JWire logo

 

Weekly Newspaper Editors:
Welcome to J-Wire. This content in this section is available for publishing by Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers, with attribution to the author. Please write in the comment field where and when the article will be published. To download high-res versions of the photos in this section, please visit our Flickr site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jschoolnewswire/

The FNUniv's Eagle staff was created twelve years ago by a group of students in an Indian Fine Arts course.

In 2006, Elder Assistant Roland Kaye, through discussions with the Elders realized that the university did not have their own Eagle staff. "Me and the Elders, we were talking about that," says Kaye. "They said: "We should have our own Eagle staff.""

"The idea originated from the Elders and this office, and [we] took it over to Indian Fine Arts. And then, Lionel said he can maybe make it into a class project."

Lionel Peyachew had just started as an Indian Fine Arts professor. He incorporated the creation of an Eagle staff into his traditional art class.  

"Each and every one of my students was given an eagle feather to do the peyote stitch," says Peyachew. "All the students were able to complete one eagle feather, all beaded and decorated."

One of the students, Ira Lavallee, took responsibility in making the medallion.

"The beaded medallion, the part in the center of the curved part on top, I volunteered to take on that part because I had already put in countless hours doing beadwork," says Lavallee.

"Lionel came up with the colours and then the design and what the beaded medallion, double sided, should look like. Then we sat down and drew things out. And I spent a few weeks beading that."

"Every student was able to create or bead a feather, to signify that we all work together as a nation," says Peyachew. "All the students were from various tribes: Dakota, Saulteaux, Cree. All these were combined in the Eagle staff."

For Lavallee, working on the Eagle staff was a way to put his cultural knowledge to use. "It's just a weird coincidence that those of us who helped make it, we had already done that in our homes on a regular basis for our communities," he says.

"Eagle feathers usually represent an accomplishment of some kind for your tribe," Lavallee says. "And in modern times, that has evolved into somebody who might earn a university degree. The community will say you've accomplished something ... so we will give you an eagle feather to represent your accomplishment."

"On that Eagle staff, there are twelve eagle feathers," said Lavallee, one from every student.

"Each staff has a different story behind it," says Kaye. "The significance, I was told by our Elders, that it's like the flags, like Saskatchewan or Canada. This one represents the Indian flag. It leads us on a good path. It leads the way for us. It protects us. It's almost like a warrior going off to battle."

Once completed, the staff was smudged in a ceremony and at the Powwow that year it was carried first. "That staff would have been carried in by a dignitary and every single person would have come in behind," says Lavallee. 

FNU Eagle Staff 1 2