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Monday, December 21, 2015

The 12 Lakota Virtues

Friday, December 18, 2015

Native American Holidays and Traditions

There are several Native American holidays and traditional festivals. Most tribes have their own individual celebrations, but many of the holidays have common themes or purposes. Native American holidays often celebrate nature, the spiritual world or ancestors. Popular holidays might honor the sun, the rain or crops needed to sustain life. Many Native American holidays stretch for a week, rather than just one day.
The start of the new year is honored by some Native Americans, although many tribes have selected different dates as the last day of the year. The Hopi and the Zuni both celebrate a new year's celebration on 22 December. This ceremony is called Soyal, and it is a time of renewal and purification. A ritual is conducted to welcome the sun back after winter.
The Makahiki new year festival is celebrated in Hawaii in October. It celebrates new beginnings and honors the Hawaiian god Lono, who represents fertility, music and rain. There are three phases of Makahiki. The first consists of purification and spiritual cleansing. During the second phase, the Native Hawaiians celebrate with ula dancing and athletic competitions. The final phase honors Lono and tests the tribe's current chief to ensure he is still worthy as a leader.
The Tewa Native Americans celebrate three dances throughout the year honoring a different animal each time. The year begins with a turtle dance, which remembers and honors the day of creation. For three days in October, the Tewa celebrate with the deer dance. This dance represents both femininity and masculinity. The next month, the buffalo is recognized, and the Tewa see this as a time of healing and life.
Native American holidays often celebrate the sun as a life-giving power, both physically and spiritually. The Inca called their sun god Inti, and they celebrated him during the Inti Raymi. This festival traditionally begins on 21 June, the southern hemisphere's winter solstice. The celebrations consist of elaborate dances and the wearing of many bright colors. Originally, animal sacrifices were offered in hopes of an abundant year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Good morning to all my relations

“The honor of the people lies in the moccasin tracks of the women. Walk the good road...”

"Desert Rose"
Artist: David Joaquin

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Raven Lost His Eyes An Ahtna story

Artist Unknown

Here is a story of Raven and what he did. Raven sat on the edge of a bank. He looked up and down the river, but he did not see anyone. His eyes were getting tired, so he took his eyes.
He went back to bed, and after a long time later, his eyes to tell him again that someone was coming down the river. This time, he thought to himself, 'It's lying to me again.'
The eyes said that someone was coming closer. After a while, his eyes did not say anything anymore. Raven was blind, so he felt his way back out. He felt for his eyes where he bought he left them hanging. He kept searching for his eyes. He lost the place, and he felt the ground and found a deep trail. Up there a little ways, there was a ridge coming down from a mountain. He knew of this place where there were no trees. He, though, "Maybe if I put a berry in my eye, I will see again.' So he started for that place. He had a hard time. He even crawled. When he got there, he found a blueberry that he put in place of his eyes. When he put the berries in, he could not see with them. They were too dark. He knew there was another ridge coming down the mountains and a trail going across there, so he crawled across there. He found something like cranberries and tried those for his eyes. But when he put them in, everything looked red to him. They did not fit either. They kept falling out because they were too small. He did not know what to do, so he kept climbing and found another berry, it was the Canadian Jay's eyes. He could see with this berry, but his eyes were red. He looked like a man, but a person from some other place. He came back down to his house, and he thought to himself, "Maybe I should paddle up the river to see where they put my eyes." He had a canoe and started up the river. He was paddling when he heard up there among the big trees what sounded like a lot of people laughing. He wanted to find out about all the noise.
He stopped on the bank and pulled his canoe up, and started to walk back there into the woods. But when he walked back there, it was a portage, and there was nobody there. The noise was still heard in the woods, however. When he went down to the river, he found a house. Before he came to the house, he put a bunch of spruce boughs in a pile. He spread them out, and then he defecated on it. When he did that, it became clothes. He put these fancy clothes on. The mukluks were the prettiest. Then he put on another pile of spruce boughs and defecated again. Again there were clothes there. He came down to a house by the river. There was a young girl there who did not go with the others. She was a single girl waiting for the right man to come along. She told him she was asked a lot of times by men to marry her, but she did not. When Raven showed her the clothes that he had in the bag, she decided to marry him. The girl told him, "I will marry you."
By this time, the people that were in the woods came back down. They saw Raven. They thought he was and odd stranger. The girl told them that she wanted to marry this person. They told her to go ahead and marry him, so they got married.
In the daytime, the people went back to the woods to have fun, but the couple never went there. One day, he(Raven) asked his wife, "What are those people doing back there?" His wife told him, "I don't know. But they are playing with something that someone said was Raven's eyes that someone brought back. They sewed something over them, so they do not look like Raven's eyes." So Raven found out that they were playing with his eyes.
The people came back in the evening, but in the morning, they went back up and started to play with the ball. "Let's go up and see what they are doing," he told his wife. "I want to know what they do." So they started up the trail.
As they were walking, they saw what looked like a big sandbar. It was a big area where there were no trees. That was where they were playing. He sat by the edge to see the game of ball they were playing. As he was sitting there, he watched the ball. There were two of them. Sometimes the eyes fell far apart. He wanted to get them, but there was no way. He wanted to get his eyes back. He sat there wishing they would both fall where they were sitting. As he wished, the eyes fell where they were sitting. He grabbed them and took them back. As the players reached for him, he put his eyes back on himself. And he flew off saying those were his eyes.
He landed on top of a big tree. The players were mad at him. They were telling him how bad he was and told him, "Maybe we should hit you with an arrow."
He sat there for a while then took off. As he was going up, his wife who was still standing there, her clothes became Raven's droppings. They were all white with it. The clothes that she was wearing were beautiful before all this happened. Everyone was mad at Raven. He flew back to his canoe and became a man again. Now that he had his real eyes back, he threw away all those berries that he used for his eyes, and he came back to his home.

Miska Deaphon, Nikolai Nwch'ihwzoya'

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Braids symbolize Oneness and Unity. The flowing strands of hair, individually weak but when joined together in Oneness, physically demonstrate the Strength of Oneness; "One Mind, One Heart and One Soul", the Song of the Uni-verse, and the Sacred thoughts you are to hold. There are times to wear the hair braided and times to let it flow free, different times to demonstrate your harmony with the flow of life and to demonstrate your thoughts of Oneness to others.
There are different teachings about the way to braid ones hair, and different teachings about the ways and rites of braiding Sweetgrass.
One way is to gather 28 whole strands of Sweetgrass, one strand symbolizing each sacred day in one moon(month). Divide them in three equal piles, 9 strands each, each pile symbolizing the wandering spirits of the 3 tiers of Heaven (upper world, middle world, lower world), and with the one strand that is left, the strand that Symbolizes the Great Spirit, the Creator God(Father Sun), you tie all the loose strands together. Remembering as you braid the Sweetgrass, to keep your thoughts and intent pure and healthy, placing the prayers of love for life into your braid. It is the intent placed in the medicine that makes all healing possible. To end the braid, tie a knot with the grass. A Knot is symbolic of Union and a Bond. The Tie that binds. The knot in the Sweetgrass braid also binds all the "thoughts" of our Mother together, to teach us, once again of the strength of Unity or Oneness.
Know it is only the Creator's power that holds the Universe together and the wandering spirits are His Great Spirits that flow and protect Life all the way to the outer edges of the Universe and the 3 tiers of Heaven are the lower, middle and upper worlds or the Sea, Earth and Sky(Universe) where all the Great Spirits dwell. Keeping thoughts of Love and Respect for All Life in your Mind and Heart, allows one to share the Sacred Sweetgrass with others in a good way.
When working with the Sacred Medicines, our intent should be as pure as the intent of our selfless Mother, the Earth. She wants only the best for Her Children. So hold Sacred thoughts; thoughts of Oneness and Healing thoughts; thoughts of Empowerment and Love, when braiding and using Sweetgrass. Soon All Nations will be strong again.
Written by Paula Lightening Woman Johnstone

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Once, not long ago, the Buffalo were everywhere. Wherever the people were, there were the Buffalo. They loved the people, and the people loved the buffalo. When the people killed a buffalo, they did it with reverence. They gave thanks to the buffalo's spirit. They used every part of the buffalo they killed. The meat was their food. The skins were used for clothing and to cover their tipis. The hair stuffed their pillows and saddlebags. The sinews became their bowstrings. From the hooves, they made glue. They carried water in the bladders and stomachs. To give the Buffalo honor, they painted the skull and placed it facing the rising sun.

Then the whites came. They were new people, as beautiful and as deadly as the black spider. The whites took the lands of the people. They built the railroad to cut the lands of the people in half. It made life hard for the people and so the buffalo fought the railroad. The Buffalo tore up the railroad tracks. They chased away the cattle of the whites. The buffalo loved the people and tried to protect their way of life. So the army was sent to kill the buffalo. But, even the soldiers could not hold the buffalo back. Then the army hired hunters. The hunters came and killed and killed. Soon the bones of the buffalo covered the land to the height of a tall man. The Buffalo saw they could fight no longer.

One morning, a Kiowa woman whose family was running from the Army rose early from their camp deep in the hills. She went down to the spring near the mountainside to get water. She went quietly, alert for enemies. The morning mist was thick, but as she bent to fill her bucket, she saw something. It was something moving in the mist. As she watched, the mist parted and out of it came an old buffalo cow. It was one of the old Buffalo women, who always led the herds. Behind her came the last few young buffalo warriors, their horns scarred from fighting, some of them wounded. Among them were a few calves and young cows.  Straight toward the side of the mountain, the old buffalo cowled that last herd. As the Kiowa woman watched, the mountain opened up in front of them, and the buffalo walked into the mountain. Within the mountain, the Earth was green and new. The sun shone, and the meadowlarks were singing. It was as it had been before the whites came. Then the mountain closed behind them.

The buffalo were gone.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Thanksgiving prayer to consider for your table this year

A Haudenosaunee "Thanksgiving" Prayer

It is good to give thanks more than once a year.

Thanksgiving Address


The People
Today we have gathered, and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms - waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds - from the smallest to the largest - we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How exactly is one supposed to honor the heritage and Native American People during Native American Heritage month?

If you find yourself wondering what to do this month here are few suggestions to honor truly and appreciate each of the 566 unique, federally recognized tribes in the US.
1) Support Native American Artists
2. Learn About (and Consider Backing) Native-Led Movements
3. Call Out Appropriation Because It’s Offensive (Not Because You Know Indigenous People Won’t Like It):
4. Support Non-Native Companies or Organizations That Actively Honor Native Culture and Creations such as, or or
Many Americans have a broken relationship with indigenous peoples. The following is and has been my experience; it is my opinion:
We’re fine as romanticized historical centerpieces and entertainment props, but mocked and ridiculed when we decry the materialistic use of sacred objects like headdresses or call to remove a dictionary-defined racial slur like Redskin from the NFL lexicon.
The message is clear to Natives: You can feel honored, or you can shut up.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Shifting the negative to positive takes educating each other. Shifting from negative to positive requires talking about topics, that may be uncomfortable. Asking questions to expand one's knowledge shouldn't be taboo. I'm just saying... BMB

Let us remember our brother Leonard Peltier is still awaiting justice.
While we celebrate our culture and heritage this month, let us remember our brother Leonard Peltier is still awaiting justice.
Free Leonard Peltier

Red Fox James

Did you know?

The year before this proclamation by Rev. Sherman Coolidge was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

History of Native American Heritage Month Post 1

Did you know?

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans" and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Spotted Eagle and Black Crow

By: White R. Sioux

Many lifetimes ago there lived two brave warriors. One was named Wanblee Gleshka, Spotted Eagle. The other was Kangi Sapa, Black Crow.
They were friends but, as it happened, were also in love with the same girl, Zintkala Luta Win - Red Bird. She was beautiful as well as accomplished in tanning and quillwork, and she liked Spotted Eagle best, which made Black Crow unhappy and jealous.
Black Crow went to his friend and said: "Let's go on a war party against the Pahani. We'll get ourselves some fine horses and earn eagle feathers." "Good idea," said Spotted Eagle, and the two young men purified themselves in a sweat bath.
They got out their war medicine and their shields, painted their faces, and did all that warriors should do before a raid. Then they rode out against the Pahani.
The raid did not go well. The Pahani were watchful, and the young warriors could not get near the herd. Not only did they fail to capture any ponies, they even lost their mounts while they were trying to creep up to the enemy's herd. Spotted Eagle and Black Crow had a hard time escaping on foot because the Pahani were searching for them everywhere.
At one time, the two had to hide underwater in a lake and breathe through long, hollow reeds that were sticking up above the surface. But at least they were clever at hiding, and the Pahani finally gave up the hunt. Traveling on foot made the trip home a long one. Their moccasins were tattered, their feet bleeding. At last they came to a high cliff.
"Let's go up there," said Black Crow, "and find out whether the enemy is following us."
Clambering up, they looked over the countryside and saw that no one was on their trail. But on a ledge far below them they spied a nest with two young eagles in it.
"Let's get those eagles, at least," Black Crow said.
There was no way to climb down the sheer rock wall, but Black Crow took his rawhide lariat, made a loop in it, put the rope around Spotted Eagle's chest, and lowered him. When his friend was on the ledge with the nest, Black Crow said to himself:
"I can leave him there to die. When I come home alone, Red Bird will marry me."
He threw his end of the rope down and went away without looking back or listening to Spotted Eagle's cries. At last it dawned on Spotted Eagle that his friend had betrayed him, that he had been left to die. The lariat was much too short to lower himself to the ground; an abyss of three hundred feet lay beneath him. He was alone with the two young eagles, who screeched angrily at the strange, two-legged creature that had invaded their home.
Black Crow returned to his village.
"Spotted Eagle died a warrior's death," he told the people. "The Pahani killed him."
There was loud wailing throughout the village because everybody had liked Spotted Eagle. Red Bird slashed her arms with a sharp knife and cut her hair to make her sorrow plain to all. But in the end because life must go on, she became Black Crow's wife.
Spotted Eagle, however, did not die on his lonely ledge. The Eagles got used to him, and the old Eagles brought plenty of food - rabbits, prairie dogs, and sage hens - which he shared with the two chicks. Maybe it was the eagle medicine in his bundle, which he carried on his chest that made the Eagles accept him. Still, he had to tie himself to the little rock sticking out of the cliff to keep from falling off in his sleep. In this way he spent some uncomfortable weeks, after all, he was a human being and not a bird to whom a crack in the rock face is home.
At last the young eagles were big enough to practice flying.
"What will become of me now?" thought the young man. "Once the fledglings have flown the nest, the old birds won't bring any more food."
Then he had an inspiration, and told himself,
"Perhaps I'll die. Very likely I will. But I won't just sit here and give up."
Spotted Eagle took his little pipe out of his medicine bundle, lifted it up to the sky, and prayed:
"Wakan Tanka, onshimala ye: Great Spirit, pity me. You have created man and his brother, the eagle. You have given me the eagle's name. Now I will try to let the Eagles carry me to the ground. Let the eagles help me; let me succeed."
He smoked and felt a surge of confidence. Then he grabbed hold of the legs of the two young eagles.
"Brothers," he told them, "you have accepted me as one of your own. Now we will live together, or die together. Hoka-hey!" and he jumped off the ledge.
He expected he would have fallen and shattered on the ground below. However, the mighty flapping of wings the two young eagles broke his fall and the three landed safely. Spotted Eagle said a prayer of thanks to the ones above. Then he thanked the Eagles and told them that one day he would be back with gifts and have a giveaway in their honor.
Spotted Eagle returned to his village. The excitement was great. He had been dead and had come back to life. Everybody asked him how it happened that he was not dead, but he wouldn't tell them.
"I escaped," he said, "that's all."
He saw his love married to his treacherous friend and bore it in silence. He was not one to bring strife and enmity to his people, to set one family against the other. Besides, what had happened could not be changed. Thus, he accepted his fate.
A year or so later, a great war party of the Pahani attacked his village. The enemy outnumbered the Sioux tenfold, and Spotted Eagle's band had no chance for victory. All the warriors could do was fight a slow rear-guard action to give the aged, the women, and the children time to escape across the river.
Guarding their people this way, the handful of Sioux fought bravely, charging the enemy again and again, forcing the Pahani to halt and regroup. Each time, the Sioux retreated a little, taking up a new position on a hill or across a gully. In this way, they could save their families. Showing the greatest courage, exposing their bodies freely, were Spotted Eagle and Black Crow.
In the end, they alone faced the enemy. Then, suddenly, Black Crow's horse was hit by several arrows and collapsed under him.
"Brother, forgive me for what I have done," he cried to Spotted Eagle, "let me jump on your horse behind you."
Spotted Eagle answered: "You are a Kit Fox member, a sash wearer. Pin your sash as the sign that you will fight to the finish. Then, if you survive, I will forgive you; and if you die, I will forgive you also."
Black Crow answered: "I am a Fox. I shall pin my sash. I will win here or die here."
He sang his death song. He fought stoutly. There was no one to release him by unpinning him and taking him up on a horse. He met death when hit by lances and arrows. He died a warrior's death. Many Pahani died with him.
Spotted Eagle had been the only one to watch Black Crow's last fight. At last he joined his people, safe across the river, where the Pahani did not follow them.
"Your husband died well," Spotted Eagle told Red Bird.
After some time had passed, Spotted Eagle married Red Bird. And much, much later he told his parents, and no one else, how Black Crow had betrayed him.
"I forgive him now," he said, "because once, long ago, he was my friend, and because Red Bird and I are happy now."
After a long winter, Spotted Eagle told his wife when spring came again: "I must go away for a few days to fulfill a promise. And I have to go alone."
He rode off by himself to that cliff and stood again at the foot, below the ledge where the eagles' nest had been. He pointed his sacred pipe to the four directions, then down to Grandmother Earth and up to the Grandfather sky letting the smoke ascend to the sky, calling out:
"Wanblee Mishunkala, little Eagle Brothers, hear me."
High above in the clouds appeared two black dots, circling. These were the Eagles who had saved his life. They came at his call; their huge wings spread royally. Swooping down, uttering a shrill, cry of joy and recognition, they alighted at his feet.
He stroked them with his feather fan, thanked them many times, and fed them choice morsels of buffalo meat. He fastened small medicine bundles around their legs as a sign of friendship and spread tobacco offerings around the foot of the cliff.
Thus, he made a pact of friendship and brotherhood between Wanblee Oyate - the eagle nation - and his people.
Afterward the stately birds soared up again into the sky, circling motionless, carried by the wind, disappearing into the clouds.
Spotted Eagle turned his horse's head homeward, going back to Red Bird with deep content.

- Told by Jenny Leading Cloud in White River,
Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, 1967

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


The Warrior and the Eagle

Long ago the Delawares believed if a brave could pluck a feather from the tail of a live eagle and wear that feather, he would not only always be brave and of great courage, but good fortune would always follow him. Therefore, young hunters used to try to catch eagles by putting pieces of wolf meat on high cliffs, eagles being very fond of wolf meat.
At one time, there was a young brave who was very reckless, ambitious and daring. He wanted to get eagle feathers for a headdress and desired to pluck the feathers himself from live eagles, so he found a high place where eagles often came and baited the place for a few days with wolf meat. Then he killed a large wolf, took it to this place and hung a large piece of the flesh near the edge of the cliff. He then hid behind a big tree, with a forked stick, ready to capture an eagle.
Presently an eagle came to get the tempting morsel, but the young brave considered this eagle too small and drove it away. Soon another came, but this one also did not seem to suit the brave. He drove away several others, not being satisfied with the plumage of any of them. All at once he heard the flapping of heavy wings and there alighted before him an eagle much larger than himself. This eagle instead of looking like the others had red feathers as if dyed in blood. This eagle did not take the wolf meat, but came straight to the brave, seized him in his talons and carried him away to a high cliff, from which it was impossible to escape, except by jumping down, which would have been certain destruction.
On this cliff was a large nest containing four young eagles. The large eagle left the brave in the nest and said to him: "You shall stay here and care for my young until they are large enough to carry you back to where I got you. I am the head chief of the eagles. Your greed and ambition have brought you to this. You were not satisfied with the plumage of the birds I sent you. Now you shall stay here and suffer for your greed, and perhaps when you return you will be glad to take such feathers as we give you." There was nothing else for the young brave to do but stay and guard the young eagles, and this he did so well as to win the friendship and love of the young eagles as well as the old eagle, who occasionally came to the nest, bringing in his talons a deer, rabbit or other game.
Finally, after many days the brave and the young eagles had learned to fly. They would sometimes be away nearly all day and leave him alone. He would get very lonely and wonder if they were going to leave him to die of starvation or eat him up, or whether they really meant to take him back where the old eagle found him. He was not kept long in suspense, however, for one day the large eagle came again and said: "Now, my young friend, my grandchildren here shall carry you back to where I found you. I will go along to see that they do not drop you until you reach the place in safety." Accordingly two of the young eagles seized the brave in their talons and flew toward the cliff where he had been tempting the eagles with wolf meat. It was not far from the nest and they soon reached the place in safety. There the brave found some eagle feathers which he was glad enough to take without plucking them from a live eagle, and he returned with them to his people.
The lesson he learned from his adventure is that opportunities will finally cease to come if you continue to brush them aside, hoping for a better one.
Taken from Adams, Richard C., Legends of the Delaware Indians and Picture Writing, Syracuse University Press, 1997
Original publication - 1905.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Author: Marie L. McLaughlin

The little rabbit lived with his old grandmother, who needed a new dress. "I will go out and trap a deer or an elk for you," he said. "Then you shall have a new dress."

When he went out hunting he laid down his bow in the path while he looked at his snares. An elk coming by saw the bow.

"I will play a joke on the rabbit," said the elk to himself. "I will make him think I have been caught in his bow string." He then put one foot on the string and lay down as if dead.

By and by the rabbit returned. When he saw the elk he was filled with joy and ran home crying: "Grandmother, I have trapped a fine elk. You shall have a new dress from his skin. Throw the old one in the fire!"

This the old grandmother did.

The elk now sprang to his feet laughing. "Ho, friend rabbit," he called, "You thought to trap me; now I have mocked you." And he ran away into the thicket.

The rabbit who had come back to skin the elk now ran home again. "Grandmother, don't throw your dress in the fire," he cried. But it was too late. The old dress was burned.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This next piece of lore comes from the Cherokee, as it was recorded by James Mooney in the 1890's while staying with the Cherokee, writing all he could learn from them about their ways and teachings for the Smithsonian. This legend is called,..

"Why Mole Lives Underground"

Many ages ago there was a man who was in love with a young woman who disliked him and wanted nothing to do with this young man. He tried in every way to win her favor, but with no success. At last he grew discouraged and made himself sick thinking about it. Then one day as the man sat alone in his despair, Mole came along, and finding the man so low in his mind, asked what the trouble was. The man told him the whole story of the woman he loved, and her dislike of him, and when he had finished, Mole said,"I can help you. Not only will she like you, but she will come to you of her own free will." That night, while the village slept, burrowing underground to the place where the girl was in bed asleep, Mole took out her Spirit Heart. He came back by the same way and gave her heart to the discouraged lover, who couldn't see it even when it was in his hands. "There," said Mole. "Swallow it, and she will be so drawn to you that she has to come to you." The man swallowed her heart and felt a warmth in his soul as it went down, and in the morning when the girl woke up she somehow thought of him at once. She felt a strange desire to be with him, to go to him that minute. She couldn't understand it, because she had always disliked him, but the feeling grew so strong that she was compelled to find the man and tell him that she loved him and wanted to be his wife. And so they were married. All the magicians who knew them both were surprised and wondered how it had come about. When they found that it was the work of Mole, whom they had always thought too insignificant to notice, they were jealous and threatened to kill him. That's why Mole hide under the ground and still doesn't dare to come up. Artist: Susan


Did you know?
Elk is associated with love in many tribes, and Native American legends often credit elk with the creation of the first flute, an instrument used by men to woo women in many Native American cultures.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


An article courtesy of Pow Wows dot Com
Comparison In Life
By Jamie K. Oxendine, Lumbee/Creek
Director, Black Swamp Inter-Tribal Foundation

This article is about the Native American Medicine Wheel symbol and color and design as opposed to the physical structure known as the Medicine Wheel that is visible as architecture across North America.
Universal truths can be found in this paper of information that is shared and accepted in not being overly protected or sacred. The paper does not attempt to discuss or explain the many concepts of spirituality behind the Medicine Wheel as that is very specific, sacred and rather personable to Native American Nations, Tribes, Clans, Bands, Families and most important Individuals.
Always know that the symbolism varies greatly from Nation to Nation.


The term “Medicine Wheel” is not a Native American expression. It is of course of European and American origin. What the symbol has been called in Native America depends on the language of each particular Nation. This is protected among some Native American Nations and, therefore, will not be discussed here. For some this has often been lost and “Medicine Wheel” is the commonly used phrase.

The main characteristic design of the Native American Medicine Wheel is the most basic yet most perfect form – the circle. This is one absolute not only in Native America for sacred hoops but also for most cultures that have some kind of Circle of Life symbol. The second aspect of the Native American Medicine Wheel are the two intersecting lines that create a cross in the middle of the circle. The lines separate the circle into four equal sector parts. Now that involves what can be seen. The Medicine Wheel must be thought of as floating in space and its cardinal points as well as other points that cannot be seen create a perfect sphere. Thus creating other points for directions up and down and, of course, perfect center.

Color Explanation and Color Placement on the Medicine Wheel can vary based on various customs by Nations, Tribe, Clan, Band, Family and Individual.
While it is true that the most common colors of the Medicine Wheel in Native America are Red, Yellow Black and White, these are not the absolute colors for all Native American Nations. Some Nations use, Blue in place of Black, others have Purple instead of Black. Yet some other Nations have used Green in lieu of Black.  So the four colors of Red, White, Black and Yellow are not set in stone as being for just one People.

It is widely accepted that the Medicine Wheel is a symbol of life and specifically the Circle of Life. As well known the circle represents perfection as well as infinities since the circle has no beginning or end. There can many reasons behind the meaning of the circle itself among Nations. This can range from representing the Sun, Moon, Earth, and the Stars to representing concepts of life, continuity, consciousness, energy, and so much more. It should be stressed that this is not the same from Nation to Nation and there can be some representation that is very secret. The point at which the lines cross in the middle is extensively accepted as Center. Like color, which point and which sector represents what can be debated and broadly contested instead of discussed and understood from one person to another.
The part points as well as the four sectors have been attributed to representing the following:
The Four Directions: East, South, West, North
The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
The Four Stages of Life: Birth, Youth, Adult, Death
The Four Times of Day: Sunrise, Noon, Sunset, Midnight
The Four Elements of Life: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind
The Four Races of Man: Red, Yellow, Black, White
The Four Trials of Man: Success, Defeat, Peace, War
The Heavenly Beings: Sun, Moon, Earth, Stars
And there are many more!
The four points. as well as the four sectors may also have an animal, plant and celestial representations. These also differ greatly from Nation to Nation and varies vastly also due to geographical location. For example, the Buffalo used for some of the Plains Tribes Medicine Wheel does not have any representation among the Medicine Wheel of the deep South East as that animal was rare among them. However, the Alligator that may represent a sector among the South East Nations did not have any representation among the Plains Tribes as it was not among them.

No one Medicine Wheel is the Medicine Wheel for all of Native America. The differences as mentioned are extremely wide. One must also remember that the Medicine Wheel is exceptionally individual. A person can develop their own Medicine Wheel that has their own Animal/Spirit Helpers. This knowledge may happen in a ceremony, visions, or dreams and other. This type of Medicine Wheel can be so private that only the person and The Creator are aware of its existence.

While there are many sources of information on the Native American Medicine Wheel from books and pamphlets to DVDs and the internet, none has been listed or used for this paper. Instead, the author drew for his own knowledge and experience gained from many years of study, discipline and fellowship among The People.

Again this is not a spiritual paper by any means. The author wishes to express to all that true learning about the Native American Medicine Wheel needs to come from respectable people. Use non-human resources carefully. This is mentioned because there are many false, bogus, and faux sites and people on all kinds of information including that on Native America and the symbol seen all across Native America.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015



Evening in Mad Wolf's lodge.—His fatherly talk.—He tells the origin of the Beaver Medicine.—In the legend, Nopatsis, jealous of Akaiyan his younger brother, leaves him to die on a lonely island.—The chief of the Beavers rescues him and keeps him all winter in the lodge of the Beavers.—Teaches him the ceremonial of the Beaver Medicine and the make-up of the Beaver Bundle, and bestows upon him supernatural power.—His youngest child, Little Beaver, returns with Akaiyan to the Blackfoot camp to help in teaching the people.—He creates the Beaver Medicine, to which many birds and animals contribute their power.

Artist:  Sue Coleman

RETURNING to Mad Wolf's lodge I found him reclining upon his blankets, resting after the strain of the services. There was a long silence, which I did not venture to break, nor to disturb him, while smoking with half-closed eyes. Meanwhile the deepening twilight, which in a northern latitude comes quickly after sunset, but lingers, had settled over prairie and camp. As I looked upon the sacred Beaver Bundle, lying by his side in the flickering light of the small fire, I thought of their mysterious power over the Indian mind and life, and of the strange superstitions centred about them, which had been handed down through many generations. I was aroused from my reverie by Mad Wolf knocking the ashes from his pipe. He looked at me intently for a few moments. His manner was earnest and dignified, and as he sat erect, his long black hair fell loosely over his shoulders. He answered my inquiring look towards the Medicine Bundle by signing to me that I should grasp one end of the rope. We together removed the cover that hid it from view. He allowed me to gaze upon the sacred Bundle for a moment when the robe was solemnly replaced. He then began to speak in a low voice, with eyes half closed, as if gazing into the far distance, saying: "When I was a young man, I too became interested in the mysteries of the medicines, which have been taught to me by old Indians, and what they have told me I know to be true. I have never before explained those mysteries to white men because I have always been afraid to trust them. I am now willing to have you repeat these to the white race because I know that you will speak the truth and because I feel toward you as a father to his son. When I bought the Beaver Medicine from O-mis-tai-po-kah, there came with it a very old pipe, which now lies by its side. I will not smoke this pipe for it brings bad luck. When O-mis-tai-po-kah smoked it his children began to die, so I preserve it only as a relic. There was a time when I had many relics. If I had them now I would give them to you, but they are gone."

He handed me the two rattles I had used in the ceremonial and a small buckskin sack, saying,

"In it are some of the original seeds of the tobacco given to us by the beavers. They were secured many years ago by Akaiyan, the man who lived all winter in the lodge with the chief Beaver and brought back with him the Beaver Medicine. I will relate to you the story as it has been handed down from our ancestors. What I will tell you happened long ago, when our people made all of their tools and weapons from stone, and when they used dogs instead of horses for beasts of burden."


"In those days there were two orphan brothers. The younger, named Akaiyan (Old Robe), lived with his brother Nopatsis, who was married to a woman with an evil heart. This woman disliked Akaiyan and continually urged her husband to cast him off. One day when Nopatsis came home, he found his wife with her clothes torn and her body lacerated. She explained that, during his absence, Akaiyan had treated her brutally. Nopatsis said nothing to his younger brother but planned how he might be rid of him forever. It was midsummer, the time when the ducks and geese dropped their feathers. He proposed to Akaiyan that they should go together to an island in a large lake and said, 'At this time there will be many ducks and geese there, and we can gather the feathers they have dropped to be used for arrows.' When the brothers came to the lake they built a 'skatstan' (raft), binding together logs with buffalo rawhide and then floated on it to an island, far out in the lake. As they walked along the shores of this island looking for feathers, Akaiyan wandered off alone. He was returning with his arms full, when he beheld his brother out on the lake, going towards the shore of the mainland. He implored Nopatsis not to abandon him to perish on the lonely island. But his brother only called back, that he deserved no pity because of his brutal treatment of his sister-in-law. Akaiyan besought him to return, solemnly declaring before the Sun that he had not injured her. But Nopatsis replied heartlessly, 'You can live alone on the island all winter. In the spring, when the ice melts in the lake, I will return to gather your bones.' Akaiyan sat down and wept. He thought his time had come to die. Then he called upon the animals and the underwater spirits for assistance. He also prayed to the Sun, Moon and Stars, saying,

'Haiyu! Mistapixit Mekape Natotsichpi!'
Behold, O Sun! I cast away whatever of bad I have done.'
'Kokumekis! Kokatosix Kummokit Spummokit!'
'O Moon! O Stars! pity me! Give me strength!

"After this prayer Akaiyan felt relieved and strengthened. He walked around the island and found a few branches, with which he made a shelter. He also gathered many loose feathers, piling them up and making a bed that fitted his body so well that he slept warmly on the coldest nights. He killed many ducks and geese before their time for leaving the island to fly south, shooting the wild ones with his arrows and striking the tame ones upon the head with long sticks. He kept some for his winter food, but he skinned others and made a warm robe for himself by binding the skins together with alder bark.

"One day, when he discovered a beaver lodge, he lay for a long time watching it and weeping, to himself, because he had been abandoned. Finally, a little beaver came from the lodge, and said to him, 'My father wants you to come into his lodge.' Akaiyan followed the little beaver into the lodge, where he saw a big beaver with his wife and family seated around him. This beaver was white from the snows of many winters and so large that Akaiyan knew he must be the chief of all the beavers.

The Beaver Chief bade him be seated, and asked him why he was living alone on the island. Akaiyan told him how cruelly and unjustly he had been treated and left alone to die. The Beaver Chief pitied Akaiyan and counselled with him, saying, 'My son, the time will soon when we will close up our lodge for the winter. The lake will freeze over and we cannot come out again for seven moons. Until the warm winds of spring will break up the ice we will remain in our lodge. While the snows are deep we will teach you many wonderful things and when you return again, you can take knowledge with you. This will be of great value to your people.'

The beavers were so hospitable, Akaiyan decided to remain with them. He took with him into the beaver lodge many ducks and geese for food and his bird-skin robe to keep him warm. They closed their lodge before it became cold, leaving a hole for air at the top. During the coldest days, the beavers kept Akaiyan warm by lying close to him and placing their tails across his body. He made friends with all of them, but he liked the youngest and smallest beaver best of all. He was the cleverest as well as the favourite child of the Beaver Chief.

Akaiyan learned their habits and manner of living. They taught him the names of the herbs and roots, which we still use for the curing of the people. They showed also him the different paints, and explained their use, saying, 'If you should use these, they will bring your people good luck and will ward off sickness and death.' They gave him the seeds of the tobacco (origin of tobacco story) and taught him how they should be planted with songs and prayers. They made scratches with their claws on the smooth walls of the lodge to mark the days, and when the days completed a moon they marked the moons with sticks. He witnessed many dances belonging to their medicines and listened carefully to the songs and prayers. The Beaver Chief and his wife (Wise Old Woman) taught him the prayers and songs of their medicine and the dances that belonged to them, and said, 'Whenever any of your people are sick or dying, if you will give this ceremonial, they will be restored to health.' He noticed that the beavers never ate during the ceremonial, and that they beat time for the dances with their tails, always stopping when they heard any suspicious noise, just as they do when they are at work. They told him that they counted seven moons from the time when the leaves fall before they prepared to open their lodge in the spring. When they heard the booming of the ice breaking in the lake, they knew it would soon be time to leave their winter home.
"Little Beaver told Akaiyan that, before he parted with them, his father, the Beaver Chief, would offer him a present and would allow him to choose anything within the lodge. Little Beaver also advised him, saying, 'When my father asks you for your choice, say that you will take your little brother. He will not be willing to part with me, for he prizes me above everything he owns. He will ask you four times to choose something else, but take me with you, for I will have more power to help you than any of the others.'
"The ducks and geese were flying north, when the beavers finally opened their lodge for the summer, and the Beaver Chief said to Akaiyan, 'You will soon leave us now, because it is time for your older brother to return. But, before you start, I will allow you to choose anything in my lodge to take away with you.' Then Akaiyan, remembering the advice of Little Beaver, asked for his youngest child. The Beaver Chief made many excuses and endeavoured to persuade him to take something else, but Akaiyan would have no other gift. After the fourth trial, the Beaver Chief said, 'My son, you show your wisdom in selecting your little brother to go with you. I am sorry to part with him, because he is the best worker and the wisest of my children, but, because of my promise, I now give him to you.'
"The Beaver Chief also told Akaiyan that, when he returned to his people, he should make a sacred Bundle similar to the one he saw them using in their ceremonial. He also taught him the songs and prayers and dances that belonged to the Bundle and informed him that, if any of the people were sick or dying and a relative would make a vow to the Beaver Medicine, the sick would be restored to health.
"One evening, when the Beaver Chief returned from his cutting, he said to
Akaiyan, 'My son, remain in hiding and do not show yourself. Today, when I was among the trees on the main shore, I saw your brother's camp.' The next day Akaiyan, watching from the beaver lodge, saw Nopatsis coming to the island on the raft. He saw him land and walk along the shore hunting for his bones. Then Akaiyan ran, with Little Beaver under his arm and took possession of the raft. He was far out in the big lake before Nopatsis saw him, He at once realised that his younger brother had secured power superior to his own and had become a great medicine, man.
"Akaiyan now returned with Little Beaver to the tribal camp. He went at once to the head chief's lodge and told his story. All the people received him with the greatest honour when they heard of the wisdom and power that had been given him by the Beavers. Akaiyan gathered together a Beaver Bundle as the Beaver Chief had directed. He and Little Beaver had remained all winter in the camp, teaching the people the songs, prayers and dances given him by the beavers. When Spring came, Akaiyan invited all of the animals to add their power to the Beaver Medicine. Many birds and animals of the prairies and mountains came, offering their skins and taught him their songs, prayers and dances to accompany their skins, just as the beavers had done. The Elk and his wife each contributed a
song and dance, also the Moose and his wife. The Woodpecker gave three songs with his dance. The Frog alone of all the animals could neither dance nor sing, and it is, for this reason, he is not represented in the Beaver Bundle. The Turtle could not dance and had no song, but is represented in the Bundle, because he was wise and borrowed one from the Lizard, who owned two songs.
"In the following spring Akaiyan returned to the island with Little Beaver to visit the beaver lodge. He saw his brother's bones on the shore and knew the beavers had not helped him. The Beaver Chief welcomed Akaiyan warmly and when he gave back Little Beaver to his father, the old chief was so grateful that he presented him with a sacred pipe, teaching him also the songs, prayers and dances that belonged to it. When Akaiyan returned again to the Indian camp he added this pipe to the Beaver Bundle. Every spring Akaiyan went to visit his friends, the beavers, and each time the Beaver Chief gave him something to add to the Beaver Bundle until it reached the size it has to-day. Akaiyan continued to lead the Beaver ceremonial as long as he lived and was known as a great medicine man. When he died, the ceremonial was continued by his son and has been handed down ever since."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breakthrough: US Senate Confirms First-Ever Native American Woman As Federal Judge

Last Wednesday, the US Senate quietly confirmed Diane Humetewa as the first-ever Native American man federal judge.

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Breakthrough: US Senate Confirms First-Ever Native American Woman As Federal Judge