Dependant on the Tribe. males at various times of their lives, went on what could be called Vision Quests. There were many reasons for these quests but the common thread is where the male went either to obtain his “spiritual name” as opposed to the name given him by his people, to seek out his “spiritual guides” or both. While within some Tribes there was certain ceremonies that including what today is termed self-mutilation, the common thread again, was fasting alone, even to the point of not drinking water, at some isolated spot. The more common time period for this was three days. The intended goal could come either via actual “visions” or perhaps even the physical advent say, of a particularly bright “shooting star” or a group of them; many and varied are the things that could very possibly come into play with regard to this Vision Quest.
When the Quest came to an end, the person took a Gift to the Tribe’s Holy Man, or Medicine Man if you prefer, but NOT Shaman. The word Shaman comes from peoples located in the now known area of Siberia, as does the practice of Shamanism. You try to call a Traditional Native American a Shaman and his “practices” Shamanism, and you are very likely to find yourself in varying degress of trouble!
At any rate, many times. what was gained via the Quest and the interpretation of it
by the Holy Man, was then transferred to the person’s shield, as well as many times symbolized on the sides/walls of his tipis.
The shield, as could be expected. was a very important item to the Native American, because not only of the obvious physical protection, but also because of the Spiritual Protection it provided. Because of the latter, shields did not disappear from the cultural identity of the Native American as it did the European, where the shield aside from physical protection, provided familial linkage and/or identity of the bearer and was judged quit inadequate with the advent of weapons using gunpowder.
So, while many of the shields were not used as actual physical protection, they were by many carried with them, attached in some way upon their animals or, were put in places/poles of Honor, to the East of the warrior’s lodge. Thus, it spiritual protection was still maintained.
Once again, let me assure the seeker that there is no remuneration gained by this site, nor anyone connected with it, from the websites listed. The examples and the sites are here for educational purposes only and they are put here to give credit where credit is do, and so that the seeker can go there and see what other visual treats are in store, for what is shown here are but a tiny portion of what is available at this fine sites.