Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wealthy Knowledge Wednesdays - Importance of Feathers to Native Americans and Elves

I decided to add this page because the elves in my books are based off of my people, the Ojibwe and the tribe that I grew up with the Lakota. The elves and the Native Americans are parallel in my eyes.

The Importance of Feathers to Native American people~


 "When the world was new, the Creator made all the birds. He colored their feathers like a bouquet of flowers. The Creator then gave each a distinct song to sing. The Creator instructed the birds to greet each new day with a chorus of their songs. Of all the birds, our Creator chose the Eagle to be the leader. The Eagle flies the highest and sees the furthest of all creatures. The Eagle is a messenger to the Creator. During the Four Sacred Rituals we will wear an Eagle Feather in our hair. To wear or to hold the Eagle Feather causes our Creator to take immediate notice. With the Eagle Feather the Creator is honored in the highest (Tom Porter Sakokwanionkwas, retrieved from”

In my words~ When I get an Eagle Feather I cry, it is the highest honoring you can get, it’s a gift so that now you can have a direct connection to Geshimanido. That spirit is still alive and we must take care of them so that the healing potential that connection remains strong, by sometimes feeding this spirit water food. Our grandfathers wore wapaha (head dress in Lakota). We are from great Chiefs, and being the grandchildren of chiefs we need to understand this connection. Each eagle feather on a wapaha is earned for he was something special to the people. In old days too, old grandmas had them too among the Anishinabe people, because they were very very strong women.

Other links~


What types of feathers are important?

 All feathers are important, they come from Creator. Their essence, personality, their ways is still in those birds feathers. We find their nature and importance for individual use by going out and observing them. You will notice sometimes also they will let us into their world so that we may also understand them. They can help you survive in the woods when you are lost. Some feathers are strictly used by medicine people for different medicinal purposes, but these directions and care come from the spirits in sacred ceremonies of our people. Sometimes our people will become that particular bird in their dreams. When this person then finds that feather, then they will have their special connection. Also it is also possible for a bird’s particular song can also have significant meaning to Native Americans and a bird’s nature will be manifested in song and dance among many Native American tribes.

What roles do they play?

They are very important to Native people because Native peoples lived with the earth for thousands of years and have a connection to all animals and birds for survival and their collective beliefs that all in creation are connected. Each bird has a spiritual significance and a meaning when we encounter them in nature.


What happens if one gets dropped?

~dropping a feather at a ceremony or public event, particularly and eagle can be so heart wrenching for that person who is the caretaker. They cry...they explain something about the eagle and that particular feather. It can be embarrassing for that person; sometimes they will give way this feather. One way of understanding this is comparing a living baby. You take care of this baby very carefully with the utmost care and love and cherish this baby and if by chance an accident happens and this child falls, you as a mother a caretaker will be heartbroken. You can touch the baby’s pain with your   heart and spirit for this baby and their pain. Does the eagle feel pain too, maybe because you are its care taker and you accepted the personal responsibility to the feather?

How can you collect feathers without being disrespectful?

Sometimes you can collect turkey feathers, pheasants, prairie chicken, but migratory birds are still illegal to have especially song birds as defined by government. Still, when you find a feather you want to wrap it or put it someplace safe away and maybe too add borax or baking soda to a box you carry them in to rid the feathers of mites. When you do find feathers or carcasses of dead birds, it is good that we take care of our relative by offering prayers and tobacco for their life, and talk to the bird their essence is still there. There is also a National repository for Eagles in Denver and many Native American members from a federally recognized tribe can make an application to get Eagle feathers. Also old feathers given from one generation to another or given can also be protected under TREATY laws made and previous federal law. However, feathers need the gentleness care given to them. They really do not belong to us; they allowed themselves to share their life and their spirit with us.

What’s the best way to care for them?

Take them out smudge them, smoke has a way of protection. Use cedar or sage to smudge them, take them out and hold them feed them water and food, something of that particular species where they like to eat. In addition women on their menses should not be near some feathers used for medicinal purposes according to some Native culture beliefs.

Other links

Thanks to the Ojibwe/ Lakota elder that answered my questions.