War Bonnet

The Beautiful Widespreading
Feathered War Bonnets
Were Developed By The Plains Indians

In The Old Days It Was Worn Only On Special Occasions
To Them It Was Highly Symbolic
Its Beauty Was Of Secondary Importance
Its Real Value Was In Its Power To Protect The Wearer
The Bonnet Had To Be Earned Through Brave Deeds In Battle
The Very Feathers It Contained Were Significant Of The Deeds Themselves
Honor Feathers Were Were Very Difficult To Earn
Some Warriors
Might Only Obtain Two Or Three Honor Feathers In Their Whole Lifetime

The Bonnet Was Also The Mark Of Highest Respect
It Could Never Be Worn Without The Consent Of The Leaders Of The Tribe

For Example
A High Honor Was Received By The Warrior
Who Was The First To Touch An Enemy Fallen In Battle
This Meant The Warrior Was At The Very Front Of The Fighting

Feathers Were Notched And Decorated To Designate An Event
Feathers Told Individual Stories
Such As Killing
Scalping
Capturing An Enemy's Weapon And Shield
And Whether The Deed Had Been Done On Horseback Or On Foot

The Eagle Was Considered By The Indian
As The Greatest And Most Powerful Of All Birds
The Finest Bonnets Were Made Out Of Its Feathers
When About Ten Honors Had Been Won
The Warrior Then Went Out To Secure Eagle Feathers
The Feathers Would Be Used To Make His Bonnet
Feathers Could Be Bought
But In Some Tribes The Warriors Were Allowed To Hunt Their Own Eagles

Birds Have Always Been Important To The Indian
Because They Go Where They Wish
They Light Where They May And They Are Free
The Eagle Flies Highest In The Sky Of All The Birds
And So He Is The Nearest To The Creator
His Feather Is The Most Sacred Of All
He Is The Highest Of All The Birds
And So Belongs To All The Tribes
To All The Peoples

The Bonnet Holds A Lot Of Oral History For The Warriors And Their Tribe
Stories Were Told Of Great Acts Of Bravery Around Camp Fires



Eagle War Feathers

A Long, Long Time Ago
Cheyenne Warriors Had Not Learned Yet How To Use Eagle For Their War Ornaments
One Of Their Men Climbed A High Mountain
He Lay There For Five Days, Crying, Without Food
Some Powerful Being, He Hoped, Would See Him And Come To Him
He Wanted The Powerful Being To Teach Him Something Great For His People

He Was Glad When He Heard A Voice Say
"Try To Be Brave"
"No Matter What Comes"
"Even If It Might Kill You"
"If You Remember These Words"
"You Will Bring Great News To Your People And Help Them"

After A Time He Heard More Voices
Seven Eagles Came Down As If To Fly Away With Him
But He Was Brave, As He Had Been Told
Though He Continued To Cry And Keep His Eyes Closed

Now The Great Eagles Surrounded Him
One Said "Look At Me"
"I Am Powerful"
"I Have Wonderfully Strong Feathers"
"I Am Greater Than All Other Animals And Birds In The World"

This Powerful Eagle Showed The Man His Wings And His Tail
He Spread All His Feathers As Wide As Possible
He Shows Him How To Make War Headdresses And Ornaments Out Of Eagle Feathers

"Your People Must Use Only Eagle Feathers"
"It Would Be A Great Help To Them In War And Bring Them Victories" Eagle Said

But There Were No Loose Feathers About
The Seven Eagles Shook Themselves
Plenty Of Feathers Fell To The Ground
The Cheyenne Picked Them Up
He Gratefully Took Them Home To His Tribe
On That Day, Eagle Feathers Were Seen For The First Time By The Cheyenne
They Knew Where The Feathers Came From

The Man Showed His People How To Make War Ornaments From The Eagle Feathers
He Had Done As He Had Been Told
From That Day Onward, The Man Became A Great Warrior In His Tribe
He Became Their Leader In War Parties

He Became So Successful That His People Named Him Chief Eagle Feather
He Wore His Eagle Feather Warbonnet Proudly
He Led The Cheyennes With Dignity And Pride

Author Unknown



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