The Gift


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This image of an eagle and Lois Red Elk, well known published poet and  an enrolled member of the Ft. Peck Sioux, Montana, was made after photographing the poet, actress and educator, at a powwow at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles in 2001.  The idea of combining my eagle photograph with Red Elk came to mind after she told me the story of the feathered prayer fan she was holding. The feathers, she said, were handed down in her family from generation to generation.   The feathers were originally taken from an eagle captured by her great, great grandfather following the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He fashioned a headdress with the feathers which he presented to his son with his blessing.  She said the gift of the feathered headdress carried the spiritual essence of the eagle. “We can come together in prayer through the eagle…it represents how we send our prayers and communicate with the spirit above…"Red Elk’s roots are from the Isanti on her mother’s side and the Hunhkpapa and Ihanktonwa from her father, who is descended from the Sitting Bull family. She is married, and in addition to being a published author, actress and educator, she is a traditional dancer and quill and bead worker.

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