In Native American culture it is believed that all things possess an inherent virtue, power, and wisdom. The feather, for example, is a powerful symbol that signifies honor and a connection between the owner, the Creator, and the bird from which the feather came. It symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, and freedom. It is an object that is deeply revered and a sign of high honor.
The Meaning of the Feather
Native American warriors were awarded a feather when they won a battle or were particularly brave in war. When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the bird's energy, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. Feathers may arrive unexpectedly but not without a purpose.
The Eagle Feather
Each type of feather represents something different. The eagle’s feather, however, is one of the most esteemed. In Native culture, the eagle is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, its feathers symbolize what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest. It has strong medicine.
United States law recognizes the unique significance of eagle feathers in Native American culture, religion, and tradition. The eagle is a highly protected creature under U.S. law, but special exceptions are made to allow Native Americans to possess, pass down, gift, and acquire eagle feathers within specific conditions.
An eagle's feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride. They are handled with great regard. In fact, if an eagle feather is dropped during a dance, a special ceremony is performed before picking it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.
The eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows. When a feather is held over a person’s head, it is a blessing, wishing bravery and happiness. Like many Native American symbols, some even choose to tattoo feathers on their bodies to help them on their journey or to tell their story. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity, and happiness.
The Eagle–Wanblí is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds.
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