The eagle is a winged symbol for the Lakota people.

 It is the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, the eagle and its feathers have been chosen to symbolize what is highest bravest strongest holiest..

An eagle's feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are worn with dignity and pride. They are treated with great respect. When an eagle feather is dropped during a dance, a special ceremony is performed to pick it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.

An eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows. Eagle feathers or wings are used in special ways.

When they are held over someone's head, it means the person is brave or is wished bravery and happiness. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity and happiness.

Each time the warrior earned a feather, he would either wear it (but he only wore a couple into battle) or put it on a pole used for special occasions. Once he had collected enough feathers, they were then made into a headdress. Because each feather had a special meaning, binding them together in a headdress made that Indian headdress even more special. Only the men, closest friends of the warrior, were involved in making the headdress. The Indian chiefs also “earned” each of their feathers. The most prized of all feathers to receive for an Indian headdress was the Golden Eagle feather. Because the Indians saw the eagle as a messenger of God, this feather could only be earned through hardship, loyalty, and strength.

Angelique EagleWoman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate Tribe. EagleWoman is an Associate Law Professor at the University of Idaho who is an active advocate for the rights of indigenous nations and protection of indigenous rights and cultures. She is a Stanford University Distinguished Alumni Scholar who received the January 2010 William and Joan Boyd Innovation and Excellence in Law Teaching award.

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