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?
- Native American Indian Books(Cherokee)
- A great place to get books about Cherokee
- Through the Eyes of a Cherokee
- Tree Of Life Guardianship
- Wolf Song of Alaska
- The Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy
- Get Blogging Group
- Cherokee Women
- News.--- Indian Country news
- FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
- Support Native American Poetry -Art
- Yosemite Native American Indian life before 1900
- AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY.-As told by American Indians
- Pine Ridge Reservation
- Cherokees Fact Sheets
- Cherokee Dreams.( a very lovely site)
- A beautiful site worth looking at..
- A Beautiful site of Cherokee poetry and things
- America IS a "Nation In Distress"
- The Cherokee Voice
- Native Circle ~
- One Nation, "walking Together"
- 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)
- Turtle island,"native indian teachings"
- Turtle Island Native network
- Bear Butte is a sacred site located in the Black Hills
- slide and video show of chiefs