Bone Chokers and the Native Americans

From the beginning of The Great Cedar:

Native Americans crafted and wore jewelry carved from bone and horn parts.  The bone choker provided physical protection of the neck and the jugular vein during battle and fighting in the hope to deflect an arrow shot at them by an enemy during war parties.

Bone chokers are also believed to provide spiritual protection of the voice which was a gift from the story of the Bears Berry. By wearing a bone choker, the spirits of the animal they come from were believed to provide spiritual protection from all kinds of troubles and even disease.

It was said that the Spirit shall also provide a great speaking ability when wearing a properly made bone choker that always speaks the truth and guides the warrior to speak from the heart. Warriors that had been to battle always wore a bone choker which showed they were in battle with enemies of the tribe.

In many tribes the Medicine Man would create powerfully made types of bone chokers to protect the Spirit of the warrior. And some Native Americans even had vision dreams about a certain type of bone choker and then asked their tribe’s Medicine Man to make it for them. Rarely would a Native American make his or her own bone choker as it required the spiritual power of the Medicine People so the bone choker would have the great spiritual powers and protections while being worn. Most were crafted from buffalo bones and a few from deer bones and very special vision dream ones could be from any animal even birds. Some bones were dyed and colored by using plants like the blueberry and raspberry or wild strawberries and even cranberries. They experimented in dying bones and sometimes even hides.

Originally they used real animal  Sinew used to string bone chokers were usually from Deer or Buffalo and were cut usually with a sharpened stone or a piece of harder bone scrapped upon rocks until razor sharp. When they could they adopted porcupine quills as needles and for making holes. Spacers were crafted from bones, rocks, quills, wood and leather before white man brought metal and beads for adorning the chokers. They also used precious stones like turquoise or shells and feathers and using beads when they arrived. And even carved designs and finally adding  sliver and/or gold  on the chokers.

It was believed that the number of strands a choker was made in held a greater meaning to the original Natives than it does To-Day?

Or another tale states they increased the strands for more protection during battles. A larger choker deflected more arrow hits? This also influenced the protective bone breast plates created also for arrow deflection while in battle.

By the fires we have been told the number of strands meaning when created?

1)     Creator

2)     Mother Earth

3)      Spirit Walking

4)     The Four Wind Spirits Protection

5)      A Great Warrior

6)      Tribal Leaders and Medicine People

7)      Spiritual Unity

8)      Peace and Totality of Spirit: Silent Walking!


Bone Chokers To-Day are made commercially and in great numbers and yet there still are some traditional Medicine People who do hand-craft and create cultural styled bone chokers which are not commercially mass produced but are copied for mass production.

You can find them at Pow Wows by simply asking if they can craft YOU a Special Order item with the bones and decorations YOU PICK.  If they can you discovered a real traditional craft artist  and not a mass produced seller.  It is like a REAL SEED Artist who can create a Special Order design of YOUR CHOICE of colored seed beads to use in the finished pattern item. Mass produced people whom are simply sellers cannot do this simple test? Hand-crafting is a learned skill and it is an art of Culture and Traditions. And, please remember just as you go to work expecting a living wage in these days: So does a genuine traditional craft artist  deserve the same concept and respect of their Mother earth gifted abilities as Medicine People.

By Wha-O-Chee  (( Bear Standing ))

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