Tom Brown Jr.
Many of my students have gone home to practice their many
skills and learn to take on new ones. Quickly they become overwhelmed by the
wide assortment of items used by various tribes and feel it would be too hard to
wade through all of them. Careful, many of these items were of religious or
spiritual value to that particular tribe or person and should not be duplicated
unless the person duplicating them finds his medicine is leading him that way.
I am a completely practical man and don't make many things
that are not of some use in a survival situation. Many of. the more developed
skills such as bead working and quill working were an art form or part of a
religion or life style, and of little use in a survival situation. I would
rather have a student learn the nine ways to build a fire without matches, flint
and steel, etc. rather than have him learn to build a ceremonial lance and
shield. In a survival situation these things make little difference.
Once the basic survival techniques and skills are learned and
understood, then is the time to look for the decorations that make life more
pleasant and fulfill our artistic tendencies. Make your medicine or sacred items
special to you and not copied from some book showing someone else's sacred
items, thus losing its spiritual significance.
I think that there are far too many students trying to make
Blackfoot saddles, shields, lances, and beaded vests instead of spending the
time learning the basic survival skills and techniques. I guess there must be a
certain satisfaction in copying those items, but if it is at the expense of
mastering the art of living in harmony and balance in a full survival situation,
then it should be abandoned until the basics are mastered.