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The Making of a Healer: Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother

The Making of a Healer: Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother

by Russell FourEagles
The Making of a Healer: Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother

The Making of a Healer: Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother

by Russell FourEagles


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Once Oneida healer Russell FourEagles (Atuneyute Keya) went to see his friend Bob, whom doctors had declared incurably paralyzed following a stroke. Within minutes of FourEagles' attention, Bob was kicking the covers off the bed. "You should write a book!" Bob later encouraged. And here it is. FourEagles' grandparents escaped the reservation-school education that obliterated Native American culture, preserving the healing abilities that can be traced in an unbroken lineage back two hundred grandmothers. In The Making of a Healer, he openly shares his knowledge in an effort to keep the old wisdom and practices from being forgotten. Recounting sacred Oneida myths and cosmology, he describes the healing powers of the Fire Ceremony, energy exchange, and humor; discusses natural remedies; and explains how he healed himself from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Vietnam War.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780835609272
Publisher: Quest Books
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 737,747
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Russell FourEagles is a spiritual/energy healer with over 40 years of experience. He has performed over 45,000 healings in Canada, Central and South America, Europe, Indonesia, Thailand and across the United States, and visitors come to his healing center from all over the world. Russell has lived in Wisconsin most of his life, except for a stint in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He finished his Medicine work apprenticeship under the tutelage of his Oneida Grandmother when he was 25 years old, but studied off and on until age 31. He began practicing the traditional medicine work in 1973 and due to demand, he opened Soaring Eagles Wellness Center in 1998. Russell has regularly sponsored seasonal healing conferences at the Soaring Eagles grounds, and has offered workshops on a number of Native American practices. He has also taught workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Menomonie on the traditional Oneida Healing and regularly speaks as a Native American Medicine Man and Holy Man at Native American gatherings and festivals across the country. Russell FourEagles is an oft sought-after source of wisdom on the authentic ways of the Original people locally, nationally, and worldwide. He openly shares this knowledge so that the old ways are not forgotten. Russell's Grandfather was captured living in the wilds of Canada and taken to the Couchiching Reserve in 1870, where he escaped and immigrated to the U.S. and settled near the Oneida Reservation, but not onto it. The medicine that Russell FourEagles's Grandmother taught him was therefore never broken and came directly down the lineage, since living off the reservation meant that none of his ancestors ever went to boarding school. His Grandmother learned from her grandmother and she learned from her grandmother back two hundred grandmothers.

Read an Excerpt

The Making of a Healer

Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother

By Russell FourEagles

Theosophical Publishing House

Copyright © 2014 Russell FourEagles
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8356-3179-2


My Heritage

In 1870, my great-grandfather Henry Peaceful Lake (Smith) was living in a wigwam on the Rainy River in Ontario, near where the Little Canoe River dumped into the Rainy. This was before the dam was completed in 1905 and the impoundment became known as Rainy Lake. Henry's father was Ojibwa, with a bit of French blood, and his mother was Oneida, from the Six-Nations' area of Canada.

Around 1867 or 1868, the Canadian government passed a law stating that all Indians were to be moved to reservations and to cease their native traditions. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came to Henry's lodge and told him that he must move to the reserve called Couchiching. When he asked why, they said that the government had made a treaty with the Indians on the other side of the river and that Henry's lodge was now on Crown land.

"But those are not my people across the river, and this is not their land to sell," said Henry. "My father, his father before him, and many grandfathers before them have lived here. My people are buried here. I can't sell you the bones of my ancestors. Up and down the river, as far as you see, this is my land. It was passed to me by my father. So I am not moving."

"Oh, yes you are," said the police as they pulled their guns on Henry.

"What about my traps, my guns, and my other possessions?"

"Leave them," they replied. "Everything you need will be provided at Couchiching."

"Right," my great-grandfather scoffed, not knowing how perceptive he truly was.

This story I learned from my grandmother, as my great-grandfather had died before I could meet him. She also told me that on the way to Couchiching, which was a sixty-five-mile journey, Henry got the brilliant idea that if the Crown could buy land from someone who didn't own it, then maybe there was a chance that he, too, could make some money off the Crown. He asked if the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wanted to buy a lot of land, really cheap. The police inquired as to what he had to sell. He offered them Minnesota for $50,000. "And that would be cheap," he added.

The police said that he couldn't sell Minnesota because he didn't own it and that, it being in the United States of America, they had no authority there, to which my great-grandfather responded, "But I do own my land, and that didn't stop you from taking it."

Their only reaction was, "Give us a break; we're just doing our job."

After they finally reached the Couchiching Reserve, the police told Henry to sit on a bench outside the agent's office and not move while they went inside to fill out his paperwork. However, my great-grandfather had other things in mind. He ran down the hill to the Rainy River, jumped into a birch-bark canoe, and paddled across the river to International Falls, Minnesota. When the Mounties saw him crossing the river, they ran down to the bank and shouted that he had to come back.

"You have no authority here, remember?" Henry yelled over his shoulder. "This is the United States of America!"

So the police had to return to the agent's office and report the loss of a wild Indian. Great-grandfather immigrated into the United States stating, "I am a free man and don't have to live on any reservation."

When Henry crossed the border in 1870, the US immigration officials tried to spell his native name three times, each time crossing it out. They eventually made him an American by giving him the name Smith. With the help of my local library, I was able to locate his immigration papers from 1870 on a micro disc, which is how I became aware of this interesting fact. (The native name as it appears on the micro disc is nearly illegible. As close as my cousins could translate it, it means "Peaceful Lake.")

Over the next year, my great-grandfather traveled the trails of northern Minnesota, always going southeast. He maintained that he was a free man, but eventually he moved to within a quarter of a mile or so of a reservation. It's my understanding that, by 1871, he ended up near the Oneida Reservation at Oconto, Wisconsin, renting a house directly across the street from it. There, he met and married Birdie Hoover.

Birdie was a great-granddaughter of Chief Neopit, the last hereditary chief of the Menominee before they lost their independence and were moved to a reservation. Chief Neopit (Four in Den) later became a judge in the reserve court system. Birdie was of Oneida and Menominee descent and reportedly a cousin of a famous FBI man who didn't claim his native heritage. Birdie stood five feet six in height, which was tall for an Oneida woman. She was of slight build and had icy blue eyes like those of her mother and grandmother.

Coretta Mae Smith, my gram, was born to Henry and Birdie in 1889. Like her mother, Coretta was rather tall for an Oneida woman. She, too, had icy blue eyes, was of slight build, and was very strong. Her daughter, Lauretta, would eventually marry my father, Edward FourEagles.

My father's parents were Charles and Minerva (Scar) FourEagles. Charles, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1870, was of mostly German descent but carried an Indian last name from his father, who was half German. Charles stood six feet ten inches tall. My paternal grandmother, Minerva, who was predominantly Ojibwa with also some German and Dakota, was four feet six.

My mother, Lauretta, was born in 1922. She was five feet two in height with a background on her mother's side of Menominee Ojibwa and Oneida and on her father's side of Norwegian. Her father died in Milwaukee, one of the first people to be hit and killed by a horseless carriage, or, as he called them, "those infernal noisy things." I believe that happened about thirty years before I was born.


Gram and I

To my parents, Lauretta and Edward FourEagles, I was born in my grandmother's house in 1951 near a small town in northwestern Wisconsin called Trego. I had many brothers and sisters: Vernon and Helen died before I was born; and Roy, Gerald, and Geraldine were born after me. At the time of my birth, that left just my older siblings, Edward and Virginia, and me to reside with our parents in our twelve-by-fourteen-foot tarpaper shack. It had a partial slab-wood floor, a wood-burning stove, and kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling. We had no television set, radio, or even electricity until 1959. Then my father and the neighbors cleared a swath of forest so that the electric company could put up their poles.

The year my brother Roy was born, my mother asked Gram if one of us kids could live with her because there wasn't enough room in our house, and Gram chose me. I told my mother that I didn't want to go live with an old Indian woman. Mom said, "It will be okay because she is your grandmother."

Gram's and my life was majestic in its simplicity. We left the table feeling satisfied, but no food was ever wasted. We had no television or radio. Instead, Gram would tell me legends of the people. She would ask me so many questions that I would end up telling her more stories, many times over, than she would tell me. If I made a mistake, she had me repeat the correct version until I got it right. "You need to remember these things," she would say, "as you might someday be the only one with this knowledge."

Gram became very special to me, and I to her. She once told me that I was the first "Indigo" baby she had ever seen. I believe my being Indigo must have excited her because of all the wisdom and lessons she planned to pass on to me. Children known as "Indigo" have been born since the 1950s, although there couldn't have been many at that time if I was the first one my gram saw. Indigo children feel more with their hearts and are not so preoccupied with the greed that seems to have taken over our society. Fortunately, some of these young people will be the upcoming politicos, doctors, and other people of power in this country.

Today, Indigos are often diagnosed as people with attention deficit disorder. The trouble with them is that they learn really fast and get bored quickly, because, in most cases, they have already gotten the point and stored it away. They can pick up information just by being around it. I never took a book home all the time I was in school, but my grades were good enough to allow me to study herbs with Gram on weekends. Indigo children have an inner knowing, so it is hard to deceive them. If you tell an Indigo child that you're going to do something, you had better do it, because if you don't, that person will remember it throughout life. At any rate, I still do. And you need to be honest with Indigos, as they will be with you. They may seem somewhat temperamental, but in reality they are just being honest, even if they sometimes seem totally in your face. Usually, though, people refuse to listen to them with open ears that hear.

After I started school, I lived with my parents during the week and lived with Gram only on weekends and during the summers. When I was with her I studied herbs and whatnot, and Gram spent a lot of time doing healings. Occasionally, a client would stop by her house, but most often someone would take us to the client. The healings could last up to three days. During these sessions there would be dancers and drummers, and there was always lots of excitement. How Gram made all the arrangements without phones and electricity was beyond me.

After telephones came into the area, Gram used her phone to call people in for either singing or chanting, depending on the type of healing it was. Much later, when I started doing healings on my own, I figured out that the drummers and dancers were used to distract clients, thus making it easier for the clients to stay out of their own way.

My own technique for getting clients to stay out of their own way is simply to keep them engaged in light conversation. That way, I find that they become more relaxed and less focused on what I am doing, which allows them to be more receptive to the healing. Laughter is another way I help people relax. The old saying that laughter is the best medicine is still true.

Gram continued to do healings throughout my childhood as I dutifully watched, listened, and learned. At such a young age, I was unaware of how great an impact these lessons would someday have on me. It is funny how they come back time and again when they are needed.

The old ways are good and right, but whatever the way, it is all in the Creator's plan. I am grateful that it was within the Creator's plan for me to live off the reservation when I was growing up. That way, not having to attend the reservation schools, I was free to learn lessons in the old ways from Gram.


A Village Teaches

One day, as Gram and I harvested red clover blossoms in the field behind her house, I, as usual, was listening to her tell stories. This was one of the times when she was talking of the things her grandmother had told her.

"In my grandmother's village," Gram said, "no one went without. If a woman's man got killed, someone in the village would usually marry her. If no one was available, usually a brother of the deceased would marry her, even if he was already married. The women would then become sisters and sister-wives. That way, everyone was taken care of, and no one was left behind."

Gram went on to say that, in her grandmother's village, when it came time to teach the young ones the parents weren't the ones who did it. Instead, the aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas taught them and did the disciplining. The parents' job, in contrast, was just to love their kids. And things were much better in those days. The kids would run to their parents if they got in trouble, rather than away from them as they do today. Children running from parents is simply a reaction to parents having become the disciplinarians and to the kids not having any contact—or not as much as they should—with grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I may have been a bit young to understand these things, as Gram was talking about them in 1955 or 1956, when I was about five. But she continued, "Now there are kids who call themselves beatniks. You wouldn't have found that in my grandmother's day. Ever since we began this new system of teaching kids outside the home, society has been going downhill; people don't have much respect for elders. Be sure you always honor the elders, because if it weren't for them, you wouldn't be here. We give freely to the young people; all you have to do is listen."

I can't imagine what Gram's response would be about something I recently saw on the news. In a poll taken in a big city out west, high school kids were asked where food comes from. To my disbelief, 30 to 40 percent of them answered, "the store!" I realize that not every grandma was like mine, but where have our values gone? How is it possible that so many of our children are not taught about the real things anymore? Eating is a basic necessity for survival. Yet those high school kids knew nothing about the origin of their food. In contrast, I know for a fact that I would never have starved if something horrific had happened. And the last place I'd have looked for food would have been the store.

Who is actually teaching our children? It seems that parents look to the schools, and the schools look to the parents. Sadly enough, the kids are not looking anywhere.

Also sad is that, unlike in Gram's day, now the responsibility for child-rearing is left entirely to just the two parents increasingly isolated from other family members. We love our children. Yet society as a whole has taught us to pass the buck. We send the children to school or a babysitter, while we go make money. The parents have to work in order to provide for their families. This in itself is acceptable. The problem is that, in most households, now both parents are working, because it takes two incomes just to survive.

Unfortunately, we work more and more, wanting more and more things to store in the garage so that we can pull them out once a year for vacationing. We notice our neighbors' fancy cars, and all of a sudden ours isn't good enough. "We must make more money," we tell ourselves, which usually means that we work even more.

Children don't get out to the parks or woods anymore, which is another sad thing. Instead, they are fully occupied with the expensive clothes, computers, and cell phones to which they are accustomed. So again, we work more.

Meanwhile, life becomes so hectic that we forget about our own parents and grandparents. Elders are put into nursing homes, left to be forgotten. Unfortunately, the love, wisdom, experiences, and presence of those relatives are also forgotten.

So, without having to care for our elders, we have even more time to acquire money. But that "gain" is actually a pity, considering how harmful it is to today's family. And even then, we still have trouble making enough money.

What we must remember is what we've forgotten: it's all about the children. The native nations valued their children above all else. But now, the children are the ones who are losing. They are losing out on the time that we—their parents, their grandparents, or any other adult relative—could be giving them. I truly believe that there are very few parents or grandparents who would turn their backs if their child had a question or a problem to solve, but we are not available, for we are out working (unless we're already in a nursing home). The family unit has transformed itself into little more than strangers living under the same roof. Working is pretty much unavoidable in today's society. But balance and clarity about our priorities is what we need to strive for. It isn't easy, but we have to try.

Society has taught us to buy the children things, because that's what they want. Simply stated, what children need is their families. But society wants to keep the corporate machine well oiled and running smoothly; and, of course, that's what the corporations want, too: let's make a new holiday so that we can sell, sell, sell and buy, buy, buy.

Sadly, we are not doing for our children today what Gram did for me. As I've said, when a child I was lucky to live off the reservation, so I never had the Indian beat out of me as so many of my cousins did. At the same time, I am sad not to have had the closeness with my people that my gram had. (Even though she and her parents didn't live on the Oneida Reservation, they did live across the street from it, and she had plenty of contact with that community.) I'm glad I grew up with her beliefs, for a day doesn't go by without a memory, a lesson, or Gram's pure love present in my mind and heart. This is why I am able to pass the old teachings on to my clients.

And I wonder: if, as Gram taught, we are supposed to make decisions based on what will benefit not only our grandchildren but the next seven generations to come—and the children of today are already losing—what does that say for the next seven generations?


Excerpted from The Making of a Healer by Russell FourEagles. Copyright © 2014 Russell FourEagles. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


My Heritage,
Gram and I,
A Village Teaches,
How the Medicine Came to the Clan of My Grandmother,
Destined to Heal,
Over and Over,
Revelations of a Dream,
The Creation Story,
This Land Is Our Land,
The Heart Box,
The Oneida Fire Ceremony,
My Version of the Fire Ceremony,
The Colors of Healing,
The Legend of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades),
The Legend of Sky Woman,
People Discover What We Have Always Known,
Visions Explained My Way,
The Child Knows What Others Do Not,
A Young Explorer,
We Are All Unique,
Gram Teaches Me to Walk in Love, Not Fear,
Energy Exchange,
A Missionary's Disturbing Message,
Gram Gets Serious,
Vietnam, 1970,
Bonsai Charge!,
Tam Ky: Hello, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
The Soldier Evolves into a Healer,
Three Little Bumps: Ancient Lands by Way of Texas,
The Creator Heals through My Hands,
My Hand Feels an Ice Pick,
The Creator Teaches Me More about Healing,
A Sacred Design,
My Spirit Guide Leads Me to My Land,
I Finally Learn My Spirit Guide's Name,
Sleep Puts Me Back in 'Nam,
Revisiting PTSD,
Answers from Flyingbye,
The Warriors' Dance,
Vision Quest,
Learning My Own Lessons about Rocks,
Clinics for the Creator's Work,
From Skeptic to Believer,
Medicine Men, Shamans, and Charlatans,
Balance and the Medicine Wheel,
Balance at Work,
Many Ways to God,
Walking the Red Road,
Passing the Lessons On,
In Gratitude,

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