Old Praying Feather – Can you help?

Hi Paula, I have in my possession a very old praying feather but cannot determine the origin or tribe in which it came, can I send you some pics about it and maybe you can help me with this. I was thinking maybe Hopi or Navajo but need to be sure.
This is very important to us because we want to bring it back to the tribe and it’s people where it belongs. We found it doing a trash out of a foreclosed property and it should be right to give it back.
Thanks. Tom
129 130 137 138 139 140Hi Tom,
I’ve seen fans like this made by Apache and Navajo.
Here is a similar style of Apache fan
CF53-hawk-1
Here is one made by a Navajo
SF806-turkey-pink-nash
It is possible it could also be a Plains tribe.
Perhaps one of the readers of this blog recognizes your fan.
Paula

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 Symbol – Feather

Feather as a native american symbol

Native American Symbol – The Feather

Feathers are an important part of Native American symbolism. They are used in many ways:

  • Costumes
  • Hair Ties
  • Headdresses
  • Door Blessings
  • Kachinas
  • Medicine Bags
  • Silver Jewelry
  • Shields
  • Dreamcatchers
  • Smudge Fans
Lakota Feather Hair Tie

Lakota Feather Hair Tie

Because it is illegal to use feathers from certain birds (more on this in another post), Native American artists use white feathers, usually turkey, and hand paint them to look like eagle or hawk or owl feathers. Eagle feathers are a symbol of honor.

This is a hand painted turkey feather in the style of an eagle feather; soft, tan deerskin laces; glass crow bead, solid brass beads and trade cloth; great for hair tie, horse decoration, auto mirror, ceremonial or craft work. Feather is 11 inches long from tip to wrap attachment.

Oglala Lakota Macaw Feather Hair Ties

Oglala Lakota Macaw Feather Hair Ties

Moonwalker, a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, makes smudge fans and carves a feather in the fringe of her medicine bags. From Moonwalker:

Prayer Feathers

Native Americans believed prayers and messages were carried to the Great Spirit on the wings of eagles and other fine birds.

Prayer feathers, either single or bundled are used by an individual to offer a prayer to the Great Spirit. The feathers carry your words, thoughts and feelings to the Great Spirit. Each time you look at your prayer feather, your prayers are again sent in your behalf to the Great Spirit in the Heavens.

Prayer feathers may be used for smudging or cleansing with smoke. The smoke is fanned in the 6 directions East, West, North, South, Earth and Sky cleansing an object, person or thought to the Great Spirit. Sage, cedar, sweet grass, even incense can be used for smudging.

Some personal rituals include singing while praying. It is believed singing is one way to speak with the grandfathers as well as the Great Spirit.

WIPACI (Thank you) Moonwalker

Moonwalker Prayer Whisper Medicine Bag

Moonwalker Prayer Whisper Medicine Bag

Native American Smudge Kit

Native American Smudge Kit

A smudge kit usually contains:

  • Feather
  • White Sage and/or Cedar
  • Sweet Grass in a braided stick
  • Bowl, often an Abalone Shell
  • Medicine Bag or Box to contain the kit.
Oglala Lakota Smudge Fan

Oglala Lakota Smudge Fan

Oglala Lakota Smudge Box and Fan

Oglala Lakota Smudge Box and Fan

Door Blessing

The Door Blessing has several symbols, one of which is the feathers:

  • The Medicine Stick brings positive energy.
  • The red, yellow, white and black ribbons represent the Four Directions from which all strength comes.
  • The feather represents Freedom.
  • Thoughts, Prayers, and Choices are represented by the bead circle which shows us that our thoughts return to us again and again.
  • Turquoise protects us and keeps us Positive in thought.
  • The rabbit fur is to help us keep a warm heart.
  • The fur reminds us that Mother Earth is the Giver of Life and we should walk softly.
  • The Sage Medicine Stick exists that we might all live in Love and Oneness.

Door Blessings are ideal for hanging on the door of your home, your room, your office, your tack room, anywhere you want positive light and good fortune.

Native American Door Blessing

Native American Door Blessing

Apache Sunface Kachina Shield

Apache Sunface Kachina Shield

Apache Eagle Spirit Dreamcatcher

Apache Eagle Spirit Dreamcatcher

Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise and Coral Pendant by Lester Craig

Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise and Coral Pendant by Lester Craig

Navajo Sterling Silver and Turquoise Dreamcatcher Earrings

Navajo Sterling Silver and Turquoise Dreamcatcher Earrings

Navajo Sterling Silver and 14K Gold Feather Bracelet

Navajo Sterling Silver and 14K Gold Feather Bracelet

Hand carved and painted bone feather earrings

Hand carved and painted bone feather earrings

Hand carved and painted Navajo Kachinas with feather headresses

Hand carved and painted Navajo Kachinas with feather headresses

Cynthia Whitehawk Apache Eagle Spirit Medicine Bag

Cynthia Whitehawk Apache Eagle Spirit Medicine Bag