The Eagle Staff is an important symbol to many North American tribes. The eagle represents the Thunderbird spirits of the supernatural world who care for the inhabitants of our physical world. Qualities such asfarsightedness, strength, speed, beauty and kindness are attributed to the eagle, which never kills wantonly, only to feed itself and its family. The Eagle Staff symbolizes reverence for the Creator and all of life
The Eagle Staff leads the procession as the traditional flag made of feathers from an eagle. Traditional dancers enter from the East, following the Eagle Staff, then come the fancydancers, then the Hoop dancers, followed by the Shawl Dancers, and finally the boys and girls.
Veterans of previous generations first recognized the need for a community eagle staff. Since then, the struggle to create a veterans group and a community eagle staff has been a battle that has been long fought by many people. The story of the Pokagon Eagle Staff is beautiful one that depicts the creator’sinfluence in its design. Of all the people that worked on its conception and design, not one of them envisioned the magnificent spectacle that it is today.
We invited an Elder to speak with our group to give us the history as he could recall it from an earlier generation. We had Potawatomi veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War and the eras in between, who firstrecognized the need for a community eagle staff. These veterans participated in events and pow wows which caused them to consider the idea of creating a tribal veterans group as well. During this period of time, long before the Pokagon Band’s federal recognition, the community was not ready for these things so in spite of the best efforts by some great veterans and people, neither the veteran’s group northe community eagle staff became a reality.
In the early 2000s, the drive to create the veteran’s group began anew. Veterans with various backgrounds began to meet to see how they could achieve this goal. During these early meetings, the idea for a community eagle staff became a fresh topic once again. Some of these veterans, not knowing the spiritual and traditional side of our heritage,unknowingly thought that creating an eagle staff were as simple as putting feathers on a staff. In an effort to get this staff ready by the inaugural Oshke Kno Kwewen Memorial Day Pow Wow in 2010, steps were taken to fast track the eagle staff. We had a contribution of feathers to create the flag part of the staff. We had an artist donate the staff and base. A family member of the artist made abeautiful basket to house the staff during its travels.
At this point in time, as good fortune would have it, we had some veteran with some exposure to traditional teachings whose objections caused the group to slow down and begin to consider all the important elements that make up a community eagle staff. Of course, the most important consideration was how to involve the community in this venture.A lesson learned from the past was that if this venture was to be a success, the community would have to support the effort. It was decided that each family would contribute a feather to the staff in honor of the veterans in their family. Before the group could even consider asking families for their feathers, we had a feather arrive from Texas. The inauguration of the staff saw thirteen family...