The reason tribes use face art to transform themselves may be varied. Sometimes they choose to do so as a part of a tribal ritual or at other times they do so to mark their status (as is the case with some aboriginal tribes), but the colorful and dynamic language of the face painting remains the same.
Significance of the Colors: Colors in Native American culture have special significance. Red is a violent color; it is the color of war. Strangely enough black, which is considered to be an inauspicious colors in most cultures, is the color of ‘living’, worn on the face during war preparations. White predictably is the color of peace. The color green when worn under the eyes is believed to empower the wearer with a night vision. Yellow is the most inauspicious color, it is the color of death, as it is the color of “old bones.” Care should be taken not to wear a lot of yellow, and is worn only when a person is in mourning. Also yellow, means a man has lived his life and will fight to the finish. Each Indian tribe has its own and unique way of face painting. Face paintings can be the lightest streak of color on the face. It can also mean covering their faces completely.
Raw materials used for Tribal Face Painting: Face painting is considered to be an important tradition among Native Americans. It is much more than just a beautifying practice. It’s a sacred social act of distinction and a cultural heritage. On special occasions faces of the tribe members are painted to augment one’s appearance and power. Each tribe of the Indians has its own and unique way of face painting.
For Native Americans Indians, roots, berries and tree barks are most commonly used to make the dyes for face painting. These natural raw materials are ground and made to a paste to make the dye. Clay of different hues is also used in Native Indian face painting. These wonderful colors along with the ideal face painting designs do create a desired effect. The process envolved a strict ritualistic order, that is maintained during the application of these colors.
The colors are first applied around the nose and only the index finger and middle finger is used for the application. The rest of the face i.e. the forehead, chin and eye areas are then carefully covered with paint. For some face paintings they would cover their face and then plaster it down with mud leaving the holes for the eyes and mouth. Generally the warriors would paint their faces with colored clay. They would then do the design of their tribe. Each tribe has its own designs for war and ceremonies. For the Zuni, and in many other cultures, the paints are sacred and nobody is allowed to touch a painted dancer until he has washed his body.
Josephine Mandamin has walked more than 17,000 kilometres to raise consciousness of Great Lakes
She is known as grandmother water walker. In effort to raise awareness about pollution, laws and any issues that impact water, First Nations elder Josephine Mandamin has walked the shorelines of all five Great Lakes. That’s more than 17,000 kilometres of coastline and equal to nearly half the earth’s circumference. This week Mandamin left her home in Thunder Bay for southwest Ontario to speak at the 5 p.m. opening of Museum London’s Water Rights festival.
Before the opening, we spoke with her about her experiences. Here’s a portion of the conversation:
Q: Why did you set out to walk around the Great Lakes?
A:I think we need to raise consciousness. We need to be aware of the polluted waters we see. We are all of water. We need to protect this water as much as we can.
Q: Protect it from what?
A: The fracking, the pollution . . . the mining where waters are coming in. Corporations are selling off the water, prostituting our mother the earth. It’s the big corporations that need to be understanding.
Q:Where is the worst evidence of pollution and what did it look like?
A:In terms of looking at Northeastern Ontario there are a lot of small lakes in that area around the highways we walked on with green slime on the waters. The water is very still, it doesn’t move.
Q:What about the Great Lakes?
A: Lake Ontario . . . You could almost see the shimmering when you got to the New York side of it. We didn’t even touch the water, we usually take our shoes off at least and put our feet in. We swam in lake Michigan almost every day. But we didn’t touch Lake Ontario.
Lake Erie was brown. When we were on the U.S. side, it looked very dirty and very brown.
Q:How long did it take to walk around Lake Superior?
A: 32 days.
Q:What was your routine?
A: We’d get up at 2:30 or 3 a.m., and walk until the sun goes down. We’d have an orange or fruit along the way or juice. You have to walk with a pail as if you are walking with a water stream. It’s very important to keep the water moving because you’ve made that promise to keep it moving while you are walking. People would put us up in homes or if we had funds we’d stay in motels.
Q: What was the biggest challenge?
A: Our walkers were always having blisters but our feet got used to callouses after a while.
Q: Which Great Lake do you like best?
A:I think Lake Superior was the one we really respected a lot in terms of it’s majestic length and coolness of the water. It was very nice. You couldn’t swim in it because it was so cold. Lake Huron is my home water and I really have a lot of personal attachment to the water there. I’m from Manitoulin Island and Georgian Bay was pristine waters when I was there.
Q: What was your worst experience?
A: Lake Erie was a place where we were called down. On the American side, people were driving by saying ‘Crazy indians’ when we walked through Detroit, it was really scary. When we got back (over the Ambassador Bridge) to Windsor my son said ‘it’s good to be back home.’
Q: You’ve mentioned the pollution. Did anything give you reason for hope?
A:Lake Michigan is a beautiful lake and it flows into Lake Superior and there’s hope that we can still keep our waters pristine if we keep the motor boats and the gas out and get back to canoes. Where there are motorized boats, you can see the oil and gas in the water.
Q: What else?
A: One of the nicest things about people though was when they knew we were coming, people would come and help us out, they’d have supper for us, or give us money for hotel rooms. When we crossed (into Windsor) there was a committee of people and stopped and said the church was open for us.
If you go:
What: Water Rights Festival at Museum London, includes several documentaries about water
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday (film times listed at http://waterrightsfilmfestival.wordpress.com/)
I have spent quite a bit of my time in the last 25 years participating, apprenticing, reading, studying, and listening to teaches from First Nation groups. Most of the hands on work I have done have been in the realm of medicine (man/woman) or shamanism. Though I am not an expert as it is a lifetime journey, I would like to share some thoughts on the idea of physical pain, pain in the body, joints that have been brought on by more than diet, injury or disease.
I am constantly educating myself in the holistic approaches looking deep into folklore, oral traditions in the last 5 years to find answers and connections to what may cause the underlining condition of pain. As I dive deeper into what information I can find on such topics and when I can directly ask questions that sometimes do get answers it all leads me into great contemplation on the matters of health, wellness from an indigenous perspective and the stories regarding it.
Today I would like to just write about one idea. Their story/s or folklore if you will. This story is very old and literally goes back to when the peoples of the earth respected all beings and lived in balance. This story comes from the beginning when we humans stop living in balance with all living things and began to kill mostly animals taking far more than was needed. The animal kingdom made contracts with the people that they would allow humans to kill them for food, however this needed to be done in a sacred way, a blessed way, a right way to the animals and that the humans never took the animals lives for more than what was needed.
Though I have seen the sacred slaughter preformed and since I have only bare witness once, I have a sense that each tribe has a way of doing the sacred act and ceremony. I have attempted to find information on the internet to support the sacred slaughter so that anyone reading this might gather a better understanding but in the first nation communities most everything that has to do with ceremony is still not discussed openly, which I can agree that it is better that way. An average person could not understand the levels, depths, history, development required to fully get the totality of ceremony. The days, weeks spent in prayer before and after are challenging to the white mind that lives, breath, eats and lives fast and furiously. I am speaking of years of experience firsthand of what I have endured to understand such a small piece of it all. It for me has all been worth it but I have met many others who have felt this path was too difficult for them. I bless them in their search to find the right path, the right way for themselves.
The story is found, I am finding it in many oral traditions of why humans get sick and specifically one particular disease, dis-ease, illness and that is Rheumatism. I am posting what wiki has to say on the matter. Information for the reader. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheumatism
The story talks about the contract with the people of the earth being broken by the people hunting and killing the animals, taking far more than they needed and I suspect possible selling or acquiring some kind of gain as well. The animal that was particularly upset was the Deer in most of the stories however the Bear Nation went with the deer nation as support to the Creator and Counsels to vent their grievances with the humans not holding their end in the bargain. In the end it was the Deer that set a curse basically across humanity since the humans would not listen and continued to take more than they needed while the disrespect of the animals became the norm. The disease that was set upon man by the animal nations for taking more than they needed, this disease is specifically mentioned by the Cherokee and other First Nation tribes as Rheumatism.
The animals had to create a disease to put upon the humans that would stop them, keep them from walking, hunting, shooting the animals.
I have been working in the alternative medical end for 30 years for income. Before that I healed bugs, animals and whatever else came my way. In humans the number one complaint it pain, chronic pain, pain of the physical structure whether it came by family history, nutritional fetal issues, injury/s, disease, poisoning, job related as the list goes on I think it matter not the story of how but maybe why?
About three quarters of my practice, study and treatments are for pain, chronic pain, it is 75 percent of the reasons why people inevitably come to see me. They usually take a long walk through western medicine that offers them no remedy and has left them usually damaged, broken and pretty much destroyed. I am the last ditch effort people will try. Luckily I am good at what I do; the spirits guide me in the right directions for the people however it only works if I am in balance. Which takes a huge amount of work and effort on my part balance with the earth and all livings things is not easy. Like most there are days I would like to full check out, hide and ignore it all. Balance is a constant, minute by minute, daily check in of my inner world, which comes with being able to accept, surrender, as for help when I need it.
In the medicine/s of first nation people, the stories the humans are here to be helpers. We are the “Helpers” to this whole world, plant nations, water nation, air nation, animal nations, winged nations and each other. We are nothing more than helpers, but we have gotten so far away from helping anything or anyone. Helping ourselves to everything, taking and living in a unsustainable way seems to be the programming we are sold.
So I would like to offer a link to the past for those in chronic pain and those helping people in chronic pain. Maybe pain in the body structure “no” matter how it becomes or is acquired to be considered a symptom, a sign of taking too much? Consuming more than one need/s?
Maybe the possible cure would be to give, to start giving, helping wherever and whenever your road connected you with those in need of help? Instead of driving past or ignoring contaminated lots, homeless people, Not taking your family or friends in when they need help yet again. Maybe the soil, land around your house needs you to help it, to grow something in it? To stop applying chemicals that poison the microbial beings, birds, because we are too lazy or lack of respect to actually help the land, weeds, plants, bugs in natural helping way.
I know that is sounds simple, even ridiculous to some, but there has to be a starting place to the chronic pain and maybe that the animals were tired of being taken advantage of by us might hold some water? In the end people feel better, heal and are happier when they are giving, I have witness spontaneous healing in people who become passionate about helping in some way.
I have seen in myself having far less pain when I am giving, when I am helping openly and not with holding.
Being a helper giving more means you are open to finding the best possible place that you can do the best helping. Living sustainably means you use and need less, taking less and no matter what reason you come up with is a great place to be and with everyone helping we could turn this planet around in no time!
P.S I am sorry about the links not working on the blogs. I have worked on the website for 2 months now and cannot figure out how to fix it! A bit of extra work I know to paste them in browser.
Grow Food, Be Free and Live for a Living!