What’s a Native American Medicine Bag?

A Native American medicine bag is a small leather bag or pouch that contains various healing objects. They are often painted or beaded with designs specific for the wearer. This is done to entice or invoke the spirit of the animal, figure or symbol.

What’s inside is another story. A medicine bag can contain innumerable objects. These objects are as unique as the person wearing it. Many people add their own “medicine” or healing objects. Although, most often a medicine person or indigenous healer will make the bag and add the contents. Common medicine bag objects are stones, ash from a ceremony fire, roots and barks, herbs, feathers, dirt from a ceremonial ground, or wood from a tree struck by lightening.

Many people like their medicine bags very ornate and fancy, but in reality the bag should be downplayed. This is especially true when a medicine bag is made for protection, for instance, protection from jealousy, enemies, negativity, bad spirits, illness and the list goes on and on. A medicine bag is kind of like an “ace up your sleeve”. Or maybe like a spray can of mace or another self defense weapon. You keep it handy, but you don’t wave it around or threaten folks with it.

Medicine bags or pouches last a long time. They are made of leather and are extremely durable. But there comes a time when the medicine bag just wears out. The neck cord has broken so often it may look like a string of knots. The leather has worn down and looks like it’s been left out in the rain too long. What do you do with it at this stage? You can take the contents of the bag out and put them into another bag or you can leave the contents in the bag. You take the bag to a remote location. Somewhere that people seldom go to. Then hang the medicine bag or pouch in a tree where it’s barely visible.

The helping birds such as ravens, crows, eagles, or hawks and the “invisible beings” such as angels or guardians will disassemble the bag and remove all traces of it. Some people have been known to bury their bags. But this isn’t recommended. In the earth the bag will continue to exist and the special medicine belonging to it could be dug up and innocently or not so innocently misused. There are stories of ancient medicine pouches that were found, taken home or put in a museum and then all sorts of terrible things began to happen. Anyway, it is much better to let the angelic beings and our helper birds take care of something as precious as a medicine bag.

Big Medicine Caused 1938 Missouri Flood

, Texas and Arkansas are experiencing a devastating flood, and I want everyone to know I had nothing to do with it. I gave up dabbling in the occult arts many years ago. After more than a half century of silence, I reckon it is safe to admit that I was partly responsible for the Great Arkansas-Missouri flood of l938.

Mostly, though, it was the fault of Chief Kow Tow and Cousin Charley. Chief Kow Tow claimed to be of noble Choctaw blood whose forefathers were forced to Oklahoma Territory reservations many moons ago. He evaded the white devils and stayed behind in southeast Missouri to “make big medicine” for ancestral spirits still haunting the shores of the St. Francis River.

The Chief’s real name was unpronounceable. “Kow Tow” was as close as folks could get to the Indian sound. He said his name meant “Singing In The Clouds.” Kow Tow insisted he was 100 years old. He boasted that as a young brave he had taken 99 scalps and been promised by his spirit guide, Red Hawk, a year of life for each trophy. Having surpassed his allotment of years, the Chief said he felt obliged to even accounts by taking one more white-devil scalp before he died.

Folks pooh-poohed Chief Kow Tow’s threat as showmanship for his business of wooden spoons. Four notches on the handle and pokeberry stain on the bowl was guaranteed to ward off ptomaine poison. People laughed, but shelled out a dollar for a magic spoon — just in case.

* * *

Charley was not as colorful a character as Chief Kow Tow. Nevertheless, my older cousin had managed to become a legend in his own time. It was during a summer visit to his house that he introduced me to the town’s principal celebrity.

The old Indian lived alone in a one-room tin-roofed cabin back in a canebrake. The mosquitoes were fierce but didn’t seem to bother him. Kow Tow tolerated visitors if they brought along a little sugar, coffee, tobacco, or whiskey — the only necessities he didn’t grow in his garden or find in the wild. Those people who failed to bring a gift were reminded by the chief of his outstanding debt to Red Hawk.

Missouri and Arkansas were suffering from a drought. Cotton was drying in the bolls. It was Cousin Charley’s inspiration that we ask Chief Kow Tow to perform a rain dance. For inducement we invested (my money) in a bag of Bull Durham and a peppermint stick, the old fellow’s special treat.

The chief received us cordially enough and heard our request. He sucked thoughtfully on the peppermint before replying. “That powerful medicine. Worth more. What else you got?” After further negotiation we threw in a jack knife, a red bandanna and a Sunday school badge given me for 13 weeks perfect attendance — my all-time record.

Gathering up his booty, Kow Tow retired to his cabin. Bye and bye he reappeared dressed in a silk top hat ringed with feathers, a frock coat and a red cravat over his usual attire of flannel shirt and faded Levis. Over his shoulder he carried a fringed, buckskin bag decorated with paintings of birds and mysterious symbols. From it Kow Tow took four arrows tipped with beautiful pink and white stone which I now know came from Flint Ridge, Ohio, and was widely traded among Indians for ceremonial purposes.

* * *

The Chief drew a square on the ground and stuck his arrows, point up, at the corners. In the center he set a decorated pottery bowl. Into the bowl he crumbled sumac leaves, willow bark and a few pinches of tobacco from his newly acquired pouch of Bull Durham. “Kinnikinnick,” he explained. “Make sacred smoke.” Kow Tow began striking sparks from two stones onto the kinnikinnick. Presently a think smoke curled upwards, and he fanned it with a hawk wing. He bent over the smoldering mixture and breathed in the fumes.

“You, too,” he commanded. Charley and I sniffed the acrid smoke. It made our eyes burn and our heads swim a bit. Then the old chief took two, gourd rattles from his medicine bag and began to dance around the arrows. “Huh yuh, huh yuh,” he chanted as he shook the rattles vigorously. I felt goose bumps rising on my arms. “Geez,” whispered Cousin Charley. “Ain’t this sumthin?”

After about ten minutes of stomping and chanting, Chief Kow Tow stopped suddenly. “That’s plenty,” he said emphatically as he gathered up his paraphernalia. We thanked him and left, confident that the long dry spell would soon be over.

* * *

By golly, the next day it started to rain — hard! It rained steadily for two days and two nights. Off in the distance we could hear a faint, continuous rumbling. “Water’s rising,” grownups with worried frowns told each other. Cousin Charley and I were scared. It was more than we had bargained for. In the early dark of the third morning of rain there was a pounding on the front door. Obviously bad news.

Uncle Ruppert hurried out of bed, already sensing the trouble. “The New Madrid levee broke!” shouted the messenger. “They need all the help they can get!” Aunt Thelma fixed two sandwiches for Uncle Ruppert and kissed him as he left to join a straggling line of other men trudging along the railroad, the highest ground. “Be careful Rup!”

Cousin Charley and I shivered. That afternoon we swore a mighty oath — sealed with blood pricked from our thumbs — never to tell about our visit to Chief Kow Tow. Uncle Ruppert came home two days later — dog-tired and haggard. He hadn’t slept for 36 hours. He had tragic news.

The main levee of the Mississippi had broken but a secondary levee held. Men were ferried by barge across the flood to heave sand bags into the breach. On one of the trips, the barge overturned. Twenty men drowned! There was a score of sad funerals that week in southeast Missouri, one in our town. My guilt was overwhelming.

* * *

Cousin Charley came to visit me a year later and told me that he had gotten into an argument with Chief Kow Tow over ownership of a dog. “That hound took up with me, but old Kow Tow said it belonged to him. I started to dispute him, but he declared, “Don’t rile me or I’ll make it rain!” “I saw his point right off,” said Charley. “That mangy dog wasn’t much of a hunter anyhow.”

Small Paper Bags – What You Must Know Before Buying Them

Small paper bags are by definition ‘small’, however, there are a few different sizes available in order to carry small or singular items with ease. They can be used to transport medicines, single groceries or even haberdashery items such as needles, threads, pins and scissors. Small bags can also be used to transport fruit and vegetables for pack lunches, if the distance is not too far..

A small bag will vary in size, but it is generally any bag that is under 20 x 30 cm, however some small gift bags maybe thin and long but they are still classified as small. This varying scale of small will allow you to choose a paper bag to best suit you needs. Paper is a natural and bio-degradable product. There are ways that paper is made, one involves using natural process and the other requires chemicals to be added to the paper to make is stronger, thicker and coarser.

Small bags are available in different colors. They can be transparent, red, blue green, pink, black, or brown. White small bags tend to be used to transport chemicals or medicines, but they be easily acquired for commercial use as well. Generally small bags are only available in two different styles; these are gusset and oblong bottomed. The oblong or square bottoms bags are more commonly associated with gift bags, because they have a flat bottom area to rest items in. The gusset bottom bags are generally found in grocery bags and medicine bags.

In order get your own tiny bag you should try going online, especially if you want to buy in bulk. With the internet you will often find that many online suppliers will offer special discounts that are not available when purchased in the shops. Buying online will also allow you to read reviews of what other people though of the product and it means you won’t to leave the comfort of your own home or carry them back to the car as they will be delivered straight to your door.

Once you have found a place for small paper bags or discovered that the best things really do come in small packages, you will then be wondering why you never bought small bags before. These miniature bags can prove to be the best thing to transport all those little items that you have, and because they are made from paper they are hugely environmentally friendly.