Starting at a beginning. Before first contact there were thousands of thousands of tribes throughout Indian country. Each tribe had their own ways of celebrating their own ceremonies and their culture. After this country started buying our land and or souls with Plastic Cards, there are still about a thousand tribes of our people left. However, it does not really matter if a tribe sold their land or souls or not, each one that is left still has their own ways of celebrating their ceremonies and their culture so, enough of this tribes demanding that their way is the only correct way to celebrate a ceremony! We are now starting to sound like all of the European religious organizations that we profess to hate!
I was invited to a east coast gathering and a feather dropped from a regalia, the place went quiet. The head veteran started towards the feather and a guy in the west lifted up the rope walked into the sacred circle, picked up the feather and stuck it into his pocket, walked back to the west lifted up the rope and walked out telling the drum and the MC that it was not an Eagle feather, his tribe only respects the Eagle feather! This was not a Plains Indian gathering this was an East Coast traditional gathering and the feather was from a Bird of Prey! (Gray Horn Owl very sacred to my people)!
I will give you a few ideas of a (The Feather Dance) the most confused dance out on the internet to date!
The Iroquois Great Feather Dance
Welcoming in the new year for the Iroquois during the Midwinter Ceremony also meant giving thanks to their Creator. One ritual carried out solely for this purpose is the "Great Feather Dance."
Dancers of the Great Feather Dance dress in traditional tribal regalia and dance to two singers that sit face-to-face. Using rattles made of turtle shells, the dancers move to the rhythm, honoring and giving thanks to all the Creator has bestowed on the Iroquois people during the past year.
The Great Feather Dance, which is a joyous tradition, is held on the eighth night of the nine-day festival.
Is this dance wrong? No!
The Ojibwa Dropped Eagle Feather
If you see a feather on the ground anywhere, please don't touch it or move it. Tell the nearest dancer about it and he/she will notify the arena director. If the feather is an Eagle feather and is outside the dance arena, then it is picked up by a veteran with an Eagle fan and transported to a suitable spot on the dance arena and set back on the ground. The arena director will be trying to find the owner. A special ceremony to retrieve the feather is then performed. The feather's owner's tribe will take precedence as to how the ceremony will be performed, due to the varied ways each tribe performs this ceremony.
In the Ojibwa way, four veterans are required. They dance around the feather and the one to pick it up is a wounded combat veteran, preferably. In the Ojibwa way, a dropped Eagle feather must be given away to begin in a new life. In all cases it is given to the veteran who picked it up. The owner, with proper respect, gifts the four veterans with the help of relatives and friends. The drum that sings the special song for the retrieval of the dropped Eagle feather is also compensated by the person who dropped the feather.
In the case where a number of feathers are dropped, by the same person, in a bunch, a spiritual leader will be called to say a prayer over them before the pickup ceremony.
In the American Indian way, it is believed there is a reason for everything. In the case of dropped Eagle feathers, the person who dropped the feather may only have been picked to be the messenger, or signal of something not being right (if that is any consolation) such as misrepresentation by an individual claiming to be other than what he is, or somebody using drugs or alcohol secretly. There is also the possibility of medicine being used wrongly. In any case, the spirits will let you know.
During the ceremony to pick up a dropped Eagle feather there will be no picture taking of any kind allowed.
It should be noted that powwow practices vary from region to region in United States and Canada.
Sincere thanks and acknowledgment to the American Indian Education Committee of the Minnesota State Board of Education who sponsored those who wrote the Ojibwa content of this unit.
Is this dance wrong? No!
Is it wrong that this tribe only calls the Eagle feather in their land sacred? No!
The Eastern Woodland Native American Traditional Feather dance.
This blog is only about an Eastern Woodland Native Traditional Matriarch tribal gathering, taught to me by elders now ancestors.
The first dance that should be discussed is one that has gotten out of hand in many gathering, The Feather dance.
When a feather from any bird of prey drops to Mother Earth, in one of our ceremonies, that feather now belongs to our Mother!
Also if this feather drops at a gathering, from a dancers Regalia or any other reason, we must do the following.
Every warrior at this gathering must go to this feather, the head veteran and four of his/her warriors control this sacred ceremony while the rest direct all dancers including themselves around and away from the ceremony!
The traditional MC and drum, keep things moving as if nothing happened, this is very important to remember!
If it drops where there is no dancing every warrior at the gathering circles with their backs to the feather. Do not touch or move this feather, it is not yours it now belongs to Mother Earth, we must ask for its return.
The first person protecting the feather and if possible the person that lost the feather dance in one spot at the head veterans discretion or until a veteran shows up, unless or until called to the feather.
If this ceremony becomes a show, the gathering is polluted and must be canceled!
No one except people involved with the ceremony are allowed to see this very sacred ceremony, NO RECORDING, EVER.
The reason for the above is simple, the bird of prey is our brother/sister and a helper/protector that was on a mission, hence we protect their covering (feather).
If one of your veterans falls do you make this into a spectacle?
One would hope not.
Is this dance wrong? You bet your little booties it is not wrong and this American Native is getting a little tired of some pomp's "native" coming to one of my traditional gatherings and bullying my people into his or her way of doing OUR ceremonies, culture and gatherings. It no time has a member of my family ever told another family how to celebrate your culture, ceremonies or gatherings, if they do they will no longer be a member of my family. Go home and do your dance your way?
Is it wrong that my people in the east call all Bird of Prey Sacred? No!
What this person is saying to us is, “ This government, the same government that raped, abused destroyed and assimilated gave me this plastic card allowing me to be a government style Indian”!