Indian Blankets And Horses

In the old west there were several methods of taming horses, I’m sure most folks had their own way of doing it. But did you ever hear that there was a method used where indian blankets tamed horses? There sure was! It was called the Indian Blanket Act.

Cowboys preferred a horse that had been “Injun Gentled” because the horse usually came from a strong stock and was easily managed. Now sometimes the Native American who had tamed the horse used a method of gently getting to know the horse over several days. That’s where the “gentled” term comes from. It would seem that with patience the Native broke down the natural fear that a wild horse would have over encountering this two-legged being that didn’t smell like horse. Depending on the horse, this method might take a long time to finally get the desired end result of being able to ride the no longer wild horse.

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Native American Blanket

Native American blanket , lasso , and spurs Postcards by prophoto at Zazzle.

Another method often used was for the Native American to use an Indian Blanket. This method became known as the Indian Blanket Act. From what I can tell, this method took less time. A matter of an hour or two and the horse had lost its fear. Some would say that the Native hypnotized the horse with the blanket but I think there was more to it than that. It seems that the practice was to get the wild horse in a corral. Now you know that horse is tense and scared and looking for a way to get out. The Native would get into the corral with the horse, keeping his distance. He would alternate from standing perfectly still and using slight movement to keep the horse’s attention. The aim was not to spook the horse but to get him or her calmed down. I don’t think the blanket was a way to hypnotize the horse but it gave a slight movement from any wind that was blowing. After a while the horse sees that this two-legged is no threat and a trust starts to form. The spirit of the horse wasn’t broken by being roped and bullied but gentled because the fear was taken away.

Sometimes the cowboys of the old west referred to the taming of a horse with the indian blanket act as having been “Indian signed”. That’s because many of the blankets back then told a story through the designs used. Most often there was a history unfolding in the story which became known as the Indian Sign.

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Cochise Apache Chief

Cochise was not just a character in western movies and tv shows. He was actually a real Apache Chief of the Chokenen-Chiricahua Apache band located around the area of what is now Sonoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

This true legend of the old west is one of the better known names of the Apaches along with Geronimo and Mangas Colorades. All three men fought very hard during their lifetimes to stop the invasion of white settlers and Mexican and American soldiers into the land that their people had lived in since around 1600.

I could not find an actual photo of Cochise to share in this post. Let me correct that, I found enough to get a campfire started with but none of the photos were truly the Apache Chief Cochise. That became apparent when I noticed that the different pictures were not the same man. Maybe one of the reasons that there were no photographs taken of him was because photography was relatively new during the time that he lived and even though there were photographers, getting that equipment  safely into Apache territory would have been a feat into itself.

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TV Series Cochise


Broken Arrow TV Series

So, I decided to share a video here that is about the friendship of Cochise and Tom Jeffords that actually existed. Jeffords was the only white friend of Cochise and ended up being the agent of the reservation where Cochise spent his last years. The movie Broken Arrow which starred James Stewart and Jeff Chandler actually was the first film that showed some sympathy towards Native Americans and their fight to keep the European settlers off of their lands. The movie has been credited to changing popular opinion of Americans from negative to positive towards the Indigenous Peoples of the North American continent. So, even though the actor playing Cochise was not himself from any tribal tradition, his role caused a better respect of the people who lost their homelands and fought hard battles for what was rightfully theirs.

To read some very interesting history of the Apache Chief Cochise, I would recommend the wiki article Cochise. I could write a summation of it but I think you would have more interest in reading the article first hand.

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Wounded Knee

It has been several decades since I first read about the massacre of American Indians along the creek called Wounded Knee and I have to tell you my heart has always remained heavy over what happened there. My heart is heavy again with a battle that seems to be raging once again in South Dakota over that very piece of land. Maybe I should first tell you what happened back in 1890 then go forward from there.

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Chief Spotted Elk Shot At Wounded Knee

The annals of history say this was the last battle of the Indian Wars, but it hardly seems a battle it was more just plain and simple a massacre. The members of a detachment of the US 7th Cavalry had intercepted Spotted Elk with his band of Miniconjue Lakota along with some Hunkpapa Lakota near a butte about 5 miles away from the creek. They marched the Indians to the creek and on December 29, 1890 decided that the Lakota had to be disarmed. There are different accounts of what actually happened that morning but the most repeated one is that a deaf man called Black Coyote could not hear what the soldiers had said. When they tried to take his gun away he began to scuffle with the soldiers. He had paid a lot of money for the gun and did not want to lose it. During the scuffle somehow a shot was fired and the soldiers opened fire on the group. By the time the shooting stopped over 300 people were dead which included innocent women and children. Many from both sides were wounded. A blizzard that lasted three days came about right after this “battle” and the dead were left where they were. The government hired civilians to come back and bury the dead. As if killing all of those Lakota wasn’t disrespectful enough…they decided to bury them in a mass grave!

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
from Allposters.com

Now we need to back up just a bit in history. The American Indians for the most part had all been herded onto reservations earlier on. In 1887 (some 3 years before Wounded Knee) there was a law or act that had been issued. It is known now as the Dawes Act but is also referred to as the General Allotment Act. It seems that Senator Dawes of Massachusetts and his fellow members of Congress felt that there was a need to assimilate the American Indians into the society of the whites. One way to do that was to allot land to individual Indians and make them promise to live more like the whites…farm, ranch and that sort of thing. The “trick” (and there was always a trick!) was that this also enabled our government to allot land to non-Indians. What they really wanted to do was open up some of the land that had been designated as a reservation to white settlers and business people to be able to live on those lands. Now, is it not odd that in the land of Wounded Knee and the Lakota there is a placed called the Black Hills and there was gold in them thar hills! Tell me that wasn’t the REAL reason for this despicable act of Congress! Long story short, somehow in the mess of all of this a non-Indian was allotted the very land where the Wounded Knee Massacre took place.

Over the course of the decades that have followed the land has been owned by 3 non-Indian families (never once owned by a Lakota) with the last owner having purchased it in 1968 and he is trying to sell it now. This 40 acre tract sits within the Pine Ridge Reservation but is not actually a part of the reservation because it is owned privately. The man, I won’t glorify him by calling him a gentleman, is trying to get somewhere between 3.9 to 4.9 million dollars for land that has been appraised at being worth $7,000. In 1973 there was another incident at Wounded Knee where the members of AIM stood their ground for 71 days. It was a nasty time and during the course of all of it the present owners property was destroyed. I get that he is still angry over what happened in 1973 but I have to ask. Wasn’t the man insured? He should have been! Johnny Depp has publicly said that he is very interested in purchasing this land and giving it back to the Lakota. I really hope that he is successful. Although from what I have read, he won’t be able to just give it to them. It would appear that an act of Congress is needed for that land or any land to be given back to a tribe. So, Mr. Depp if you are able to purchase it, sell it back to the Lakota for $1. That makes it legally transferable, I think. It would cut the red-tape and the Lakota at Pine Ridge could have their land back. To them it is sacred. They can’t afford the outrageous price that the current owner wants but I’ll just bet if something reasonable were offered, they would take it.

It has been around a year since the reports were brought out that Johnny Depp wanted to buy the land and as far as I can see there has been no progress as far as his purchase goes. I also can’t find any information that would indicate that anyone else  has purchased it. Hopefully the right thing will be done no matter who buys the land, we can at least hope.

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Calendars For The Otter Totem

Celebrating The Medicine Of Otter

If Otter is your Native American birth totem, one of your power totems, or just working with you as a messenger totem you will surely connect with these options for a calendar in 2015.

As an animal spirit Otter will remind us to remain playful like a child. Allow situations to just simply happen and unfold as they are meant to. Otter also teaches to stop worrying about things so much! Otter is the personification of femininity and will work with both male and female humans to get them in touch with their feminine side. Continue reading

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Standing People or Trees Calendars

Standing People Calendars

Trees are the Plant Kingdom Chiefs and give of themselves to provide so much for both humans and the creatures of the Earth. These Standing People provide oxygen for all living things while providing a place to live for the winged creatures. Small animals might take up residence in the hollow of an old tree. Some Standing People might provide food while others provide shade and shelter from the elements.

There are totem lessons or medicines both physical and spiritual from the many types of trees on Mother Earth. Having a calendar to remind you throughout the year can be helpful in your journey of life. Continue reading

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