Bras d'Or Indian Village Band Association 

   Traditional Teachings

 Traditional teachings

 Traditional teachings are as relevant today as they were in the time of my Ancestors. They are blueprints for human behavior. They connect us to the teachers of the natural and supernatural worlds, celestial beings, plants, animals, earth, air, fire and water respected equals, in other words, whose unique traits provide models for living in a good way. 

There are lessons to be learned from both the seen and unseen worlds  to be passed down from generation to generation through songs, stories, sharing, caring, medicine wheel teachings and ceremony.

S. Thunderbird


Indian tobacco
Lobelia Inflata

Tobacco is used as an offering for everything and is used in every ceremony. Tobacco always comes first. It opens the door so that we can communicate with the spirit world. It carries our prayers to the spirit realm. Before we harvest any animal or herb from nature, we first make a tobacco offering and say a prayer, telling the plant or animal why we are there and for what purpose we need it's help and thanking it for its use. In  ceremonies, we begin with tobacco and a prayer. 



     Sweet Grass

 Sweet Grass is called the sacred hair of Mother Earth. Sweet grass is a narrow leaved grass that is usually woven into a braid. It has a sweet smell when burned. A new braid will be green and turns brown with age. As it ages, it loses some of its potency.

It can be difficult to keep sweet grass burning when it's fresh, so often a small piece is snipped from the end of the braid and unraveled to burn in a dish or abalone shell, and fanned with a feather. When sweet grass is used in a healing ceremony, it has a calming effect. Like sage and cedar, sweet grass is used for smudging and purification.  Spirits are said to like it's smell, and are attracted to it. 



 Cedar is most often used spiritually to purify the home and sweat lodge. It is used for protection, and has many medicinal uses. Cedar may be burned in a dish or shell. The stems may be wrapped into a smudge stick. The smoke is then fanned with a feather over objects and people one wishes to purify or protect. In Sweat Lodges, cedar boughs often line the floor for the same purposes.

When cedar is put into a fire with tobacco, it crackles. When it does this, it is calling the attention of the spirits to the offering that is being made. 



Sage comes from the variety of sage commonly called sagebrush. It grows two to three feet tall and is strongest just before it blooms. Sage is used to prepare people for ceremonies and teachings. Because it is more medicinal and stronger than sweet grass, it tends to be used more often in ceremonies.

Sage is used for releasing what is troubling the mind and for removing negative energy. This is why it is used for cleansing homes and sacred items. Negative spirits are said to dislike the smell of sage and are driven away by it. Positive spirits will linger even if sage is burned, if sweet grass is also used with it.

Sage cuttings are wrapped into sticks by tying with string or yarn to hold it together. If you are using short pieces, overlap them as you wrap to obtain the desired length. Wrap tightly, a loosely wrapped smudge stick is hard to keep burning and will burn up faster. Abalone shell has vent holes along one side to let the air in and keep it the smoldering Longer.

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