Cherokee Morning Song

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Why no prosecution or publicity for child sex abuse and mass murders?

Protester against Catholic Priest abuse

The early December discovery of 30 child skeletons in a mass grave on the grounds of a United Church residential school for native children in Port Alberni, B.C. has garnered no mass media excitement.
The unmarked graves should have been no surprise."At least 28 mass graves containing the remains of indigenous children who died in the 'care' of religious and government institutions have been discovered" read the 15 April 2008 headline of the Mohawk Nation News - another story that never made it to the mainstream press.
It was easy to cover up the baby's death at the Jesuit St. Mary's Mission-School on the Colville Indian Reservation near Omack Washington. The Catholic priest buried her alive beneath the floor boards with a little girl as the sole witness. The murdered was a "throw-away child" - a minor without legal protection - allegedly killed by the baby's father because he knew he could get away with it.
He did. With no proof of the birth, there was no public outcry. No publicity. It was as if the baby never existed. We only knew the event happened because of the child witness. Her and other native children somehow survived to expose their torturous childhood at US and Canadian church and government Indian boarding schools.
Some didn't. According to a 2013 international common law court there were over 50,000 missing Indian children, some of whom were buried in mass graves at Catholic residential schools. The Feb. 2013 findings appeared to have instigated the resignation of Catholic Pope Joseph Ratzinger.
As of today, the mass graves on government property have yet to be excavated, though human remains were found. www.itccs.org
The 2011 Jesuit Priest settlement for their abuse of child victims was the largest in the Roman Catholic church's sex abuse scandal. Yet, 500 witness' stories remained unreported. An exception was Clarita Vargas. Rev. John Morse sexually abused her at St. Mary's from second through eighth grades and she pushed the case before a judge.
A Confederated Tribes' child-now-adult witness to the baby's murder wanted to testify, but the word "homicide" wasn't added to the charges. No matter. The case was settled out of court in a $166 million award to survivors. No trial happened. No priest was given jail time, much less prosecution for infants born at the school only to promptly disappear.
The Jesuits ran the Washington mission with the help of federal grants, along with their schools of the Sacred Heart in Sesmet, Idaho, St. Ignatius and St. Paul’s in Montana and St. Labre in Ashland, Oregon.
The 28 mass graves linked to a US and Canadian mind-control program eventually known as MKULTRA.
This illegal human experimentation on children began with the 1950s import of Nazis trained in Satanism at Hitler's concentration camps. According to advocates, the intermingling of child abuse by church and state appeared widespread. , and
The Catholic Jesuit Order fit a profile of those who took no responsibility for their crimes. Founded in 1534 by Ignatius of Loyola, these Jesuit Alumbrados or Illuminated Ones, were a secret society of noble bloodlines that combined Eastern mysticism with monotheist and mystery religions, believing they could commit any criminal, immoral or sinful act without staining their souls. Were the Jesuit's practicing elsewhere?
There was no public outcry to expose contents of the mass graves, nor reasons given as to why taxpayer dollars were used to abuse children. In the 1800s the Vatican ruled that anyone exposing information against the church faced excommunication and jail time, while US and Canadian government mind-control documents had long been destroyed.
In 2013 Kevin Annett of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State organized Catholic Priest abuse survivors in 21 countries. He awaited permission to continue digs on the 28 mass gravesites and prepared 2014 common law court action on the Vatican and other elites allegedly involved in the abuse and murder of children.
Government mind-control survivors approached members of Congress. You can sign the petition requesting an investigation at:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cranky Old Man ... Please Read

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and 
distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and 
appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM (originally by Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith)

The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Residential school survivors demand access to documents detailing use of electric chair


Edmund Metatawabin, 66, a survivor of St. Anne's residential school in Fort Albany, Ont., is seen outside Osgoode Hall in Toronto on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.

 Metatawabin remembers being placed in an electric chair at the school. 


Photograph by: Colin Perkel , THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Survivors of a notorious Indian residential school in northern Ontario were in court Tuesday fighting the federal government for access to thousands of documents they say are crucial to their compensation claims.

The survivors accuse Ottawa of thwarting their bid for financial redress by hiding the documentary evidence related to a provincial police 

investigation into St. Anne’s in Fort Albany.

The police probe in the 1990s turned up evidence of horrific abuse, including use of an electric chair and led to criminal convictions.

The federal government has maintained it has no authority to turn over the police materials.

In Ontario Superior Court, a lawyer for the Ontario Provincial Police said he had no issue turning over the records if authorized by the courts.

“In order for us to release documents, we need judicial authorization,” lawyer Norm Feaver said.

“We certainly don’t want to stand in the way of anything.”
For its part, the government now says it is taking no position regarding the documents in possession of the police.

However, government lawyer Catherine Coughlan said Ottawa could not turn over the materials it has because it received them from police on the undertaking they would not be passed on to anyone.

Some former St. Anne’s students and supporters filled the courtroom to hear the arguments over the documents.

Among them was Edmund Metatawabin, 66, a victim of the electric chair, who accused the government of trying to “hide” evidence.

Hundreds of aboriginal children from remote James Bay communities were sent to St. Anne’s from 1904 to 1976.

Several adults were convicted in the 1990s following an intensive investigation into claims of abuses at the school, which included children being placed on an electrified chair and jolted.

To settle a class-action suit arising out of the residential school system, the federal government apologized and set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to document the abuses.

As part of the process, an independent assessment process was set up to deal with compensation claims.
Lawyer Fay Brunning, who represents some of the St. Anne’s survivors, said the claims of her clients are being hampered by the lack of access to the police documents.

“The federal government is not abiding by conditions of the settlement,” Brunning said.

She noted the government went to court in 2003, long after the criminal trials were over, and sought to have a ban imposed on the police documents pertaining to sexual and physical abuse at St. Anne’s.

“There’s relevant documentation missing that has not been produced. None of it has come forward through the (adjudication) process,” Brunning told court.
“That interferes with the flow of justice.”

But Brunning’s request to the court went further than ordering the documents turned over to the commission.

She wanted the court to issue a direction on how the documents should be used in the adjudication process, something the judge clearly had issues.

“The court can’t interfere,” said Justice Paul Perrell.

The hearings were twice interrupted when a reporter objected to a request by lawyers for the government and the adjudicator to impose a publication ban and sealing order on materials filed in the proceedings — including those already on the public record.

Later in the day, media lawyer David Tortell told the court the presumption must be one of openness, and it is up to those want a publication ban to show the necessity.
“It’s a very high burden,” Tortell said.

Perrell issued an interim order sealing most materials to allow time to hear proper arguments on the issue.

He also banned publication of identities of those going through the assessment process, unless they agree to be named.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Check us out on Skyrock and Facebook

We have extended our site to include Europe through plus Facebook.

Living the native life is now available to view through:

Please join us on one of our sites around the world. 

Each site has something different for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chief Seattle

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfaters. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground they spit upon themselves. This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. 

-- Chief Seattle....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

OMNIA Videos... Please watch.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Native Spirituality Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help police officers gain an understanding of sacred ceremonies practised and sacred items carried by many Native people across Canada.

Please note: The ceremonial items presented in this guide were originally offered by an Elder for use in an educational environment. The RCMP is sensitive to the fact that many Elders do not consent to the technical reproduction of spiritual elements in this fashion. The RCMP sincerely appreciates the assistance of the carrier of this bundle in making this project possible.

It should be noted that the various spiritual beliefs and sacred items and ceremonies portrayed in this guide may vary according to different tribal groups across Canada. The reader is advised to use the local community as a reference base as local Elders will be able to clarify their traditional ceremonial practises as well as the significance of individual sacred objects.

The RCMP wishes to acknowledge the co-operation of Corrections Canada and Manitoba Native Elders Art Shofley, Angus Merrick, Charlie Nelson and Velma Orvis for contributing material for this guide.

The Circle of Life

"You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days, when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished.
Sacred pipe, Medicine Bundles and Tobacco Roll
Sacred pipe, Medicine Bundles and Tobacco Roll

The flowering tree was the living centre of the hoop and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The East gave peace and light, the South gave warmth,

The West gave rain and the North, with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.

This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the World does, is done in a circle.

The sky is round and I have heard the earth is round like a ball and so are the stars.

The Wind, in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round.

Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves.

Our Teepees were round like the nests of birds and these were always set in a circle, the nation 's hoop, a nest of many nests where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children. "

(Black Elk Speaks, pp. 198-200) Spiritual Advisor to the Oglala Sioux in 1930.

Native cultures in their traditional nature are authentic and dynamic, fostering distinctive and sophisticated development. A sense of identity, pride and self-esteem are rooted in established spiritual principles.

Native spiritual life is founded on a belief in the fundamental inter-connectedness of all natural things, all forms of life with primary importance being attached to Mother Earth.

The Medicine Wheel

The symbol of the circle holds a place of special importance in Native beliefs. For the North American Indian, whose culture is traditional rather than literate, the significance of the circle has always been expressed in ritual practise and in art.

The lives of men and women, as individual expressions of the Power of the World move in and are nourished by an uninterrupted circular/spiral motion. This circle is often referred to as the Medicine Wheel.

Human beings live, breathe and move, giving additional impetus to the circular movement, provided they live harmoniously, according to the circle's vibratory movement. Every seeker has a chance to eventually discover a harmonious way of living with their environment according to these precepts.

The Four Powers

Each of the four directions represents a particular way of perceiving things, but none is considered superior or more significant than the other. The emphasis is always placed on the need to seek and explore each of the four great ways in order to gain a thorough understanding of one's own nature in relation to the surrounding world.

The four cardinal points of the circle transcend the mere compass directions. The directions themselves embody four powerful natural forces representing seasonal influences associated with various other powerful attributes.

North represents Wisdom. Its colour is white, its power animal is the buffalo and its gift is strength and endurance.

From the South comes the gift of warmth and growth after winter is over, a place of innocence and trust. Its colour is green (or sometimes red), its power animal, the mouse.

To the West is the place of introspection, of looking within one's spirit. Its colour is black, its gift rain and its power animal the bear.

The East is marked by the sign of the Eagle. Its colour is gold for the sun's illumination, the new dawning sky and enlightenment. Its gift is peace and light.

Understanding the meaning of the Medicine Wheel depends on the concept that a person's life consists of"conquering the four hills: Infancy, Youth, Maturity and Old Age. The four stages are celebrated in ritual as the four prime moments in life corresponding to the four directions.

The first hill is the South (innocence and trust) where the infant's reception into life occurs. The second hill, that of introspection, in the West, becomes the youth's solitary vigil and quest for vision. This first quest seeks the revelation of the Great Spirit's manifestation and continuing presence.

This is the time when a power animal attribute enters a Native individual's soul becoming a part of his or her name. (Sitting Bull, Black Elk, Crazy Horse and so on). It marks the beginning of the dweller within, the dreaming soul that contacts the higher spiritual planes bringing back visions that serve as fundamental guide posts in life. The hill of maturity lies to the North and represents the successful realization of ability and ambition. It is the place of recognition in which the pursuit of wisdom underlies and nourishes all action.
Sympathy with life itself grows in this quarter.

The final hill is that of old age situated in the East. It represents a quiet, reflective and meditative segment where the old ones now can pass on their knowledge to youth as they have mastered the meaning of joy and sorrow and the many other trials and tribulations encountered over the course of their existence.

Ceremonies are the primary vehicles of religious expression. A ceremonial leader or Elder assures authenticity and integrity of religious observances. Nothing is written down, as the very writing would negate the significance of the ceremony. Teachings are therefore passed on from Elder to Elder in a strictly oral tradition.


Elders may be either men or women. Their most distinguishing characteristic is wisdom which relates directly to experience and age. There are exceptions. Elders need not be "old". Sometimes the spirit of the Great Creator chooses to imbue a young native. Elders' spiritual gifts differ. Some may interpret dreams. Others may be skilful in herbal remedies or be healers during a sweat lodge ceremony, and so on.


Natives communicate with the Great Creator and spirit helpers through prayers offered at individual or group ceremonies.


From the top down: Natural Tobacco, Calamus root, Sweetgrass and Tobacco, Tobacco seed. On the left: Sage; on the right: Red Willow bark. Cloths; blue for the sky and then the four colours representing humanity; the white, yellow, red and black races.
From the top down: Natural Tobacco, Calamus root, Sweetgrass and Tobacco, Tobacco seed. On the left: Sage; on the right: Red Willow bark. Cloths; blue for the sky and then the four colours representing humanity; the white, yellow, red and black races.

Pipes are used during both private and group ceremonies, the prayer itself being wafted through the smoke of the burning plant material. Pipes are of no set length. Some stems may or may not be decorated with beads or leather. Others may be elaborately carved with bowls inlaid with silver.

Bowls may be of wood, soapstone, inlaid or carved in the form of various totemic power animals (an eagle with folded wings) or another sacred animal.

The pipe is disassembled into its component parts while being carried from one place to another. The pipe is never a "personal possession". It belongs to the community. The holder of the pipe is generally considered its custodian. While every native has the right to hold the pipe, in practise, the privilege must be earned in some religious way. The pipe is usually passed on to another custodian under specific fasting and cleansing rite regulations. There are pipes exclusively used by either men or women. Men's pipes become unclean if touched by women and vice-versa.
Pipe Ceremony

Pipe ceremonies constitute the primary group gatherings over which Elders preside. Participants gather in a circle. A braid of sweetgrass (one of four sacred plants) is lit and burnt as an incense to purify worshippers, before the pipe is lit. Burning sweetgrass also symbolizes unity, the coming together of many hearts and minds as one person.

Sacred Plants: Red Willow Bark, Sage, Calamus Root, Sweetgrass braid, Poplar leaves and Tobacco
Sacred Plants: Red Willow Bark, Sage, Calamus Root, Sweetgrass braid, Poplar leaves and Tobacco

The Elder strikes a match, puts it to the end of the sweetgrass braid and fans the smouldering grass with an eagle's feather, to encourage smoke production. The Elder then goes from person to person in the circle where the smoke is drawn four times by hand gestures toward the head and down the body. The Elder must fan the glowing end to keep it burning properly or the material loses its spark.

The Elder then places tobacco in the pipe and offers it in the four sacred directions of the compass.

Some Western tribes begin by making an offering to the West. Eastern Natives may propitiate the Spirit of the East whence comes the light of the sun at daybreak, who also gives guidance, direction and enlightenment. Then the Elder faces South where the guardian spirit of growth presides after winter is over. Next is West, the direction of the spirit gateway where reside the souls of those who have left this plane of existence. The spirit of the North concerned with healing and purification is then addressed.

Spirits will be asked for assistance in the main prayer, which may be specifically for one individual, a participant in the circle or for someone far away or someone who has passed over. The pipe, passed from person to person in the circle, might be offered to all creation, to those invisible spirit helpers who are always there to guide humanity. The last of the tobacco is offered to the Great Creator.

Another version of the Pipe Ceremony is the Sacred Circle which essentially follows the same procedures, but also allows a time period for individual participants to address the assembly.


Fasting is a time-honoured way of quickening spirituality in which a growing number of Natives are partaking. An Elder provides the necessary ceremonial setting and conditions to guide the fasting member. Fasting means the total renunciation of food and drink for a specified time period. Health considerations are evaluated by both the Elder responsible and a physician prior to the fast.
Sweat Lodges

Used mainly for communal prayer purposes, the Sweat Lodge may also provide necessary ceremonial settings for spiritual healing, purification, as well as fasting. Most fasts require a sweat ceremony before and after the event.

Lodge construction varies from tribe to tribe. Generally, it is an igloo-shaped structure about five feet high, built in about one and a half hours from bent willow branches tied together with twine. The structure is then encased in blankets to preclude all light. A maximum of eight participants gather in the dark.

In the centre, there is a holy, consecrated virginal section of ground (untrampled by feet and untouched by waste material) blessed by an Elder with tobacco and sweetgrass. There, red hot stones heated in a fire outside the lodge are brought in and doused with water. A doorkeeper on the outside opens the lodge door four times, contributing four additional hot rocks (representing the four sacred directions) to the centre. A prepared pipe is also brought in.

Sweat Lodges may be dismantled after the ceremony is over, but often, they are left standing to accommodate the next ceremony. Lodges may only be entered in the presence of an Elder.


Some ceremonies such as "doctoring” sweat require the participant to eat a meal. There are specific rituals requiring special foods. Sacred food for the Ojibway for instance consist of wild rice, corn, strawberries and deer meat. Typical feast foods for the Cree from the prairies would be Bannock (Indian Bread), soup, wild game and fruit (particularly Saskatoon berries or mashed choke cherries). For a West Coast Indian, sacred foods might include fish prepared in a special way. Although foods may differ, their symbolic importance remains the same.

Rattles are shaken to call up the spirit of life when someone is sick. The Elder also uses a rattle to summon the spirits governing the four directions to help participants who are seeking spiritual and physical cleansing to start a "new" life during a sweat lodge ceremony.


Drums represent the heartbeat of the nation, the pulse of the universe. Different sizes are used depending on "doctoring" or ceremonial purposes. Drums are sacred objects. Each drum has keeper to ensure no-one approaches it under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During ceremonies, no one may reach across it or place extraneous objects on it.

Eagle Whistles

When a dancer approaches a drum and blows an eagle bone whistle, the drum group responds by singing an appropriate song. The whistle is blown four times to honour the drums, the dancers and the spirit of the eagle. Four verses are sung, one for each time the whistle is blown. Large pow-wows have strict rules around how often this may occur during a pow-wow session.

Herbs / lncense

Sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco encompass the four sacred plants. Burning these is a sign of deep spirituality in Native practises. Cedar and sage are burned to drive out negative forces when prayer is offered. Sweetgrass, which signifies kindness, is burned to invite good spirits to enter. Participants also use these purification rituals to smudge regalia, drums and other articles before taking part in a pow-wow.

The four plants are used in both individual and group ceremonies. Each plant was originally given to a specific tribe. Now they are used together or singly as incense which is generally ignited in an abalone shell or another type of container to be passed from person to person in the circle.
Medicine Pouches

Prescribed by an Elder, plant material can also be worn in a medicine pouch by a person seeking the mercy and protection of the spirits of the Four Directions. Elders caution Natives not to conceal any other substances in their pouches. To do so would make a mockery of their beliefs.

Peyote, a hallucinogenic material used by Natives in some parts of the US, historically is usually not considered a part of the Canadian Native culture. Other herbs and dried animal parts (diamond willow fungus, dried/powdered beaver testicles and buffalo droppings) are some other materials that may be burnt in ceremonial functions.

Ceremonial Rituals


Some say the name is derived from the Algonkian word meaning "to dream". Pow-wow an ancient tradition among aboriginal peoples, is a time for celebrating and socializing after religious ceremonies. In some cultures, the pow-wow itself was a religious event, when families held naming and honouring ceremonies.
For instance, a family celebrating a member's formal entry into the dance circle, or wishing to commemorate the death of a loved one, often hosts a giveaway during a pow-wow. This tradition embodies the value of sharing with others. Gifts such as blankets, beadwork and crafts are given to friends and visitors followed by appropriate songs and dances.
Sweetgrass Braid
Sweetgrass Braid

Today's pow-wow is more of a social event, although honour ceremonies and other religious observances remain important parts of the celebration. Dancing, feasting and having fun, the old ways are remembered and pride is taken in traditional heritage as old friendships are renewed and new ones begun. Elders say that coming together in a joyous spirit is an important unifying and healing experience which brings together many nations in a celebration of life.
Honour Songs
Honour songs, as their name implies, are requested to honour particular individuals. Spectators should always stand and remove caps and hats when an honour song is intoned. The traditional pow-wow is more conducive to socializing and is not as demanding for participants. The hosts share the prizes with all registered singers and dancers. Whether competitive or traditional, pow-wows still bring people of all nations together in a celebration of life.
Grand Entry
Spectators should always stand and remove caps or hats during Grand Entry, Flag Songs and the Invocation. This beautiful parade of pride and colour starts off the pow-wow and each subsequent session of dancing. Preceded by the Eagle Staff, invited dignitaries and various categories of dancers join in the Grand Entry and dance to a special song rendered by the drum groups, following the path of the sun through the sky. The line-up is as follows: Eagle Staff, Flag bearers, dignitaries and princesses, men's traditional, grass and fancy dancers, followed by women's traditional, jingle and fancy dancers, youth and children in categorical order. All competitors must participate or risk losing points and/or elimination if they don't.
Eagle Staff
The Eagle Staff is an important symbol to many North American tribes. The eagle represents the Thunderbird spirits of the supernatural world who care for the inhabitants of our physical world. Qualities such as farsightedness, strength, speed, beauty and kindness are attributed to the eagle, which never kills wantonly, only to feed itself and its family. The Eagle Staff symbolizes reverence for the Creator and all of life
Any significant event is initiated with words of prayer by a respected Elder. Traditionally, First Nations never had "priests" as such but rather spiritual leaders. They are often offered tobacco with a request for prayer indicating respect and honour for that person and the higher power. Hunters and gatherers frequently expressed their gratitude with tobacco to show respect for the life they had taken.
Flag Songs
The respect shown to veterans or warriors is an integral part of Native culture, a tradition that harks back to the times when tribal welfare depended on warriors. In a society based on collectivity, veterans are honoured for self-sacrifice to their cause and their willingness to die so that others may live. Special songs are sung to honour veterans who fought under these flags. Veterans are also honoured as flag bearers, by being called upon to retrieve dropped eagle feathers and through various veterans' songs. Dropping an eagle's feather is serious business during a pow-wow. Retrieving it involves a ceremony - overseen by an Elder or respected spiritual leaders and/or warriors (veterans). All spectators should rise and remove hats or caps. No cameras may be used at this time.
Dancers - Men's Traditional
This dance originated in times when war parties returned to their villages to "dance out" the story of their battles, as well as hunters depicting stalking their prey after a successful hunt. The traditional dance outfit is frequently decorated with bead or quill work and features a circular bustle of eagle feathers. Traditional dancers may also carry objects symbolic of their warrior status such as shields, weapons, staffs or Medicine Wheels - reminders of the wisdom in the four directions, unity and the cycle of all things. Dancers are judged on how well they keep time to the music, follow the beat of the drum and stop with the music, both feet on the ground.
Men's Grass Dance
Eagle Feathers
Eagle Feathers

Contemporary grass dance outfits feature many colourful fringes in place of the grass tussocks that were originally tucked into their belts. Many dancers also wear a hair roach, a crow belt and carry an eagle bone whistle, emblems of the Omaha Society where the dance originated. Although it is a free-style type of dance, the troupe must follow the drum beat and stop with the music with both feet on the ground. Dancers also keep their heads moving in time to the beat to keep their roach crest feathers spinning.
Men's Fancy
Said to have originated in Oklahoma in the early 1900s, this dance was begun when promoters of native ceremonials asked native dancers to beautify their outfits for the spectators' benefit. Based on the same step as the traditional grass dances, the fancy dance also features increased speed, acrobatic steps and varied body movements. Dancers must also be able to follow the beat, stopping precisely at its end.
This specialty dance simulates warriors sneaking up on their prey or tracking an enemy. On the drum roll, they shake their bells and gesture while sneaking up on the centre of the dancing arena, stopping on the last beat of the verse and walking back to the perimeter. On the fourth rendition they continue as in a normal song.
Women's Traditional

Some of the most beautiful outfits can be found in this category. Long dresses are frequently decorated with heavy beadwork, ribbons or shells. Beaded or concho belts are also worn as well as hair ties, earrings, chokers and necklaces. Most dancers carry a shawl, an eagle fan or a single feather. The dance consists of bending knees in time to the beat, giving slight up and down movements to the body while subtly shifting the feet to turn.
Women's Fancy Shawl
The fancy shawl outfit consists of a decorative knee-length dress, beaded moccasins with matching leggings, a fancy shawl and various jewellery pieces. The dance itself is extremely mobile with a great deal of spinning and fancy footwork. Dancers in this category must follow the drum beat and stop precisely at the end, both feet on the ground.
Jingle Dress
Jingle dancers wear knee-length cloth dresses featuring row upon row of small bells or jingles sewn to the fabric. Dancers follow the drumbeat to make their jingles sound with the lightest step possible. The sound should stop precisely on the drum beat.
Team Dance
Team dancing is a relatively new addition to the pow-wow. Dancing in a single style, team members must synchronize their movements. Dancers are judged on synchronization, their outfits and how well their steps are put together.


Once the Medicine Bundle has been touched by someone other than its designated guardian, it can no longer be used in its uncleansed condition. The custodian must again perform purification rites (which may take three or four days and involve the presence of different spiritual Elders) to restore the Bundle's sacredness. In other words, vital spiritual essence is lost when these items are not treated according to the respect they deserve.

In most cases, police and security officials have not been aware of the spiritual significance regarding the Bundle's contents. Nor have they been culturally sensitized enough to the Native Elders' regard of ceremonial accessories which must be treated with the utmost respect.

Spiritual Artifacts

collection of spiritual artifacts

A Manitoba Elder graciously provided some samples of a collection of spiritual artifacts used in sacred ceremonies. The collection, which appears in this guide, should not be construed as being "typical." Contents in Medicine Bundles may vary considerably taking into account the cultural diversity of Aboriginal First Nations across Canada and the U.S. Law enforcement officers are encouraged to contact Elders in their region to determine what spiritual artifacts and practises are current in their localities.


Eagles' wings and feathers, rawhide gourds, drums, abalone shells, prayer cloths and prints are some of the more common objects in use, in addition to the pipe. Eagle wings and feathers are awarded for outstanding deeds. They may be worn in the hair or on a costume, but normally they are carried in the hand. Indians regard the eagle as a sacred bird. The eagle represents power, strength and loyalty. The four sacred plants, sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco or kinniekinnick (red willow shavings) are also often worn in a "medicine" pouch around the neck or pinned onto clothing. Elders may have additional sacred items such as bear claws on a thong or badges that have been given as gifts during ceremonies.


Male law enforcement officers may conduct a search of someone wearing these without incident if they ask the wearer to open the bundle. If the person is genuine, then the request will be granted.

The spirituality of the bundle is only violated if it is touched or opened without the carrier's permission. It is therefore important that police officers be aware that spiritual items of religious significance should be treated with the proper respect and not be touched by anyone except the Elder/Custodian.

Female police officers should, whenever possible, have a male officer conduct this search. This is due to the belief that women, during their "moon time", are spiritually far more powerful than men and the simple act of viewing the items will cause them to be desecrated.

What is important to remember is that in ever increasing numbers, Natives are returning to their own heritage in expressing their religious beliefs. These sacred objects may be encountered with greater frequency now that spiritual Elders often travel great distances to conduct their sacred ceremonies.

While keeping public safety in mind, security personnel and other law enforcement officials should endeavour to make themselves more aware of these traditions and the artifacts involved through increased cross-cultural training and awareness.

For more information, please contact:

RCMP Aboriginal Policing Services
Contract and Aboriginal Policing
73 Leikin Drive
Ottawa  ON  K1A 0R2