Thursday, November 24, 2016
Here's the formula for Horn of Plenty Oil:
- Mandarin orange
- Tobacco (pinch)
- Kernel of corn
Add the above to a base of grapeseed oil that has been fixed with vitamin E to prevent rancidity.
Regarding the above graphic...The Daily Conjure Tips are copyright 2012 Creole Moon.com but may be used and posted to your personal blogs and websites. The only limitation is that you may not change the graphic or charge money for it or claim it as your own design and intellectual property. Copyright notice must remain with the unchanged graphic. Other than that, feel free to copy and share it.
*Content copyright 2012-2017 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Go to http://sacredstonecamp.org/ to see how you can be part of the change.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
|A few of my medicine bags|
In order to understand how to work a medicine bag, we need to define medicine as it is understood in the Indian worldview. To the Native American, medicine refers to anything mysterious, magical, spiritual and supernatural. It is the roots, stones, sticks, and bones of conjure. The three most powerful forms of Indian medicine are water, tears, and laughter (Gene Thin Elk, personal communication, 1994).
A medicine bag is very much like a mojo bag. They are worn or carried on the person for any number of purposes and often the same bag is used for a multitude of purposes, i.e. protection, healing, dream enhancement, and empowerment. Medicine bags can be made for yourself or for other people, just like a mojo or gris gris bag.
Medicine bags are used somewhat differently than mojo and gris gris bags, however. For example, once a mojo bag or gris gris is made, we don't open it up and mess around with the things inside unless we are taking it apart or recharging it. With your medicine bag, you can take an object out, talk to it and ask it for guidance. Ask it for its medicine. For example, if you are feeling scared or apprehensive about something and you have a bear claw in your medicine bag, you can take the bear claw out of the bag and ask the bear for its medicine or protection, strength, and courage. When you are done, place the claw back in the bag and carry the bag with you as usual.
As you can see from the photographs, medicine bags come in all shapes and sizes. I have quite a few medicine bags, these are but a few. I have a special medicine bag that holds corn pollen and a separate one that hold my tobacco. I have several smaller medicine bags that are held inside a larger medicine bag, and those inside an even larger medicine bag. The different bags contain different medicines that I use frequently and are not to be mixed with other herbs. When I am sitting in the darkness of the sweat lodge for example, I cannot see, but I can feel which bag has my cedar when I want to sprinkle some on the hot elders (stones) inside.
Medicine bags will contain special objects of power or "tokens" given to a person as well as power objects found in the natural environment that speak to the person finding it. Unlike gris gris bags which typically do not have more than 13 items and always an odd number in them, a medicine bag can contain as many items as a person wants. Sometimes people will consciously only keep as many items as a sacred number, but that is not a hard and fast rule. Sacred numbers for Indians are 4 (for the four sacred directions - North, East, South, West) 7 (for the seven sacred directions - North, East, South, West, Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Self), 21 (seven times 3) and 28 (seven times four).
There is a lot of misinformation on the web about Native American spirituality and culture, including misinformation about the basics of a medicine bag. According to one website for example, "A Native American medicine bag doesn't necessarily contain medicine. Instead, in Native American culture, items are placed inside the small bag that holds a spiritual significance to the wearer." This statement was obviously written by someone who doesn't have a clue as to what constitutes Native American medicine. The contents inside the bag ARE the medicine. The medicine comes from the realms of animal, plant, mineral, and human and yes, they hold spiritual significance to the wearer, but they also heal and empower.
"To enhance the supernatural and spiritual abilities of the wearer, healers often use the contents to perform the ritual known as vision quest." Again, a misinformed writer. The Vision Quest ceremony has nothing to do with the contents of your medicine bag. The Vision Quest has everything to do with increasing one's own understanding of self/community/the world and one's relationship to the community and the world (meaning Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants, great and small, four-legged, two-legged, eight-legged or no legs, as well as all of her processes). The Vision Quest or hunblecha is one of the Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakota people. Traditionally, this ceremony is conducted in places considered sacred such as The Black Hills and the Badlands. Bear Butte is a traditional site for hunblecha. Often a person will discover their animal spirit guides during the ceremony, but the contents of a medicine bag are not used to perform the ceremony itself.
The Thunder Beings (Wakinyan) live in the Black Hills according to Lakota tradition. At White Horse Mountain, where I participated in my first vision quest, the ancestors still dance and they can be seen and heard in the stillness of that ceremony.
Anything that speaks to you strongly can go into your medicine bag. Some typical tokens found in medicine bags include:
- Corn pollen
- Corn meal
- Lock of hair or mane
- Claw or nail
- Stone fetish
In order to find your medicine, you will have to take regular Nature Walks if you are not the outdoorsy type. Don't just pick up anything, there has to be a strong and clear connection between you and it. You will know when you hold it in your hands and see it. Talk to it and ask it what lessons it has for you. Then, write down any insights you receive in your medicine journal.
To learn more about Native American concepts and their connection to Southern Rootwork and Hoodoo, check out the course Indian Spirit Hoodoo: Working with Black Hawk and Indian Spirit Guides in the Southern Conjure Tradition. In addition to learning about how to work with Black Hawk and Indian Spirit guides, this course teaches about Indian medicine, herbalism and curios, provides and Indian conjure formulary, several tutorials and a variety of works. It also discusses working with other Indian Spirits such as Red Hawk, White Eagle, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Sitting Bull. In addition you will learn about Thunder Medicine and how to make Thunderbolt Powder and hands. I guarantee you you will learn things in this course you will not find anywhere else.
*The above article is excerpted from Indian Spirit Hoodoo:Working with Black Hawk and Indian Spirit Guides in the Southern Conjure Tradition by Denise Alvarado.
*All contents of this article including text and photos are copyright 2012 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide. Do not copy and reuse without my permission.
Sign up for the Indian Spirit Hoodoo Course now and get started within 24 hours! Cost includes the book and a kit. Questions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below or email me.
Monday, November 26, 2012
What Came First, the Indian Chicken or the Hoodoo Egg? Exploring Native American Influences on Southern Conjure
A long time ago the Cherokees went to war against a giant monster. They killed him, brought his head home in triumph, and placed it upon the top of a cedar pole in front of the townhouse. The blood trickling down along the trunk colored the pole red and so the wood of the cedar is red to this day.
In traditional Native American medicine, there are four primary herbs found across most tribes: cedar, sage, sweetgrass and tobacco. If these were the only herbs you had access to, it is more than enough. However, in the context of Hoodoo and rootwork, there are numerous plants, roots and herbs utilized that are believed to be the result of the cross-pollination of African and indigenous cultures. Native American tribes such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Houma, and Choctaw were in close proximity to African slaves and as a result, the natural blending of traditions occurred.
In addition, both Native Americans and African cultures routinely used animal parts—teeth, feet, tails, skins, innards—in both medicine and conjure. It comes as no surprise that some of the local Indian uses of animal parts became incorporated into Hoodoo, acquiring a broader meaning and purpose as a result. In the Native way, if you want to know the meaning of a particular animal part, look to the animal’s nature and you will find your answer.
Both African American and Native American folk medicine and magic relied heavily on the laws of similarity to guide the use of their medzin/medicine. James Mooney, a famous anthropologist noted for his work among the Cherokee observed this phenomenon and likened it to the idea of fetichism:
Cherokee medicine is an empiric development of the fetich idea. For a disease caused by the rabbit the antidote must be a plant called “rabbit’s food,” “rabbit’s ear,” or “rabbit’s tail;” for snake dreams the plant used is “snake’s tooth;” for worms a plant resembling a worm in appearance, and for inflamed eyes a flower having the appearance and name of “deer’s eye.” A yellow root must be good when the patient vomits yellow bile, and a black one when dark circles come about his eyes, and in each case the disease and the plant alike are named from the color. A decoction of burs must be a cure for forgetfulness, for there is nothing else that will stick like a bur; and a decoction of the wiry roots of the “devil’s shoestrings” must be an efficacious wash to toughen the ballplayer’s muscles, for they are almost strong enough to stop the plowshare in the furrow. It must be evident that under such a system the failures must far outnumber the cures, yet it is not so long since half our own medical practice was based upon the same idea of correspondences, for the mediæval physicians taught that and have we not all heard that “the hair of the dog will cure the bite?” ~ James Mooney, 1891
To the Native American, every living thing is a source of spiritual power and as such should be revered. This is similar to the African concept of aché. From the native worldview, however, all living things are also our relations—our relatives—aunt, uncle, sister, brother, and cousin. We look to our plant, animal and mineral relations as Bird people or Winged Ones, Fish people, Snake people, Four-leggeds, Animal people, and Tree people. The rocks and minerals are our grandfathers and grandmothers. The elements Lightening and Thunder, Wind and Rain, Earthquake and Fire—all are powers of nature with the ability to transform and teach, as well as to destroy and put us, the two-leggeds, in our place when necessary.
There are many supernatural meanings associated with the various animals and plants from the native worldview. Some of the meanings remain consistent in the context of Hoodoo and others have changed. Some animals play a significant role in a person’s life and make a regular appearance in a variety of situations, including the dreamtime. When one specific animal seems to figure prominently through a person’s entire lifetime, it is often considered an animal totem or spirit guide. Animal totems bring messages as well as medicine. In fact, whenever a person encounters an animal, the Indian will consider the medicine it brings with it. The medicine of these animals is reflected in the animals’ nature and skills, calling to mind the concept of fetichism as described by Mooney (1891).
The French settlers in Louisiana respected the herbal knowledge and healing skills of the Native peoples, who freely shared their techniques. The Indians made poultices, baths, teas, compounded herbs, and used steam and smoke in a curative fashion. Not surprisingly, the reputation of “Indian as healer” reached its height in popularity in the nineteenth century. Out of this popularity emerged the white Indian doctor, who claimed to have learned botanical curative powers from the local Indians. Some claimed to have acquired the knowledge while held captive. Many of these white Indian doctors took out ads in newspapers to advertise their healing abilities and expertise and as a result, this class of practitioner became known nationwide.
As Native American beliefs and traditions blended with African and European beliefs and traditions, they naturally changed. With the added influence of Christianity, the blend of cultures emerged as a unique system of folk magic and medicine that retained elements of all three cultures but also took on new meanings. Hoodoo continues to evolve and change to adapt to the needs of the people who practice it. That is its nature as a practical, simple, and utilitarian tradition.
Following is a short list of animals, herbs and curios posited to have roots in Indian cultures. By no means exhaustive, it will give you a good idea of how the various materia medica are used in Indian medicine and culture, how they have been adapted to African American folk magic, and how they have evolved within the context of folk magic in contemporary society.
Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
The alligator is an animal of great significance to both Native Americans and traditional African cultures. Hoodoo revolves around veneration of water spirits, and in Louisiana, Papa Gator carries with him the essence of rootwork, and is the keeper of ancient wisdom.
Alligator Foot (Alligator mississippiensis)
Alligator feet have their place in folk magic, particularly of the swamp variety. A small alligator foot can be a powerful protective talisman. On a key chain, it can draw luck for gamblers. To protect money: Place a piece of pyrite and a gold Sacagawea coin in the palm of the gator foot and wrap with green flannel and wear around the neck to keep your money safe and close to you. In the absence of a Sacagawea coin, a buffalo nickel or Indian head penny can be used. For fertility: Make a charm by placing Adam and Eve root in the palm of the alligator foot and wrap with red string. Wear about the waist to boost fertility.
Interestingly, the historical and archaeological evidence suggests African Americans used Native American artifacts for magical and ritual purposes. This theory is based on ethnographic studies of objects such as arrowheads found on the Oakley Plantation in West Feliciana, Louisiana, a tenant house in South Carolina (see Orser, 1985), King’s Bay Plantations in Georgia (see Adams, 1987), and other locations. Indian arrowheads are considered to be lucky charms. Although they are called Indian arrowheads, they are believed to have been made by the Creator. This belief can be traced back to the Akan-speaking people from the African Gold Coast who believed prehistoric stone projectile points had magic powers. They called arrowheads nyame akuma (God’s axes) and believed they formed from lightning bolts that hit the earth (Alvarado, Dean and Pustanio, 2012).
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi)
Also called Uva-Ursi and Kinnikinnick, this plant is one of the most widely used among Native tribes. Bearberries are three species of small shrubs with evergreen leaves largely found in the Northern hemisphere. Only the dried leaves are used in medicine. In consequence of the powerful astringency of the leaves, Uva-Ursi has a place not only in all the old herbals, but also in the modern Pharmacopoeias (Grieve, 1931). Indigenous peoples have been reported to use bearberry as an anticonvulsant, to stimulate appetite, and to treat anemia, hemorrhage, tuberculosis, stomach disorders, heart troubles, respiratory infections, earaches, sinus infection and congestion, and other ailments (Moerman 1998). Native Americans still use it as spiritual smoke, used as a psychic and spiritual incense and tea. It is often mixed with other herbs and tobacco. I was taught it is mixed with red willow bark and smoked as Kinnikinnick. The Blackfoot used the plant as a dermatological aid. Infusion of the plant, mixed with grease & boiled hoof was applied as a salve to itching and peeling scalp and to rashes and skin sores. An infusion was also used as a wash for babies’ heads. Infusion of the plant has been used as a mouthwash for cankers and sore gums (Hellson, 1974). Leaves were placed on a piece of wood, roasted to a powder and placed on a cut for rapid healing, and leaves pounded into a paste were applied to boils and pimples (Hocking, 1949). The Cherokee used the plant for kidney disease and urinary problems (Hamel and Chiltoskey, 1975). The Cheyenne made an infusion of stems, leaves and berries for sprained backs (Grinnel, 1972) and the berries were used as an ingredient in medicinal mixtures (Hart, 1981). The Cheyenne make a sacred tobacco by combining it with red willow bark (Grinnel). In fact, many tribes, including the Cree, Clallam, Ojibwa, Inuit, Great Basin Indians, Hesquiot, Hoh, Jemez and Lakota, use bearberry either alone or in combination with other herbs as a sacred tobacco. The Chippewa used bearberry as an analgesic. They pulverized the dried leaves and compounded and smoked for headaches (Densmore, 1928). Among the Kwakiutl and Ojibwa the leaves are smoked as a narcotic (Reagan, 1928; Turner and Bell, 1973). The Black Foot mix the leaves with tobacco, dried cambium or red osier dogwood and use it in religious bundles. The Black Foot also used the dried berries in ceremonial rattles and strung them on necklaces for jewelry (Hellson, 1974). The Ojibwa smoked the roots as a hunting charm to attract game (Densmore). To repel evil: the leaves can be burned to drive away bad spirits for people who are going crazy.
Black Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
Also known as Virginia Snakeroot, Virginia Dutchmanspipe, and Virginia Serpentary. A perennial with somewhat heart-shaped leaves and small white flowers in branched clusters. Blooms July to October. The dried rhizome is a popular herbal tonic. Some old Cherokee Indian remedies consists of a decoction of black snakeroot blown upon patient for fever and feverish headache, and drunk for coughs; root chewed and spit upon wound to cure snake bites; bruised root placed in hollow tooth for toothache, and held against nose made sore by constant blowing in colds (Mooney, 1891). As a tea, “Blacksnake root is good tuh nuse [use] in de homes fo' heart trouble, nerves, broken down systems an' any bad feet dat chew have tuh de body” (Hyatt #3, p. 2195). To keep away thieves and undesirables: Make a powder from dried, pulverized snakeroot and spread about the home to keep undesirables and thieves away. For courage: Chewing a piece of snakeroot is said to give a man courage (Hyatt, #3). To keep a man: Add a piece of black snake root, gunpowder and powdered sugar to a mojo hand and carry it with you to keep the man you desire.
Cedar in its many varieties is one of the most widely used and versatile plants among Native people. Cedar is found to be used as cordage, as fiber for making mats, rugs, blankets, clothing, canoes, boats, decorations, bows and other hunting and fishing items, For example, paper birch and cedar form the two most sacred trees of the Ojibwe (Smith, 1932). Among the Bella Coola, the inner bark of the tree is used as a fiber for weaving mats, blankets and capes (Turner & Bell, 1973). Among the Haisla, the inner bark fiber is used to make clothing for the nobility (Gottesfeld, 1992), and among the Haisla and Hanaksiala, the wood is used to make racing paddles for canoes and boat ribs, while the inner bark is used to make loin cloths (Compton, 1993). Among the Hesquiat, cedar wood is used for making ornamental dishes and headdresses and the bark is softened with special oil for weaving capes and other clothing of head chiefs (Turner and Efrat, 1982).
In certain Native American traditions, cedar is used to carry prayers to the Creator. It is used toconnect heaven and earth. Cedar is burned to banish negative energies from a person and their environment; thus, opening the door for good spirits and energies to enter. It can be used as loose leaf or as a smudge stick and burned in an abalone shell. Cedar is often used in the sweat lodge ceremony (inipi) to bless the lodge and prepare the space for the Spirits to enter. A small amount is thrown onto the red-hot rocks we call Elders which immediately sparks a red glow. This releases the fresh aroma (medicine), and often makes crackling and popping sounds that are said to be the voices of our Ancestors. In folk magic, cedar is used for healing, purification, money and protection. To keep business flowing and to keep renters from skipping out on rent: Wear oil of cedar and place on doorknobs where people pass through and you will always have renters and always have customers. For business success: Get 6 red onions, some garlic and oil of cedar and boil together. Make a broom from cedar branches and mop the floor with the solution for business success. For gambling luck: Rub hands with oil of cedar before gambling for good luck. For purification and blessings: Burn dried cedar leaves and waft the smoke over yourself or any item in need of blessings and purification. Use the smoke to fumigate a room to purify it.
Lightening Struck Wood
Lightning struck wood can be added to any work to increase its power. It is particularly good for commanding spells, sex spells, and spells of destruction, which draw on its fire energy to destroy. Fire also has a dual nature to transform; hence its ability to be used in positive works as well. Add to mojo bags and gris gris to provide a serious boost in power. To use in candle magic: One way to use lightning struck wood in candle magic is to take some splinters and stick it into the candle wax. Another way is to grind some of it down to a powder, and sprinkle the tops of glass encased candles or roll candles in the powder. To enhance sexual nature: Combine with 2 round High John the Conqueror roots and a pair of lodestones in a mojo bag and carry it with you.
According to Gene Thin Elk, a Lakota spiritual leader, the first medicine for Indian people is the sacred water or mni wakan (G. Thin Elk, personal communication, 1994). Indeed, the healing powers of water are reflected in many Native American stories and legends. According to the Kiowa, healing powers come from deep underwater and are a gift of the Spirit (Baines, 1993). Seawater has been used by the Tlingits to purge impurities from inside one’s body, and many tribes use water to carry the healing properties of certain plants into the body in the form of teas. Water also plays a crucial role in many ceremonies, most notably, the sweat lodge ceremony. Additionally, some medicine people have the ability to instill healing powers into an ordinary glass of water through prayer, and the patient is healed by drinking the blessed water.
Likewise, water is an integral component of the medzin in the African traditions. Pouring libations is an ancestral tradition, just as pouring water is an ancestral tradition in the Native American experience. There are differences between cultures, of course. For example, in the African traditions libations can consist of alcohol, as well as water. When and what to pour is determined by an experienced elder in concert with the purpose of the offering. Water is for cooling and healing, while alcohol is for rousing and igniting, or more commonly referred to as firing up in southern conjure.
In Hoodoo, taking spiritual baths to remove hexes, unblock obstacles, remove and transform illness and grief are just some of the conditions for which water is used as a removing agent. For example, a common means of disposing specific types of works is to toss a work or the remaining elements of a work into a moving body of water. A similar practice is found among the Meskwaki. When a medicine person wishes to use water to remove illness from a person, they will go to a running stream or river and scoop up some water, dipping with the current, thereby capturing water that holds the necessary properties of making the illness run freely from the person (Harrington, 1915).
Wolf teeth are carried for protection and function as a buffer between a person and harsh words. In addition, they are believed to assist in discovering the identity of thieves. According to John George Hohman’s Pow Wow or Long Lost Friend, if a person carries a wolf tooth along with a sunflower collected in August, and wrapped with a laurel leaf “will never be addressed harshly by anyone, but all will speak to him kindly and peaceably. And if anything has been stolen from you put this under your head during the night, and you will surely see the whole figure of the thief. This has been found true” (Hohman, 1819, p. 15). Wolf teeth are also carried for fostering family loyalty.
Alvarado, D., Dean, C. and Pustanio, A. (2012). The Hoodoo Almanac 2012. Prescott Valley, AZ: Creole Moon Publications.
Compton, B. D. (1993). Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian Ethnobotany: The Knowledge and Usage of Plants. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of British Columbia.
Densmore, F. (1928). Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #44:273-379.
Gottesfeld, L. M. J. (1992). The Importance of Bark Products in the Aboriginal Economies of Northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Economic Botany 46(2):148-15.
Grieve, M. (1931). A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with their Modern Scientific Uses. Harcourt, Brace & Company.
Grinnell, G. B. (1972). The Cheyenne Indians - Their History and Ways of Life Vol.2. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Hamel, P. B. and Chiltoskey, M. U. (1975). Cherokee Plants and Their Uses -- A 400 Year History. Sylva, N.C. Herald Publishing Co.
Hart, J. A. (1981). The Ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 4:1-55 (p. 25)
Hellson, J. C. (1974). Ethnobotany of the Blackfoot Indians. Ottawa. National Museums of Canada. Mercury Series.
Hohman, J. G. (1856). Pow Wows or the Long Lost Friend. Harrisburg, Pa.: T.F. Scheffer.
Hyatt, H. M. (1970-78). Hoodoo-Conjuration-Witchcraft-Rootwork, 5 vols. Hannibal, MO: Western Publishing.
Moerman, D. E. (1998). Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, Portland.
Mooney, J. (1891). Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. 7th Annual report, Bureau of American Ethnology.
Smith, H. H. (1932). Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee 4:327-525
Turner, N. C. and Bell, M. A. (1973). The Ethnobotany of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia. Economic Botany 27:257-310
Turner, N. J. and Efrat, B. S. (1982). Ethnobotany of the Hesquiat Indians of Vancouver Island. Victoria. British Columbia Provincial Museum.
Keywords: Black Hawk, Native American, Indian, Indian Spirit Guide, Indian Spirit Hoodoo, Denise Alvarado, medicine, native American medicine, African Americans, James Mooney, alligator foot, arrowheads, kinnikinnick, bearberry, black snakeroot, cedar, lightning struck wood, wolf tooth
Denise Alvarado www.planetvoodoo.com, www.crossroadsuniversity.com, published author, Educated, artist, internet. I`ll endeavor to remove any and all negative comments I`ve made about her and her businesses or work. The truth is that I do admire Denise`s artistic talents, and I`ve always found her to be an intelligent and congenial person. I do not want to feel this kind of anger or pain any longer, and I don`t want to block Denise`s ability to make a living. And so I would urge others to go ahead and order from her. I regret this whole experience and I will do whatever I can to heal the hurt of it.
Copyright 2012, Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Since Mother Leafy Anderson brought him to New Orleans with her Spiritualist Church in the early twentieth century, Black Hawk has played a central and symbolic role in the fight against oppression and discrimination among devotees...Black Hawk is venerated as an ancestral spirit among the Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Voudouists, as well as rootworkers and conjure doctors. Native Americans consider him a hero, African Americans view him as defender and liberator, and European Americans admire him as the noble savage who despite defeat, fought the good fight. While most of what is written about Black Hawk has either been from a historical perspective or from the perspective of the Spiritualist Church, Black Hawk cannot be confined to a single context. It has become more than evident that he has been adopted by people from many different spiritual traditions as a powerful Indian Spirit to whom devotees believe they can turn to for help and guidance when needed.
There are many mysteries surrounding this legendary figure who has a permanent place in the sacred spiritual environs of New Orleans.
Never before has a book been written about Father Black Hawk from the perspective of a Creole Native who has walked inside the longhouses, sat in the sweat lodges, cried on a hill for a vision, and received the mysteries through a variety of traditional and intertribal Native American ceremonies. The information contained in these pages will blow your mind, burst apart the stereotypes, and give Father Black Hawk the final say in how he should be honored and served. The reader should set aside all expectations for what they think they know and be ready for a true and authentic cultural smorgasbord of Southern Conjure Indian medicine with Black Hawk seated at the top of the Sacred Circle.
This is a preorder. Conjuring Black Hawk is scheduled for release in June 2016. People who preorder the book will be invited to join the Conjuring Black Hawk membership site where you will have access to archived images and articles about Black Hawk and other members-only exclusives.
Preorder your copy of the long-awaited Conjuring Black Hawk today!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Thanksgiving as it is currently portrayed by mainstream media and in the majority of academic settings is laden with myths, misinformation, and falsehoods. Driven by the need for a "feel good" history, society continues to ignore the painful fact that the Native American genocide is quite possibly the most denied of holocausts. This denial serves to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and fails to provide our children an honest education. An unknown history is a history destined to repeat itself. As such, it is imperative to learn the historical truth and pass this truth down to our children who are the next generation of leaders - leaders who determine which course this country will take with regards to the social and political relationship with Native American people.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the reference to Indians in the past tense, as if there are no longer any living Native peoples. My other huge pet peeve (which almost yearly lands me in the principle's office) is sending my son home with a pilgrim hat or feather in his head.
Why teach the truth about Thanksgiving?
- To debunk stereotypes and historical myths.
- To move away from a monocultural paradigm to a multicultural one.
- Thanksgiving is a much bigger concept than the feast at the Plymouth Plantation.
- When lesson plans are built upon partial and biased information, we are not teaching the truth.
Myth: The pilgrims came to American to escape religious persecution (partial truth). Why is this a problem? Because it sets the stage for perpetuating the stereotype of Noble Civilization vs Savagery (Berkhofer, 1978, Jennings, 1976).
Fact: Pilgrims were a subsect of the Puritans, political revolutionaries who intended to overthrow the British government, and did so in 1649. Many were fugitives, as well as victims of bigotry (Larsen, 1981).
Myth: Thanksgiving Day represents a day when the pilgrims and the Indians sat down and shared a feast with each other in peace and harmony to celebrate the fall harvest. This event was the first Thanksgiving.
Fact: In 1970, the Wampanoag secured a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor of the colony. After a militia returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. Other colonies were encouraged to do the same every autumn when the crops were in; in other words, at each fall harvest, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.
The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.
Myth: The pilgrims invited the Indians to the feast to show their gratitude for the help they had received.
Fact: The purpose of the feast was to negotiate a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the pilgrims.
Myth: Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village.
Fact: Squanto was kidnapped by Captain Thomas Hunt, an associate that Captain John Smith had left behind to continue trading with the Indians after their mapping expedition in 1614. Captain Hunt betrayed John Smith, and kidnapped 27 (or 24 to some sources) Indians who had been lured aboard his ship to trade beaver skins(Captain John Smith, 1624).
Myth: The first Thanksgiving was the feast at Plymouth Plantation.
Fact: The first Thanksgiving was approximately 30,000 years ago according to the most recent archeological data. By the New Stone Age (about 10,000+ years ago), Thanksgiving had become associated with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Many indigenous people have feasts of gratitude multiple times throughout the year and for a variety of reasons. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together and giving thanks for that fellowship has become part of the celebration for many. In short, there are many Thanksgiving stories to tell. Why limit ourselves to one myth?
How did the current myth of Thanksgiving come to be?
It is the product of the melting pot era of the 1890s and early 1900s when our country was attempting to develop a national identity. Public education was a major tool for social unity, and to many writers and educators this meant a common national history. History was written to reflect this goal. As a consequence, Thanksgiving became a national holiday (1898), replete with stereotyped Indians and stereotyped Whites, incomplete history, and an inspirational myth.
So, what can we learn when we teach a balanced and informed Thanksgiving?
- There are cultural differences between Indian tribes. Not all Indians look the same or live the same way.
- We can learn about the political structure of Indian tribes and the importance of women in government.
- We can broaden our concept of Indian leadership. For example, the Wampanoag did not have chiefs; rather, they had sachems and tribal councils.
- We can learn how the Constitution of the United States and articles of Confederation came to be. We can learn what the Constitution of the United States and Articles of Confederation are, for that matter.
- We can learn the importance of conservation by taking care of the land (Mother Earth).
- We can learn about respect, honesty, and integrity in our interactions with others and in how we conduct ourselves.
- We can learn about how the seasons are celebrated in different cultures.
- We can learn the importance of the family dinner table.
- We can learn empathy and compassion for others.
- We can learn about agriculture.
- We can learn about the different dwellings various Indian tribes used and continue to use, as well as the dwellings of people in cultures all over the world.
REMEMBER: The antidote to a feel-good history is not a feel-bad history, but an honest and inclusive one (Loewen, 1998).
ReferencesBerkhofer, Jr., R. F., (1978). The White Man's Indian, Vintage Books, Random House, New York
Jennings, F., (1976). The Invasion of America, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.
Larsen, C, M., (1981). The Real Thanksgiving, Tacoma, Washington:Tacoma Public Schools
The Council on Interracial Books for Children, (1971). Chronicles of American Indian Protest, Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Pub. Inc.,
Photos copyright Denise Alvarado, all rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright 2010-2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide. Please ask if you would like to repost this article.
Copyright 2010-2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide. Please ask if you would like to repost this article.