Most Native people traditionally believe that they were created from the earth, from the water and the stars. They have a deep connection to the land and often consider it sacred. They believe that animals share power and spirit with people so the Indian only hunted for food, clothing, and shelter and not for sport. I have read in many books that before an animal is killed, the hunter prays to the animal's spirit, asking it to give its life to feed a hungry family or tribe, and after, thanking it for giving its life.
They honor the spirit or the soul after death by communicating through the images they make of the them. They have a sense of who they are by honoring their tribal traditions. Their beliefs are made real through the creative process using natural materials and turning them into baskets, rugs, pottery, etc.
The Indians believed the eagle to be "chief" of all birds and was held in great awe. In some instances they were considered superstitious or in others they were worshipped. They believed that the eagles were created by their Supreme Being. It was the Sky God to the Hopi and the Thunderbird (white man's term) to others. The inspiration of the eagle, because of its extraordinary powers of vision, the great heights to which it soared, and its strength and courage, filled the Indian with hope and confidence.
The golden eagle or the mountain eagle was preferred over the bald eagle for the golden feathers were prized as exploit feathers and for war bonnets. The Plains Indians used to trap them from covered pits while other tribes scaled great heights to their nests. The Pueblo Indians had eagles in capitivity when first visited by Coronado. A pony on the plains was worth a complete tail of twelve feathers. White plumes with black tips were believed to be the most valuable.
Eagle feathers were used as decoration or to show their coup or rescue of a wounded prisoner. Some tribes used the down, wing, and tail feathers for sacrifice, while the wings were made into fans by others. Wing feathers were also used for arrows. Bones of the wings were made into whistles that were used during ceremonies. The eagle claws were believed to be good luck charms.
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