So let’s examine it…
Last post, I shared a link to this Potawatomi site with their tribes cultural teachings. Today I’m going to direct attention to another one of their videos. The specific part relevant to this post begins as the 12:13 min mark of the video. I’ll also be referencing The Mishomis Book, by Edward Benton-Benai again. (Edit: When first sharing this, one of my initial resources for this had disappeared from the internet, and I made do with what resources I had left. I have since rediscovered it on the internet archive: The Eagle Feather)
The Eagle as Intercessor
Days of Darkness
And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, in the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land, and there was also a great and terrible tempest and there was terrible thunder insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder. And there were exceeding sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land. 3 Nephi 4:2
After some time, there came to be people who chose to use the Midewiwin as a way to build up their own personal power. They sought to instill fear in other people by harnessing spiritual powers and using them in evil ways. There were those that even took the lives of others and distorted the lives of their rivals by using their spiritual medicine in a bad way.
This was clearly against the intentions of the Creator. He was greatly angered at how such a beautiful gift could be so twisted and corrupted. The Creator instructed a very powerful spiritual being to destroy the Earth after the Sun rose four times. Some say that this being was the father of Waynaboozhoo. It looked as though all life on the Earth would be destroyed again.
Just before dawn on the fourth day, the Mi-gi-zi’ (eagle) flew out of the crack between darkness and light–that edge between night and day. He flew straight into the sky. He flew so high that he flew completely out of sight. He flew to talk with the Creator. The Sun was about to come over the rim of the Earth. The eagle screamed four times to get the Creator’s attention. The Creator saw the eagle and held back the sun. At the time of this be-da’-bun (“false dawn”), the eagle talked to the Creator. He said “I know the Earth is full of evil and corruption. I have seen all this. But also I have seen that there are yet a few people who have remained true to their instruction. I still see the smoke of Tobacco rise here and there from humble people who are still trying to live in harmony with the Universe. I plead on behalf of these few that you call off the destruction of the Earth. Let me fly over the Earth each day at dawn and look over the people. As long as I can report to you each day that there is still one person who sounds the Waterdrum or who uses Tobacco and the Pipe in the proper way, I beg you to spare the Earth for the sake of the unborn. It is in these unborn that there is still hope for Earth’s people to correct their ways.
The Creator pondered what the eagle had to say. He then instructed the spiritual being in which he had left the destruction of the Earth to hold back his fury. He entrusted the eagle with the duty of reporting to him each day the condition of the Earth’s people. The miracle of the sunrise happened again for the Anishinaabe.
We owe our lives and the lives of our children to the eagle. This is why the eagle is so respected by native and natural people everywhere. This is why Indian people make a whistle from the wingbone of the eagle. They sound this whistle four times at the start of their ceremonies. They do this to call in the power of the spirits. They do this to remember our brother, the eagle, and the role he plays in the preservation of the Earth. The Mishomis Book p.81-82
- The father of Nana’b’oozoo (or Waynaboozhoo as he is referred to in The Mishomis Book) is described as “a being with terrible power,” and was “the holder of the power of lightning and thunder.”
- The “pipe” mentioned is the “peace pipe,” or ceremonial pipe and is a sacred symbol among Native Americans, with its origin varying between tribes. Among the Anishinaabe, it’s origin was as a gift to Nana’b’oozoo from his father for the Anishinaabe people. He “showed the people how to smoke tobacco in the Pipe and in so doing seal peace, brotherhood, and sisterhood among the bands, tribes and nations. Waynaboozhoo told the people that the smoke that came from the Pipe would carry their thoughts and prayers to the Creator just as their Tobacco offerings in the fire would do.” To read more about the pipe’s symbolism to Jesus using Lakota traditions you may want to read this more recent post.
- The waterdrum is a sacred instrument steeped in symbolism. A tree of life is used instead of a waterdrum in some Ojibway bands during Midewiwin initiations.