NATIVE AMERICAN WISDOM

 

American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation

Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.

Navajo Pendant – First People

Native Code of Ethics
1. Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).

Zuni Man

2. Respect: Respect means “To feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy”. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times. Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers, and Community Leaders.
No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.

Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person’s quiet moment or personal space.

Never walk between people that are conversing.

Lakota Stick

Never interrupt people who are conversing.

Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.

Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).

Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.

Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend her.

Navajo beaded bracelets – sacred animal world.

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Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.

Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.

Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.

Chief’s Pipe

3. Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.

4. Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.

5. Always treat your guests with honor and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house, and your best service to your guests.

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Sterling Silver Navajo Cup

6. The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.

7. Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.

8. All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.

9. To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

10. Observe moderation and balance in all things.

11. Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.

12. Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

Navajo Pin Pendant

This article is a reprint from the “Inter-Tribal Times” – October 1994

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Love of the Land
The old people came literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.
Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest upon the earth, and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing. This is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly.
He can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
– Chief Luther Standing Bear –
Teton Sioux, Born 1868

Lakota Buffalo Stick

Native American Prayer
Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things your have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

Zuni Maiden

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

– Chief Yellow Lark –
Lakota –

Lakota Doll

What is Life
What is Life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.
It is the little shadow
which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset.
– Crowfoot –
Blackfoot Indian

Lakota Ledger Art

 

By Chief Seattle
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone,
Man would die from
a great loneliness of the spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts
soon happens to man.”

Mother Earth Turtle Lakota Sage Bag

The Teaching of Tecumseh
Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger,if in a lonely place
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

Zuni Warrior Maiden

Paula

The Beauty of Autumn – Lakota No Face Doll by Diane Tells His Name

How perfect to feature this beautiful lady at this time of year during the gorgeous fall.

The Beauty of Autumn – Lakota No Face Doll
by Diane Tells His Name

The No Face Doll

The No Face doll has its origin in the corn-growing Northeastern tribes as the dolls were traditionally made of cornhusks, with darkened corn silk for the hair.

As legend has it, Corn Spirit, sustainer of life, asked the Creator for more ways to help her people. The Creator formed dolls from her husks, giving the dolls a beautiful face. When the children of the Iroquois pass the dolls from village to village and from child to child, her beauty was proclaimed so often that the corn husk doll became very vain. The Creator disapproved of such behavior and so told the doll that if she was going to continue being part of the culture, she would need to develop humility.

The doll agreed but couldn’t help but admire her own reflection in a creek. The all-seeing Creator, sent a giant screech owl down from the sky to snatch the doll’s reflection from the water. She could no longer see her face or bask in her superior beauty.

So when a Northeast Native American mother gives a doll to her child, it is usually a doll with no face and the mother tells the child the legend of the Corn-Husk doll. Native Americans want their children to value the unique gifts that the Creator has given to each of them, but not to view themselves as superior to another, or to overemphasize physical appearance at the expense of spiritual and community values.

Lakota No Face Doll by Diane Tells His Name – Many Elks Teeth White Hair

The Story of The Beloved Woman of the Lakota:

In the Lakota tradition, brothers were to provide their younger sister with the elk incisors they collected from their elk hunts. This young woman’s brothers were great hunters and she knew she was most beloved when the elk teeth provided by her brothers were more than enough to make the honored elk teeth dress.

Many Elks Teeth with White Hair wore the dress with pride knowing she was beloved among her family and she vowed to honor the oath of Medicine Wheel all her life. The Creator blessed her with a loving and kind husband and many children.

One daughter would wear the elk teeth dress at her wedding many years down the road. Beloved and proud, Many Elk’s Teeth with White Hair is a Diane Tells His Name original creation.

She stands 10 inches tall with an 8 inch armspan.

Her dress is made from black denim adorned with “elk teeth” of white glass beads.

Turquoise glass bead earrings.

Her necklace is made of turquoise trade beads with a genuine turquoise nugget in the center.

Her hair is white horse tail hair. She wears a hair ornament of a white feather plume in a tin cone.

Blanket leggings and beaded moccasins.

ELK MEDICINE: Stamina, strength, nobility, pride, survival, connectedness. Associated tribally for millennia for their sacred manner and walk through life, spirit guidance, and teachings. Revered for their spiritual healing energies, power and courage. Elk tooth is given as totem for long, happy, healthy and prosperous life.

About the Artist – Oglala Lakota Diane-Tells-His-Name

Diane Tells His Name is a (CIB) registered member of the Oglala Lakota tribe of Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Between December 2004 and February 2005, Diane exhibited her first dolls at the “Spirit of the People, Native American Artist Exhibit” in San Diego, California.

“Medallion Woman” was the doll shown there and she was seen by one of the curators of the Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles (formerly the Gene Autry Museum). The curator asked if the doll could be accessioned into their collection. Having an art piece accessioned into a museum is an honor. It means that it is assigned a museum catalog number and formal information about it and the artist is noted and recorded for historical purposes. The object becomes the properly of the museum. The Western Heritage Museum also accessioned White Feather Fan Dreamer.

After that first exhibit, Diane’s artistic career exploded with offerings of exhibits, shows and dolls accessioned into several museums including the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC; the May Collection at USD in San Diego, and the Barona Cultural Center and Museum on the Barona Indian Museum.

Diane Tells His Name has been an Artistic Judge at the Museum of Man Indian Fair (San Diego) for 5 years. She has exhibited at the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the San Diego Archaeology Center, the Indigenous Women’s Art Faire in San Diego and a several other places.

Diane developed a line of Hudson Bay Dolls for the Autry Museum’s Fur Trader Exhibit.

She has conducted doll workshops and beading classes and continues to create new dolls as the visions and stories come to her. Many of her stories are based on the tales from her Lakota Mother, Bell Tells His Name, as she remembers the stories that her grandparents told her.

Diane Tells His Name is working to have a doll accessioned into the Heard Museum in Phoenix and is working on a doll for the 2011 Red Cloud Indian Show.

Diane currently has over 30 dolls in her collection with many more to come. Her large family of 5 children, 13 grandchildren and over 20 foster children has kept Diane happily busy the past years, but as of 2010, with the children grown and out of the house, she is an artist full-time.

Diane Tells His Name has her dolls in select gift shops and we are proud to be able to offer these beautiful ladies in our webstore here at horsekeeping.com.

Note: A CIB card, otherwise known as a CDIB card, stands for Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood and is issued by the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The No Face Doll

The No Face doll has its origin in the corn-growing Northeastern tribes as the dolls were traditionally made of cornhusks, with darkened corn silk for the hair.

 As legend has it, Corn Spirit, sustainer of life, asked the Creator for more ways to help her people. The Creator formed dolls from her husks, giving the dolls a beautiful face. When the children of the Iroquois pass the dolls from village to village and from child to child, her beauty was proclaimed so often that the corn husk doll became very vain. The Creator disapproved of such behavior and so told the doll that if she was going to continue being part of the culture, she would need to develop humility.

The doll agreed but couldn’t help but admire her own reflection in a creek. The all-seeing Creator, sent a giant screech owl down from the sky to snatch the doll’s reflection from the water. She could no longer see her face or bask in her superior beauty.

So when a Northeast Native American mother gives a doll to her child, it is usually a doll with no face and the mother tells the child the legend of the Corn-Husk doll. Native Americans want their children to value the unique gifts that the Creator has given to each of them, but not to view themselves as superior to another, or to overemphasize physical appearance at the expense of spiritual and community values.

Read more about Corn and Corn Maidens on our blog.

Lakota No Face Dolls

Similar to the Northeaster tribes, the Plains tribes often use No Face dolls to instill humility in their children.

Native American Oglala Lakota No Face doll constructionSince the Great Plains tribe members’ own clothing was often elaborately covered with intricate beadwork, so were the dolls. Lakota Dolls are beautifully adorned and depending on the activity they represent, they can be outfitted with various equipment and items such as baskets, cradleboards or knives and hunting tools.

Lakota Dolls are traditionally made from buckskin. The bodies are stuffed with cattail fluff or buffalo hair. The hair is usually horse hair or buffalo hair.

Why do Native American dolls have long hair? As legend has it, when you die, if you don’t hear your name called, you can’t cross over to the other side. So, just in case you don’t hear your name when it is called, if you have long hair, someone on the other side can grab your long hair and pull you over.

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Native American Dolls – Apache, Lakota, Navajo, No Face

Native American Dolls

Just like with dolls from any culture and time, Native American dolls serve a number of purposes and represent various values and legends. Not all dolls are made for children although some dolls are made specifically for children.

Children’s dolls were not designed to be keepsakes but to be something for the child to actively play with. Often the dolls were made out of corn husks or other organic materials such as wood. The doll would often fall apart by the time the child outgrew the doll. Even so, the dolls were adorned painstakingly with bits of cloth, fur, beads and other adornments. Dolls were used to teach children of the appropriate dress and cultural practices so girls were given cradleboards and sewing supplies with their dolls while boys were given warrior gear, bows and arrows and the like.

Other dolls such as spirit dolls and kachinas were made for a specific person, ceremony, power, totem, entity or prayer.

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.

Apache artist, Cynthia Whitehawk creates various Spirit Dolls. 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. 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 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 wears a necklace of tiny shell birds for her connectedness to the Bird Clan.

Raven Spirit Doll by Apache artist Cynthia Whitehawk

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.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  – 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  – 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.

The No Face Doll

The No Face doll has its origin in the corn-growing Northeastern tribes as the dolls were traditionally made of cornhusks, with darkened corn silk for the hair.

As legend has it, Corn Spirit, sustainer of life, asked the Creator for more ways to help her people. The Creator formed dolls from her husks, giving the dolls a beautiful face. When the children of the Iroquois pass the dolls from village to village and from child to child, her beauty was proclaimed so often that the corn husk doll became very vain. The Creator disapproved of such behavior and so told the doll that if she was going to continue being part of the culture, she would need to develop humility.

The doll agreed but couldn’t help but admire her own reflection in a creek.  The all-seeing Creator, sent a giant screech owl down from the sky to snatch the doll’s reflection from the water. She could no longer see her face or bask in her superior beauty.

Lakota No Face Doll by Diane Tells His Name

So when a Northeast Native American mother gives a doll to her child, it is usually a doll with no face and the mother tells the child the legend of the Corn-Husk doll. Native Americans want their children to value the unique gifts that the Creator has given to each of them, but not to view themselves as superior to another, or to overemphasize physical appearance at the expense of  spiritual and community values.

Read more about Corn and Corn Maidens on our blog.

Lakota No Face Dolls

Similar to the Northeaster tribes, the Plains tribes often use No Face dolls to instill humility in their children.

Since the Great Plains tribe members’ own clothing was often elaborately covered with intricate beadwork, so were the dolls. Lakota Dolls are beautifully adorned and depending on the activity they represent, they can be outfitted with various equipment and items such as baskets, cradleboards or knives and hunting tools.

Beauty of Autumn No Face Lakota Doll by Diane Tells His Name

Lakota Dolls are traditionally made from buckskin. The bodies are stuffed with cattail fluff or buffalo hair.

The hair is usually horse hair or buffalo hair.

Why do Native American dolls have long hair? As legend has it, when you die, if you don’t hear your name called, you can’t cross over to the other side. So, just in case you don’t hear your name when it is called, if you have long hair, someone on the other side can grab your long hair and pull you over.

Navajo Dolls

Meant to resemble Navajo Men and Women in ordinary dress, Navajo dolls are meant to be played with or collected.

Navajo Dolls by Loretta Wood, Navajo aritst

Navajo women are usually outfitted in a cloth dress or skirt and top and embellished with jewelry made of turquoise, silver and shell.

The dress is traditionally made of velvet, cotton or muslin embellished with rick rack trim and cinched with a woven or embroidered sash.

Necklaces are often sewn right onto the dress. Earrings are often beaded loop earrings

Large Vintage Navajo Doll

Men appear in traditional muslin pants, bright colored shirt (often velvet) and a cinched sash like belt.

Hair for the dolls is often made of  mohair, wool or yarn.

The hands are often made of leather. The face is fabric and the facial features are painted on.

Navajo dolls might just be standing or they could be involved in an activity from everyday life such as weaving, cooking, or sewing.

What fun it was to put together this doll article for my first real post back at it !!