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THE MEDICINE WHEEL

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     Two grade 6 students (Fawn HeavyShields & Kim EagleSpeaker) designed a Blackfoot Medicine Wheel which displayed the scientific background information in the design (rock layout and placement according to direction, sun location, spiritual beliefs)  They were the winners of our School Science Fair in the Cultural category.

Problem:

     What is a medicine wheel used for?

Hypothesis:

     We think that medicine wheels were built so native people could pray because native people are very wise and religious

Materials:

  • Project Board
  • Cardboard
  • Rocks
  • Glue Gun
  • Tipi
  • Designs
  • Tooth Pick

 

Research:

     The meaning of the number four, as it is in Native American life is evident in the Medicine Wheel.  Four ... Four directions, the four grandfathers, four worlds, four winds, four elements (Earth, Air, Water, and Fire), and the four races of man.

     The wheel also teaches the four aspects of our nature ... physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

     The Easterly direction the old women into four sections... four races,.  To the North is white who bring with them mobility.  The colour of East is red, representing us Native Americans.  Our contribution to the whole is our vision and our ability to see beyond the line of logic taught truths.  At the south is yellow, who contribute the gift of time.  The west ifs black, they provide reasoning.

     The Medicine Wheel represents all of creation.  All races of people, animals, birds, fish, insects, plants, and stones.  The sun, moon, and earth are in the circle of the Medicine  Wheel.  Each stone tells a part of the story.  The circle is all of the cycles of nature, all day and night, seasons, moons, life cycles, and orbits of the moon and planets.  Scattered across the plains of Alberta are tens of thousands of stone structures.  Most of these are simple circles of cobble stones which once held down the edges of the famous tipi of the plains Indians; these are known as "Tipi Rings".  Others, however, were of a ore esoteric nature.  Extremely large stone circles, some greater than 12 meters across may be remains of special ceremonial dance structures.  A few cobble arrangements form the outlines of human figures, most of them obviously male.  Perhaps  the most intriguing cobble constructions however are the ones known as Medicine Wheels.  The term "Medicine Wheel" was first applied to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, the most southern one known that consists of a central cairn or red rock pile surrounded by a circle of stone: lines of cobble link the central cairn and the surrounding circles.  The  whole structure looks rather like a wagon wheel rim out on the ground  with the central cairn forming the hub, the radiating cobble lines the spokes, and the surrounding circle the rim.  The medicine part of the name implies that it was of religious significance to Native people.

The Medicine Wheel

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Conclusion:

     We learned that Medicine Wheels were built by Native people because they used them to pray.

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