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The Magic of the Feather in Native America

2006-07-09 00:00:00 - By Deb Vallet

The Magic of the Feather in Native America

"According to Native American legend, by holding the feather up towards the sky, the bearer was given spiritual guidance when speaking. This special status caused others to fall silent to hear the bearer speak great words of wisdom."

- Holly Gilbey, Talking Feathers -
Feathers symbolize freedom— from the mundane, from gravity, from thoughts that preclude creativity, balance, and imagination. Feathers represent a close association with the Sky Father. They are symbols of prayers, marks of honor, or sources of ideas.

Over the centuries, Native Americans have become masters in the art of using feathers for a variety of ceremonious and religious artwork as well as ornamentation. Warriors earned a feather each time they acted in a manner that the tribe felt was brave. Many times, the first feather earned by a warrior was given to him for being seen as an adult member of the tribe. Feathers were awarded for support and conformity to religious ideals and as rewards for physical deeds in support or defense of those same ideals.

Feathers were often used to hold back hair and plaits or fastened headbands. Feathers were put onto all kinds of clothing, and used as earrings and other jewelry. They were cut and decorated depending on the special message the feather had to carry. A feather could indicate the tribe or social rank to which the wearer belonged.

The cutting and shaping of a feather (or the representation thereof) has developed into a regular art-form by skilled craftspeople. At Coyote Trading Company, we take pride in the level of craftsmanship invested in by our artists as each seeks to illustrate his or her individual celebration of the feather’s inherent power and beauty.

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