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Are Eagle feathers losing their true "worth"?

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  • Are Eagle feathers losing their true "worth"?

    As I continue to travel more and more, I find people (especially younger people) "ASKING" for Eagle feathers or things with them (i.e. fans).

    As a young person, I marveled over those who had full bustles and large fans. Primarily because they were so few and far between. Now that I am a man, I find teenagers expecting to have full bustles or full tail fans. The few I have had I have given away...even the only true roach feather I've ever had...given away.

    Granted, I have no problem with people who have exhibited characteristics to suggest they deserve them. My first was a chest feather that was given to me at 18...and I cherished that like no other thing in this world. Even to the time I parted with it....it was tough. I gave it to the first southern drum I was a member of.

    Has the "value"/"meaning" of the feather been lost with some people? Is this that I am seeing due to the contest pow wow? I find that people expect feathers to be passed out like candy.


    LSS
    To get a true picture of your purpose in life, you only get the whole picture when you listen with your mind, your ears and your heart. This way The Creator has a direct connection with you and only you...no outside interference.

    When you follow the will of IT that created you, understanding that your purpose is not for you...but for IT and all that IT has created, there can be no wrong except failure to be obedient. Only then do we jeopardize the gifts we are given.

    Its not the final destination that defines us, rather the journey taken!

  • #2
    I know what you mean. Some people do not seem to value anything anymore. Yes some do seem to expect to receive eagle feathers just because, instead of seeing it as an honor.
    One thing that really bothers me is the lack of care some take of their feathers.
    ClothDancer02

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    • #3
      What has taken away the sense of HONOR for earning eagle feathers/plumes, is the availability of the "Legal Eagle" feathers. Oh for SICK! Painted turkey feathers just so non natives can achieve a "Look"? This is one, just one, of the greatest examples of non natives taking a symbol that was OURS, and making a mockery of it. And whats even sadder; some of our own native people are buying and using them in place of real eagle feathers. What message does this send? That honor can be steamed, pressed and painted?

      It's really embarassing to see this happen, and its making it harder and harder for those of us who use our traditional teachings to show our young people how we work hard, be good examples, and EARN what those eagle feathers are SUPPOSED to represent.

      PS, i think those HUGE fans of plumes on the female dancers now a days are to much, and represent a different life style..something more European. Why do our Native women feel the need to look like Las Vegas Show Girls? I have two plumes. One I received at my Hunka ceremony, and one I received when I graduated college. I have 5 eagle feathers on my fan, each one from a relative who was in the service, including my dad. I have alot to proud of, but its not OUR way to be so showy and ridiculous. Oh I know Imma catch it for saying this, but I stand by it 100%!
      Ipsica Waci
      Wicahpi Eyoyambya Olowan

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      • #4
        I AGREE!
        I can't, and probably won't ever, understand the market for fake plumes and feathers. I do NOT believe it is necessary to wear fake plumes, for the sake of "the champion look." Plumes are very highly regarded where I come from and it's a mockery to the people who've gone before me to wear a fake plume. At times, I find it disrespectful all around.

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        • #5
          As powwow outfits evolved more flashy and showy with the times, a lot of the original values and meanings of feathers just got weakened in some areas, but that depends on the person who has them. There's hundreds of tribes, and each one has their own teachings with feathers, and as powwows get bigger, there's more intertribal mixing of traditions. So to some people feathers may be more sacred to some than others. Not every tribe held eagle feathers as such a strong honor, and hard to earn and what not, while others have and still do. Just depends on who the person is and where they come from.


          Like how bustles evolved. The few tribes who used them, they were just small bustles, usually made out of whatever was found, or earned, and only certain people could wear them. So we went from little messy bustles limited to a few tribes, to a universal standard of huge full wing bustles and what not. I wouldn't say they lost their sacredness, that depends on the person using them. It's pretty normal for any northern traditional dancer to wear a bustle now, even though most of us aren't from those few tribes where they originated from, and don't follow those tribe's traditions with bustles. The feathers may be sacred, but the bustle itself was something we didn't have, but is pretty common now all over the place.


          I won't hate on people with 'fake' feathers. I was taught there is no such things as a fake feather. Even turkey feathers are sacred to some tribes. So I can't hate any anyone who uses them. You can feel that maybe people who buy imitation eagle feathers because they can't 'earn' them is disrespectful, but is that any different than those of us who can simply fill out the federal permit applications and get them that way?

          Powwow regalia today is about looks more than tradition for the most part now. Just how it is. And since we allow non-natives or non-recognized tribes to participate at our gatherings, I don't see why we should hate on them for using legal alternatives to get that 'powwow look' like those of us who can have the real ones. I see where your going when you say people simply ask and trade for things, but that goes hand in hand with powwows as they evolve. There going from more sacred and traditional gatherings, to contests and celebrations, where people want to have full decked out regalia and items.

          But like I mentioned before, don't confuse anything I say for a overall statement for everyone. I only speak of what I know and see. Every tribe is different and treat items and feathers differently. A sun dance fan for someone might be more sacred, than another eagle fan that they would use for powwows, and so on. Some people have feathers for ceremony only, then feathers for powwows and what not where the items may not be as sacred as the other ones. So it depends on the person and their traditions.
          Last edited by anishtradish; 03-08-2009, 06:28 PM.
          www.myspace.com/anishtradish

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          • #6
            Ya know there was a post on a thread not to long ago from a Canadian fella who cannot get feathers and was wondering why Canada doesn't have a repository where you can just ask for them, like we do here in the U.S.
            Lookin' at this thread I think that may be part of it. I am in the first generation that grew up entirely with eagles being endangered and having this repository thing. And I know when I look around those full wing bustle are more often on guys my age and younger, or else on vets who have some stories to tell. So maybe we can blame the feds for making it so easy (just send in your paperwork and wait) but if it weren't too easy we'd all be complaining about how the feds keep us from having 'em....
            I dunno, but I will relate a story that happened a few years ago, a fella about my age was dancing and his roach feather dropped. The vets came and did their thing, song was song and so forth, and he got a stern talking to but was able to get his feather back. He goes back out and does the same thing inside of twenty minutes.... and again he got it back. Finally a third time this happens, and he got it back but he was also told to get his street clothes on.
            I have heard of whole eagle bustle being dropped and the owner just picking them up and walking away. So I think for at least some folks ya, the sacredness is lost.
            I will say I know some Native Alaskans, they don't use eagle feathers too much and there are eagles all over the place up there, and they don't always understand why folks 'down' here make such a big fuss... so maybe it is about your traditions.
            But what happens when you wear traditional bustles? (i.e. with crow, or turkey, or hawk, what have ya) If you are at a contest you are likely to be asked to show your card 'cause only white guys don't have eagles.
            Ok I am yammering now, I put in my dime I guess.

            Comment


            • #7
              i dont think eagle feathers have totally lost their value. contest powwows are just that. they are not the real world. in the homes and ceremonies i think theres still alot of pride and honor there. i wouldnt confuse the two.
              thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

              *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

              Comment


              • #8
                Hey anish, I didn't want to copy your whole post. I had a question.

                Is a turkey feather still considered a turkey feather if it's trying to imitate an eagle feather?

                You know I'm not arguing. That statement just caught my eye.


                Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                Mr. Rossie Freeman

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with Lakota Wiyan. Also I was thinking the same thing as JD, but also, if your painting turkey feathers to look like eagle feathers aren't you also disrespecting the turkey? My son wears a bustle of turkey feathers (and they look like turkey feathers) cause he hasn't earned enough eagle feathers to have his bustle made out of eagle. He is just happy and proud that we believed he was mature enough to look after his turkey bustle. He also knows there is no guarantee he will ever have an eagle bustle, it's all up to his behaviour. My kids all have eagle feathers, but don't wear em at powwow cause thats a big responsibility for a kid. My oldest is thinking of wearing hers this year, but is nervous about the responsibility. I do think that the "image" issue at powwows is also partly responsible, the other is that if people are going around askin and whinning for them, someone needs to be saying "no" maybe then they will choose to earn them; of course being in canada we can't just send away a set of papers to get some, so some different circumstances.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joe's Dad View Post
                    Is a turkey feather still considered a turkey feather if it's trying to imitate an eagle feather?

                    Well when a person puts on make up to look like something else, or enhance themselves, doesn't change who they are underneath LOL. Well I guess it just depends on your personal teachings. I was told that in some cases a feather just represents something, so it didn't matter what kind it was, then again different feathers have different meanings to each tribe.

                    Considering many old style bustles were made out of whatever they could find, and that as we started to trade with white people for different items to make our dance regalia flashy and what not, I don't see why our people years ago wouldn't have used painted feathers if given the opportunity.

                    I do know many highly respected people will use imitation black tips for warbonnets and such these days in place of real ones, and it's simply because black tips aren't so easy to get. So you see many people with 'fake' ones, but have earned the right to wear a war bonnet. You see this a lot in Dakota and Lakota territory, they will honor military vets and everything with war bonnets and most of the time they aren't real eagle feathers, but that doesn't make the honor of getting that war bonnet any less. Just watch any grand entry video from some of the bigger powwows where they come walking in with the staffs, you'll see most of the warbonnets are imitation eagle, and that is no disrespect to anyone, they were made and given out of honor to certain individuals who earned that right. This is one of the cases where the feathers themselves just represent something and imitation feathers are acceptable.

                    Look at this grand entry video from Denver March,

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBCnfig0MuI

                    Notice all the imitation eagle feather bonnets being warn by the vets carrying in the flags at about 35 seconds in. There's nothing but pride and honor there. Try and tell them that it's disrespectful to wear imitations lol.
                    Last edited by anishtradish; 03-09-2009, 11:44 AM.
                    www.myspace.com/anishtradish

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Anish - Curious, how do you think 'exotic' feathers (like the ones in your roach) have impacted the perceived value of eagle feathers?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BizDawg View Post
                        Anish - Curious, how do you think 'exotic' feathers (like the ones in your roach) have impacted the perceived value of eagle feathers?

                        We have traded and bartered always I think with different peoples. You can find pipestone from Minnesota, buried in tombs of the peoples in South America, and some of their objects found up here by various archeologists. If we traded beads and stones and what not, Im sure feathers were traded as well. Parrot feathers were a big trade good for the south and central American tribes. If we use metal bells, glass beads, velvet, satin........ I don't see anything different from using other non-Native American materials in our regalia.


                        I don't think exotics take away anything from eagle feathers, but many people like using them because they are flashy and different, and for some people a legal alternative. People may start to prefer exotics over eagles, but technically wouldn't that be better for the eagles, making the demand for eagle parts slightly lessened? I mean imagine if it wasn't acceptable to use exotics or imitations at powwows. Imagine how much more of an impact that would have on the demand for eagle parts. Most of us who use exotics it's just to be different.

                        I went to school for wildlife biology, so I met a lot of people working abroad and they have always saved and sent me feathers from afar. My hornbills I get from a Sarawak Dancer in Malaysia, they use them on their headdresses and dance fans for their tribal ceremonies and dances. Hornbills are their sacred birds. So he is gifting me his sacred feathers, and I use them respectfully over here just like I would use an eagle feather. A feather is a feather to me, and I hold all birds in the world equally. Like my Harpy eagle feathers are just as important to me as any golden or bald. I don't think the use of exotics lessens the sacredness of native eagles. Personally if I use them in a certain way, they become just as sacred, but not more so than our native birds. Maybe just as equal though, but then again that is a personal choice.
                        Last edited by anishtradish; 03-09-2009, 02:09 PM.
                        www.myspace.com/anishtradish

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lakota Wiyan View Post
                          What has taken away the sense of HONOR for earning eagle feathers/plumes, is the availability of the "Legal Eagle" feathers. Oh for SICK! Painted turkey feathers just so non natives can achieve a "Look"? This is one, just one, of the greatest examples of non natives taking a symbol that was OURS, and making a mockery of it. And whats even sadder; some of our own native people are buying and using them in place of real eagle feathers. What message does this send? That honor can be steamed, pressed and painted?

                          It's really embarassing to see this happen, and its making it harder and harder for those of us who use our traditional teachings to show our young people how we work hard, be good examples, and EARN what those eagle feathers are SUPPOSED to represent.

                          PS, i think those HUGE fans of plumes on the female dancers now a days are to much, and represent a different life style..something more European. Why do our Native women feel the need to look like Las Vegas Show Girls? I have two plumes. One I received at my Hunka ceremony, and one I received when I graduated college. I have 5 eagle feathers on my fan, each one from a relative who was in the service, including my dad. I have alot to proud of, but its not OUR way to be so showy and ridiculous. Oh I know Imma catch it for saying this, but I stand by it 100%!
                          i agree... i'm not a fan of the "Bunny Ears" look.. with Plumes WAY up there...

                          I'm a hypocrite... I do have wear "bunny ears"

                          but the plumes that i have are from my hunka ceremony. and my 8th grade, HS, and an OLC plume :P (probably why they dont' really "match" ha ha) oh yeah and 1 of my mama's College plumes

                          and if u catch hell for saying that... then throw it back :P:P i got ur back :D:D

                          You can't double team a Triple Threat



                          The Black Hills are NOT for sale



                          ps. i'm still the greatest~n i'm prettylol

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by anishtradish View Post
                            We have traded and bartered always I think with different peoples. You can find pipestone from Minnesota, buried in tombs of the peoples in South America, and some of their objects found up here by various archeologists. If we traded beads and stones and what not, Im sure feathers were traded as well. Parrot feathers were a big trade good for the south and central American tribes. If we use metal bells, glass beads, velvet, satin........ I don't see anything different from using other non-Native American materials in our regalia.


                            I don't think exotics take away anything from eagle feathers, but many people like using them because they are flashy and different, and for some people a legal alternative. People may start to prefer exotics over eagles, but technically wouldn't that be better for the eagles, making the demand for eagle parts slightly lessened? I mean imagine if it wasn't acceptable to use exotics or imitations at powwows. Imagine how much more of an impact that would have on the demand for eagle parts. Most of us who use exotics it's just to be different.

                            I went to school for wildlife biology, so I met a lot of people working abroad and they have always saved and sent me feathers from afar. My hornbills I get from a Sarawak Dancer in Malaysia, they use them on their headdresses and dance fans for their tribal ceremonies and dances. Hornbills are their sacred birds. So he is gifting me his sacred feathers, and I use them respectfully over here just like I would use an eagle feather. A feather is a feather to me, and I hold all birds in the world equally. Like my Harpy eagle feathers are just as important to me as any golden or bald. I don't think the use of exotics lessens the sacredness of native eagles. Personally if I use them in a certain way, they become just as sacred, but not more so than our native birds. Maybe just as equal though, but then again that is a personal choice.
                            first time i heard this kinda talk from anywhere. *anish especially* intereessstinng fo sho.
                            thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                            *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think anish has a good point. I have eagle feathers given to me by an Aztec Dancer. They're from an eagle down their way. Had a couple of well known dancers looking at them while standing in line for GE down at Indio years ago. They didn't know what they were and I bet they would have loved to get their hands on them. These will go to my son when it's time.

                              So yeah, trading is a good thing.

                              I can see about the headresses for vets. That alot of tails to make a bonnet these days.

                              I don't want to get off the topic.

                              Is it the younger people who are less disrespectful of their feathers, or are many of the older dancers in this category?


                              Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                              "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                              Mr. Rossie Freeman

                              Comment

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