Eagle Dance

Eagle Dance – (Cherokee, Comanche, Iroquois, Iowa, Calumet, Pueblo),  Early Spring

The Eagle is sacred and symbolic due to its ability to fly so high, and therefore it is believed to fly between the physical and the spiritual world.  The Eagle has been believed to have great power, including power over thunder and rain.  Eagle Dances were performed  when divine intervention was necessary as Eagles were thought to carry messages to the gods.

Each nation may perform the dance differently, yet each portrays the Eagle’s life cycle and flight around the sacred hoop – birth to death.  First Eagle learns to walk, then hunt to feed itself and it’s family.

As Eagles mate for life, usually two central dancers, dressed and painted to resemble a male and female Eagle dance in the center of a circle ringed by a male chorus and drummers, some nations have other dancers join the pair.  The two dance as if they are a pair.

Tell the Story:

Great-Wind lived on the top of Mount Shasta.  She had two daughters, and many people went to buy them.  But they could not reach the place where the girls lived, for the wind blew them back.  The people were scattered about everywhere, who had been thus blown away.  The old woman did not want her daughters to marry.  At this time Eagle thought, “I must try!  I wonder if I cannot get there!” so he went.

Eagle sang as he went along.  Now, Coyote was setting snares for gophers.  He said to himself, “Where is it that some one is talking?”  He listened, and thought, “It sounds like a song.  It is a song.”  He kept listening.  “It sounds like a song,” he said; “some one must be singing.”  It came nearer.  Coyote looked all about.  “Where is it that some one is singing?” he said.  Then Eagle came, flying.  “Eagle!  Where are you going?”  but Eagle went on, singing all the time.  “I want to go too!” said Coyote.  “Wait for me cousin!”–“Well, you can come too,” said Eagle.  So they went on together.

Eagle put Coyote inside his shirt; and they went thus together, went to buy wives, singing as they went.  Now, soon the wind roared near by.  Now it blew; and as they got to the bottom of the hill, just there it blew Coyote out.  The wind tore open Eagle’s shirt, and blew out what he carried there.  But Eagle kept on.  The wind blew very hard.  The skirt of hail, that the old Great-Wind woman wore, rattled as she turned round.  Eagle was blown quite a way back.  Again he came on, and got nearer.  Then he got pretty close, got over the smoke-hole, and then went in through it.  Again he was blown back, many times.  Finally he darted in suddenly in a lull in the wind, and sat down.  The wind lifted him off the ground where he sat, but the old woman could do nothing with him.  The wind blew the great logs in the fire about, but he still sat there.  Finally she gave up.  He was the only one who ever got there, to buy wives.

From Dixon, Roland B. Journal of American Folklore; Vol. 23 No. 87 p. 22-23.
Collected on behalf of the Huntington Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History.
The following myths were collected at the Grand Ronde and Siletz Reservations in Oregon, and at Oak Bar, Siskiyou County, California.

Thanks to Mount Shasta Companion:   http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/fol/nat/eagle.htm

Read a Book: Kwi-na The Eagle, by Jagendorf

Felt Board Theatre: E is for Eagle

Materials: Felt letters:  E,A, G, L, E     Felt Eagle  1  whole Eagle, or produce an Eagle puppet, 1 with the letters cut out to form the shape of the body, wings and head.

Song to sing:

“E  is the letter that we sing,

When we sing about E,  we give it wings,

When we add an A ,- G- L- E

We have EAGLE, this bird is the king!

Now we sing like an Eagle – Ayiiiik, Ayiiiik, Ayiiiik

E is for Eagle, and Eagle is King.

Puppet Theatre: Requires at least 2 puppeteers, three might be easier.

Re-tell the story of Kwi-na, this time using puppets.  This re-inforces the story and the kids will be familiar with the tale.

Craft: Make an Eagle bag puppet:


Published on December 5, 2010 at 4:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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