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Native Indian Lore
Shawls


ShawlThe Native American culture has opened up from a more or less closed society during this time in the 2000.  The automobile allowing folks to travel easily long distances and in a short time probably contributes to this blending of the tribes customs. First there was the mixing of the tribes and then came the acceptance of other races who are part of one or another blood.

This inevitably leads to the entering of the circle by those who have no Indian heritage at all but simply love the ways of the dance. These too have been accepted.  Those who remember the old ways and sacred traditions become less and less as time goes along. Still,  it is of importance to me to list what they knew regarding the basis for tradition as it is known still.

One has to remember the Native American was a deeply spiritual person who believed in a Great Spirit, a higher power, who was real and a part of their world.  The second thing to remember is that the dances were not just games for fun. They were a part of the spirituality “acted out,” for a better word.

My own mother did vocally express her displeasure with the way youth or “Okee-tees” (people of other races) went into the circle with total abandon.  Maybe their shawl was on crooked, or one side of it drags the ground, and even only partially covering one shoulders with it hanging, broken wing like,  on that side. If this person too went into the circle laughing, gawking about at other dancers, chewing gum or any other ways which were disrespectful it grated her sensibilities.

Centuries ago the Hebrew people had a deep respect for their fringed shawl. It symbolized the wings of God under whom they were protected. This is already documented by those who have studied and can quote the Hebrew scriptures for this tradition. With this understanding I can now see why Mother felt the way she did about the misconduct of untaught people going into the circle.  Would you boldly stare at someone who was in a moment of prayer?  Would someone be busily smacking at their gum while they were earnestly seeking the presence of their God?  Would one of God's wings be inappropriately broken and hanging off one side unable to defend?  Is it possible for that Great Spirit to be dragged through the dirt and ground being soiled by the act? All these things are what is tied up in the conduct and ethics of those entering that sacred circle where all coming together as one are joined in union to gain their creators favor and attention.

For myself, my Father raised me as a Christian and this was to remember our creator's basic teaching of love, joy, kindness, mildness, peace, self-control, faith. Branching off these are the other principles of respect, goodness, patience, and all the other virtues involved.  My path is not with my Native ancestors. However, as a fellow human who prays for the well being of all people,  it is my duty to treat another's worship with respect. And, I believe, it is a good thing for any and all who take up the ways of the Native American.

Any religion practiced is essentially for one's mental and physical health. This is certainly true with the Native American. The dancing is joyful, and the physical exercise is cleansing. The sweat lodge is beneficial for mind and body. So, let any of those taking on the traditions do so with deep respect, leaving off some of the more frivolous ways of just having the attitude of “party time” fun to be set aside remembering the original purpose for the ceremonies.  Hopefully, mothers' will teach their daughters the proper manners for the ceremonies.

Here is a link to Ella Little Bird, a woman who I believe personifies exactly of what I speak as she models her shawls. See both pictures.

http://www.ellabird.com/


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