American Indian Medicine Bag

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medicine bag-9-closed

The medicine man, or healer of a tribe, carried a medicine bag that contained many different items including herbs for healing.  The bag itself was thought to have special supernatural powers.

Besides the medicine man, in some tribes, every male Indian had a personal medicine bag that carried items that were thought to give them special powers.  The items had special significance and were added over the man’s lifetime.  Usually the items were such things as stones, bones, grasses and seeds, hair or fur, feathers, leaves or roots.  The special meaning of these items would be like: a stone to give strength or a feather for a free spirit.   No one else was allowed to see the items in the bag and the bag was buried with the owner when he died. 

Supplies:

  • Brown grocery bag
  • Masking tape
  • Colored markers
  • Cording (24” pieces
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Punch
  • Crochet hook

Directions:

medicine bag-1-fold in thirdsPreparing the brown grocery bag:

Remove handles, cut down the paper seam and around the bottom of the grocery bag. 

Cut the paper in half.  One brown grocery bag will make two medicine bags.

With the printing on the inside, fold the paper in thirds.

medicine bag-2-make flaps

Then fold a top and bottom flap using these approximate measurements:

Fold        Top flap about 4”    

Bottom flap about 6”

medicine bag-3-tape ends of flaps

Using masking : Apply one half of the width of the tape to one side of the top flap.  Then bring the tape over the cut edges and tape flat, enclosing the raw edges of the top flap.

In the same manner, tape the bottom flap to enclose the cut edges.

medicine bag-4-apply 12 width of tape to sides

Reference the picture to the left and tape the sides of the medicine bag with masking tape.

Notice that the bottom flap is taped to make a pouch.

medicine bag-5-fold over and trim

Trim the masking tape to make nice corners on the medicine bag.

medicine bag-7-trim fringe and cut to 4 length

Use paper cut from the bottom of the brown grocery bag to make a fringe.

The width of the fringe should be cut to fit the bottom width edge of the medicine bag.

The fringe is cut in one fourth inch wide strips.

medicine bag-10-open (2)Draw and color American Indian symbols and designs onto the medicine bag.

Punch holes in the top flap of the medicine bag, using a paper punch.  Put the flap down and mark the bag part of the medicine bag with a pencil.  Punch holes through all thicknesses of the pouch part of the medicine bag.

Knot one end of the 24″ cord.  With a small piece of tape, make a pointed end on the other end of the cord to make it easier to thread the cord through the holes made in the medicine bag.

Thread the cord from the outside of one hole in the top flap, through the matching holes in the pouch part, across the back of the pouch, back to the front of the pouch, then through the second hole in the top flap.  Snip off the taped end of the cord and tie another knot.   When the medicine bag is closed, the cord forms a handle for the medicine bag.

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