The Gift of a Name …by bear Medicinewalker

gift of a name

Native American naming traditions date back to our Ancestors. They are often similar but the customs sometimes were slightly different tribe to tribe. The names would often be inspired by nature itself, whether it was the Winged Ones, the Four Leggeds, the Elementals, or an event that was taking place at the time of birth.

Tribes place great power to their names only using them during times of ceremony or special events, and not using that name to refer to people at any other time. (Thus calling them Mother, Father, Son etc. in place of that name.) Some tribes what is called a “naming trail” when a child is given one name at birth and later on in life is given another through Vision Quests, from a Tribal Elder then even farther into the earth walk a name that represents their life. It is even shared that Chief Sitting Bull was called “Jumping Badger” as a young boy, and nicknamed “Slow Jumping Badger ” because of the extra time he took in doing things.

The Cherokee often took no surname until around the time of the Civil War. If they served during that war the army required two names and either “gave” them a name or they chose one for themselves.

In today’s world we often name our children for people who are related/not related to show respect or to remind us of how special someone was in our own lives.

Why you might ask am I writing about this today? Well it is because someone asked me the other day to tell them how I received my name…my Native American name. So I thought I would share it with you all as well.

For a good number of years I worked at Detroit’s Children’s Hospital in Michigan as a Decentral Tech in the I.C.U., Hemoc and Cardiac units for the most part. One year we had a young man who was 13 years old, entered the ICU on a Sunday afternoon as a critical patient due to a car accident. He had been a passenger in the rear drivers’ side of the car, a car which had been struck by a drunk driver. His injuries were severe and he was placed on life support. As I came to know the family over the next months, I learned more of my culture and a whole lot about Faith and the Medicine way of the Native American Ancestors. The family was old school, living the “Red Road” the way our Ancestor’s did, and the way that we should as we each walk this earth today and forward. For me those months were transforming and humbling.

After 5 months in the I.C.U. and countless brain activity scans, the medical world felt it was time to remove the life support systems. His Grandfather thought otherwise, and while they fought with the red tape, he continued to practice traditional customs and prayers, all of which I came to be part of without even realizing. I had unknowingly become a warrior for this young man.

Working afternoons I often would complete my required work and then would be able to assist in whatever way the unit needed me to. For this family I came to assist being mediator for herbal remedies and topicals that were being used by the grandfather on his grandson. We had many long talks, and we had both come to agree that the boy was between worlds. It was the Creator’s way of allowing him to heal. For that to continue to occur, everyone needed to have that same Faith that he would awaken from the coma when the time was right. During the 6 month in ICU the time was right. He awoke much to the medical staff’s disbelief…he indeed awoke. I recall looking over at his grandfather when it happened, the twinkle that lit his eyes and the smile that he and I shared with each other. Words were not needed. Within a couple weeks he was moved to the rehab floor.

A few more months went by and I had lost touch with the family since they were not on the units I worked, until one afternoon I ran into the young man’s grandfather in the elevator. We smiled and hugged each other. When the elevator arrived at the floor he was getting off on he reached over and took my hand in his, he asked me to come with him for a moment. So we got out together and walked the halls, he stopped at the door to one of the rooms and said he had someone he wanted me to meet.

As we stepped into the room I saw a typical teen sitting on the edge of the bed rough housing with his little brother, laughing with delight. The Detroit Tigers baseball game was playing in the background. It was a family…and a happy Sunday afternoon, much different from so many months ago when I had first met them all. I stayed for a few minutes and excused myself to return to work. The Grandfather walked out with me and asked if I would be able to return the next day, for he said he had one more thing he wanted to share with me before they left. I agreed and went back to work promising I would return the next day.

When I got there the following day, I never expected what happened. They all had a part of their traditional regalia on, and as a way of thanking me the grandfather (who I found out that day was a medicine man himself), honored me by bestowing me with a name. I was also now part of the family… he named me “Medicinewalker” telling me that it was for the fact I walked with the right medicine spiritually and physically in this world and beyond. I will never forget that day…that family…or the Elder that shared so many teachings with me. it was a true gift.

So when you read a name from history, or hear someone speak a name out loud, no matter what culture, race or religion, take a moment to understand that there is reason, respect, and above all else a story behind it. So with that said….Honor it no matter how strange you may think it is, for it was a gift that is as unique as the individual that carries it.

Mitakuye O’yasin

~ bear Medicinewalker


A Cherokee Story of the Great Blue Heron… as shared by bear Medicinewalker

blue heron little people

The Wolf fondly calls them Oscar’s…but they are known far and wide as the Great Blue Herons. They visit me here at the lake and I am often astounded at how patient they are at fishing for their suppers. They will take steps so carefully you never actually can see their legs move at times as they stand stoically watching at the waters edge. This is a story I was told long ago, and realized I had never ’til now shared it with you all. It also involves shhhh now don’t say it out loud unless you leave them a gift outside today…the Cherokee Little People…

The Cherokee Little People live among us, in gardens, lush forests and woods, along our marshes. They live in harmony with nature. Enjoying life, the Cherokee Little People love to play and laugh interacting with each other and sometimes the world around them. Every now and then however they do get bothered by occasional Winged Ones (birds) who can play havoc on village life. Because most often the Winged Ones (birds) are larger than the Little People and it causes them to worry that they might be mistaken for food.

One day in the day of our Ancestors, a Cherokee Hunter, whose name has long been forgotten, shared a gift with the Little People. He taught them how to craft little bows and arrows in order to defend themselves against birds and creatures of the outside world that meant them harm. They were very grateful to this friendly hunter and honored him with a great feast! Over the next hundred years the Cherokee Little People lived next to the marshes through out the countryside in harmony with the world around them.

One day a flock of Blue Herons came. The long legs of the Heron caused the arrows to fall short and they did not scare the Great Blue Herons away. The long beaks of the Great Blue Heron frightened the women and children and they fled, screaming into their homes at the sides of the marsh.
However the tiny warriors stood their ground facing their fears they held for these enormous creatures. The Great Spirit looked with admiration at how these Little Men were facing the challenge so bravely and using the skills they had been taught so long ago. So a punishment was chosen for Blue Heron as a result that they had terrorized the great nation of the Cherokee Little People.

This is the reason why the Blue Heron feeds alone and is never seen in flocks to this day. So as the Great Blue Heron steps into our lives it brings with it messages of self-reflection, and as it has to feed alone…so must we take the time for self in order to face fears, understand and use our gifts that we possess for the highest good, and be in harmony with our world for all is Sacred.

Heron medicine teaches us about the power of knowing ourselves so that we can discover our gifts and face life’s challenges. That we begin learning to accept all of our feelings and opinions, and accepting all the emotions and thoughts that accompany them. It is about following our intuition and taking that empowering step into self-realization.

This Sacred Water bird shares with us to not blame others or point a negative finger at the situations of life, instead claim responsibility for our own actions and to face the enemy within us all. Find a balance in our inner truths, work on our inner weaknesses, and develop the strengths needed to understand what it is we need to feed our own spiritual being. .

Mitakuye O’yasin (We are All Related)
~bear Medicinewalker


Joseph Strider music available at

The Story of Why the Raven is Black… as shared by bear Medicinewalker

raven color
This was shared to me by an Elder who asked me if I knew how the Raven became black. since my response was no this is what Black elk Shared with me…and now in turn I share with you..

Long ago, during the very beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the sun, the moon, the stars, fresh water and fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. The peoples lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.

Gray Eagle also had a beautiful daughter, and when Raven saw her he instantly fell in love with her. At that time Raven was a handsome young man so he came up with a plan to change himself into a snow-white bird. As the snow-white bird he pleased Gray Eagle’s daughter and soon she fell madly in love with him. So much so that she invited him to her father’s lodge.

Raven was surprised when he he entered the lodge for he saw the sun ,the moon, the stars and the fresh water hanging on the sides of Gray Eagle’s lodge walls, he knew instantly what he should do, what he had to do. So carefully watching for his chance to seize them when no one was looking, Raven stole all of them along with a spark of fire. Then he flew upward and out of the lodge through a smoke hole above.

As soon as Raven got outside, he hung the sun up in the sky. It created so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. As soon as the sun set, he fastened the moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. With the moonlight there to help guide him, he continued to fly carrying with him the fresh water and the spark of fire he had stolen. Soon the water fell to the ground and there it became the source of all the freshwater streams and lakes around the world.

Still the Raven flew on holding in his mouth the spark of fire. The smoke from the fire blowing back over his white feathers coating them black. Soon his bill began to burn and he had to drop the fire spark. When it landed and struck the rocks below, it sparked brighter and created fire. That is why even today if you strike two stones together with a stick, it will spark and fire will burn and share its warmth and glow.

Raven’s feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from carrying the spark of fire.

This is why today the Raven is a black bird.

Share our History, share the lessons, share our cultures…

Mitakuye O’yasin,

~bear Medicinewalker

The Seven Grandfather Teachings as shared by bear Medicinewalker

7 grandfather teachings

I was asked to share the The Seven Grandfather Teachings once again, so I happily will oblige.
I learned of these teaching through the Anishinaabe’ people here where I live… it is a teaching that reaches within to my very core… and I would like to now share it with you…

Many Anishinaabe’ view the Seven Grandfather Teachings as traditional knowledge that represents what is needed for everyday life and survival, or simply put to walk the Red Road… a Good way of life. The origin of the teachings is unknown but my elders have shared that they are important and have long been a part of the language and handed down through generations of the People. These teachings have become known as the “Seven Grandfathers” once the Anishinaabe slowly began to control their own education during and after the American Indian Movement. As Our Elders began to retell stories they had heard as children it was realized once again that it was a connection from the present to a past when these values were a way of life.

The Ojibwas or Anishinaabe’ story of the Seven Grandfathers’ Teachings was passed down from parent to child for many generations. The story goes…

The Creator gave the Seven Grandfathers, who are very wise, the responsibility to watch over the people. The grandfathers saw that the people were living a hard life. There was all kinds of illnesses and bad things around. The Messenger was told, “Go down there, look around and find out what is happening. Bring back someone who we can tell about what life should be, with the Peoples” He left immediately and went to all places in the North, South, West and East. He could not find anyone. On his seventh try, while he was looking, he saw a baby. The grandfathers were happy with the choice made by the helper.

So the messenger brought the baby back to where the Grandfathers were sitting in a circle. He was still very tiny and wrapped inside His cradle board. One of the grandfathers looked at the baby very carefully. “This is the one. Messenger, pick up the baby. Take him all over; teach him carefully the way the People should lead their lives.” The Messenger picked him up and they traveled around the earth.

Seven years later they returned to the Grandfathers. By then He was a young man. The Grandfathers noticed that this boy was very honest. He understood everything that was taught. One of the grandfathers took a drum and started singing. Each of the grandfathers instilled within the boy a teaching telling him “These are the ones you will take with you, and share with the Peoples.”

The boy, because of all the time he had spent with the Grandfathers, was now an old man. So he returned to the Earth and gathered all the people around and shared his story of the journey to the seven grandfather’s lodge. He explained how to use the gifts and that it was now up to the people to try to follow the path of a good and healthy life using the seven grandfather’s teachings.

He shared each of these teachings and explaining that they must be used with the rest, and that you cannot have wisdom without love, respect, courage, honesty, humility and truth. You cannot be honest if you only use one or two of these, or if you leave out one. And to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what that teaching is.

Now to the Teachings…
The Beaver teaches us WISDOM

The ability to make decisions based on personal experience and knowledge and to cherish that knowledge is to know WISDOM.
We can acquire more knowledge by being open to others and applying these teachings to our own lives, and in turn it is also about the ability to value your own knowledge and share it with others.

The building a strong foundation in our lives is about the teachings shared with us by the creator and how we in turn use and share these gifts in our lives. The Beaver’s example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One’s spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use. When used properly however, wisdom’s shared help bring about a peaceful and healthy life.

The Eagle teaches us LOVE.

Love must be unconditional. To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one’s first love is to the Creator, the Great Spirit. Creator is considered the parent to all children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else.

To know LOVE is to know true peace. To be able to get along with others, sharing and being kind, willing to show that you care for others/self through sharing, being helpful and understanding the feelings of others; doing something that makes the day better for someone. To be accepting of each others’ differences.

The Buffalo teaches us RESPECT.

Respect is the condition of being honored. The Buffalo, through giving its life and sharing every part of its being, showed the deep respect it had for the people. No animal was more important to the existence of People than this animal, and its gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.
To honor all of the Creations is to have RESPECT. Respect for yourself. To treat others how you would want to be treated. Making sure your interactions with others are positive by showing positive manners, speaking kindly and honoring a person’s human right to be who they are. Accepting feedback as helpful and considering different outlooks on things.

The Bear teaches us COURAGE.

Courage is the ability to face danger, fear, or changes with confidence and bravery.
The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as human beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same tenacity and intensity as a mother Bear protecting her cub. Living of the heart and living of the spirit is difficult, but the Bear’s example shows us how to face any danger to achieve these goals.

We learn to deal with challenges positively without worry about the outcome. To work through and give all aspects of your life your best effort. Being able to accept responsibility for your behavior. Be willing to be a role model by standing up for your values/beliefs. Accepting challenges (conflicts) and learn from them.

The Sabe teaches us HONESTY.

Honesty is speaking and acting truthfully, and thereby remained morally upright.
Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe who walked among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself.

The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”

HONESTY in facing a situation is to be true to self. It is not backing down when the situation seems too hard and you know that it needs to be dealt with to make your life better. By looking at what you do and realizing how it affects you and others either positively or negatively. To approach life situations and challenges with an open mind and heart.

The Wolf teaches us HUMILITY.

Humility is being humble and not arrogant Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.

HUMILITY is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. To be able to know that we are equal regardless of age, race or sex. Being able to be assertive, positively making your needs known, without becoming angry or withdrawn. Being able to listen to others with an open and non-judgmental mind.

The Turtle teaches us TRUTH.

TRUTH is to know and understand all the seven teachings have been given to us by the Creator and we are to remain faithful to them. To know truth is to know and understand all of the original laws as they were shared with us. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moon, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon an of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.

TRUTH is to know all of these things. Be true to yourself and your fellow man. Be able to speak the truth. This is considered the final and last teaching because to live this teaching, one must achieve and understand the first six teachings. By being honest with those around you with your feelings and behaviors; by loving yourself and others; by respecting others with what they say and do; by being humble – knowing that everyone around you deserves your respect as you theirs; by being brave when facing new challenges and by accepting your own and others wisdom.

These are the seven Sacred Teachings as were taught to me…and now I have shared them with you…it is not so much that you all don’t know these teachings from what ever background or culture you walk in. but I hope it has served all as a reminder of how we all need to walk as Humans.

Mitakuye O’yasin

~ bear Medicinewalker


One Who See’s by Bear Creek available at Canyon Records

The First Horses… as shared by bear Medicinewalker

gift of horses


A time long since past, there was a young warrior of the Blackfoot Nation experienced a vision of a far away lake where large and unique animals called home. The Ancestors spoke to him and shared the knowledge of these great animals that could be gentle, loyal, strong able to pull the peoples travois or carry packs.

“Travel to this lake,” he was told,” take rope with you so that you can catch these great animals.”

When the young warrior woke he gathered rope that was made of strips of a bull buffalo’s hide to ensure its strength. He traveled beyond the Sweetgrass Hills to a large lake he had seen in his vision. Digging a hole in the sandy beach he concealed himself so he could watch without disturbing the life cycle. Animals came to the lake to drink the clean fresh water, deer, coyotes, elk and buffalo all respectfully shared what nature offered them to survive.

Soon the winds began to stir. Waves rose upon the lake and began to roll and splash across the beachfront. Then suddenly a herd of large animals, unlike any the young warrior had ever seen walked before him. Their size was that of an elk but they had long tails that hung to the ground. There were some that were white, black, red and even spotted ones. They had young ones with them that stayed close to their mothers. Soon they reached the water and bent their heads to drink.

The Ancestors then whispered, “Throw your rope and catch one.”

The young warrior did as he was instructed and threw his rope, catching one of the largest of the animals. It struggled and pulled and dragged the man around and soon he found he was not strong enough to hold the animal. With one sudden jerk of its head it pulled the rope out of the young warrior’s hands, and led the whole herd into the lake disappearing beneath the water. With great sadness he chose to return to his village, heading into his lodge praying for help to the Ancestors who had shared the vision with him.

The Ancestors heard his prayers and said, “Four times you may try to catch these animals. If in four times trying you do not catch them, you will never see them again.”

Before going to sleep, the young warrior once again prayed for the Ancestors to help him, and while he slept told him he was not strong enough to catch one of the big animals they instructing him instead to try and catch one of the younger animals, and then perhaps you will be able to hold it.”

As soon as he awoke the next morning, the young warrior traveled beyond the Sweetgrass Hills to the large lake again digging a hole in the sand staying hidden
while the deer, the coyotes, the elk and the buffalo came to drink.

At last the wind began to stir and the waves rolled and splash upon the beach.
Then came the herd of strange animals to drink at the lake, and again the young warrior threw his rope. This time he caught one of the young animals and was able to hold on to it.  One by one he caught all the young animals from the herd and led them back to his village.

After the young ones had been there for a short time, the mares the mothers of these foals came trotting into the camp looking for their young, as their udders were filled with milk for the foals to drink. Not long after the mares came, the stallions of the herd followed.

At first the people of the village were afraid of these new animals not wanting to go near them, but the young warrior told everybody that they would not harm them and soon the animals became so tame that they followed the people everywhere. As the people moved their camp from place to place, season to season they would place packs on them. They called this animal po-no-kah- mita, or elk dog, because they were big reminding them of the elk and could carry a pack like a dog.

This is how the Ancestors and a young warrior brought horses to the Blackfoot Nation.
This was how the story was shared with me, and I too share with you…

Mitakuye O’yasin

bear Medicinewalker

bear Medicinewalker talk about the Storms of Life

Storms of Life

A Storm is described as a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow. It can also refer to moving angrily or forcefully in a specific direction. Whatever way you choose to describe it, the Thunder nation was busy throughout the night and into the early morning hours here at the lake.

I sat and watched as the lightening danced on top of the water and the sky echoed and rolled with its partner, Thunder. Rain, cleansing and ever revitalizing, continued to fall, sometimes in a fierce way and at other times as gentle reminders it is hear to help nurture, grow and supply life to creation itself.

It reminded me that it is similar to us humans, as in nature… sometimes we bring about mighty storms forcefully sending out emotion, energy, anger or grief out to the universe around us and into our very lives. Yet other times it seems to continue for lifetimes, and at others it comes in short quick bursts but still holding that wicked sting as if it were lightening itself.

Then like the rain, the tears fall…sometimes gently and sometimes like the floodgates themselves were released. Emotion again pours out and releases, renewing self it is a way to let go of what we can not, do not control.

It is a renewal of faith that the world continues …that all of creation is cared for… that there are cycles that begin and end… that it is a circle of life, beginning to end and back again to start new and fresh. Transitions, Awakenings, Understandings of Hope and Faith all continue in that circle.

As Mother Theresa said, “More tears have been shed for prayers that have been answered than for those prayers that have not.” So have faith that after the storms of your life pass, there will be renewal, new purpose just remember you are unique and perfect within your own imperfections… and that even through all the storms the Creator God loves us all unconditionally.

I so love natures storms!

Mitakuye O’yasin,

~ bear Medicinewalker

Talk with the Animals – ponderings of a bear

talk and listen to the animals

Over the past week, I have had a number of people share with me some extraordinary events that have occurred between them and the animal kingdom, things that for the most part are not common everyday happenings or occurrences. Things that make us stop and pay attention. Reactions were varied for the people to the occurrences from, “I was so scared,” to “How cool was that.”

Myself I can not remember a time when I did not notice the world of creatures large and small around me… when most kids were riding bikes and playing with their friends, my parents would more than not, find me playing or napping with my dog in the sun or lying on the ground watching the little peeper toads as they flooded the lawn and begging my father to not cut the grass. As I got older the ventures went to snakes, turtles and whatever other cool creatures I could find in the wilds of my backyard in Detroit. Then I expanded into vacations to the lake… I would disappear for hours into the heart of the woods. (the days when that wasn’t a scary idea) listening to the Owls at nightfall or the Loons awakening in the mists of the morning along the lake front.

The thing is, I had that connection with the animal kingdom and to me it was simply part of who I was. Never thought twice about standing in front of the bears, or watching sitting watching wolves play in a field, or listening to the Coyotes sing and call back to one another during their hunts.

In today’s modern world, that is probably one of the primary reasons for me living where I do. The animals talk to us all if we will listen, they have much to share and teach. They will not, do not fear us unless we give them reason to. It is all about respect, honor and communication with each other. They are a necessary part of the eco system, even if often humans do not want to admit it. They were here before we were in most areas, and we have taken there woods, there forests away from them… much as humans often do. We want to dominate, to own, to rule over… For the animal kingdom it is about co-existence, the circle of life itself.

I was sharing a story with Wolfdancer this morning, and told her about a woman that recently encountered a wolf while she was in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The woman had told me how scared she had felt because she had always been told Wolves leave humans alone for the most part. She went on to tell me how she stopped and they sat just looking at each other for a short while, and then because she was so scared she stood up and waved her arms in the air and made all kinds of weird noises. I then asked her what the Wolf had done…she replied, “Nothing it just sat there looking at me.”

I laughed and as I told it so did Wolfdancer. She said the same that was in my heart, “The Wolf probably was sitting there thinking how crazy the human looked waving and yelling for no reason. If it had been me I would have just sat on the ground and enjoyed being in the presence of a wolf brother or sister.”

So the point of sharing some ponderings with you all today… is perhaps to awaken some kinship, some curiosity within each of you…maybe not for you to seek out a creature in the wild, but to be more observant of the ones that are in your life. To smile when that dragonfly lands on your hand, or to take a deep breathe in as the butterfly spreads its wings. When the songbird sings for you in the morning, listen to the glorious voice it is sharing…for it is singing of joy and happiness, it sings to tell the Creator God that it is thankful and loves its life. And when a creature walks on your path whether it is in realtime or dream state, don’t wave your arms about screaming at it, rather listen to the lessons it is sharing with you, and gently thank it for blessing your path this day. “For all things are Sacred”

Mitakuye O’yasin,

~ bear Medicinewalker