Caddo Hunting

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When the Caddo hunt Eagles are shot,1 not snared. If you picked up the feather dropped by a live eagle, there would be a death in the family (Ingkanish). After shooting an eagle, or finding a dead eagle, you must notify your people, “otherwise something awful will happen to you;2 eagles have wonderful power.”3 Ritual must be performed, by any older man. Then the bird may be plucked, after which it is buried like a person. The eagle killer is bathed all over with warm water and tobacco, and smoked with cedar fumes. The eagle feathers may be given away after they have been smoked (like any property of the dead). Eagle feathers are used “in medicine.”

There is no restriction upon bear hunting – “Caddo, not like Kiowa who are afraid to kill a bear they think is a man.” In fact Caddo were great bear hunters (like Shawnee). They would go bear hunting in a party, choosing an honest man, not a liar, to build the camp fire and keep it up. This, in order that the bear would not get away, i.e. would stay near the camp. The party shared evenly in the game. The husband of a pregnant woman may not go hunting, he has to stay at home.4 Women eat bear meat, but a pregnant woman would probably not eat it.

Nowadays there is no hunting. The Wichita Mountains are a government reservation. Nowadays “there is nothing to do but work” was Grayson Pardon’s lament.


  1. Cp. Mooney, 992. 

  2. Cp. Mooney, 1100-1101. Formerly only the medicine-men who knew the eagle-killing ritual killed eagles. “Should anyone else kill an eagle, his family would die or some other great misfortune would come upon him.” The eagle-killer took with him a robe or other valuable offering. He covered the body of the eagle with the robe (as dead deer are covered by Pueblo Indians). The dead eagle was not brought home. Mooney continues, “The last man of the Caddo who knew the eagle-killing ritual died some years ago, and since then they have had to go without eagle feathers or buy them from the Kiowa and other tribes. Since Sitting Bull (of the Arapaho) came down and `gave the feather’ (see p. 49) to the leaders of the (Ghost) dance the prohibition is removed, and men and women alike are now at liberty to get and wear eagle feathers as they will.”–And yet, not quite.
    This reverence for the eagle is much like that of the Shawnee, in general tone. Eagle feathers, until they were “cured,” were highly dangerous; if a man wore an “uncured” feather he would die (Voegelin). 

  3. Among Shawnee membrane from inside the quill had to be removed before the feather could be worn; otherwise it was too powerful (Voegelin). 

  4. Formerly a pregnant woman was not allowed to cooperate in planting lest it spoil the crop (Hatcher, XXXI, 156). 

MLA Source Citation:

Parsons, Elsie Clews. Notes on the Caddo, Memories of the American Anthropological Association. Supplement to American Anthropologist, Volume 43, No. 3, Part 2. 1921. Web. 21 December 2014. - Last updated on Nov 30th, 2014


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