What do you really know about the Eagle? The highest flier of all the birds, eagles have been reported to be seen flying as high as 10,000 feet above the earth. It's wingspan, of six to eight feet can take it soaring towards the sun, or a dizzying downward dive earthward to grasp a fish it has spotted from high in the sky.
Handsome in appearance, the eagle mates for life. It is a devoted parent, and if undisturbed, will keep and maintain its original nesting place all of its life. Small wonder it has drawn the attention of mankind, from the early beginnings, to this day.
To the western world, the eagle represents power, strength, and loyalty, and in the United States, freedom, as well. An emblem of the eagle has been seen on the seals of countries, kingdoms, empires, and even on the seals of tyrants and despots as far back as in ancient times.
Nowadays, the eagle's name has been given to playing teams, and in a smaller sense, it represents a scoring perfection in golf and tennis.
Since so many have chosen this majestic bird to represent what they stand for, we must ask ourselves this question. "Have the men themselves lived up to the qualities the bird represents, in their society?"
What a tragedy, that while the eagle's "image" is so revered, the very people it represents have brought the bird itself close to extinction. Only in recent times, are laws finally being passed to save this wonderful creature. Unlike the eagle "emblem" so highly touted in western civilization, it is in the Native American culture that eagle and man bond together. "Birds of a Feather" was never truer.
Eagle legends abound in the many stories passed down, generation to generation by tribal elders. Many tribes, like the Sioux, believe that an eagle fathered their tribe. This warm, loving relationship is so different from the eagle stamped on brass, in the so-called civilized world.
Seeing the eagle soaring in the outer-reaches of the sky convinced the Indian that his brother was indeed, a messenger from Father Sun. Why else would the Great Spirit have given him the strong wings to lift his skyward flight?
Eagle feathers on the war bonnet, or shield, protected the warrior in battle. Eagle feathers on dance regalia brought the eagle's spirit into the dancer's heart, as with exotic twists and turns, his eagle brother truly became a part of him. The medicine man attached eagle feathers to his healing paraphernalia, the eagle's power being strong enough to heal the sick.
We will go on, seeing the image of the eagle everywhere we look, but until man respects the eagle for itself, and seeks out its virtues in his own life, that image will have no true meaning.
Grandmother Two Bears.
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