Bellzona's Picture Book
Osage Wedding - Osage
Wedding Party 1920
was called Sha-Wa-Bin because he was even at twenty-one a famed warrior,
and he belonged to the Eagle gens. He had an Eagle name, Sha-Wa-Bin, which
means Bloody Hands or Bloody Talons of the eagle or the falcon. He had
counted coup three times, twice on the dead bodies of the enemy. He had
counted coup on Apache and a Padouca, and had tapped the body of a very
much alive Pawnee chieftain, and had ridden away untouched by Pawnee
The people, not only of the Eagle gens but
of all the gentes, talked of him, and old women came up to touch him, and
the old men were constantly giving him advice, but not so much assuming a
prerogative of age as for the purpose of reflected importance. The little
boys would say, "Bloody Hands is Wah'Kon, mystery medicine; the
arrows of the Pawnees curve around him, and Heavy Eyebrows touch their
foreheads when he passes."
The above is taken from "The
Osages," by John Joseph Mathews, page 312, chapter 30: "Marriage
of Bloody Hands and The Light."
This is not written about Bertha's father,
Harry Big Eagle. Since the symbols are here on the blanket of "Bloody
Hands," or one who kills with his talons, "Big Eagle," is
it safe to assume Bertha was a descendant of this Big Eagle spoken of here
in the book of "The Osages?"
If you are of Osage descent it would be a
good thing to read this book, especially this chapter, on the customs of
the weddings. It is beautifully written and since these ways are not
practiced anymore this is a valued account. Among the Osage people today
there is not a total acceptance of this book, but for the student it does
give an idea as to the intricate lace work webbed structure of the people.
They themselves refer to the spider as a leader in their legends.
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