The Medicine Pouch
by Waynonaha TwoWorlds
This story takes place several years ago and is a true story:
For many years we held a council for women at the reservation. At times there would be as many as two hundred women there. We also would have a men's council at the same time for the husbands and young boys.
At one council we decided to talk of personal medicine and how one has the ability to carry that medicine, or power of healing.The word medicine was a French word used by the fur trappers.When they would have a physical problem or illness they would often come to the Villages of the people to be helped.The word Medicine means Doctor and they would ask for a healer by using this word, thus the healers were known by the name medicine doctor.
We prefer to use the word Healer or Holy person. A Healer is one who studies the herbal and Earth ways of healing. A Holy person is a person who works in a spiritual way with spirits and vision. Now that we have that all in order lets go on.
We decided to create a small pouch for the women to wear to show a material aspect of this idea. Each woman was excited and all ears for the teaching. A small round piece of leather hide was given to each woman and it had 12 holes punched in it. the women were told the story of creation as we know it and instructed to lace the circles and to go and gather a feather, stone, and shell. Each woman was given a piece of corn and some tobacco for the pouch. All went very well, and all week end we saw the pouches worn with great pride and respect. The gathering ended and everyone went home.
A few months later a woman arrived on our door step. She was very upset and told us she had lost her pouch. We brought her in and listened to the story she told about the missing pouch. At the end of all her tears and story she was invited to make another pouch. Grandmother said it was fine with her, so we got out the hides and beads and she made her now pouch she left happy and all was good. Months went by and again, there she was on the door step. The whole scene was repeated with a different set of circumstances around the lost pouch. We again helped her make a new pouch.
This time she wanted to make a bigger one, trusting that she would not lose it if it were bigger. Again months went by and it was time for the Woman's council, the same woman attended and ask to have a bit of private time with us. Well you guessed it, she had lost the bigger pouch. This time Grandmother ask us to hold off on the construction of a new pouch. We figured she was going to scout around for a whole hide for this woman. I guess the thought crossed our minds that the bigger the pouch, the harder to lose.
The council got under way and the pouch was forgotten. On the last day the women gathered after breakfast. Grandmother ask that all women attend as she had something very important to share. The lodge was full and all was quiet. Birds flew in and out the windows and bees buzzed away in the flowers on the alter in the center of the round house. The air was fresh and clear, telling us it would be a very hot day. Grand Mother entered the lodge and ask us all to place our medicine pouches in a basket that she passed around. That year as in the past, we had made pouches for the women. Each woman was alarmed that their newly made pouch was to be taken from them, yet each in turn trustingly placed their pouch in the basket which was placed on the altar.
Grand Mother then spoke; she said that the pouch represented our need to cling to the material objects, to remind us who we were. She told of a time when she was a child and the children were taken away to the Indian schools. Each child was given a very small pouch to wear under their clothing. The pouch was to give the children something to hold on to when every thing else was taken from them. The children were also told if the pouches were taken from them, that they still had the medicine in their heart. We each carry the medicine of all our relations, from the beyond the beyond the beyond. We carry it in our hearts and souls, our spirits are all part of that great mystery that surrounds all living things.
Grand Mother said that we do not really need these pouches and all we had to do is look into the hearts to see the medicine or healing power we carry. After that she passed the basket back around the circle of women, and said " now if you feel that you need the pouch then find yours and take it and wear it." The basket went full circle, all the women sat with bowed heads and did not look at who searched for their pouch, in the basket filled with little pouches. In the end the basket was placed on the altar and never again referred too.
We were all curious as to what had happened. During the next two days we noticed that the basket remained untouched and full of pouches. The wisdom of our Elders is a gift and we need to protect the ones Creator has chosen to help us.
Mitakuye Oyasin Waynonaha Two Worlds.