The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Wearing feathers, a display of a humble way of life

The wapaha is the eagle-feathered headdress worn by the chiefs of the Native American Indian Lakota people.

Without knowing their culture, without knowing their values, it is easy to give meaning to this headdress. A meaning that then results from one’s understanding of success or of how leadership is attained. It is a way of using today’s understanding to read the past and find today’s way of being confirmed.

For the Lakota, the chiefs were there to protect their people.

Leadership is based on the core values of wówačhaŋtognaka (generosity), wówačhiŋtȟaŋka (perseverance), wóohitike (bravery), and wóksape (wisdom).

That is how the eagle-feathered headdress symbolizes acting on behalf of the people. The chiefs receive the feathers, they don’t take them. They receive them for selfless acts, small acts of generosity are as relevant as success on the battlefield.

It is as Lakota elder Duane Hollow Horn Bear describes.

“Imbued in this man’s life must be characteristics of the values of our people, such as fortitude, perseverance, generosity, bravery. […] When he wears this, he must always think of the people as a whole. […] The individual who wears the eagle-feather headdress has earned prestige and accepted responsibility and portrays these in a very humble way of life.”

The basic question for one’s actions is “what is it for?”

For one and the same action, the given answer will depend on one’s worldview and on the way it has been translated in one’s attitude.

It transforms it all.


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