Eagle feature presented in rare ceremony

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Eagle feathers are sacred to Native Americans. Claire Kinnich of Ridgecrest has been battling cancer, and told Little Deer Durvin, area representative of the Cherokee Community of Central California, Ridgecrest Area, that she wanted an eagle feather to help her healing process.

According to law, it is illegal for anyone who is not a registered Native American to possess feathers of birds of prey, especially eagles. Claire is one-quarter Cherokee and has a tribal identification card. Durvin did the research and got special permission through all appropriate channels for Claire to receive her feather.

Durvin also arranged for Henry Allen, an honored Navajo elder who lives in Barstow, to come to the CC of CC’s Hog Fry and Pow Wow to present the feather to Claire in the proper ceremony.

Allen is also a decorated Korean War veteran. Attending the event in full regalia, he was an impressive sight as he first blessed the feather and prayed to the four directions in Navajo, then used the feather to bless Claire.

When he handed the feather to her, he grasped her hand and simply said, “Be well.” She responded with a heartfelt “Thank you.”

The feather is decorated around the quill with a woven band of tiny seed beads in the traditional Native colors of the four directions — white, black, red, and yellow.

Claire’s husband of 34 years, Francis, on hand to see the ceremony, said he understood well the hope that the prayers represented. Since eagles fly higher than any other bird, Native tradition holds that eagles are closest to the Creator of all the creatures.

“This is part of what traditional Pow Wows are all about,” said Durvin.

Last year, Claire was too sick to attend the first Ridgecrest Hog Fry and Pow Wow. This year her health has improved enough to allow her to attend. Durvin said the Cherokee Community hopes that Claire’s healing will continue and that the spirit of the eagle feather will be a part of that healing.

Story First Published: 2012-11-21