Medicine Bundles

Medicine bundles (also called “sacred bundles”), wrapped collections of spiritually significant items, were the focus of most Indigenous spiritual rituals in the Plains region (see Plains Indigenous Peoples in Canada). A bundle might be a few feathers wrapped in skin or a multitude of objects such as animal skins, roots, or stone pipes inside a rawhide bag.

Medicine Bag

Medicine bag made of hide and beads, traditionally designed to hold tobacco medicine for medicine bundles

Every article in the medicine bundle had spiritual significance and called for a special song whenever its owner exposed it to light. Songs and a sacred myth belonged to the bundle itself. Fixed rules of inheritance governed the sale of each bundle from generation to generation. Formal transfer was a solemn ceremony and the new owner had to learn the significance of all objects in the bundle, details of visions to which they owed their origins, and songs that established their validity. Feasts were given for bundles by both owners and non-owners (also, see Religion and Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples in Canada). Traditionally and in modern times, medicine bundles have been a vital part of Indigenous spirituality on the Plains.



Further Reading

  • Joshua David Bellin, Medicine Bundle: Indian Sacred Performance and American Literature, 1824-1932 (2015).

    Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants (2015).

    Robin Marlies, Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada’s Northwest Boreal Forest (New Edition, 2009).

    David Young, Robert Rogers, and Russell Willier, A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom—Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories (2015).

External Links