Published on August 28, 2012 by Amy
The eagle bone whistle, a sacred religious musical instrument used by Native Americans, is made from the long wing bones of both the American bald eagle, and the American golden eagle for Native American religious ceremonies. Eagle bone whistles are considered extremely powerful spiritual objects by American Indians.
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Eagle bone whistles produce a series of high pitched notes which are reminiscent of the cry of an eagle. By varying the airflow and pressure, a wide variety of notes can be produced. These whistles are only used in ceremonies to call the spirits. Eagle bone whistles are often worn with red mescal bean necklaces during peyote ceremonies. They are also carried in buffalo hide pouches specifically made for this purpose.
The peyote ceremonies of the Native American Church use eagle bone whistles to call the spirits of the ancestors and the grandfathers to attend peyote ceremonies. Many Native Americans believe that music created from the bones of eagles can be heard in the spirit world. The Sun Dance performed by the Ute and Lakota also employ eagle bone whistles, which are played continuously by the dancers during the sacred dance rituals.
The whistle is made by removing the fat and marrow from the long wing bone of a bald or golden eagle. The bone is then boiled until all of the fat and tissue is removed, and sanded. The large flaring end of the bone is opened and the bone is cut to approximately 7 inches (17 cm) in length. A concave lens-shaped opening is then filed or bored out of the bone to form the whistle opening. Pitch from a pinyon pine tree is then placed into the opening and the bone is heated until the pitch is softened. The pinyon pine pitch is then shaped into a ridge and allowed to harden.