Native American Award for Valor, Courage and Bravery

Is there a Native American symbol awarded to great warriors for valor, courage, and bravery in battle much like the Silver or Bronze Stars awarded to soldiers? If not, can you make a suggestion? Thank you very much.

Wess

Hi Wess,

A Lakota friend of mine sent me this. I hope it is helpful. You can browse our feather hair ties here. Feather Hair Ties. Paula

Can Native Americans use Eagle and Hawk Feathers in their Art?

Hi Paula

I have a few questions about dream catchers. My sister brought a couple back recently and quarantine insisted on irradiating them. That was fine until they folded all the feathers to pack them in the post! So, am I correct in assuming that you can just replace the feathers with new ones? I dont recall ever reading about any ritual observances during a dream catchers making (its a navajo one and I dont even know if dream catchers are traditional in that culture)? I dont know what kind of feathers they are – am I right that they cannot be eagle or hawk due to your laws, or are indigenes allowed to use them in their art? Is the type of feather used significant? Thanks Paula and have a nice day

regards
Merideth from Australia

Apache Dreamcatcher with barred pea hen feathers

Hi Meredith,

Eagle, hawk and many other types of feathers are illegal to own. Some Native Americans are allowed to use them in religious ceremony but can’t sell them alone or as part of a piece of artwork because non-registered Native Americans can’t posses them.

Here is an article about a recent court ruling.

Only Indians Can Use Eagle Feathers for Religious Practices, Court Rules

To obtain eagle feathers for religious ceremonies, Native Americans can’t collect their own feathers. They must get them through a Federal Repository.  We have one here in Denver which you can read about. It is very interesting.

So most NA artists use pea hen, turkey etc. and either use them as is or paint them to be faux eagle, faux hawk, owl etc.

Lakota Imitation Red-Tailed Hawk Feather

Lakota Imitation Eagle Feather


So,  if feathers have been damaged they can be replaced with feathers that are significant to the person who owns the dreamcatcher – some use macaw, pheasant, goose……all sorts are used – it is what they are meant to represent that is important.

Dreamcatchers are usually associated with the Woodland and Plains tribes and some southwest, like Apache, but not usually Navajo, although Navajo make dreamcatcher jewelry.

I’ll be listing some amazing Apache dreamcatchers next week, resplendent with feathers, so watch the NEW page where all the new items appear first.

http://www.horsekeeping.com/new-items.htm

Paula

Native American Designs Stand the Test of Time

Native American designs, garments and jewelry are always popular, with many new admirers attracted to them every day.

While other fashion trends might come and go, the meaningful Native American symbols, designs, and materials which are tied to Mother Earth and all of her creatures and cycles and powers are alluring and enduring.

Western Lifestyle Spring 2012 Issue "American Indian Fashion is Enduring Fashion"

We encourage you, whenever possible, to purchase authentic Native American jewelry and clothing made by Native American craftsmen.

In that way, you will be helping to preserve the traditions by supporting the traditionalists.

Medicine Bag Questions and Answers

Paula,

Can additional small items be added to the medicine bags, or are most of them sealed?

and secondly, these are 100% made in USA by Native Americans correct?

Thank you! Wolf Man

Apache Wolf Claw Medicine Bag

Hello Wolf Man,

Yes, medicine bags are designed so that you can add your personal items to them. So 99.9% of the bags we sell are for carrying items, the size of the items will depends on the size of the bag.
There are only a few “sage bags”, those that are filled with sage and closed that would be difficult to open, empty and add things. Read the “Paula Says” comment on
to see which bags on that page you can empty of the sage and refill with your personal items.
All other bags are ready to be filled with your sacred objects.

Lakota Sage Bag

All of the bags in the top section of our Main Medicine Bag page
are made in the USA by Native American artists registered with a recognized (by the US government) tribe – the individual pages for each bag will will tell which tribe the artist belongs to.

Native American Made Medicine Bag

The ones in the Reproduction section toward the bottom of the page are made in the USA but by people who are not registered with a recognized (by the US govt.) tribe. Some of the artists there are Native Americans but just don’t have a government number so legally we have to call them Reproductions.

Large Reproduction Medicine Bag – made by an unregistered artist of Cherokee descent

Native American Terms – Fetish, Totem, Amulet, Talisman

Paula,
I wondered why in your web store you describe some Indian animal carvings and jewelry pieces as fetishes and others amulets or totems. Are they all the same thing? – Stuart

Stuart,
The terms fetish, amulet, totem and talisman are often used interchangeably to describe an object that provides good fortune and protects from evil. The exact meaning of any of these terms depend on the culture and location in which it is used. Briefly, here is how I see them:

Talisman

Alaskan Thunderbird Talisman by David Audette from Sitka, Alaska

A talisman is an object that is considered to possess supernatural or magical powers and is used especially to avert evils, disease, or death. A talisman is typically engraved or cut with figures or characters, constellations, planets, or other heavenly signs. It is often worn as an amulet or charm. From the Greek word “telein”, which means “to initiate into the mysteries”. The word talisman is often used synonymous with amulet.

Amulet

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Lucky Horseshoe Amulet by Navajo artist Wilbur Muskett Jr.

An amulet is a protecting charm – any object worn to bring good luck and to ward off evil, illness, and harm from supernatural powers and from other people. Amulets are typically carvings, stones (especially with naturally occurring holes), plants (such as sage, 4-leaf clover, shamrock), coins, and jewelry (crosses, horseshoes, gemstones).

Totem

Horse Totem on Horse Spirit Medicine Bag by Apache artist Cynthia Whitehawk

A totem is an object that symbolizes a person’s or a tribe’s animal guide. This could be a totem pole, an emblem or a small figurine or carving. Native American tradition holds that different animal guides come in and out of a person’s life depending on the direction that person is headed and the challenges he faces. A totem animal is the one animal that acts as the main guardian spirit and is with a person for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Traditionally, it is the totem animal, such as an eagle, wolf, bear, horse or dragonfly, that finds the person, not the other way around.

Fetish

Bear Fetish by Zuni artist Emery Eriacho

A fetish is a sacred object used in religious ceremonies, for spiritual awakening and to communicate with and direct supernatural powers. A fetish can provide protection, promote healing and ensure success in ventures such as hunting or farming. A Native American fetish is most often a carving, usually of an animal, that has some sort of power, and is sometimes decorated with stones, shells, and feathers. A carving without power is merely a carving. A person’s own beliefs determine the difference between a fetish and a carving.

So, whether an object is a talisman, totem, amulet or fetish is up to you. Just as the beauty of an object is in the eye of the beholder, so the power of an object is in the belief of the seer or wearer.

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More on Native American Prayer Feathers and Fans

Red Hawk Prayer Fan by Apache artist, Cynthia Whitehawk

Hi Paula,

I’m looking forward to receiving the prayer feather. If I’m not bothering you to ask, is there anything else you could tell me about this particular feather?

Many thanks,

Dave from Australia

Hi Dave

No bother at all. My pleasure. I posted a little bit about Prayer Feathers in a previous post.

The only other thing I can say about the feather fan you are receiving is that Alan Nash calls his smudge fans a Talking Prayer Feather which is from the Navajo.

Navajo Talking Prayer Feather

Many other artists of other tribes refer to them as Prayer Feathers.

Since using eagle feathers is illegal, artists use turkey feathers, either natural or hand painted to look like eagle feathers.

Lakota Prayer Feather

According to Navajo legends and teachings:

The Eagle was created to help the Dine’ with healing and guidance. Eagle plumes and feathers represent faith, hope, courage and strength. Individuals often receive eagle plumes as they make their journey in life. The plume acts as a shield as one follows the Corn Pollen way of life.

Lakota Prayer Feather


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Native American Spirit Dolls

Spirit dolls are ancient talismans against all negativity and evil. They embody spirits that have gone before, representing their strengths, positive energies, and beauty.

Here are some examples of specific Apache Spirit Dolls by celebrated artist Cynthia Whitehawk and what they represent.

Raven Medicine – Ravens carry great responsibility to Spirit and are the messengers of magic and healing from the universe where all knowledge waits for us. Raven also symbolizes changes in consciousness, of levels of awareness and perception.

Raven Shaman Spirit Doll (below)

Raven Shaman Spirit Doll

 

Necklace beads of sky blue turquoise, coral and sterling silver with hand painted bone raven feather pendant. She wears a genuine tiny beaded medicine bag – inside are rare Sacred Arizona Sweet Sage, Sacred Golden Tobacco, and tiny polished clear Quartz gemstones. These contents keep her energy clear, positive and powerful.

Raven Dream Keeper (below) is keeper of the eternal flame of life, Medicine Healing Spirit, Spirit of the Bird Clans

There are several Bird Clans depending on tribal affiliation. The Cherokee Bird Clan are messengers between earth and heaven – between humans and the Creator. The Cherokee Bird Clan has 3 subdivisions: The Raven, Turtle Dove, and Eagle. The Raven, a large Crow, is governed by Crow Medicine. The Crow is the power of the unknown at work – ceremonial magic and healing.

Raven Dream Keeper wear a necklace of tiny shell birds for her connectedness to the Bird Clan.

Raven Dream Keeper Bird Clan

 

Grandmother Medicine – Grandmother Shaman guides with the ancient wisdom and practical knowledge, ever the kindest of souls, ever the most helpful, a quieting and soothing presence. Her medicine bag is adorned with coral and turquoise. It contains a rich mixture of smudging herbs and resin, sage and golden tobacco with tiny clear quartz stones.

Grandmother Spirit Keeper – Bird Clan (below)

Grandmother Spirit Keeper Bird Clan

 

The carved tiny shell birds represent the ancient following of the Bird Clan. The gourd represents the vessels made from gourd, gourds which carried water and food for life. She wears a beaded talisman/amulet which is a carved turquoise bear, silver beads and penn shell heishi.

Crystal Keeper Medicine Woman (below)

Crystal Keeper Medicine Woman

 

Her necklaces are quartz and silver beads and large natural quartz points. She wears a tiny medicine bag beaded with quartz and silver beads. The bag contains Sacred Sweet Sage, Sacred Golden Tobacco, and tiny polished clear Quartz gemstones. These contents keep her energy clear, positive and powerful.

Grandmother Shaman: Gourd Dance Clan (below)

Grandmother Shaman Gourd Dance Clan

 

Her necklace is of sky blue and coral red old glass beads, silver and a tiny gourd, which represents the rattle made from a gourd in the Gourd Dance Clan.

The Gourd Dance was given to the Kiowa in the 1700s by a red wolf when the Kiowa inhabited the Black Hills and Devils Tower area of South Dakota and Wyoming.

The dance was a gift to the Kiowa people and the songs and dances were performed by a specific society until the 1930s – with a good wolf howl at the end of each song in tribute to the red wolf.

Thankfullly, before the tradition was lost, some Kiowa elders revived the Gourd Dance in the mid 1950s and officially formed the Gourd Dance Clan.


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