Young Blood's & Morning Star's Home of Information

The Blackfoot Civilization
A Book Report by Morning Star

Page 5

Individual Prayer

Every tribe has particular ceremonies tied with the directions and what they mean to them.  There are some prayers, not unlike the Our Father, or memorized prayers.  So much of what people pray for is individualized in the Indian culture.  When Indians pray to the Creator, they pray for women and children, and there is a particular time to pray for the earth and for things they hold dear for survival.  But they are still individualized prayers.

There is no common book of prayer, and it's believed the Creator loves them to pray in their own way, and He loves their songs and sings with them.  Indians are encouraged to pray in their own way.  Indian people do not like it when someone writes a prayer and then passes that off as the Indian Prayer for such and such an occasion.  If you see a prayer written down it's still his/her individual prayer and not taken to mean it is the Indian prayer for all Indians to read and memorize.  Each Indian is supposed to be respectful of these differences.  Take some of the poetry I've written and placed on this site, some of them are considered individual prayers and not for just anyone to copy, learn or memorize...and are considered to be personal.

In this part of Long Standing Bear Chief's book, he give what he thinks should be done to enlighten other people about the Blackfoot culture.  I know and without doubt, that if it were not for my friend, I wouldn't know what I do today.  This is not to say that I can't learn more, but that simply isn't true.  There is so much to learn, and I will continue my quest of learning all that I can so that I can help others learn, just as Long Standing Bear Chief has helped me.  He also believes firmly in a saying his uncle was fond of saying, "Only in understanding is there happiness."  I couldn't agree more with them on that one if I tried.

Indians and War

Contrary to what has been publicized, Indians were peace loving people, and there was really very little Indian warfare between the tribes.  Proof of this is to be found in the examining of their oral history from the plains tribes.  You never hear stories of 50,000 Indian men meeting each other in pitched battles like the European countries in recent of ancient past.  The white man is more of a warrior than the Indian ever thought of being.  White men have standing armies, and all kinds of rank and armament.  The white's families, generation after generation, are involved in the military, and they are proud of that fact.  You do not find that in the Indian culture.

There are books the will tells stories where maybe five or six men went to take horses from another tribe.  But you'll never read about or hear oral historical accounts where thousands of men marched on one tribe or another.

There was absolutely no such thing as religious wars.  Indian wars were never fought in the name of religion, and no one has ever killed in the name of God.  The Indian people have no history of fighting a war to impose one tribes' beliefs on another.  Therefore, Indians were at peace more than they were at war.

The most valued Indian leaders were the leaders of peace, and some tribes had war chiefs only during times of strife.  Those men were chosen because of their bravery, knowledge and expertise about battle plans.  They lost their authority as soon as the dispute or crises passed, and they lost their standing once peace was achieved.  There were male societies in Indian tribes who made the laws and enforced the laws handed down by tradition and belief, and there were elders and other mature men.  When the battle was finished or over, the duty of a warrior ended, and the so did the War Chiefs duties.  It was not a position he held all his life.

Unlike Long Standing Bear Chief, I don't just believe the myth that the Indian warrior comes from the non-Indian's.  I know it does.  Look at their history and it's easy to see the fascination with war tactics and military conquest.  Much of the white man's history deals with accounts of major battles and the slaughter of thousands of people.  And they often call it their "greatest hour."  After all, look at what the white men did to the Indians of this country.  In reality, the Indians are the first and only true Americans, and the white man's greed got the better of them over land and boundaries.  As a wife to a man that is 7/8's Blackfoot Indian, who cannot claim his Heritage, I've studied both sides of the stories and tend to agree with the Indian's account of what happened many years ago.  And for this belief, I've been called everything in the book, from an Indian lover to an Indian witch.  And that's putting mildly.

White men have, in effect, written the so-called Indian history books.  He has been and always will be fascinated with the concept of the Indian warrior.  From the 1940's through the 1960's, movies created the image of the brave warrior---the Indian in feathers riding the spotted horse.  And they always had them carrying a lance twelve feet long, plus holding onto a huge shield to match.  This image is simply not true, and for many white man, this is their only idea of the Indian cultures and people.  To those who know better, and have put an afford forward to learn about the truth have found it difficult to find at best.  But it is out there if one looks hard enough and long enough.  In the book, Long Standing Bear Chief says, "This is a cruel joke and a wrong portrayal of my people."  I couldn't agree with him more.  This sort of thing is not only a cruel joke and grossly overdone, it's an insult to the all Native Americans.  I might be white myself, but it doesn't mean I agree with the way the Indian Nations were treated.

What non-Indians call the "war bonnet", the Indians call a headdress.  Some were worn into battle, but they were not elaborate.  A headdress was used in a spiritual way for protection of the person, and he prayed he would come out of the battle alive and without injuries.  It is similar to someone wearing a cross, or carrying a lucky charm into battle with them.  The intention is the same.  And to feather insult the Indian people's, this image is still portrayed in many book.  Including comic books, school books and books by different authors.  There are stories of Indians involved in all kinds of strife.  Like the story of Teckawitha, the Indian woman who became a Christian and is now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.  Her followers love to tell the stories about her persecution by her own Indian people because of her Christian beliefs.  (I'm not sure, but I belief she now has sainthood.)

Indians became Christians readily, and because their belief is that whenever there is a discussion of God and the Creator, they are bound by tradition to be respectful and to listen.  There is something good to learn from people who speak about the Creator and things of creation.  What is learned from such good stories a person can adopt as part of their way of life.

I agree with Long Standing Bear Chief on this part as well.  "Take Sitting Bull, the Sioux chief, who said many times that those things the white man has that are good, pick them up and use them.  If there are bad things in the white man's culture, leave them alone and do not even touch them."  The white man's history does not tell people this, and they should.  Instead, Sitting Bull comes down the Indian people with a reputation for hating the white man.  Sitting Bull was a spiritual leader and not a warrior in the sense that this word is used by the majority of the population of this country.  By doing this book report for all to find and read, I hope to teach the white men, women and children the truth about the true meaning of what constitutes Indians and Indian leadership.  And it's not what the history books in schools have portrayed.

Indian Dance

People world wide love to dance and enjoy life, and Indian people are no different.  In the past, as well as the present, Indian people have loved to dance and celebrate life.  They also like to have non-Indians join in their dances.  The announcers at public social dances will make mention to get out and learn the dance and participate.  After all, participating in the traditions and ways of another culture only enhances knowledge and understanding of that culture.

If time and circumstances allow, Indian people will call the musicians and the drum groups together, and have a dance to celebrate whatever the occasion calls for:  it might be a marriage, the birth of a child, the return of a friend or loved one from a long trip, or even a safe return from war.  It's on these occasions that you will witness the true nature of the Indian people.  You'll see their love of freedom and self-expression, and this is reflected in the costumes they wear, which are different down to the smallest detail and in their color scheme and design.

In the Blackfoot culture, dancers use dance steps in a very unique and stylized manner.  The idea is to dance according to how one feels as a person, often using movements in imitation of animals and birds.  The best dancers know the songs and the drum rhythm, and they seek to stay in time with the drum beat...thus, stopping and starting their dance steps when the drummers and singers stop and start their music.

This is a competition between dancers and the drum group that is characterized by the drum groups stopping and starting a song without warning.  According to Long Standing Bear Chief's book, it's fun and exciting to watch dancers try to anticipate the twists, turns and steps of the song in their dancing.  And that this is were a person can really see the beauty of Indian dancing at social occasions.

But sadly, on February 24, 1923, the white man, in his attempts to gain control of America, set about undertaking a deliberate campaign of brow beating and harassment of Indian people.  I didn't have time to do the official U.S. Government pronouncement, which illustrates how the effort to eliminate Indian culture was undertaken.  But that is my next project for this site.  But I can tell everyone who reads this report, that what they did to our Indian brothers and sisters was a total crime in my opinion.

Face Painting

Indians have a ceremony that involves painting the face and asking blessings.  Ceremonies and social dances you would see men and women with painted faces, and it's an individualized practice.  Face painting is done for the purpose of looking good or for spiritual reasons.  Contrary to the white man's beliefs, the painting of the house and face is a spiritual thing.  Indian men who went into battle painted themselves in a special way according to their vision or intentions and prayers.  They wanted to look their best for the Creator if they should die.  It was not to scare the enemy.  So the idea that Indian war paint was to scare the enemy is NOT true, and they did not paint themselves as a death wish.  It was strictly their way of identification with the Creator.

The term redskin came about because people painted with red ochre so that they would be identified as a people of this earth.  So if something should happen to them, they wanted the Creator to know they were part of His creation.  Indians wanted their soul to be spiritually taken to the next life where they would be with relatives and friends in pure happiness.  Men also painted themselves according to their own vision, and they did this for ceremonies.  It was not just for war time.

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