i am interested in purchasing one of your smudge kits and i’m wondering what the ‘eagle’ feathers are? are they really eagle feathers or something else. just wondering since they’re endangered and it’s illegal to own one.
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.
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
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
Merideth from Australia
Apache Dreamcatcher with barred pea hen feathers
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.
Click on the link below to read an article about a recent court ruling.
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 by clicking the phrase. 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
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.
Here are some more valuable resources about this topic
I would like to get a feather to wear on the side of my hair – however my hair is very fine and “thinning.” I have it cut to below ears in a “bob.” In looking at feather ornaments on your site I do not see how I could fasten one into my hair – looks like most are for ponytails, etc. Also, I would like the feather not to hang down too far. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you.
Well, we have two types of feather hair ornaments. One type is an actual feather made into a feather hair tie. This is a Lakota tradition and the hair ties we have are made by Oglala Lakotas from South Dakota. Here is an example of some of the shorter ones we have but you can click on the photo and it will take you to the page with our current selection.
If I were affixing this type of hair ornament to my hair so it would hang down on the side like we see all the time on today’s celebrity singers and dancers, I’d section off a small bundle of hair underneath, fasten the hair tie to the hair bundle near the roots with one of those tiny rubber bands and then let the rest of your hair surround the feather so it peeks out when your hair moves.
As far as what length would work for you, the best way to determine that is with a ruler and a paper cut out in the approximate shape of a feather – hold it in place and see how it looks.
Lakota Hair Ties
As far as sterling silver hair ornaments, or barrettes, yes we have some beautiful feathers but they are quite long and some are heavy, made to hold back a large hank of hair at the nape of the neck.
They are over 3″ long and would be difficult to use as you are hoping for.
Sterling Silver Feather Barrette by Carson Blackgoat over 4″ long
Sterling Silver and Turquoise Feather Barrette by Milton Vandever – over 3″ long
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.
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.