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eagle dancer, potawatomi

2010, oil, 50"h x 34"w


The Potawatomi people were related to the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes and lived historically in the Great Lakes area. After a history of alliances with the French and English against the Colonials and Americans and subsequent expansion into the homelands by the white settlement, the tribe was moved in 1846 and again in 1868 to the Indian Territories. They remain there today, as members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

According to their creation story, life came to earth from the stars which were then transformed into the beautiful creatures of the land, sky, and waters. From the brightest of all stars a pure white eagle was created who roamed the heavens, a nomad seeking his place in creation. Venturing too close to the Sun, the eagle singed the tips of his feathers before returning to the earthly realm. Now the great eagle could travel between the physical and spiritual worlds as the guardian and keeper of the skies. He remains in this dual reality as a messenger and protector to the Great Spirit of all life. As a tribute to this heritage, the Potawatomi memorialize the eagle through their tribal rituals and ceremonies, through story, song and dance. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation today continues to cherish the eagle as a messenger and protector spirit. They care for injured eagles, rescued from the wild and unable to be rehabilitated, at their eagle aviary facility, Grey Snow Eagle House, in Oklahoma.

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