A box with wings:

 

A little warning:

This is a rather bloody post, so iffff you are a bit squeamish, please skip this one…..

I am putting it here mainly for all my international students to get an idea, as to how to preserver the Birds wings that you so often see dressed up and used as smudging fans in my shamanic art posts.

Owl wing wand

Owl wing wand

Usually, you – or we drive down the country road – and there, on the side is a traffic victim, a little bloody, but in all rather fresh and you wonder, how you could save its feathers. .

Well, you will have to get a plastic bag and start plucking ….. and then respectfully put the remains aside for brother Fox to find the coming night. But what, if you want to preserve and use the magnificent wings?

Sure you could take your find home and then work on it there…. But so often I hear: ”Yeah, we found a Hawk, but we were on a road trip and we could only take a few feathers instead of the full wings and talons……”

First of all, equip your car with what you will need:

1 sharp poultry shears

2. a hefty end cutter

3. a sharp knife

4. large styrofoam plates – the ones from the meat department of the grocery store or from Styrofoam packing material you have recycled.

5. a box with medium sized safety pins – to pin down wings and talons onto the styrofoam plate- or, if need be, the carpet of your car……

6. some kind of string – to straighten out talons

7. rubber bands – to straighten out talons

8 .assorted sizes of plastic bags – for fresh items – and for feathers

9. bungee cords – to tie something onto the roof or the back bumper

This will become your Bird tool kit and come in handy for other “finds” as well.

On the little trip to Manitoulin Island that I talked about in the previous post,

leaving the Pow Wow and driving south we found first a Sharp Shinned Hawk.

Into a large bag he went and with bungee cords tied to the roof rack. Only minutes later there was another Bird on the road:

A perfectly beautiful Merlin! Only he was dead:(

We bagged him as well.

In the motel I went to work:

Sage and cedar for a fare well and a chant to find home and to come back 7 generations from now, in a little egg in a nest… grow up healthy and strong… far away from any cars and road traffic…..

Then, tears aside, out came the shears and the promise to make something beautiful and honourable from the parts I take……

I cut the wings right at the shoulder joints

plucked from breast and back feathers what I knew I could use,

plucked the tail feathers

cut the legs at the knee joints

took some cedar boughs from outside and drove to the next secluded wood lot to bury the remains facing East

Yes, there was another chant and some more tears…..

Then, back at the motel I went to work.

I washed the blood of wings and feathers and dried them off

We would be on the road for the next few days and so now I needed a secure place, where to pin the wings and where they could stay – undisturbed.

Out of the back hatch came all our stuff. Cars are upholstered these days and there was carpet material in/ on the bottom of the trunk. Into this I pinned my fully stretched out wings using the safety pins = one at the bottom of the first primary and one into the lower back skin, so the wing stretches straight out.

I put some newspaper over the wings and a floor mat on top of that. Then all our luggage and stuff could go on top and would not make any damage.

The talons need stretching.

Pin then into the styrofoam tray. 3 front claws , on back claw. Then attach a string to the upper part of the leg bone and straighten it 90 degrees. with a safety pin peg the string so this position is secured. You also can use rubber bands as I did later with my “wing box”

At home of course you have to retrieve your wings and pin them to styrofoam or stiff cardboard. When I got home I used my pinning box – an old styrofoam ice chest.

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Inside the box you see the perfect Merlin wings at the sides and the smaller reddish wings of a female Kestrel, that, sadly,we found the next day. One of her wings is quite damaged and what I will do with it I will see, when all is dry. In the middle all the talons are straightened out using a central chop stick and string as well as rubber bands.

On the outside of the box I pinned the Sharp Shinned Hawk wings.

DSCN4415

It will take at least 3 months, until the wings are dried enough to be worked on and inserted into a decorated wooden handle can begin their life as a smudging fan.

The talons may even take a bit longer and may then adorn a Hawk Medicine Staff

The feathers I harvest, I always put into a plastic bag and then they go into the freezer for 48 hours, to kill off any mites and other “critters” that live in feathers. After that they are ready to use.

 

Hawk Staff

Hawk Staff

 

Pow Wow

Woman dancers

This summer in August Peter and me took a little mini holiday and went up to Manitoulin Island to attend the annual Pow Wow on Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.

We had a wonderful time and also met a few dancers, that we know from Pow Wows in our area. It is always surprising to see, how many folks follow “the Pow Wow trail” from one event to the other and dance every weekend.

Writing this I suspect you guys want to see some pictures!??!

Eagle Staff

Eagle Staff

OK!

Deer Clan dancer

Deer Clan dancer

 

full Siberian style facial vail

full Siberian style facial covering on Woodland regalia

Woodland Culture  regalia

Woodland regalia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Clan dancer

Wolf Clan dancer

Of course I also wanted to see the vendors that were set up just outside the dance grounds, I was secretly hoping to maybe find and “adopt a special treasure as a memento of out trip,

What however surprised me is, that up here in spite of all the galleries advertising Native art and handiwork what we found was rather dismal, cheaply made – but not by any First nations people from this continent. Colourful Chinese Chicken feathers and plastic beads everywhere.

Dream catchers from China – or the Dollar store – or both….. 😦

Other things made of Moose or Deer hide but crudely glued together with a glue gun and adorned with plastic beads and said Chicken feathers…….

Tacky velvet pictures of the stereotypical Indian on a Horse brandishing a spear towards the sunset…..

Where IS all the good stuff??????

What will the small kids growing up now on the res think of as their art and artistic expression, when all they see at their cultural events is this?

OK, there was a Caucasian guy selling the big Navajo jewellery with Turquoise cabochon – VERY expensive….

And I can not count how often I was asked or commented or complemented on the Wolf pin and earrings I wore – which of course Peter had made. I passed out all our Bearpaw Jewellery business cards.

So, in the end, what did I buy?

My heart cramps up in sorrowful pain as I am writing this down…..

There was a fur trader from Alberta. He had strung up in his tent – among many other pelts, 2 Wolves. A black male – Huuuuge! And an almost white female – beautiful…….

Standing in front of her, my heart pounded loudly and I was transfixed…….

I asked about her.

The story is not pretty:

……Alberta Wolf cull…..

…..South of Slave Lake….

…..She was shot in the face.

I need not say more- I hope……

There as a gentleman from England, who has a cottage somewhere here and was looking for a wall decoration, eyeing her and an Arctic Fox pelt…….

Peter wordlessly gave the trader $ 600,00 and then we smudged her.

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What will I do with her?

How will I somehow craft her ruined face back together?

Today, a month later, I still do not know…….

But I visit her, talk to her … and now I am crying into the keyboard……

…..for her…..

…..for all the cups she should have had…..

…..for all the Wolves…..