An eagle feather is a lot like the American flag. It must be handled with care and can never be dropped on the ground. Feathers mean a lot to Native American Tribes. A feather isn’t just something that falls out of a bird, it means much more. The feather symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, freedom and many more things. To be given one of these is to be hand picked out of the rest of the men in the tribe – it’s like getting a gift from a high official.
If any Indian is given Golden or Bald Eagle feathers it is one of the most rewarding items they can ever be handed. The Indians believe that eagles have a special connection with the heavens since they fly so close. Many Indians believe that if they are given this feather, it is a symbol from above. They believe that the eagle is the leader of all birds, because it flies as high as it does and sees better than all the birds.
Once an Indian receives a feather he must take care of it, and many will hang it up in their homes. It is disrespectful to hide it away in a drawer or a closet. An Indian will be given a feather to hold on to or to wear, and if they hold it they must put it out for everyone to see. This will be a constant reminder of how to behave.
The only way an Indian can actually get one of these feathers is by doing a brave deed, like fighting off a bear or going up against the enemy. They were never allowed to wear the feather until they went in front of their tribal court and retold the story of their victory. It was at this time that they were allowed to put it in their headpiece. Only chieftains, warriors, and braves have ever been awarded this special gift. The next time you see eagle feathers in a headdress, think about how they were earned.
For more information see: http://www.indians.org/articles/feathers.html
Because the Native Americans were the first people in this country, many of the United States of America flags consist of Native American Indian imagery and symbols. Some states that have a Native American Indian flag include Massachusetts and Oklahoma. The city of Grand Forks, North Dakota also uses Native American symbolism on their flag.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Massachusetts State Indian flag shows a picture of a Native American Indian in traditional dress on a shield. The Native American is from the Algonquin tribe. He is shown carrying a bow and arrow with the arrow pointing downward. This is a Native American symbol meaning peace. The star that is shown on the Indian flag represents that Massachusetts was one of the original colonies. There is a blue ribbon, which is on the bottom of the shield, which signifies the Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts. The Latin words inscribed on the shield mean, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under Liberty”. It is said that the Massachusetts Indian flag has been used since the American Revolution. This flag is the same for the governor; only the shape of the flag is a triangular pennant.
OKLAHOMA: The other Native American Indian flag that is used by one of the American states is the Oklahoma state flag. The Oklahoma state flag displays a Buffalo skin shield against a blue background. Seven Eagle feathers surround the shield. This is a shield from the Osage Nation. Two symbols of peace are placed upon the shield the Peace Pipe and the Olive branch. The Peace Pipe represents the Native American tribes and the olive branch represented the Caucasian settlers. The symbolism of the two peace emblems was a wonderful representation of the unity and peace treaties that were enacted by those in Oklahoma and the Native Americans.