|Remember we are speaking of a time before
this. A time when children lived close to a stream or river and, part of
their recreation was a bath time for them. Native American children
became expert swimmers with beautiful control because of this. The side
effects were the cleansing of their bodies. Again, we see the natural
order of things coming from a culture strong in unity with the world
Like many American and European customs
to begin with cleansing rituals so too are some of the customs of the
Native American. For instance, as cedar was brought into the house all
the way back to the time of Moses, and is now brought into the house in
the winter months for decoration, this is true of customs in some parts.
We Americans, today, dust with cedar scented products. Closets are lined
with cedar for moth protection. The ancestors of the natives used cedar
in a sacred way, to cleanse the house after a death by burning the cedar
and carrying it about the house. This is called a "smoke off,"
and is dealing with evil spirits who may have tried to take residence in
their home after a death. Some have blended the tradition with
Christianity saying it was the departed person they were "smoking
off." However, it was originally to address evil spirits who might
take advantage of one's weakness after a death. At any rate, today
scientists agree cedar has an ester beneficial for cleansing.
The dance itself was an exercise in
cleansing. As the dancer kept rhythm to the drum, his body was naturally
burning calories, throwing off stored toxins in those calories. The
feathers worked for the dancer in the same way it worked for the bird.
Dance has been used down through the ages for the re-creation of one's
emotional health. The joy of movement giving freedom and expression just
as King David danced to express his joy, clearing out the negative,
maybe even bringing the brain over to the right side, the creative side,
as opposed to the left dominant brain.
Foods introduced to the Pilgrims of
America were not a once a year food. They were daily fare. Sage as a
spice in food is cleansing to the body. Sage was also used in storing of
the feathered regalia's. This is the difference in the old ways and the
new. Recently attending a hobbyist's dance I was rather put off with the
smell of moth balls, instead of the sweet smell of the herbs the Native
American stored with their regalia. Sage was used in the sweat lodge to
cleanse one's sinuses and as a rub on the body to slough off the
epidermis or outer skin. The outer skin is considered today as an organ
and if it is kept properly cleansed it is of great benefit to the body since
this allows proper perspiration and ridding one of toxins. Maybe these
were some of the reasons the Native American were so physically strong,
and believe me they were.
A way of life spoken of as that of living
within a circle meant more than one can easily explain, but on the other
hand it is probably, the best way to understand the culture. For all the
adversity and the deliberate efforts to destroy the traditions, still it
has remained and it is probably for this reason. A circle has no
beginning and no end. One part of it is melted into the next part and
where one ends off another begins. Although, I do believe there has been
so much lost, so many changes, and as in any world of a blending of
tribes, it would be interesting to see how the final tribe will survive.