Tag: Native Americans

Just What Is an Indian Medicine Bag?

Linda pubpixI was so excited when Forever His Texas Bride, the last in my Bachelors of Battle Creek, came out in December. I’d waited a whole year for readers to get it. This story is about Brett Liberty who happens to be a half-breed. He knows nothing at all about his past. Someone left him on the orphanage steps with only item in the basket with him—an Indian medicine bag with an onyx stone inside. Growing up with whites, he doesn’t know what the bag stands for even which tribe he belongs to. Finally when a woman comes with proof that she’s his sister, he learns he’s Iroquois.  But the medicine bag remains in the bottom of a chest with his things until he discovers a very sick old Comanche on his land and sees that he wears the same sort of leather pouch around his neck. When Brett gets his, the man explains what it is and the purpose.

 

a medicine bagMedicine bags were widely used in the American Indian culture. It was a special sacred container usually made of leather, but sometimes were fashioned from a small animal pelt. They held any object that the wearer thought would give him great “medicine” or power.

 

Typically, they contained something from each the plant, mineral and animal kingdom in addition to anything else the wearer thought would bring good fortune, protection and strength. Almost all held sweet grass or sage. No one was allowed to open another’s and when a warrior died, the bag was buried with him. To lose a medicine pouch signified a man had lost his “medicine” and he faced great dishonor and was ridiculed in the tribe. It also meant a bad omen for the future. After learning about his, Brett never took it off.

 

simple medicine bagThe onyx that Brett found in his was put there by his mother to protect him. But he knew a copper strand of Rayna Harper’s hair would bring strength so he put that inside as he went about collecting items that would give him power to fight the men who wanted to kill him. He made a medicine bag for Rayna and she put a piece of fringe from Brett’s moccasin inside along with a green stone from their secret waterfall.

 

Cowboy Coffee mugI have a small leather one that has a beautiful green stone, a small turtle figure and sage inside. What would you put inside one if you had it? What things would you think important to carry?

 

I’m giving away this cowboy and horse mug to one person who leaves a comment.

 

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

 

Rayna’s hand came in contact with a soft leather pouch she’d never seen him wear before. “What’s this?”

“A medicine bag. I’ve always had it, but until today I didn’t know what it was or why it was in the basket when I was left at the orphanage. Bob told me it holds my power, things that have meaning only to me.” He paused a moment, and when he spoke, his voice sounded rusty. “Rayna, I have a request that may sound odd. Would you mind if I cut a small piece of your hair to put inside?”

His request surprised her at first, then warmth rose at the thought that she meant this much to him. She raised her head. “I’d be honored to have a lock of my hair in your medicine bag.”

She moved from the circle of his arm. He pulled his knife from its sheath and, holding a curl between his thumb and forefinger, cut it. Then he opened his leather pouch and laid it inside. A pleasant glow spread through her chest. Part of her would always be with him. Her eyes misted.

Brett placed his lips to her ear. His soft breath ruffled her hair. “Thank you, Rayna.”

Flutters quivered in her stomach. When she leaned into him, he dropped a kiss on her cheek before moving away. Though she wished for more, she’d learned to be grateful for what she got. She had these peaceful moments and shared secrets with Brett to cherish forever. Maybe she was starting to heal. Maybe this land could heal her ragged spirit, too, and help her live with the things she couldn’t go back and fix. If she had a mind to.

But some things just needed doing even if they scarred your soul.

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You can find all three of my Bachelor series online and in bookstores. I’m currently working on a brand new series called Men of Legend. Book #1—TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER releases in October.

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Crossing Cultural Frontiers: The Wild, Wild… East? by Lori Benton

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Lori Benton

 

Long before the California Gold Rush, before Louisiana was purchased and Lewis & Clark made their epic journey there and back again, there was an American frontier. We now call it the East.

In the last decades of the 18th century, colonists living in what would become the United States thought of the West as what lay just beyond the Appalachian Mountain range. These mountains were meant to serve as a barrier to colonial expansion. The land to the west was reserved by the British Crown for the Native nations who called it home. How quickly that frontier shifted as colonists ignored the barrier—and shifted back again as indigenous nations resisted being overrun. One place this process unfolded dramatically and with complex consequences for the people who lived there was western New York in the 1770s.

The Woods EdgeWhile researching New York history for my novel, Burning Sky, set in 1784, I learned of the division that occurred among the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Those six nations are, east to west as they dwelled across what is now New York State, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. My focus during the Burning Sky research was on the Mohawks, but time and again the Oneidas snagged my attention. For one conspicuous reason—they went against the majority of the pro-British Six Nations and sided with the Americans during the war, serving as scouts, spies, and in some cases officers in the Continental Army. This decision on the Oneidas’ part broke a confederacy that had existed for centuries.

Why did the Oneidas make this choice? Decades before war’s outbreak, the seeds of division that would force the Oneidas to this momentous decision were being planted among the confederacy nations, seeds carried in the minds and hearts of individuals who chose to cross that first western frontier: traders, interpreters, explorers, and missionaries.

BurningSkyFrom as early as the 17th century, the Iroquois had welcomed French Jesuits among them. This resulted in groups of Native converts leaving their native Mohawk Valley and moving north to live on reserves along the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec. In 1710, sachems (peace chiefs) on a visit to England requested Queen Anne send Anglican missionaries to help guard against more of the people converting to Catholicism and decamping for Canada. Queen Anne complied. Soon the Anglican Church made its converts, especially among the Mohawks. Later in the 18th century, Presbyterian missionaries from New England ventured among the Iroquois. Among these was the staunchly patriotic Samuel Kirkland, who settled in the Oneida town of Kanowalohale and ministered among them for a decade before the Revolutionary War. By that time he’d gained the devotion of many Oneidas, including many chief warriors.

As conflict with the colonies escalated into war, the British pressured the Six Nations to honor what was known as the Covenant Chain of Friendship, but the Oneidas were increasingly drawing support, both material and spiritual, from Kirkland’s patriotic American friends. As time passed and loyalties became entrenched, there was very little middle ground upon which these polarizing nations could meet. Once war reached the Six Nations’ homeland, there could be no standing to the side while the King and his rebellious children (the colonials) fought it out, not when it came to protecting their own towns and hunting grounds. The Oneidas made their choice with heavy hearts, and for the next several years the frontier became a place of harrowing violence for natives and whites alike.

As I came to grasp the tremendous pressure the Oneidas found themselves under during this tumultuous time, the contributions they made to the founding of an American nation, and the devastating price they paid for following their convictions, I couldn’t resist attempting to tell their story. In The Wood’s Edge and its sequel, A Flight of Arrows (spring 2016), readers will meet two families, one white and the other Oneida, who become linked forever by tragedy and grace, as one young woman and one young man find the courage to cross the daunting frontier between them and meet in a middle ground of their own hearts’ making.

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Did it surprise you to learn the Oneidas were allies of the Americans during the Revolutionary War? Leave a comment with your thoughts on this post and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of The Wood’s Edge.

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The Wood’s Edge

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

 

2 Chapter Sneak Peek: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Woods-Edge2.pdf

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Buy Link for The Wood’s Edge:  Click HERE

Contact:

Lori’s website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com/

Lori’s Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLoriBenton#