Here’s a look at some craft ideas you can use. They are based on workshops that Kaya have on offer.
Native American based crafts:
The talking stick, also called a speaker’s staff, is an instrument of aboriginal democracy used by many tribes. The talking stick may be passed around a group or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.
In a tribal council circle, a talking stick is passed around from member to member allowing only the person holding the stick to speak. This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard, especially those who may be shy; consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the “long-winded” don’t dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to interject. Talking sticks have high ceremonial and spiritual value, and have proved to be exceedingly useful during current implementations.
This activity has been designed to allow you to create your own Talking Stick and also to highlight how many tribes attribute meaning to all aspects of their creative arts. So we decorate these Talking Sticks with colours that relate to important aspects of the individual, family/community and the wider world.
- Each person needs a stick – this can be a ‘windfall’ stick from a tree, a piece of bamboo or anything similar (as long as it represent plants/trees).
- You will also need different coloured wool, string, ribbon or similar, for decorating your Talking Stick – I usually visit the local wool shop and buy all their ‘ends’ (left over wool from other projects).
- You can add feathers or beads (or anything else really) if you like.
- It is important that whatever you add to your stick represents something important to you, your community or the wider world. Each colour or addition could be a different family member, or favourite activity, or food, water, light, religion, nature. . .anything you feel is important.
- You can use tape to attach the beginning of the string/wool and then wrap it round and round – Or you can tie it on, or just wind it round carefully.
There is no strict way of making these sticks, so feel free to improvise.
- On completion it you can discuss the process and results. Either in pairs, small groups or as a whole group.
In some Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher is a handmade object based on a willow hoop, on which is woven a loose net or web.
The dreamcatcher is then decorated with sacred items such as feathers and beads.
Only good dreams are allowed to filter through… Bad dreams stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day. Good dreams pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper.
Each part represents some part of the natural world: The hoop is usually from a tree or plant; the string is traditionally from an animal (feel free to use string or thread though); the feathers are from birds and the bead(s) represent humans.
- Make, or find, a hoop – Willow or another bendable plant material is ideal. This can be bent or twisted into a hoop (or tear-drop shape).
- Attach one end of the string to the hoop, in one place (This is number 1).
- Mark out 8 spaces around the hoop (Numbers 2, 3, 4 etc) – You can work with as few as 6 and more than 8 is OK (more will mean a more intricate Dream Catcher, but also more work).
- Loop the string around the hoop at Number 2, then 3, then 4, etc (keeping it fairly loose – it will tighten as you continue).
- When you are all the way around, loop around the middle of the first loop you made, then the middle of the next loop . . and so on.
- In this way you will spiral towards the centre. You can finish when you like (or when it becomes too tricky to continue looping).
- Before you finish, add at least one bead (near the centre if possible) by threading it onto your string.
- Tie off and add feathers.
- You can also add material to the hoop before starting.
The Ojibwe people have an ancient legend about the origin of the dreamcatcher. Storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; she took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter our mind. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.
Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved on poles, posts, or pillars with symbols or figures made from large trees, mostly western red cedar, by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America (northwestern United States and Canada’s western province, British Columbia). The word totem derives from the Algonquian (most likely Ojibwe) word odoodem, “his kinship group”. The carvings may symbolize or commemorate cultural beliefs that recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events. The poles may also serve as functional architectural features, welcome signs for village visitors, mortuary vessels for the remains of deceased ancestors, or as a means to publicly ridicule someone. Given the complexity and symbolic meanings of totem pole carvings, their placement and importance lies in the observer’s knowledge and connection to the meanings of the figures.
– Cardboard tubes (any size you like)
– Paint/Colouring pens or pencils
– Scissors/craft knife
If you are painting your poles or drawing on them with pens or pencils, it is a good idea to paint them one colour (white or another light colour) first. That way the rest of the paint (or the pencils/pens) will go on more easily.
You can also glue pictures on to the tubes.
For wings you simply cut a slit on either side and push your wings through (wings can be made from stiff cardboard)
Make the wings first – cut out the right shape and decorate. Keep them the same width across so that they go through the slits in the tube.
You could draw or colour-in your designs first and them glue them to the tubes.
Here are some pictures for inspiration or to copy and cut-out.
(See also – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem_pole)