community members applied cedar oil to their eagle feathers
as part of the cleansing process.
For many indigenous tribes, the eagle remains a steadfast symbol
of strength and unity. This is why every year the Ziibiwing Center
of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways estimateds 500 eagle feathers
in their sacred and ceremonial collection receive needed attention
in celebration of their 17th annual Eagle Feather Cleansing, Honoring
As he encouraged the audience to "get warm with the spirit
of Anishinabe," Ziibiwing Curator William Johnson said the
Ziibiwing staff has a lot to be proud of during the Oct. 14-16 event
where everyone worked together to prepare.
"It is always an honor to work with the Tribal community
to cleanse, honor and feast the eagle feathers in our care,"
Johnson said. "I'm always happy that they consistently
bring their own eagle feathers year after year. It is truly a blessing
to be able to provide physical and spiritual care for the eagle
feathers in our Tribal community."
Ziibiwing understands and accepts the physical and spiritual
responsibility in maintaining the sacred and ceremonial collection.
"It is a lot of work that we take seriously," Johnson
said. "The eagle feathers in the sacred and ceremonial collection
are well cared for and it shows. Many young people brought their
eagle feathers in for cleansing and for that, we're grateful."
A Mide' "Little Boy" water drum and sacred pipe
ceremony was offered by M'Chigeeng First Nation Ontario, Canada
Elder, and teacher Brian Corbiere.
Corbiere's spirit name is Bibamikowi (He Who Leaves Impressions)
and he is from the Waabizhezhi (Marten) Clan.
"It was amazing to have Bibamikowi provide us with spiritual
teachings," Johnson said. "We learn so much from him.
He is truly a blessing and he has honored us many times in presiding
over repatriation ceremonies. He is always there when we need him."
Bibamikowi said with the eagle feather cleansing and ceremony
is done in the humble way ancestors handed down.
"There are many things we don't remember from our
Grandfather Teachings and that is why we bring our bundles and sacred
medicines to share with the people," Bibamikowi said. "The
spirits are here and ready to nourish and join us in the feast.
We feed those spirits by providing a spirit plate with all of the
gifts given by the Creator for the feasting of the eagle feathers."
Ogema Manitou Mukwa (Chief Spirit Bear) Tony Perry, Anishinabe
Ogitchedaw Veterans Warrior Society member, assisted Bibamikowi
in the ceremony.
"All the migizi miigwans (eagle feathers) and the spirits
of the eagles speak to each other and they visit while they talk,"
Perry said. "They are able to connect with each other and communicate
as they are brought together from behind closed doors and they visit
with the other miigwans. It is good for the eagle feathers to get
a cleansing and be able to get some wind on them and for them to
"The eagle flies higher than the hawk and the condor comes
from South America and is a relative to both of them," Perry
said. "Bibamikowi was gifted that condor feather from the Creator
through a South American monk and he hasn't decided what to
do with it yet. Along with the many teachings about the importance
of feasting eagle feathers, we learn the golden eagle is the one
who flies highest to the Creator and the eagle is the only bird
that flies courageously into the thunderstorms."
Perry said as people go through the storms of life, they can
use the spirit of the migizi miigwans and medicine they carry to
help them through struggles on mother earth.
"Those feathers are gifted to Anishinabe for a reason and
when you are having difficulty, that's when you can bring that
healing medicine out," Perry said. "That is why we see
the miigwans at ceremonies and we need to bring them out all of
the time and not just for special occasions."
The golden eagle is also twice the size of the bald eagle.
Many in the Tribal community brought their personal feathers
to be cleansed during this time.
Behavioral Health Helping Healer Beatrice Jackson of the Eagle
Clan recounted the creation story and eagle teachings with passion.
"From the earliest time, we have an understanding of why
the eagle is important to us in our lives," Jackson said. "This
is told, in part, by our creation story. The eagle feathers displayed
at the Ziibiwing Center are an example of honoring the life of the
Anishinabe people, past and present, and an honoring of the life
and the spirit of the eagle. This gives blessings and strength to
Research Center Specialist Robin Spencer takes great care
as she readies an eagle feather bustle for display.
"Cedar, often called giizhik, is a sacred medicine,"
she said. "The oil from this plant protects the feathers from
getting too dry and from any insect that might be in the area. The
intact eagle wing is a great healer and works with the energy of
the eagle, the smudging material used, and the tobacco offering
given by the person requesting the help. Used together, this healing
ceremony can bring back the balance of physical, mental, spiritual
and emotional well-being. Taking good care of your eagle feathers
Snowbird singers Daisy Kostus and Roxanne Sawade joined Tribal
Elder Bonnie Ekdahl as Jackson offered her grandmother pipe to the
women during the water ceremony.
Raynee Richardo and Isabella Leksche Rosales, Tribal youth,
also assisted the women by passing out water ceremony cups to attendees.
Ziibiwing Director Shannon Martin said she would like to thank
her staff, Julie Whitepigeon, Beatrice Jackson and the Anishinabe
Ogitchedaw Veterans and Warriors Society and Bibamikowi for assisting
in this endeavor.