Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)


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Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Carol Francisco. Bryant Hicks Edward E. Carol L. Anchoring the Web. Voices Crying in the Wilderness. Walking in Beauty. Interview Questions. Summary of Interview Responses. Examples of Native American Medicine Shields. I owe debts of gratitude to the generous people who, with time, talents, and trust, contributed to weaving the web of meaning behind the written words of this study, a web finding its embodiment in the physical shields I created in company with women across the country.

These women, above all others, have helped transform academic theory into grounded reality by their willingness to trust and share their experiences with a stranger. In my academic journey, I give special thanks to my mentor of 10 years, Dr. My committee of instruction has supported my research with unfailing confidence.

Each one has given more than academic encouragement: Dr. Bryant Hicks has been as much spiritual advisor as chairperson; Dr. Edward Thornton has affirmed my pilgrimage of transformation with wisdom gathered through his own; and Dr. Molly Marshall has been the feminine mirror I needed to focus my own thoughts. His expertise in Native American traditions, and his familiarity with their filtering into the American mainstream through New Age thought, led to my first contacts with women building shields.

He also served as expert consultant concerning my accuracy in discussing Native American traditions underlying contemporary medicine shields. Three Native American women offered me special guidance and insight during my research. Jose Hobday framed my journey in down-to-earth appreciation of Native peoples and their culture. She also opened my eyes to the potential Native American spirituality has for healing Christian thought and praxis.

My greatest debt of gratitude is to Brooke Medicine Eagle, whose day structured experience of the presence of Spirit in the wilderness of Montana brought me to my Self1 in ways that have transformed—and are still transforming—my life and thought. She is also generously serving as an external reader for this dissertation, in spite of an already over-full schedule of speaking and writing.

Christian theology from a feminist perspective abounds, as does theology focused on social justice and praxis; but Christian feminist literature rarely develops intellectual models for personal spirituality within a Christian context. The broad range of disciplines encompassed by this dissertation is the result of the weaving of various threads in my own life.

The second thread is a fascination with the relationship of personal religious experience to traditional forms of religious expression, in Christianity and other religions. The final thread rests in the hands of Carl Jung, whose theories of depth psychology have revealed new levels of meaning compatible with every period of my own life for the past 20 years. I have chosen the shield as the intersecting point of these threads for several reasons. Methodologically, it is a narrow enough subject for adequate coverage. In terms of gender specificity, it is ambivalent, partaking of both genders.

Spiritually it is an object of great power in the traditions of many Native American cultures. Finally, as a symbol, it participates in the circularity characteristic of the archetypal feminine, with all its implicit mythological significance. In order to reduce anthropological resources to manageable proportions, I considered only Native American groups from within the continental United States and southern Canada as sources for shield data.

The spiritual pilgrimages of Native American women also lie beyond the limits of this research. Even though I am not concerned with traditional Native American spirituality directly, I cannot remove this dissertation from some participation in the controversies surrounding Euro-American appropriation of traditions sacred to Native America. Strongly mixed feelings exist among Native Americans regarding 2 A formative book for me in this area was John V. The spiritual growth I have experienced personally, and the sincerity and dedication of the Native women with whom I have worked, have influenced me to support those Native Americans who choose to share their traditions with integrity and restraint.

A study of the contemporary significance of Native American medicine shields cannot proceed without an examination of their functions in the pre-reservation cultures where they originated. A gradual change in these functions occurred with the arrival of European technology and the confinement of Native Americans on reservations.

I gathered the primary data on women who build shields during three months of intensive travel and research in the western United States, and through correspondence after my return. During my three months of travel I attended shield- building workshops as a participant-observer, making my own shields while observing and interviewing other participants. In every major city I attempted to locate feminist networks, and through these networks had some measure of success in locating women willing to share their experiences of shielding. These Jungian analyses are brought into a Christian context through evaluation of existing feminine spiritual models and constructs within the Church.

Rosemary Radford Ruether represents mainstream feminist theologians who are attempting to formulate tenable positions for women remaining in the Church. In the concluding chapters, the experiences shared by shield-building women outside the Church are interwoven with Native American traditions, Jungian interpretation, and the voices of women seeking change in the Church from within, to create a psycho-spiritual feminist critique.

The neglect of feminine aspects of Being in the Church is central among the concerns of women leaving the Church. It is the feminine face of the Holy that the women interviewed for this research are seeking in the pathways of Native America. The message conveyed by these women is clear: if they cannot find affirmation of their feminine being in the Church—along with the cleansing of patriarchal and institutional abuses—the Church can never speak with the voice of the Holy for them.

The Jungian journey of individuation and a Native American understanding of the cosmos provide the structure for the concluding discussion of changes needed in the Church. Both movements have been neglected within the Church. The cross of Christ can be the intersection of those two movements and the fulfillment of them both—for women and men—if they can see with the transformative vision of the risen Christ. One central aspect of the mission of the Church at the beginning of the new millennium is the recovery of its vision of wholeness—the web of life—exemplified in this study by the Native American medicine wheel, which encloses the cross of the four directions in the circle of All- That-Is.

Berkhofer, Jr. Knopf, , p. B, pp. New Age seekers have looked into every available religious tradition for nuggets of insight that could enrich their spiritual experience. New Age networks commonly embrace experiential spirituality of all kinds, as well as conservationist causes, new sensory technologies, and return- to-the-Earth groups. Fascination with tangible physical objects and a leaning toward belief in a non-specific spiritual reality pervading all of life is the norm.

Accordingly, Native American spirituality—as well as indigenous spirituality from other continents—has become a rich resource for New Age innovators. The term became further diluted as its popularity increased, until today it often suggests little more than a person in touch with and utilizing the power of elemental spirits of the universe. In Joan Halifax introduced the term to a broad readership in her Shamanic Voices. Bataille and Kathleen Mullen Sands, eds.

The Goddess as a focus for feminist spirituality emerged into the popular eye during this period.

INDIAN CLIFF DWELLING

She took various forms, usually drawn from European traditions. Its adherents are not organized. The ceremonial brew may be seasoned with Native American rituals or. In the years since its emergence as a contemporary American phenomenon, shamanism has experienced an explosion of popularity among women on spiritual pilgrimage. Native American traditions remain popular among shamanic possibilities for Euro-American women. Most practicable examples of Native American religious rituals have been absorbed into neo-shamanism, as it has come to be known.

Table of Contents for: Sifters : Native American women's lives

Native American Response. Take heed guard your secrets bury your treasures well, your knives, your crystals, your feathers and shells. All your sacred things. Gary Doore Boston: Shambhala Publishers, , pp. Gary Doore. They find themselves described as a vanishing people, when in fact their numbers are increasing steadily. Hardly was the ban on their own free exercise of traditional rituals lifted when White America moved in to appropriate them.

Native Americans appear to divide into two camps over this issue. Beth Brant Ithaca: Firebrand Books, , p. A, pp. Others want to learn what our elders know. Our ceremonies and our religion are not for sale. Lynn Andrews has become the most visible target for charges of abuse. Native Americans are justifiably impatient with spiritual seekers who look for private answers in the scattered traditions of indigenous cultures without showing any concern for the pressing needs of the contemporary guardians of these traditions.

Shields in Anthropological Accounts The exact traditional uses and significance of shields among Native American peoples are difficult to establish. Contemporary teachers of Native American shield lore in neo-shamanic groups are as personally creative or as traditionally conservative in their explanations as their personal preference dictates. Recent feminist critiques,41 developments in anthropology,42 and critiques from Native Americans43 have exposed considerable bias and oversight in anthropological reports, leaving the way open to many new explanations.

With few exceptions, early anthropologists studying Native American cultures were men. Hartman and L. William C. Sturtevant Washington, D. Apart from being characterized by cultural bias, Native American anthropological data also depend for accuracy on the openness of informants communicating material. Her reticence had been voiced by another Wintu shaman in a dream song recorded by ethnographers more than forty years ago: When Red Cane [white man] comes, We Wintu shall forget our songs.

A possibility also exists that forms evolving since the reservation period may now be considered traditional by Native Americans themselves; but separation of newer traditions from older ones by outside observers is particularly futile when original traditions are shrouded in intentional reticence. Most traditional Native American spirituality has been characterized by 46 Patricia C. Patricia C. Albers and Beatrice Medicine Washington, D. Changes in pre-reservation forms are often indications of spiritual vitality, just as strict adherence to traditional forms may indicate a deadening worship of the past.

Medicine [was a] power object [the warrior] wore in his hair, around his neck, or as a design painted upon his body or shield. This is misleading on several accounts. Although shields from other peoples, notably the Puebloans, were frequently painted with images intended to summon spiritual protection, the sources of the images, the process of decoration, and their significance all varied widely. Second, not all shields were spiritually empowered: some were strictly for defense.

Further, the stereotypical medicine shield of the Plains is a war shield, and although the data are sparse, there is reason to believe that shields served a variety of functions besides protection in war. War is also a public activity—often the first activity between Europeans and Native Americans, so it is not surprising that most European records refer only to Native American war shields. A modern folklorist made the following observation: [Nineteenth century ethnologists tended] to regard the war-like actions of the various communities as the outstanding psychological concern and interest for Europeans in an era that had hardly ceased its aggressive and militant oppression of Native American peoples.

The military aspects of Indian life were given an outstanding place in much ethnography. Ancient petroglyphs in hundreds of sites throughout the western United Stares are the earliest evidence modern observers possess of the use of shields in Native American pre-history. Anthropological studies document the existence of war shields in most of North America, although not in all cultural groups.

Algonquians of the Atlantic Coastal areas and tribes of the Iroquois League used wooden or bark shields. The Basin and Plateau peoples carried heavy rawhide discs into battle, sometimes painted with designs. Sturtevant Washington D. According to Wallis and Titiev, Hopi warriors made their own shields, often using protective designs identical to those found in kiva paintings and on kachinas.

The shields most familiar to modern America evolved in the Plains after Europeans arrived on the continent. The familiar nomads of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Plains culture were predominantly eastern groups pushed west by the pressure of land-hungry Europeans. Whatever shields the newcomers to the Plains had used before the horse, large shields were an encumbrance in mounted warfare. Plains horse shields were circular, made of thickened buffalo hide on a frame inches in diameter. Their small size made them easily 59Nancy J.

Parezo, Kelley A. Hays, and Barbara F. See Appendix C, Fig They proved to be reliable protection against arrows and spear thrusts, but considerably less effective against later European firearms. Plains cultures held in common the basic conception of a power underlying the universe and shared to some degree by all beings, some of whom were more powerful than others. Various spirit beings populated the world and generally had access to greater power than did merely physical beings. Spirit beings could be encountered in special dreams and visions and sometimes would extend their protection and power to human supplicants.

They could take the forms of almost any animal, celestial being, or force of nature. Vision quests typically provided the setting for such visions through isolation, fasting, and self-torture, although specially gifted persons might receive visions unsought. Young men, however, were under particular pressure to acquire a medicine of their own, since a man going into battle without one was at great risk. A truly significant vision gave a person a song, a power, and specific instructions for a power object or bundle.

Many groups allowed only spiritually gifted older men to paint shield designs; in some cases they were the only ones to dream designs as well. In other cases a warrior might dream and paint his shield himself. They can conduct power for the reverent if all rituals are observed and all conditions met. Unambiguous references to such shields are rare even among descriptions of western Native American groups. Ferberger and Frank G. See Appendix C, fig Clark, , , Catlin described the Mandans of the Mississippi Valley using shields to influence weather.

Each one. Catlin is probably describing a Mandan mindset that assumed a more generalized usefulness for the medicine power of a shield than just protection in battle.

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The Hopi and some of their Puebloan neighbors have tiny netted shields, sometimes associated with tiny bows and arrows, known as rain wheels or rain sieves, believed to encourage the gods to drop rain through them. A similar netted 73 Catlin, Letters, vol. Unfortunately, this author cites no sources for this unusual reference. Appleton and Co. Few examples remain of such shields, and little information about them.

They may, as is possible with weather shields, be medicine shields considered powerful outside the arena of warfare. The issue of dance shields as a separate category is again an ambiguous one. There is no more reason to suppose that these shields were specially intended for dancing than were the lances, guns, and clubs. Wright notes the continued existence of this dance among a number of the Pueblos. Plaited yucca is coiled and attached to a wooden rim, with ritual objects attached on the back. The Ghost Dance religion83 had swept through the western reservations although with few adherents among Southwest desert groups , and 76 Frank Hamilton Cushing, The Mythic World of the Zuni, ed.

These shields had Ute designs painted on them and were made of stretched cloth. One source describes shields whose specific purpose is guarding the home: The entire seven shields were reproduced by him from the dream. His implication seems to be the latter. Shields in myth. Southwestern mythology is rich in shield imagery. Because their mesa-top homes isolated them from much European influence, and their cultures enjoyed centuries of more or less continuous evolution, Zuni and Hopi myth structures are especially intact: both describe the sun as a shining golden shield carried by Sun Father, or Tawa.

See Appendix C, fig. Curtis, The North American Indian, vol. They could float swiftly in any direction, and make the Twins invisible when sitting beneath them. Today tiny copies of these netted shields can be found at many shrines connected with the War Gods. They ordained the Priesthood of the Bow among the Zuni to shield the people from harm and to command the powers of war. Their shields thenceforth were thickly woven rather than webbed. The ubiquitous Plains medicine shield was present in ritual as in many other areas. It was used as a divinatory tool for success in war.

It included 7 lightweight shields painted with faces and held up before the personators on wooden slats. This object, which the Twins derived from their grandmother, the Spider Woman in Hopi myth , is naturally employed, with or without the bows or darts, as a protective amulet. The hoop or ring stands as the feminine symbol, as opposed to the darts or arrows, which are masculine. The implements of the game together represent the shield and bow or darts of the War Gods.

It was credited at times with protecting a whole group from bullets and was thought powerful enough to hide the whole tribe from its enemies as if under a fog. Women routinely bore responsibility for the daily care and transport of shields, and for the strict avoidance of them during menstruation. This shield is called. Details concerning these women are scarce. Powell, Sweet Medicine, vol. The shield may also refer to a similar story of a Hopi maiden who fought as a warrior with her hair half-done when enemies attacked unexpectedly.

Walker, Lakota Belief and Ritual, ed. Raymond J. DeMallie and Elaine A. Jahner Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, , p. These were the first medicine shields among the Blackfoot. Army or gradually lost, stolen, sold, or buried with its owners. The urgent need for war shields was past. Reservation constraints limited the hunting a man could do, and the buffalo were gone. Alternate raw materials for shields were scarce. Ghost dance shields and later dance shields of cloth and deer hide were fairly common through the nineteenth century.

Shields then had a broader protective quality in a spiritual, not just a military, sense. A warrior made his shield according to tradition. Speck and Royal B. Clifford E. Trafzer Sacramento: Sierra Oaks Pub, , p. These are the shields most frequently found among powwow dancers. Wright comments, however, that with the renewed interest in Native American Art, much better quality shields are appearing. Both neo-shamanic and Native American writers have entered the marketplace readily, seizing this moment of popularity while it lasts. Native Americans attempting to share this heritage with the dominant society speak frequently of the pain they experience in conflicts over this issue.

Those selected for discussion here present traditions that focus specifically on shields. Amylee is the last of many generations of Iroquois women to follow the medicine path. Each mother in her lineage handed the traditions to her daughter, beginning in a time now lost to memory. According to Amylee, it was foretold that she would give this wisdom to many people, not to a daughter of her own. Some of these Medicine Wheels dance together to create shields. These are shields that some would call etheric shields; then there are physical shields.

Our corneas are shields, our skin is a shield. Sometimes shields are mirrors. For these women, the shields express an intention—stronger than a hope—for their future lives. They work individually throughout a year with materials sent from Amylee; then Amylee meets with the women by regions to build physical shields, using wood and hide. They are demanding, and they want attention. After a time of the woman taking care of the shield, the shield begins to take care of the woman. Protection in combat, success in the hunt, success in lovemaking and mate selection, protection from evil-doing, and success in visions and dreams were major petitions and were reflected in the symbols on the Sioux shields.

It can reflect the personal uniqueness of the individual who bears it, often beginning with his or her name. According to McGaa, there is no longer any right or wrong way to make a shield, since it is primarily a symbol of self. Brooke Medicine Eagle grew up on the Crow reservation and is on their tribal rolls, although she carries the bloodlines of many groups, including Crow, Nez Perce, Sioux, and European. Her traditional training began with the Cheyenne and has expanded over the years to include an eclectic mix of traditional peoples: I am a mixed blood, a metis.

This has been both a challenge and a gift. Spiritual elders have indicated to me that I will never have a traditional form—that mine will be a formless form that breaks through form into Spirit. She gives summer wilderness retreats in the Montana mountains, mainly for women, where she provides opportunities for guided personal and spiritual growth. During one summer camp each year she teaches shield-making, although shields are not a central focus for her work.

Women Ibid. Scott Momaday. Better known as a poet and novelist, Kiowa author N. They are flags. Personal flags. Like other masks, it bespeaks sacred mystery. You behold my shield, and you are transfixed or transformed, perhaps inspired beyond your imagining. Nothing will ever be the same again, for you have entered into the presence of my power.

The shield is involved in story. The shield is its own story.

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The story tells of your real being. And the shields are meditations that make a round of life. These shield stories are meant to be told aloud. Women figured significantly in these shield stories, as shield owners and shield dreamers, as well as spiritual beings who gave shield visions to men. Woodard, Ancestral Voice: Conversations with N. Jamie Sams, a metis from the Seneca-Choctaw people, is the author of two decks of Native American cards, as well as books on Native American spirituality. According to Sams, who cites a very broad range of Native American groups as her sources, both men and women made personal shields that spoke of their inner truth.

A vision experience described in her first book tells of her past life as a Plains Indian woman, taking part in a marriage ceremony in which personal shields played a significant role. Warriors made Sun Dance Shields to show commitment and goals. In moon lodges women made shields never shown to men. In times of uncertainty, a Medicine Shield is a source of comfort, a source of protection from fear, and a reminder of the serenity of centered knowingness and connection.

To balance the energy of uncertainty, the shield is meditated upon by its maker. In channeling, a human being experiences him- or herself as opening to a beneficent spiritual entity which may have existed physically in a past time on the Earth or may never have been physically embodied at all. The truth needs no explanation, just reflection. He has struggled all his life with perceived prejudice from full-bloods against mixed-bloods like himself. It came under fire from anthropologists at the time of its publication largely because the Cheyenne society it described—including shield traditions—differed radically from anthropological data.

Seven Arrows is a religious statement, not a statement about religion. The Brotherhood of the Shields, whose membership crossed tribal lines and whose path was peace—the Sun Dance Way—led the people by consent. The shields of the Brotherhood were statements of personal identity and dedication to peace. Peace Ibid. Moore, book review of Seven Arrows, American Anthropologist, 75 , Children also had shields.

These shields were never intended to give physical protection in battle. His shield material is accurate. SwiftDeer is part Cherokee, and holds a PhD in psychology, and an honorary divinity degree. Unlike other leaders discussed here, he does not publish his materials; they are reserved for the Tribe. Membership in his Tribe is long-term, time-consuming, and demanding. His group techniques include strong psychological and physical peer pressure, and sometimes ridicule. His material comes from many world religions, and from the Grandmothers who safeguard Cherokee tradition.

Shields can be a couple of different things. And teachings can be your shield against the world—in Christianity it Ibid.

Native American shields are popular items in souvenir shops across the western United States. Cards explaining the hoops as house-blessing shields hang with the price tags, claiming traditional and current authenticity. These claims may be reasonably accurate, at least in relation to their traditional basis. Scattered items exist in anthropological sources to suggest the existence of such shields, and contemporary neo-shamanic sources assume their existence. During my personal research, an informant showed me a beautifully crafted shield, 30 inches in diameter, woven from brightly dyed wool in a complex circular pattern, through webbing, much like a plaque in design.

In the center was a painted circle enclosing a tipi and other symbols.

Abbott on Perdue, 'Sifters: Native American Women's Lives'

A Navajo woman had made it for her as a holy gift to bless her home and protect her. Native Americans had shields for all kinds of things—blessings, good fortune, marriage, commemoration of significant people and events and so forth. It resembles a spider web woven on a hoop of twigs, and is almost identical to the small webbed hoops on Zuni and Hopi shrines for the Twin War Gods. Small dreamcatchers are sold as earrings, larger ones as mobiles and wall- hangings. Hobday describes their origin: Dreamcatchers started with a couple of desert tribes.

The idea for the dreamcatcher was given in a dream. You hang it in your bedroom, and it catches your good dreams and lets the bad ones go. What is important for this study is the conventional wisdom circulating in the neo-shamanic community, regardless of its historical accuracy. When the Indian people go to the springs to draw, the water is foul. It is hurtful to see whites take our sacred objects, our holy rituals, and our religious symbols and use them as their own. White people are playing at being Indians.

The traditions appeal to them because they are new and different, but they are still the same people, and they are not hiding from the eye of God. Indians believe bad things will result from the misuse of ceremony or ceremonies done in the wrong way. Their most common response was that it would depend on the person and the sincerity of her motives. The following women represent a sampling of neo-shamanic teachers, artists and counselors offering their art and services to others.

Because of the focus of this study, only women actively involved in shield-making are included. Some chose to remain anonymous and have been given alternate names. Lynn Andrews is the author of many popular neo- shamanic books. These books purport to describe her own experiences, beginning in , under the tutelage of two old medicine women among the Canadian Cree, Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs. She claims to speak with authority as a spokesperson for a secret international society of female shamans, the Sisterhood of the Shields.

As a result, Andrews has retreated from public view, refusing to discuss any of these issues. It is a power the world has forgotten. Men are interlopers. Woman is the flowering tree. You are the Don Johnson, Sioux university professor, conversation with author, San Francisco area powwow, June 15, Gordon Melton Detroit: Gale Research, , p. You must relearn this and build up your strength. There are shields with so much power they will bring victory in battle.

There are truth shields. They stand as a record of who you are in the world in all your aspects—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. They stand for your sacredness within. Each shield is a medicine wheel in itself as well as a position on the larger wheel. The ultimate source of these shield traditions is an interplanetary spiritual continuum of love and healing, focused somewhere among the Pleiades. She belongs to a local lodge of white women practicing Native Andrews, Medicine, p. Andrews, talk given at Joshua Tree, California, May 30, Her techniques are a unique blend of various sources of information and her own ideas.

DeVore has been making shields for about 10 years, ever since a visionary experience stimulated her desire to study them. She makes shields for herself, on commission for others, and directs shielding workshops. She is quite open about her desire to profit from her work; she raised workshop rates after I commented on their reasonableness. For the Native peoples a power and food animal is a god animal; a loss of any one of these animals is a great loss for us, a loss of a direct line to powers greater than ourselves.

Based on that training, she now teaches others the art of shield-making. She is eclectic in orientation and uses many shamanic techniques in her work. She focuses on Native American traditions, although she pursues any appealing shamanic forms. In her work Sarah offers sweats, vision quests, and shield-making as therapeutic experiences, in addition to more conventional therapy.

She sees shields as a focus of real power for a woman, as well as a statement of her identity. As an urban shaman, she does not feel constrained to use traditional materials for the shields, and feels that her fees are an appropriate energy exchange, since she makes her living from her work. She was taught by Evelyn Eaton and an old Native American woman, who gave her permission to share their teachings.

She is very careful not to violate Native American ethics by selling medicine. She only charges for her materials and expenditure; the rest is her giveaway. Rosemary will suggest shield-making for students in whom she perceives a need for protection and inner strength, but shields can be made for almost any reason. It can display your power or gather power in.

It can mark your path on the medicine wheel. She is not a licensed or academically trained therapist, but she uses many techniques of expressive therapy. She offers teaching, counseling, and therapy for adults and children, one-to-one, group, and family. She uses shield-making as a process of self discovery and growth, as a means of overcoming obstacles, sharpening insight, and clarifying relationships.

Clients can bring their own materials or choose from what she has available to make their shields. She usually suggests an embroidery hoop for the frame, and hides, fur, and feathers for at least some of the face. They are more interested in abstracting an essence, a life stance, and rituals meaningful to themselves from which to build their own spiritual practice. This concept of separating spirituality from the culture in which it lives is unique to the Western mindset, and those attempting such spiritual grafting leave themselves open to a variety of legitimate questions from their critics.

Many women are acutely conscious of this issue and make active efforts to validate their religious choice. The following discussion provides a very brief digest of Native American spirituality as the Euro- American women who practice it understand it. Above all else, these women experience Native American spirituality as reverence for the Earth and for all living creatures, claiming oneness with all life and equality with all living beings.

A myriad of ritual practices, rich in paraphernalia, integrate physical with spiritual in an intensely participatory fashion. Finally, this is a spiritual stance that takes responsibility for the rights and needs of others and for personal wrongdoing without creating excessive guilt and shame. Many women are on the defensive now about their participation in Native American spirituality because of criticism by Native Americans.

I do the best that I can, and I proceed in trust and innocence. That is my path of heart. The ethnic limitation was set in order to establish the rudiments of a homogeneous population. This limitation was probably unnecessary, since very few women of other ethnic backgrounds participated in the workshops: there were no African Americans, and only a few scattered participants from other groups—Asian, Near Eastern, and Latin and Native American. Thirty-five women were interviewed in the context of shield-making workshops, and five through other contacts. Of the 40 women interviewed, 29 were ages ; the other 11 were from 70 years old.

Nineteen were single and never married; six of these were quite open about their Lesbian orientation, and one had a child. Nine women were married, all with children. Three were widowed and nine divorced, most with children. All those interviewed were either working or retired. Fifteen women were raised Catholic and 25 Protestant. Of these 40 women, seven still thought of themselves as Christian, but only three ever attended church anymore, one of whom was on leave from a protestant pastorate.

Three women had been nuns. When doing interviews I worked from a prepared questionnaire. In many cases women mailed taped interviews back to me after doing them alone from the printed questionnaire. When circumstances did not permit taping, or the person was uncomfortable with the idea, I made a written record of the interview immediately after its completion, working for verbatim accuracy. The Lynn Andrews workshop was a particularly difficult environment for taping interviews, partly because of the highly structured time and constant crowds of people. There was also a defensive quality among some of the participants that discouraged openness, possibly because of the frequent criticisms Andrews had received in the press.

One unexpected factor that also limited interviews was the time and energy demanded by my participatory role in the workshops. Shield-making can be an intense inwardly-focused experience, often dealing with powerful psychic material that demands personal time and attention. Doing justice to the participatory role necessarily, and rightfully, placed limits on my role as observer. The following pages present a brief overview of the unique characteristics of the four shield-making workshops I attended.

The knowledge within the sisterhood. Look deeply within yourselves, deeply within your own hearts, your wombs, that part of you that has been most secret, and allow those secrets to be represented on your shields. Build your shields with power and carry them proudly into the world. They represent you and the essence of your spirit.

They tell others what you are made of. Be proud, for you are truly a warrior of spirit! The four days covered a three-day period from mid-afternoon on Thursday through late morning Sunday. Participants brought all their own materials except gesso, a few paints in primary colors, and glue guns. Shields were constructed of canvas stretched over embroidery hoops, secured with dental floss or artificial sinew, and decorated with acrylic paint and attached objects.

There was virtually no provision for personal contact with workshop personnel. Andrews appeared at scheduled times only, with musical fanfare and drums, and was greeted with shrieks and cheers as if she were a performing rock star. She sat spotlighted on a dais, in a large chair draped with Native American weavings and surrounded by shields, where she read prepared prayers and guided fantasies to a background of New Age music. She never mixed with workshop participants, even at mealtime.

Other workshop staff were preoccupied with the frenzied pace and the mechanics of the workshop. Photographing sessions with Andrews was not permitted. These guided fantasies were taken at least partly from her books and covered the topics advertised, including child abuse, parental relationships, relationships with Spirit, spirit lovers, and power animals. Each participant also visualized at least six shield designs: one principal self shield, given by White Star Woman from the Pleiades, and five smaller designs, or abuse shields, for the rear of the shield.

You see that actually it is no star at all, but it is White Star Woman. You see that she is carrying something. You realize that this is a self shield that you are seeing. From the center of your own being bring up a symbol of the essence of who you are. Take the shield that White Star Woman is presenting to you and place the symbol on the center of the shield. Look into the eyes of White Star Woman. What you are really seeing is your own power in its resplendent state of perfection.

Place symbols of this self onto your star shield. You are like the sun, extending your light out into the universe, and it is endless. Recorded music for opening processionals ranged from Gregorian chants to New Age harmonics. Each woman was instructed to dedicate her shield by presenting it to the world altar—a collection of prayer sticks brought by participants—and praying to the fire.

Frenzied, self-absorbed dancing followed the dedication of the shields Saturday night. The evening concluded with participants silently reading spirit messages in the smoke of the bonfire late into the night. Andrews sat enthroned behind the fire throughout most of these ceremonies, accompanied by a man dressed all in green and wearing a feathered mask, while a private security force moved through the shadows guarding the revels.

Now you are going to dance your shields awake, and you are going to empower them with life force and with the sun through the power of the sacred fire, and they are going to be blessed by the world altar. No staff assistance ever arrived. I asked several people what they thought about the incredible ease and speed with which we were expected to find our power animals and visions when compared to the years of searching, and even agony, often experienced by traditional Native Americans.

The most common reply was that we know better ways than the Indians did—we are urban shamans and more efficient. She has learned some things that are helpful to others. She routinely scheduled workshops when she gathered three to five people interested in making shields. Her fee included her time and the use of her medicine room, but all materials were extra, and were purchased from her. She opened each afternoon with a nine-directions meditation, a variation she had developed on the more 6 Lynn Andrews, preparatory remarks for the final shield dance, Joshua Tree, California, June 1, Both days she performed a smudging ceremony for the group and chanted with chants of her own making.

DeVore was a unique individual with much pain and tragedy in her past. Most of her conversation during the two days concerned her life and experiences. She mixed various religious traditions together with her own ideas, including elements from Hinduism, Wicca, and Goddess spirituality as well as Native American traditions. She offered no teaching to introduce the shield-making, no meditations to help visualize the finished shield, and no guidance as to possible designs. She told participants to look around her medicine room, choose materials, and begin.

She gave help only in the actual construction of shields. I was the only person to choose rawhide as a medium, and she was unprepared for this. Judging from the many problems we encountered in the making of my shield, I would guess that she had never made a traditional rawhide shield before. When the shields were completed late in the second afternoon, DeVore had a smudging ceremony in which we each spoke about the shield we had made, and she offered her own interpretations of our work.

Her comments were an odd mixture of keen insight and totally irrelevant remarks. The other women in the workshop, none of whom had any prior experience with shields, seemed content with their work. Twenty-seven women came from the United States, Canada, and Europe to take part. The women slept in tents they brought themselves, pitched in a tent meadow. A bunkhouse provided lounge areas, bathroom facilities, and indoor and outdoor dining space. The food was vegetarian and delicious.

The tipi meadow contained five large tipis, three for hoop meetings,7 one for staff, and one set apart as a moon lodge. The term has its origin in the medicine wheel as a symbol of wholeness. The camp provided materials for all activities and projects. In addition to a cooking and housekeeping staff, one woman functioned as a troubleshooter for camp details, and three women worked as counselors, each assigned as hoop leader to nine of the participants. Brooke Medicine Eagle led all but the individual hoop sessions and entertainment. She spent her days with the group as one of them, and was always available for conversation or counseling.

Each day began at AM, with Medicine Eagle or one of the counselors drumming and singing an old Cree morning song through the tent meadow to wake the campers. The group met for morning exercise and meditation in the yurt at 8, followed by breakfast at the bunkhouse. Various schedules filled the days, with meals served either at the bunkhouse or out on the mountainsides or meadows.

The camp process was designed to lead up to a climax in the three-day vision quest during the second week: The vision quest is an opportunity to have very few excuses not to be present. It is a chance to be responsive to every moment, whatever is there. Prayer seems to have gotten a bad name. It has become merely an external requirement, but prayer is attending to spirit—to spirit within and spirit without. Crying aloud to spirit for a vision—putting out your prayer to the universe—is a powerful tool.

It requires the relinquishing of control, a lying down and a giving in to the Mother. It is emptying, the cleansing of everything unwanted and inappropriate. It is the re-creation of the womb: you are emptied, cleansed, and born anew. Periods of solitary prayer and meditation were encouraged, and group ceremonies and lectures alternated with hoop meetings and personal sharing. Participants constructed shields in the middle of the first week, using hoops of bent willow and raw deer hide.

Once completed, the shields were filled with sand to weight them down and keep them flat and left to dry until after the vision quest. The shields were small, no more than inches in diameter—heart shields to be worn around the neck and cover the heart, to bring remembrance of the power and wholeness experienced in the vision quest. These action contracts were pledges of specific actions designed to help heal power leaks and to help women move out into their everyday lives with a firm sense of their own wholeness and power.

This is one of the ways shields teach. Then all danced together in a side-stepping circle dance in a ritual of shield dedication. Her rituals and shields address family trauma, grief, personal honesty, healing of relationships, sexual pain, and caring for the Earth, all interwoven with lessons and experiences of feminine empowerment through the ancient wisdom of the Grandmothers. Participants do the rituals alone, although in concert with all the other women in the Dance, generally at the new and full moon, equinox and solstice.

They meet with Amylee only once during the year, in small groups, for the birthing of their physical shields, a process that takes place over a hour period of fasting and ceremony. Each shield birthing is concluded with a feast furnished with foods brought by participants. The large shield is anticipated and then physically created throughout the whole 12 months, coming to physical completion at the winter solstice.

It is created around a central intention each woman expresses for herself in private. Many smaller shields are born out of the individual rituals during the year as well. Significance of shields; 4. Changes needed in the Church. But in most cases, the responses were personally variable.

Departure from the Church Every woman interviewed, regardless of her personal reasons for leaving the Church, professed respect for Jesus and his teachings. When I was devastated by the Church, I was devastated by God.

The Search for Murdered and Missing American Indian Women

The Church completely misunderstood what Jesus was trying to say, what he thought of women, of the nature of the Church. He was trying to bring freedom from legalism, and recognition of the spirit within, and the equality of all persons before God—the freedom of all persons in relation to God. Many women cited experiences of personal pain as a central cause of their alienation. Five described painful or abusive situations in which their churches played an active role.

About the author

Thirteen women had experienced childhood sexual abuse within the context of devout Christian families, without any sense of recourse in their churches; three of these women were among the five suffering abuse directly related to the Church. Two women described sexual harassment by pastors. My father was a big man, tall and heavy, and he had a loud booming voice.

I thought my father was God when I was a little girl. I was 7. It was not long after my first communion. Confession was on Saturday. My older brother and I were playing, and we lost track of time. I had this deep sense of relief that we had made it in time. Then I heard something. I heard him before I saw him. The old Italian monsignor was running down the center aisle of the church, screaming at me. Florida Historical Quarterly Perdue has done an excellent job in bringing together contributors from history, anthropology, English, American studies, and women's studies.

Florida Historical Quarterly This ambitious volume provides a good introduction to the varying roles played by American Indian women from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Du kanske gillar. Nations Remembered Theda Perdue Inbunden. Permanent Record Edward Snowden Inbunden. Spara som favorit. Skickas inom vardagar. Laddas ned direkt. In the last few years, popular and scholarly interest in Native women has soared.

Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture) Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)
Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)

Related Sifters: Native American Womens Lives (Viewpoints on American Culture)



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