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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."