Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 18:41:07 -0700
NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information
Subject: Wotanging Ikche--nanews03.028(part A)
To: Multiple recipients of list NATIVE-L <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Date: Sun May 07, 1995 at 18:40 EDT
From: Gayle Swanson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subj: Legend: Symbolism of the Eagle Feather
(With permission from Sharon Locklear, publisher of Metrolina Pow Wow program, who told me to share anything I wanted from the program for this weekend's Pow Wow in Charlotte).
The American Indian did not have books to read to their children. It was through the telling of stories to the children that they learned the beautiful legends and history of their particular Indian tribe. Sometimes, they inscribed or drew pictures on a buffalo hide or on the sandy rocks to tell of an incident or leave a message, but mostly, they relied on memory to carry on their traditions, ritual, lore, and sometimes, favorite stories were told over and over again, sometimes gaining or losing the material in the story, but the basic formula always remained the same.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE EAGLE FEATHER
In the beginning, the Great Spirit above gave to the animals and birds wisdom and knowledge and the power to talk to men. He sent these creatures to tell man that he showed himself through them. They would teach a chosen man sacred songs and dance, as well as, much ritual and lore.
The creature most loved by the Great Spirit was the eagle, for he tells the story of life. The Eagle, as you know, has only two eggs, and all living things in the world are divided into two. Here is man and woman, male and female and this is true with animals, birds, trees, flowers and so on. All things have children of two kinds so that life may continue. Man has two eyes, two hands, two feet and he has a body and soul, substance and shadow.
Through his eyes, he sees pleasant and unpleasant scenes, through his nostrils he smells good and bad odors, with his ears he hears joyful news and words that make him sad. His mind is divided between good and evil. His right hand he may often use for evil, such as war or striking a person n anger. But his left hand, which is near his heart, is always full of kindness. His right foot may lead him in the wrong path, but his left foot always leads him the right way, and so it goes; he has daylight and darkness, summer and winter, peace and war, and life and death.
In order to remember this lesson of life, look to the great eagle, the favorite bird of the Great Spirit. The eagle feather is divided into two parts, part light, and part dark. This represents daylight and darkness, summer and winter, peace and war, and life and death. So that you may remember what I have told you, look well on the eagle, for his feathers, too, tell the story of life.
Look at the feathers I wear upon my hand, the one on the right is large and perfect and is decorated; this represents man. The one on my left is small and plain; this represents woman. The eagle feather is divided into two parts, dark and white. This represents daylight and darkness, summer and winter. For the white tells of summer, when all is bright and the dark represents the dark days of winter.
My children, remember what I tell you. For it is YOU who will choose the path in life you will follow -- the good way, or the wrong way.
This one, according to the woman I talked to, is the Lumbee version. The Lumbee are the most prevalent here. If you go SE for about 20 miles, the Catawba, a totally different language and cultural group (Siouan) are by far more prevalent. And about 100 miles westward... Cherokee outnumber all.