Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Medicine man" is a western term used to describe Native American religious community figures. The meaning of the term is similar to that of "shaman". The word "medicine man" has been widelycriticized by Native Americans, and various scholars The term "shaman" is believed to have originated among the Siberian Tungus and the translation of shaman is "he (or she) who work with spirit helpers to returning the individual to a state of harmonious balance both within himself and in relationship to the outer world.
This holistic approach seeks to create a change not only in pathology, but also in the patient's understanding, a change towards healthier self-concept and greater appreciation of the world around him. Such growth supports the patient in necessary behavior modifications. The healer's intention is that the person be not simply cured of a disease, but transformed through the experience of disease.
In Lakota traditions, Wakan Tanka is a term for "The Great Spirit" which resides in every thing. Every creature and object has a wakan, such as wakan tanka kin, the wakan of the sun.
In addition to its massive size the buffalo also had a keen sense of hearing and smell. Before the advent of horses and guns, the Blackfoot tribe, along with other Plains Indians, developed effective hunting techniques involving hundreds of people. The evidence of one such method can be seen today at a site just outside Fort Macloed, Alberta. In the picture to the right are the 10 meter high cliffs known as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It is one the oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps in North America. The name refers to a young Piegan brave who stood below the sandstone cliffs to watch a hunt and was later found under a pile of buffalo with his skull crushed in (Corbett 1997).
The jump is rich in prehistory; bone and tool beds nearly 11 meters thick lie beneath the cliffs. Radiocarbon dating of the bones establishes that the site was first used as a buffalo jump over 5,700 years ago, more than 500 years before the Stonehenge was built in England. There is also evidence from two 9,000 year old spear points that man visited during early prehistoric times, thought it is uncertain if the jump was used by these hunters (HSIBJ Official Site 1997). Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is just one part of a communal kill site complex. The buffalo would graze in the basins above the cliffs where the young men would disguise themselves under wolf and buffalo calf skins to lure and then push the herd into narrow drive lanes marked by stone cairns (heaps of stones), some of which are still evident.
A long the way hunters hidden behind brush piles would jump up and wave buffalo robes to keep the animals going on course. There was a visual deception that made the land above and below the cliff appear unbroken; the buffalo, usually galloping at full speed, were unable to stop or veer away once they saw the cliff. After the drive hunters used spears to finish off the buffalo as the 10 meter fall didn't always immediately kill the animals (Corbett 1997). The carcasses were then dragged to the nearby campsite for butchering and skinning, a task shared by the hunters. The meat was divided accordingly to the need of each family while special allotments were made for the sick and elderly. Communal hunts took place in June, July, and August when the buffalo fat and their meat prime.
Out of respect of kinship with the buffalo and the sense of eating their own flesh the Blackfeet describe the hunt as leading the buffalo and calling to them, not driving or chasing them to their death. It was a good life that sustained itself for thousands of years, but it all ended in less than a century with the arrival of the horse and gun in 1730.
Today the Blackfoot tribes reside on four reservations. Over 6,000 Indians, mostly of Piegan decent, live on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana (also known as Pikuni); fewer than 20 percent are full blood. In addition, there are more than 9,000 Indians living on the Blackfoot, Blood, and Piegan reservations in Alberta (Britannica Online). (According to the 1990 census by the U.S. Department of Congress there are 32,234 Blackfoot Indians comprising 1.7 percent of the current Indian population.)
Monday, January 12, 2009
One summer a long time ago, the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Sioux came together and camped. The sun was strong and the people were starving for there was no game.
Two young men went out to hunt. Along the way, the two men met a beautiful young woman dressed in white who floated as she walked. One man had bad desires for the woman and tried to touch her, but was consumed by a cloud and turned into a pile of bones.
The woman spoke to the second young man and said, "Return to your people and tell them I am coming." This holy woman brought a wrapped bundle to the people. She unwrapped the bundle giving to the people a sacred pipe and teaching them how to use it to pray. "With this holy pipe, you will walk like a living prayer," she said. The holy woman told the Sioux about the value of the buffalo, the women and the children. "You are from Mother Earth," she told the women, "What you are doing is as great as the warriors do."
Before she left, she told the people she would return. As she walked away, she rolled over four times, turning into a white female buffalo calf. It is said after that day the Lakota honored their pipe, and buffalo were plentiful. (from John Lame Deer's telling in 1967).
Many believe that the buffalo calf, Miracle, born August 20, 1994 symbolizes the coming together of humanity into a oneness of heart, mind, and spirit.
"American Legend is made flesh"
No longer mythical White Buffalo a beacon to Plains tribes......
from the Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1994
Miracle stands in her mother’s shadow, her champagne coat, ghostlike against the chocolate-colored herd. She is a mat of fuzz on a newborn frame. Yet Miracle is rarely among land-roving beasts. She is the mythical White Buffalo - symbol of hope, rebirth and unity for the Great Plains tribes.
Searching for Miracle will take you down long gravel path on the Heider family farm in south central Wisconsin. Three thousand pilgrims made the walk down the coarse stones earlier this month hoping to catch a glimpse of Miracle. Every day more come from all corners of the country. One man came from Ireland.
If all of this sounds a little crazy to you, consider this: The chance of a white buffalo being born makes your odds of winning the lottery look good, Miracles likelihood, according to the numbers from the National Buffalo Association, is somewhere in the range of 6 billion. Consider also that the only other documented white buffalo this century died in 1959. His name was Big Medicine. He lived for 36 years.
Now, there is Miracle, the infant calf born to a 1,100 -pound mother and now deceased father on Dave and Valerie Heider’s farm on the banks of the Rock River. She is a beacon for believers.
"The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ, says Floyd Hand, a Sioux medicine man from Pine Ridge, S.D., who was one of the first to make the pilgrimage. It "will bring about purity of mind, body and spirit, and unify all nations, black, red, yellow, and white."
There are countless stories about the White Buffalo, a different tale for every tribe.
"Many years ago, says Tony Ironshell of the Rosebud Sioux tribe in South Dakota, three hunters encountered a white buffalo calf. The white buffalo turned into a woman and instructed the hunters to return to their village and prepare for her arrival. When she came four days later, she carried the sacred pipe. With that pipe she brought Sioux laws, and many things changed. The pipe from the White Buffalo Calfwoman is still kept in South Dakota.
In their ancient White Buffalo Dance, the Fox Indians of Wisconsin shadow the vision of a legendary hunter, who could turn himself into a white buffalo at will after the beast appeared to him in a dream. A white buffalo with red eyes and horns, says the Fox, gave the hunter the power to single-handedly turn back an army of attacking Sioux.
Before the white buffalo’s birth, the Heiders had never known an Indian and knew little about Indian culture.
Now they are careful to say, "Native American," quickly correcting their tongues when they slip. And they readily recount the white buffalo stories they have heard.
"I am told, " says Valerie, "that Miracle’s birth means the rebirth of the Native American culture and a new peace with the whites.... I know that you have never been bear-hugged until you’ve been bear-hugged by a Native American."
Susan Shown Harjo cried at her Washington D.C. office when she heard about the birth of the white buffalo calf. "It filled me with joy that had to spill over," says Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Muskogee. "The white buffalo is an important symbol for a lot of Plains Indians because they are messengers of creation. It is an important sign of well being on the verge of an awakening."
Harjo, president of the Washington based Morning Star Institute, which works to preserve native culture, says the birth of Miracle should make "all people pause the world over."
Heider had never even heard of a white buffalo when he went out at 6:00 am on Aug. 20 (1994) to check the buffalo cow who seemed ready to give birth. Instead of the reddish-brown calf he expected to find, he had a shock.
"She was white. I couldn’t believe it," he says, still shaking his head. "That kind of thing only happens in fairy tales - and, now I know, in Indian tales too."
Heider called a journalist friend to tell her he had a cute little story about a white buffalo being born. He had no idea of the importance of the White Buffalo in the Indian mythology. The next thing he knew, The Associated Press picked up the story, and what started as a trickle of curious visitors became a torrent.
The Heiders, who are about 12 years shy of retirement age, have taken refuge in their home. The attention has become too much. Still, they have turned down countless offer to take Miracle off their hands.
"Miracle is going to stay and be with the herd," says Valerie.
They see no end to the crowds, but have no plans to profit from Miracle’s birth. They’ve put out a bucket for donations from well-wishers to provide for security and are awaiting a $4,600 electric gate they hope will give them week-day peace.
"As far as we know, Miracle will be something people will want to see as long as she lives," says Dave. "But my life ain’t gonna stop."
Even as he speaks, two more pilgrims pull up and start to make the long walk to Miracle.
Monday, January 5, 2009
While working for the Menninger Foundation in 1971, Doug Boyd met Rolling Thunder, a spiritual leader of the Cherokee and Shoshone tribes. About the shaman, Boyd wrote, "Each day it was becoming clearer to me that Rolling Thunder was a teacher who could offer me insights that I could never achieve in the laboratory or discover in the library."
One day during lunch, Rolling Thunder explained the Indian's view of chaos through ecological imbalance.
"When you have pollution in one place, it spreads all over. It spreads just as arthritis or cancer spreads in the body. The earth is sick now because the earth is being mistreated, and some of the problems that may occur, some of the natural disasters that might happen in the near future are only the natural readjustments that have to take place to throw off sickness. A lot of things are on this land that don't belong here. They're foreign objects like viruses or germs. Now, we may not recognize the fact when it happens, but a lot of the things that are going to happen in the future will really be the earth's attempt to throw off some of these sicknesses. This is really going to be like fever or like vomiting, what you might call a physiological adjustment.
"It's very important for people to realize this. The earth is a living organism, the body of a higher individual who has a will and wants to be well, who is at times less healthy or more healthy, physically and mentally. People should treat their own bodies with respect. It's the same thing with the earth. Too many people don't know that when they harm the earth they harm themselves, nor do the realize that when they harm themselves they harm the earth...
"It's not very easy for you people to understand these things because understanding is not knowing the kind of facts that your books and teachers talk about. I can tell you that understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit is the life that is in all things -- all the creatures and the plants and even the rocks and the minerals. All things -- and I mean all things -- have their own will and their own way, their own purpose; this is what is to be respected.
"Such respect is not a feeling or an attitude only. It's a way of life. Such respect means that we never stop realizing and never neglect to carry out our obligation to ourselves and our environment."
Rolling Thunder offers a philospohical or religious basis for contemporary ecological thought. His view is fundamental to understanding Native American belief systems. Certainly, there are sound scientific reasons supporting the various ecology movements, and for scientific minds that may be enough. However, integrating both views may ultimately prove more reliable and productive than choosing one or the other.
- 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