There is a genuine cultural attachment to authentic native made crafts, which makes them much more attractive as meaningful gifts and collectibles. As collectibles they are always a good investment and if cared for properly, they will only increase in value over time. Porcupine Quill crafts is an example of traditional crafts that are valued by collectors around the world. They originated in Eastern Canada and each region had distinctive designs. Many different designs were applied to birch bark baskets, clothing and other regalia for ceremonial purposes. Moccasins also had distinctive features among the various tribes. The Dreamcatcher is another good example of a craft that has culture and purpose attached to it. It’s a popular gift for adults and children alike. The Dreamcatcher is used to prevent bad dreams but was also used traditionally to tell a story and teach a lesson at the same time.
While creating each piece of work, the artisan transfers his/her positive energy into the craft for the benefit of the individual who will eventually receive it. Authentic native crafts are made with all natural materials that signify our indigenous peoples’ historical connection to the land, which they have historically been dependent on for survival. This is never taken for granted. For example, every time birch bark is harvested or twigs are gathered, the Creator and the tree itself is given thanks in the form of an offering – usually tobacco or sweetgrass. This ensures that Mother Earth will continue to provide for us.
Get inspired! Want to make your very own traditional crafts? The Silver Moccasin offers a large selection of craft supplies including metal jingles for Pow Wow regalia, leather hides, leather sewing needles and thread, specialty beads and much more!
Making A Medicine Bag
The Medicine Bag was traditionally used by the Shaman or Medicine Man to carry sacred herbs and objects that were believed to have healing powers. Although The Medicine Bag is still used today by many aboriginal people, it is also used by non-aboriginal people who wear it for good luck and/or spiritual purposes. It can be worn as a ‘necklace’ or under ones clothing directly against the skin. Some prefer to keep it in their purse, pocket or a special spot in their home. The Medicine Bag traditionally carried something from each of the four elements of creation – Plant, Animal, Mineral, and Man. These could include – the four sacred herbs (tobacco, sweetgrass, sage, cedar), a bone button, pendant or claw, healing stone or stone beads, and a personal object like a special rock, hair or coin. May you be always blessed with good medicine!
This can be a fun and therapeutic activity. And remember, while making your bag be sure to think only good thoughts and give it your own positive energy! If you just aren’t crafty and prefer to buy one already made, look for one that is handmade from natural materials. You can order one here.
First you will need:
- about an 8″x 8″ piece of thin deerhide (the traditional material used), a leather sewing needle, thick thread (koban or upholstery), scissors, a button or toggle for clasp, a few beads (preferably stone).
- Cut a 2″ x 6″ piece of hide for the bag itself. Cut from one side so you can use what’s left over.
- With the remaining piece you will make your neck cord. Cut out as big a circle as you can. Cut into the edge of the circle about 1/8th of an inch and keep cutting around the edge in a spiral and working your way into the centre. Don’t worry about it being uneven. You can trim any ‘corners’ or jagged edges off later. Cut at least 28″ long. (don’t cut too close to the centre or the cord will be too twisted).
- Fold your 2″x 6″ piece of hide from one end about ¾ of the way up and leaving a couple of inches for your flap.
- Top stitch evenly along each side of the bag beginning at the bottom and working your way up to the top edge. Tie off by winding thread around a few times and then snip with scissors.
- Cut a tiny slit in the centre of your flap for your button or clasp.
- Fold flap over and make a dot with a pen through the button hole to mark the spot where you will sew the button on.
- On each side, punch a hole in the top of the flap to string your cord through. If you don’t have a leather punch, you can use an awl, point of a knife or scissors. (don’t make it too big!)
- Tie a knot at one end of the cord (leave a couple of inches of cord hanging from knot) and string through the first hole in flap. Slip the other end of cord through the second hole and knot that end so it doesn’t slip through.
- Give it your own finishing touches by decorating with beads or anything else you like.
- Insert your own personal objects or herbs that have meaning to you.