The chiefs rejected it, alleging that it would starve their old people who employ themselves in planting and selling their produce, and selling their produce to the traders for their support and maintenance; seeing that by permitting the traders to use the plow, one or two persons could easily raise more grain than all the old people of the town could odd by using the hoe. Turnips, parsnips, salads, etc, they have no knowledge of.
But besides the cultivated fruits above recited, with peaches, oranges, plums (Chickasaw plums), figs, and some apples, they have in use a vast variety of wild or native vegetables, both fruits and roots, viz: diospyros, morus rubra, gleditsia, miltiloba, s.tricanthus; all the species of juglans and acorns, from which they extract a very sweet oil, which enters into all their cooking; and several species of palms, which furnish them a great variety of agreeable and nourishing food. Grapes, too, they have in great variety and abundance, which they feed on occasionally when ripe; they also prepare them for keeping and lay up for winter and spring time (Vitis Vinifera; I call them so because they approach, as respects the largeness of the fruit and their shape and flavor, much nearer the grapes of Europe and Asia, of which wine is made, and are especially different from our wild grapes, and as different from the fox or bull grape of Penn. and Carolina).
A species of smilax (s. pseudochina) affords them a delicious and nourishing food, which is prepared from its vast, tuberous roots. They dig up these roots, and while yet fresh and full of juice, chop them into pieces, and then macerate them well in wooden mortars; this substance they put in vessels , nearly filled with clean water, when being mixed well with paddles, whilst the finer parts are yet floating in the liquid, they decant it off into other vessels, leaving the farinaceous substance at the bottom, which being taken out and dried is an impalpable powder or farina, of a reddish color. Then when mixed in boiling water, becomes a beautiful jelly, which sweetened with honey and sugar, affords most nourishing food for children or aged people; or when mixed with fine corn flour, and fried in fresh bear's grease makes excellent fritters.
- Native American Indian Books(Cherokee)
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- Through the Eyes of a Cherokee
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- AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY.-As told by American Indians
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- Cherokee Dreams.( a very lovely site)
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- America IS a "Nation In Distress"
- The Cherokee Voice
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- Native American Tribes of Ohio
- Walking the Red Road
- Cherokee of the Smoky Mountains
- Cherokee Indians - Tsalagi - Tsa-la-gi - Ani-yun-wiya - Anikituhwagi - Keetowah
- The Lone Wolf Band of Cherokee Indians-Indiana's Cherokee people
- Turtle Island (Lake Erie)
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- Bear Butte is a sacred site located in the Black Hills
- slide and video show of chiefs