.A Native American eagle staff is a highly honored and sacred object. It can represent a number of entities or ideals including a single Native nation, a particular clan, a single Native language or an indigenous medicine or healing art. In many Native traditions it is said that eagles can communicate directly with Creator, making them, and their feathers highly revered. The eagle staff, in turn, becomes a conduit of prayer itself. The making of an eagle staff begins only after an individual has had a vision or a dream informing them to undertake this sacred rite.
Talk to an Elder and tell them of your vision or dream. Offer tobacco before asking for counsel regarding how you should proceed. Choose someone who is familiar with the teachings and wisdom of your nation or clan.
Meditate and pray while choosing the wood for the staff. Eagle staff's are generally made with a local wood and one that will hold up over generations. Staff's are typically four to six feet long and can either be straight or be curved on top and thin enough to hold comfortably in two hands.
Create a banner for the staff. Usually made out of felted cloth and long enough to run ¾ of the length of the staff; these banners will represent the colors or symbols of what the staff stands for. These could be the colors of a particular Nation or clan. Banners should have grommets sewn six to eight inches into the left side of the banner, where it will be affixed to the staff. Eagle feathers are tied to the right side of the banner through 13 smaller grommets.
Obtain 13 eagle feathers, representing the 13 moons in the Native year. Eagle feathers must be found or given and never received in a way that is not sacred or just.
Smudge with sage or other cleansing smoke and pray over all objects before assembling. Give tobacco to an Elder and ask that sacred words be said before commencing.
Affix the eagle feathers onto the right side of the banner. Use twine, hemp or other natural fiber. Make sure the feathers are tied tightly. The staff will often be used outdoors during Grand Entry and other ceremony and the feathers must be attached as strongly as possible so as not to fall to the ground.
Assemble the staff by attaching the banner with wire or twine. The banner should not be permanently affixed as it may need to travel and is better cared for when it is folded and stored separately from the staff.
Present your completed staff to the Elder who counseled you and ask for a blessing.
Eagle feathers are federally protected and can only be gathered with a permit.
Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.