Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ledger Art Drawings Pins Earrings Necklace

History: During the 19th century, Indians of the Apache, Cheyenne, Sioux (Lakota), Kiowa and other tribes of the Great Plains were deprived of all traditional and cultural ways of life. Being very adaptable our ancestors created art in the traditional record keeping method what is called today pictographs. These pictographs were historic, symbolic and visionary records of events that occurred. The available materials for this were discarded ledger books. Ledger art or ledger drawings are highly recognized and represented in most major art museums around the world today.

Symbolism: Some of the Ledger Art drawings are records of important visions and dreams, often depicting spirits or mystical beings. Some are records of important battles. Some are records of unusual heroic and significant events. (The one I love the most is of a woman who kills two enemies simultaneously.) Our history and spiritual power is recorded in these Ledger Drawings. They are of utmost importance to all of us, Indian or non-Indian. “Lest we forget”. It is for this reason that I was inspired to create these earrings, necklaces and pins. Bless us all for our new found compassion, forgiveness and bravery in a new world.

Artist: Paula Bidwell of Native Talisman Art is an American Indian artist, jeweler and author. She is also considered an Indigenous Healer and spent many years on the reservation learning traditional healing and ceremony. She combines being an artist and indigenous healer into her art. Paula believes strongly that we are all related and there is very little separation between us. Her art resonates with all cultures and peoples.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Irish Celtic Knot Earrings with Native American Dangle Eagle Feather

Inspiration: The artist Paula Bidwell is Native American and married to an Irishman from Dublin, Ireland. In their many years together they discovered their cultures and traditions are very similar. Paula feels it is important to be able to create jewelry which is significant in it’s meaning whether Irish or Native American and to bring to the future the ancient customs and cultures of both of their people.


The Irish Celtic Knot never breaks or ends, because of this it is a symbol of the eternal. It also tells us that time has no meaning. For instance, our ancestors and their knowledge is as alive as it ever was, there was no ending to it. Wearing these earrings is a strong reminder that we have lost nothing. Our history, knowledge and culture and spirituality are completely alive. The Irish Celtic knot is also a warning to expect complexity in life and relationships, to never forget the interconnectedness of all people, places and things. As the knot weaves, so do we.

The Native American Eagle Feather will take our prayers, wishes and desires directly to the Creator. Many of us have watched the eagle as it soars upward in the sky only to see it go so high it literally disappears from sight. This is why the eagle is considered to be in direct communication with the Creator. The feather is considered a great gift from the Eagle who listens intently to our words and even our silent thoughts. The Eagle also closely watches all of our actions.

Combining the Irish Celtic Knot and the Native American Eagle Feather are the perfect symbols of life on earth and how to live it. Both cultures benefit and enhance each other in ways nothing else can. Bless both of our cultures and the ancestors that gave us this knowledge and wisdom.

Artist: Paula Bidwell of Native Talisman Art is an American Indian artist, jeweler and author. She is also considered an Indigenous Healer and spent many years on the reservation learning traditional healing and ceremony. She combines being an artist and indigenous healer into her art. Paula believes strongly that we are all related and there is very little separation between us. Her art resonates with all cultures and peoples.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blue Tipi Tepee Native American symbols

Blue Native American Bead Design Earrings with Six Dangle Eagle Feathers

Description: The bead design rectangle is .75 inches wide by 1 inch long. The six dangle eagle feathers are .25 inches wide by 1 inch long. The entire earring with eagle feathers measures .75 inches wide by 2.5 inches long. Made of hardened acrylic and hand cut. The ear wires are surgical steel. These earrings are extremely light weight and can be worn even through the night.


The beadwork pattern on these earrings represents the home, the family or the clan. There are four tipis (teepees) facing above and below. This represents the past, present and future. It also states that we carry the memories of our ancestors and we are protected and guide by them.

The Eagle Feather will take our prayers, wishes and desires directly to the Creator. The feather is considered a great gift from the Eagle who listens intently to our words and even our silent thoughts. The Eagle also closely watches all of our actions.


I’m 57 years old and when I began beading many of the old ways were still in effect. I wasn’t allowed to just jump in and start beading. I had to hear the stories about beads and their history. How our patterns and designs came into being and how they changed throughout time. How to earn the rights to various designs and how to dream new ones. Throughout this education some of my favorite patterns were the tipis because they represented family life. I believe these patterns are important to everyone so I created this set of jewelry. I hope you wear the pieces in good health and well-being. Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related)

Artist: Paula Bidwell of Native Talisman Art is an American Indian artist, jeweler and author. She is also considered an Indigenous Healer and spent many years on the reservation learning traditional healing and ceremony. She combines being an artist and indigenous healer into her art. Paula believes strongly that we are all related and there is very little separation between us. Her art resonates with all cultures and peoples.

Available for $17.95 plus $3.00 shipping at:

Native Talisman Art

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Raven Crow Irish Celtic Gaelic Jewelry

Description: 1.25 inch diameter Raven with 1.25 inch long dangling black Raven feather. Made of hand cut hardened acrylic. Surgical steel ear wires. Very light weight.

Inspiration: The artist Paula Bidwell is Native American and married to an Irishman from Dublin, Ireland. In their many years together they discovered their cultures and traditions are very similar. Paula feels it is important to be able to create jewelry which is significant in it’s meaning whether Irish or Native American and to bring to the future the ancient customs and cultures of both of their people.

Symbolism: Raven is very important in Irish, Celtic and Gaelic cultures and spiritual practices. In general, Raven is known as an oracle, protector, and guide in both this world and the next. The two circular whirlwinds on Raven’s body and wing make Raven an even more powerful protector. One whirlwind spins counterclockwise which causes confusion to negative influences. The other spins clockwise and sweeps away all unwanted negative influences. The Raven feather dangling below is a gift from Raven representing this world and the next and reminding us to fear nothing in either world.

Artist: Paula Bidwell of Native Talisman Art is an American Indian artist, jeweler and author. She is also considered an Indigenous Healer and spent many years on the reservation learning traditional healing and ceremony. She combines being an artist and indigenous healer into her art. Paula believes strongly that we are all related and there is very little separation between us. Her art resonates with all cultures and peoples.

Under $20 available at:

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Native American Symbols - Turtle

Symbolism: Turtle Island is another term for the North American continent. I remember hearing the story when I was a little girl. I’ll tell it as best as I can remember.

A long time ago there was a tremendous flood. The survivors were the creatures that could swim and fly. Immediately after the flood, the turtle, dove to the bottom and brought up a clod of earth and placed it on it’s back. Soon the other animals and birds followed the turtle and dove and dove into the water bringing up more and more earth placing it on Turtles back. Suddenly winds from all four directions gusted and gailed and the turtle became large and larger and the clods of earth grew larger and larger eventually making a new earth on the turtles back. Everything re-populated and we have the turtle to thank for saving the North american continent.

Symbolism: The Eagle Feathers take our prayers, wishes and desires directly to the Creator. The feather is considered a great gift from the Eagle who listens intently to our words and even our silent thoughts. The Eagle also closely watches all of our actions.

Inspiration: The turtle shield earrings have a green circle showing the earth and the red and green triangles showing the healing medicines from above and below. Head and tail pointing north and south show us we will never be lost. The Eagle feathers remind us that if we ask we will receive. The Eagle Feathers in these earrings are my design with the black tip in the shape of a Water Bird. The Water Bird dives into the water and brings up medicine from the bottom of lakes depositing them on the shore for us to use. Much like the Turtle, the Water Bird has an affiliation with land and water. These earrings are deeply symbolic and remind us that we have available everything necessary for a successful life in this world.

Teachings: Some turtles are engraved with thirteen segments on their shells. These represent the thirteen moons in a lunar year and the thirteen cycles in a woman’s body. In each of these moon segments there are teachings. I cannot tell all the teachings, but in general there are lessons of patience in the slow movement of the turtle, perseverance in the Turtle’s untiring completion of every journey, awareness of surroundings, knowledge that we have everything we need represented by Turtle’s home on it’s back and adaptability represented by the fact that Turtle can live on earth or in the water.

Artist: Paula Bidwell of Native Talisman Art is an American Indian artist, jeweler and author. She is also considered an Indigenous Healer and spent many years on the reservation learning traditional healing and ceremony. She combines being an artist and indigenous healer into her art. Paula believes strongly that we are all related and there is very little separation between us. Her art resonates with all cultures and peoples.

These earrings are available for $18.95 plus $3.00 shipping at:

Native Talisman Art

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baha'i Candlelight Vigil Photos

Bahai Candlelight Vigil on Santa Fe Plaza

Photo(s) (c)Paul Slaughter 2009

People 2, Baha'i Candlelight Vigil on Santa Fe Plaza August 7, 2009

Father and Daughter, Baha'i Candlelight Vigil on Santa Fe Plaza August 7, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bahai Candlelight Vigil

On Friday, August 7th, from 7:30 to 9:15 PM, the Baha’i Community of Santa Fe will present a devotional and musical program and candlelight vigil on the Santa Fe Plaza in support of the Baha’i’s imprisoned in Iran and facing imminent death, and to promote freedom of all religions and worldwide human rights. The Honorable Mayor David Coss of Santa Fe and a representative of the Baha’i community of Santa Fe will address the gathering.

For more information and interesting details: Click on left sidebar "Bahai Candlelight Vigil"

On May 14, 2008 Iranian government officials arrested six well-known Baha’i’s and took them to the notorious Evin prison, in Tehran. A seventh Baha’i was arrested on March 5, 2008. Now, one year later “The Yaran 7” (The 7 Friends)”, as they have become known, are scheduled for a staged trial that will determine their fate. The last time a similar event occurred, in 1980 after the Iranian Revolution, all nine Baha’i’s taken into custody were executed. No charges have been filed. Their only crime is being a Baha'i.

Not even Nobel Peace Laureate and attorney, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, who volunteered to represent the Baha’i’s, has been permitted to meet with and interview the prisoners.

Arrested were: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, and Mrs. Mahvash Sabet. All live in Tehran.

Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, guarantees "the right of thought, conscience and religion," as well as the right to change religion and "to manifest ... religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

However, in Iran, active repression of the Baha’i community is official government policy. This policy was outlined in a secret memorandum that was uncovered and published by the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1993. Written by the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council in 1991 and signed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, this document provides a blueprint for the suppression of the Iranian Baha’i community. It contains specific guidelines for dealing with the Baha’is so that “their progress and development are blocked.”

Some 300,000 Baha’is live throughout Iran, making the Baha’i Faith the country’s largest minority religion. Baha’is have been targets of discrimination and violence in Iran since the religion began there in the mid-nineteenth century. More than 200 Baha’is were killed in Iran between 1978 and 1998, the majority by execution, and thousands more were imprisoned, suffering torture. Today the Iranian government regards Baha’is as apostates and “unprotected infidels.” Baha’is in Iran have no legal rights, and they are not permitted to elect leaders of their community. The Baha’i Faith has no clergy, and community affairs are coordinated by democratically elected governing councils called Spiritual Assemblies.

About the Baha'i Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.

The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.

One of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this possible. A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect. Their experience will be a source of encouragement to all who share their vision of humanity as one global family and the earth as one homeland.

For further information about the plight of the Iranian Baha’i community, please visit the web site:

For further information about the Baha’i Faith and the global community of Baha’is, please visit the website:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Talisman Art at Cafe Press

My new stuff! T-shirts, etc.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Native American Thunder Bird Woman

As a young adult living in the Black Hills of South Dakota I remember feeling like I was living in an enchanted land where everything was in harmony with the ancient beings (Tunkasilas). I felt mystery, power and an overwhelming sense of the sacred during most of my days. Even though this was a magical and sacred time, it was also a time of growth and change, which brought about some difficult experiences and profound dreams and visions that would shape the rest of my life.

In retrospect, I believe the most important change occurred regarding the way I viewed the world. From early childhood, I seemed always to be in a position of the adversary. Pitting “us” against “them”. Culture against culture, race against race, poverty against wealth, etc, etc. This was an adversarial way of living that had to stop, because I was also learning traditional healing methods and ceremonies and there is no room for oppositional or separatist thoughts when living the true life of a human being or walking the “red road”(Canku Luta).

One of the first things that helped me overcome such feelings was the fact that my elder uncle began to open his Sweat Lodge (Inipi) ceremonies to all races and cultures. At the time, the early 1980’s, this concept was almost unthinkable and often severely criticized. I had been given the rights to conduct women’s Inipi (Sweat) ceremonies; and this uncle would ask me to conduct them for the women who regularly attending his ceremonies. Because a lot of the attendees were from different cultures and races, I was very uncomfortable. But because of the deep respect I held for my uncle I conducted the ceremonies without question or complaint.

After almost a year, I became so uncomfortable I had to ask him why he was doing this. He told me he had a vision during Sun Dance. He said the Tunkasilas (ancient beings) told him to help all people regardless of race or culture. They told him this was his contribution to mending the “Sacred Hoop”.

The mending of the sacred hoop is a very lengthy discussion. But, in general, it means bringing the people back together as one circle of humanity. It was Arvol Looking Horse, the Keeper of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe (Canunpa) who told me the Sacred Hoop was made up of all races and that we had to bring the people back together or humanity as we know it would not survive.

So, here were two very influential people in my life saying the same thing. I knew somehow I had to begin to heal my world view. It took years to even get close to a feeling of peace. I prayed and fasted and prayed and fasted. Over and over I tried and tried, slowly making small successful steps.

During this time of change, I made my living as an artist. When I had important dreams and visions, I usually illustrated them. Many of these visions were the ancient beings and holy ones telling me of methods for healing or explaining how these methods worked. But, several were directly related to my process of healing an “Us and Them” world.

When I had these dreams, I usually would wake up around 3:00 o’clock in the morning. It would still be dark, so rather than fumble around searching for pen and paper, I began to leave these things out on a table ready for use.

Each time this happened, I found myself using a technique called pointillism. Pointillism takes a long and focused amount of time to execute. The technique involves making thousands of tiny dots that connect to each other to make a detailed image.

As I used this technique, I would become so immersed in the memory of the vision that I often lost track of time. But one thing I never did was loose track of my perspective. I knew if I remained looking only at the tiny dots, I would loose the image as a whole. Keeping your perspective takes repeated movements of holding the drawing at a distance, or keeping it close and squinting your eyes so you can view the image as a whole.

The following is the story of one of those dreams, the dream of Thunder Woman.

Thunder Woman came to me in the beginnings of a terrific thunderstorm. I awoke to the sound of thunder and the distinct smell of ozone in the air. I got up to look out the window. As I was gazing out the window I began to see a figure in the distance. As I focused on the figure, the figure came closer and closer. Soon I could see every detail.

I must have been in some sort of dream state, because none of this seemed odd or unusual. I was standing beneath a small hill looking up at the most powerful female being I had ever encountered. She stood on top of the hill, with her skirts flowing into the earth. As she gazed out over the land, she spread her arms, and a fabulous array of lightning emanated from them. Then she brought her hands together in a clap and the thunder boomed across the land. A voice boomed from the figure saying, “Understand this power. Use it in honor of all races of women who face upward without fear.” As soon as she said this, she disappeared.

I felt a little confused and wondered exactly what did she mean? I didn’t know what else to do other than go to my studio and draw her image. As I was making all those tiny little dots, I began to think of the connection I felt with women, how similar we were even with different cultures and especially how us mothers could understand each other even with different languages. This was a very important step in my struggle to experience the connectedness of all people and to participate in the healing of the Sacred Hoop. For me, it had to begin with a female connection and Thunder Woman gave me that.

While drawing her image, I remembered some of the stories my elders had told me. I was taught that the ancient beings often referred to as “Thunder Birds”, are more than birds. The bird actually represents the male “Thunders”. My elders told me Thunder Beings are both male and female. The male lives in the sky and the female in the earth. When they meet they create lightening and the sound of thunder. They are called Wakinyan in the Lakota language.

As a note of interest, just after I had this vision I mysteriously received a complimentary copy of Time magazine in my mailbox. The magazine featured an article on Lightning. The article said that lightning, and the ensuing sound of thunder, were caused by two forces. One emitted from the earth that rises to meet a second force coming down from the sky. Which in turn creates the lightning bolt and the sound of thunder.

Whenever confirmations of visions and dreams happen like this, I am always amazed at the knowledge my ancestors carried. I have learned to love science because it so often proves beliefs that were previously considered superstitious.

Mitakuye Oysin (We are all related)
Paula Bidwell
Native Talisman Art

Monday, April 6, 2009

Songs for Ceremony

The songs I use, I have been given specific rights to, or they have come to me through the Tunkasilas (Ancient Beings). Although, there are many ways other than mine to get songs. Most important is the heart’s intent. The song can be toning or chanting or just making a series of sounds while your heart is set on it’s intent. I’ve seen some people howl like a wolf or coyote. Growl like a bear. Make a series of tones and sounds. Chant. This all works. Every culture has or had a way of sacred singing. In my youth, I often criticized those who did things different than me and each time, I ended up humiliated. There was always a very good reason for a person’s behavior. Especially, in a sacred context. My Grandmother often said: “Don’t criticize or judge, maybe the Creator is making them do what they do.”

When we sing we connect the heart and mind. This is called “sending a voice”. The metaphysical concept of “sending a voice” is actually based in science. Scientists say that when a sound is made it lasts forever and goes into the universe ringing to infinity. Well, my ancestors knew this a long time ago. That’s why we have so many songs and they are always a part of every ceremony, gathering or event.

There are many types of ceremony songs. The most common are:

“Calling songs” which call or invoke the helpers or spirits or Ancient Beings (Tunkasilas).

“Four winds, powers, or direction songs” which acknowledge the powers symbolized by the wind and/or the four directions.

“Healing songs” these songs are often used during Sun Dance or Doctoring ceremonies. It is said, “They are sung so the people may live.” There are more healing songs than I can count. These songs typically have a fast tempo and a hard drumbeat. In fact most ceremony songs have a quick or fast tempo and hard drum beat to quicken the heart and make us feel alive and well.

“Thanking songs” are sung to thank the spirits, helpers, or ancient beings who came to the ceremony and helped us.

Gathering these basic types of songs will give you a good foundation for ceremony.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prosperity and Abundance Money Jewelry Based on Spiritual Principles and Native American Vision

The idea for these pieces of jewelry came to me in a vision during a Native American healing ceremony. I was thinking and praying that the poverty concepts I’ve held onto for so long would be eliminated from my life. I prayed to bring in the qualities of abundance and prosperity. At the end of my prayer, I sat in peace and stillness for a few moments. I had my eyes closed. When I opened them, I saw the Prosperity pendant in the center of the ceremony altar. I heard a voice tell me to make these pieces of jewelry and to wear them. Then make more to share with everyone.

At first, I wasn't convinced that jewelry would help me change my attitudes toward money. But because it came through a vision during ceremony, I figured there was a fairly good chance for success. (I am such a doubter!!!)

Anyway, since the pendant is lightweight and comfortable, I wore it to sleep one night. My dreams were a little more interesting than usual. So, I decided to do it for several nights. After awhile I noticed my general fears about money and finances had definitely lessened. My thinking was more about abundance, prosperity and a healthy and generous life.
One day I went grocery shopping, my list was really long, and I wondered whether I had enough money to make all the purchases. I wasn't stressed over this as I usually would be. Interestingly, at the end of checkout, my cost was way less than I had anticipated. I thought I knew pretty much the cost of everything and was aware that prices were rising, yet my total was unbelievably small. Coincidence? Delusion? Who knows?

I'm still wearing the dollar bill necklace as a constant reminder that I have plenty of money. It is also a reminder to my conscious and subconscious mind that there is money on me and around me! I love these pendant necklaces and find I feel very empowered, as if anything is possible, when I wear them. Am thinking my next step might be to make on with a twenty dollar bill in it and then make one with a hundred dollar bill! O.K., so I'm not really ready for the hundred dollar bill, but it's a great idea to move toward.

My most sincere wishes and blessings to all, Paula

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reading the Coals Native American Indication of the Future

Traditionally “Reading the Coals” is something the elder men do. But in these times when everyone is scattered and life seems so chaotic and unsure, I believe it’s wise to do this whenever we can and not wait for the tradition.

In general, reading coals can be done in a fireplace, charcoal barbeque, hibachi, or anywhere you can make fire. My family typically reads the coals once a year after “First Thunder”, which is early spring.

Reading the Coals is a ceremony anyone can do. It does not require special abilities, knowledge or complex environments. This is what I call a “lesser ceremony”. Although, lesser doesn’t mean less powerful. The major ceremonies are ones I classify as taking a day or more to conduct, a complex environment such as a special structure like a sweat lodge and involve many people, such as ceremony leaders, singers, fire keepers, door keepers and others to perform the necessary tasks. The lesser ceremonies involve very few people and take a few hours to conduct in a common environment.

Since I left the Reservation, it has been interesting to involve people who have no background in Native American culture or traditions. I still forget that not everyone grew up with American Indian concepts. Often I have left things out, because I assumed others had knowledge of something that they did not. So, today I try to write about the ceremony beforehand, which leaves me free during ceremony to do what is common for me and still allows everyone to be involved in something new.

First laughter and being relaxed are always good things. I used to get very intense and stressed before ceremony and my teachers would tell me, “Don’t start the ceremony before the ceremony”. In other words there's a time for intensity and pre-ceremony isn't it. Those that choose to sit by the fire or tend the fire, stay in a casual state of prayer. Talking and laughing are perfectly fine, as long as the main focus is the sacred fire. What it's showing us, what's changing, such as the direction of the flames, or any oddities that might occur with the fire. As we do this, our hearts and minds open up to the essence of fire and the spirits that come to it. It's also fine to go inside and not sit by the fire. There really are no rules. Our experience should flow with the energies surrounding it.

Also, before the coals are ready, you can put prayers into the fire with objects such as tobacco ties, a pinch or handful of tobacco, written petitions, prayer flags, and offerings of any sort. I think in Judaism they offer bread to the fire. Whatever comes to you is fine. You cannot hinder or weaken the power that belongs to Fire.

So, the fire has died down and the coals are glowing. We start with a formal invocation, such as a song or prayer or statement of intent. Then everyone becomes quiet, so as not to interrupt anyone who is getting a message or viewing images in the coals. We say out loud what we see, even if we don't understand the image. The image will be significant for someone in the ceremony, even if the reader doesn't understand it. We keep in mind that reading the coals is a tribal family ceremony. The images are meant for us and are generally not about the outside world as a whole. This is a very intimate ceremony and was used originally for the survival of the family. What will the weather be, where will the buffalo be, what obstacles can we avoid. Today, we are an extended family with few of us genetically related, but we still need to know what's coming, how we can make our lives better and avoid any obstacles that are not conducive to our life experience. Although, messages from the fire are not always about future events, they can be about what is necessary now.

It's really important everyone understand that we can all do this. Reading the coals isn't for just for seers or specially gifted people. This is a family ceremony and the key is not to censor anything you see. Trust it and say it, even if it seems crazy or silly. It will be significant for someone.

We are all related,
Paula Bidwell

Read more articles and stories by Paula on her website

Friday, March 20, 2009

Native American Cooking and Recipes Part I - Pemmican

Native American cooking and recipes cover a broad spectrum. From the east, south, west and northern regions each with their own indigenous food sources. This article covers the Western Plains Indians, specifically Lakota (Sioux).

Many techniques and methods of cooking are not used today except on rare occasions when a ceremony would require it. In ceremony, the food is cooked outdoors over hot coals or buried in the ground over hot coals. Originally, cooking vessels were rawhide containers. Heated stones were added to the mixture to heat. Most meat and produce were dried. So this method worked well since the ingredients were dried there wasn’t any “cooking” per se, just a heating of ingredients.

Most foods were eaten raw or dried, since the process of building a fire is time consuming and uses a lot of wood. The dried foods were not dull or lacking in flavor. They were mixed with other ingredients. An example of this is what many people know as “Pemmican”. In Lakota it is called “Wasna” (Was-nah).
Wasna is also a traditional food for sacred ceremony. When prepared for ceremony there are specific methods and actions required. I will write another article on Cooking for Ceremony at a later date.

The following is the traditional recipe for making this wonderful and tasty food called “Wasna”.

Dried meat without any seasonings, not even salt.
Canpa (choke cherry patties) or raisins
Kidney fat or lard

Put dried meat in a pillowcase and pound with a hammer until very fine. Put the
pounded meat into a bowl and mix in the choke cherries or raisins and sugar.

Heat the kidney fat , suet or lard until melted. Cool until you can handle it with your hands and
not burn yourself. Pour enough fat or lard into the meat mixture to slightly moisten and
mix well. You want this mixture to stick together only a bit for ease of eating. Eating is done with a spoon or pinched into the hand.

For a complete Native American cookbook please see my website at:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Native American Bird Medicines

There are so many bird medicines. They are complex and tricky to describe. I have hesitated to write about them. Then the idea came that it would be better to start by sharing a few and then adding other stories later. The one’s I know are from personal experience and training.

Water Birds
These are the birds that dive to the bottom of lakes and rivers and deposit on the shore the medicines we need for healing. Water birds are one of the important and significant medicines of the Native American Church or Peyote Way.

Song birds
These are the birds that give us songs and enhance our voices with power to heal and strengthen the people. Some of these birds are the Blue bird, the Eagle and Finches.

The eagle has many uses in traditional Native American life. When it comes to singing they bring songs to the singers. That is why northern singers such as the Lakota sing at a very high pitch. They are imitating the sound of the eagle.

Warrior Birds
These birds are generally birds of prey such as eagle, owl, and hawk. Eagle takes our prayers and thoughts up to the higher realms where the "helper" spirits live and also is great protection. Hawks deal more with the earthly realms in areas such as food and shelter. Owls are not just messengers, they have healing ability in their talons, and they guard us.

There are individual types of birds that give us medicine. Their medicines usually come through the usage of their feathers, rather than their songs or behaviors.

Flicker – Flicker feathers from the tail, because of their sharp point at the tip, are used in doctoring to open the area on the body that needs something removed. Such as a blood clot, tumor, or a foreign object. I use the term “foreign object” rather than what Indian people know as “Bad Medicine”. Bad Medicine is when a person “shoots” something into another’s body or sends a spirit or other type of entity to make the target victim ill, to make them die, or to cripple them. Unfortunately, this is quite common.

Flicker feathers are also known as “Love Medicine” which supposedly brings a lover into someone’s life or finds a “soul mate”. This type of medicine is considered lower level of usage of a powerful medicine. I often call this type of use, “manipulative magic”. Because of my lineage and training I am forbidden to use this sort of medicine. I can never change, alter or influence a person’s life without their permission and the permission of the “Tunkasilas” ancient spirits. Manipulative magic doesn’t ask, it invades and is very harmful.

Raven - Raven is a “trickster”. Raven appears in a variety of forms making us think they are another type of bird. Their voice can make us think they are human. They often appear to be another color instead of black. The “trickster” keeps us alert and aware. Honing our skills of observation and broadening our personal perspectives. If we communicate with Raven it is best to remember that they are true “tricksters”. Sometimes the answers they give are straightforward and other times the messages are the opposite of what it should be. The listener must be very in tune with which type of message the Raven is giving. Raven will show us the brighter side of life with sparkling and shiny objects in its beak or when it dives repeatedly at a shiny object on the ground. When raven does this, it is such an uplifting experience and so necessary for our well being in this illusionary world. To read more see my article and personal story of the Raven Heart Woman.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Native American Sweat Lodge "Inipi" Ceremony

This is a talk about "Inipi" or Sweat Lodge Ceremony. In Native American traditional ways we learn by listening to our elders talk and tell stories. This article is meant to be just that. I will tell the story as my teachers did and then at a later time I will add more to the knowledge.

Imagine we are sitting around a fire maybe at Powwow or maybe Sun Dance, or even in our own backyard. The hour is late and everything around us is still and quiet except for the crackle of the wood burning. A voice begins to speak.

Did you know there are different types of Inipi (Sweat Lodge) ceremonies? Many think the Sweat Lodge is only for cleansing and purification. But, this is not true; there are many kinds of Inipi or Sweat Lodges.

There are Sweat Lodge ceremonies held when a relative has died. These help the deceased person cross over to the other realm. They are usually held for four nights. Night is the time for the spirits of the deceased or "Wanagi". After the sun goes down, and especially between midnight and pre-dawn, they wake up and are moving around. The four days is the time when the newly deceased is able to communicate important messages and to say their goodbyes. These Sweat ceremonies are also for the mourners to end their official time of mourning. Which is usually 13 moons or approximately one year. The ceremony for the end of the time of mourning is called "Wasigala" and can be done without the Sweat Ceremony.

There are also Sweat Lodge ceremonies for the healing of illnesses. These are called "Doctoring Sweats". These ceremonies may only have the patient and medicine person in the lodge. The rest of us would stay by the fire and pray or be busy in the house cooking. Or sometime there may be a few singers and other people close to the sick person inside the lodge.

Most of us have been to Sweat Lodges that contact the Tunkasilas or ancient beings for advice and guidance during difficult and perilous times. It is said that in the Sweat Lodge we meet the Tunkasila or elder spirits half way. These sweats are usually very hot. They make us so uncomfortable that we are forced to stay in a state of prayer, which is very far removed from our everyday busy worlds. This is how we meet the Tunkasilas half way. Some us don't eat or drink so that we are even further removed from our material world. Many of us let our hair loose and unbraided or untied. This is another way to remove us from the material world. We are not concerned with how we look. That is why your elders may tell you not to wear jewelry, or make-up.

Then there are Sweat Lodges for activating, renewing or cleansing of sacred objects, medicines or canunpas (sacred pipes). In the case for cleansing, these are very serious ceremonies. It means that something has happened to the sacred object that has harmed or weakened it. The need to cleanse a sacred object is a very sad thing. Many tears are shed during these ceremonies. For the renewal of a sacred object or medicine is far less serious and is a little like breathing fresh air into it and letting the sun shine all over it. Activating a sacred object is another serious ceremony. It is necessary when a person takes the responsibility of carrying a canunpa (sacred pipe) for the people. This is best done where the Buffalo Calf Pipe resides in Green Grass, South Dakota. Although, I have heard of it done in other places when necessary. Activating other types of sacred objects or medicine can happen anywhere, but usually takes a Medicine person to conduct the ceremony.

Sun Dance Sweat Lodges are especially for the people preparing to Sun Dance they are held frequently during the time of preparation. Sweat ceremonies are also held during Sun Dance for the Dancers and for the people attending.

Hanbleceya, or as you may have heard it, "Vision Quest" Sweat Lodges are held during the one to four year preparations leading up to the Vision Quest. Also they are used just before the person goes on the hill for Hanbleceya (Vision Quest). And they are used immediately when the person comes down from the hill. As an important note, I have used the term "Vision Quest" only because it is so popular and understood by many. But you should know that in Lakota, "Vision Quest" is not the translation for Hanbleceya. The real translation is "Crying or Praying through the night". Ceya means both crying and praying as they are considered the same thing.

Wopila (Gratitude) Sweat Lodges. These are usually held within a year of a healing or another blessing. A big feast is held afterward and gifts may be given.

These are the most common Sweat Lodge ceremonies, but I'm thinking maybe some of you are wondering how to become a Sweat Lodge leader? This is a natural question. I will tell you how it happened to me. It took many, many years of attending the Inipi with my elders; listening to their stories, taking their words to heart and paying attention when they wanted to teach me. As the years went by I was given a variety of "rights" such as making sacred canunpa bags and medicine pouches, making a ceremony fire, cooking sacred foods, fixing eagle feathers for naming ceremonies, rights to ceremony songs and many others. But before I received the rights to anything I was instructed in all the history, the details, the materials, the origins of the songs and anything else you can think pertaining to the particular skill.

When I was around 35 years old, I received a sacred canunpa from my grandparents and asked to carry it for the family and all our relatives. I accepted. Then when I was visiting an elder relative and attended her Sweat ceremony, at the start of the Sweat she announced to the attendees that I was her equal and that I would assist in conducting this ceremony. Later, I was asked to conduct a Sweat ceremony for some elder women. After the ceremony I was told that I would be conducting these ceremonies the rest of my life. And I have.

This may sound all very complicated and almost impossible to achieve. But, this is how it happened for me and is not necessarily the way it is for everyone. My training was very strict and very lengthy. I hope I have not discouraged anyone. I live off the reservation now and attend Sweat ceremonies that are conducted by someone who although, Indian, never lived with his people or received any traditional training. He received a vision and that is the way he conducts his ceremonies. I attend and respect his ceremonies. They are powerful and serve the true purpose of an Inipi or Sweat Lodge ceremony, even though he wasn't traditionally trained as I was.

You are all my relatives.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Amethyst � Sending a Voice Stone (The Talking Stone)

Amethyst sends a voice out into the universe. Whatever you�re feeling and thinking, Amethyst will translate and send. This stone is especially good for people using mantras and the Secret or Law of Attraction. Use this stone carefully, whatever you think and feel, it will send and the Universe will manifest.

Wear it in a medicine bag or in a piece of jewelry. Or use it as a meditation tool to focus your sight on. Although, I caution whatever way you use it, use it only on days and times when you are focused. It is best to use in an uncut, unpolished, raw form. The �voice� in it�s natural state is clearer and louder with more force and power.

There are sounds and/or songs that resonate with every crystal, stone, rock or mineral. To find the tonal vibrations, hold and/or look at the stone in a meditative state and wait for a tingling sensation in your stomach (2nd chakra) around your navel. When the tingling begins, without thinking, open your voice and let the sound(s) or song come out. It�s a good idea to have a voice recorder, such as tape or digital . Since you are in a meditative state sometimes it�s hard to remember the earthly stuff.

After you have the sound or song that goes with your stone use it every time you use the stone. It will awaken the stone, especially if it hasn�t been used in a long time. Also, the sounds or song will help the stone focus on you, and not on other transmissions and interferences that may be in your environment. Living in a crowded environment like a city or apartment complex can buffer your intent because of so many other intentions in close proximity. Use the song to eliminate these interferences.

How do I know that? During my early training in the ceremonial ways of the Lakota, I found a particularly rare rock. My teachers taught me how to retrieve the song that belonged to it. I have used this teaching for every stone that comes to me. The method for doing this is basically described above, waiting for the tingling in your stomach navel area and then letting the sound out.

I was also taught several ways to talk with the �rocks�. Some rocks have ears, some have mouths, some you can put to your ear and hear a buzzing sound. Sometimes it takes years to learn how to work with a particular stone. Stones have a very different sense of time. Consider that they are the first living beings on the planet. Each one is eons old. Some of you may know the Lakota word �Tunkasila�, which is generally translated as �grandfather�, but the original word means �very ancient rock�. It was an analogy for the Creator, Ancient Mystery, God, etc. There�s a lot of wisdom and power in that. So, take your time. Make sure you get something authentic and not a creation of wishful thinking. I waited seven years for one particular rock�s song. And then it came out with so many songs, I couldn�t remember them all. Each song was for a particular healing modality. My teachers say that each of those songs is in my heart and I will remember them when the time comes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama Medicine bag

The Obama Medicine Bag is meant for protection of the President and the United States. Initially, I made one for myself so that I would be reminded constantly of the need to pray and keep good thoughts about our president, our country and the people. We are in a time of fierce need and change. It has never been more important to keep vigil over our future. With this in mind, I decided to make these for all of us who are taking an active spiritual part in this new era.

The Medicine bags are filled with sage (for purity), cedar (for eternity) and sweet grass (for joy), juniper berries (for good health), and crystal for (abundance). There is enough room to add your own items also.

The Obama Medicine Bags come with a prayer printed on a piece of parchment paper that can be folded and kept in the bag or placed in a separate location. The prayer is as follows: “Keep President Obama, his family, his staff and his supporters safe from harm. Help him guide us toward becoming a world leader in peace, justice and equality. Let him be inspired by divine thoughts and to bring these into action. Keep his mind on the hearts of the people. Help him to unite this country so we can live in harmony, joy and prosperity in the dawning of a new era.”

Each bag is hand painted with permanent ink on soft tan colored leather. Glass beads have been added as extra strength stoppers on the neck cord. This medicine bag has been made to last and will protect it’s contents. It is appropriate for both men or women. The bag measures approximately 1.75 inches wide by 2.5 inches long.

**** Note: All of the animal products such as leather, bone, feathers, etc. are purchased through legal distributors. No animal has been harmed for my art.

Valentines Day Red Heart Medicine Bag

You Are My Heart Native American Valentine Medicine Bag

You Are My Heart Medicine Bags are meant for the protection of relationships: lovers, families, spouses, children, and others. The bags include medicines for this purpose. Sage for purity, sweet grass for joy, cedar for eternity, juniper berries for good health, crystal for abundance, turquoise for protection from above. Sometimes I will add a piece of amber for preservation of the relationship. This is meant for relationships that are troubled. The bag includes two prayers printed on separate pieces of parchment paper. The prayers are as follows: “You are my heart, my life and my treasure. Nothing is more valuable than you. I ask for us to be blessed and kept safe together in joy and harmony.” If this bag is for a family: “My family is my heart, my life and my treasure. Nothing is more valuable than this family. I ask for us to be blessed and kept safe together in joy and harmony.” Both prayers are meant to be used in special times of need or at every new moon to reinforce the medicines. Prayers can be folded and placed in the medicine bag or kept in a separate location. For more information on Medicine Bags, please read my article on the making, keeping and disposal of Medicine Bags. Click here for the article.

You will receive this medicine bag gift wrapped in colored tissue paper with a raffia bow. Each bag is hand painted with permanent archival ink on soft tan colored leather. A piece of turquoise with black glass beads hangs in front of the heart. Two glass beads have been added as extra strength stoppers on the neck cord. The neck cord is extra long. This medicine bag has been made to last and will protect it’s contents. It is appropriate for both men and women. The bag measures approximately 1.75 inches wide by 2.5 inches long.

The artist Paula Bidwell is an Indigenous Healer and while making these medicine bags uses prayer and song to infuse them with healing. When an order comes in she looks over the premade bags until one stands out. If one doesn’t stand out, she makes a new one especially for the buyer. And there is always a slight variance in design.