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The Significance of the Talking Stick

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Conflict Resolution Institute

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Talking sticks, or talking pieces, are often used to facilitate restorative conversations in order to ensure that participants are empowered and participating equally. The talking stick, originally referred to as a speaker's staff, is a tool of indigenous democracy used by many tribes, especially the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast in North America. The talking stick is passed around the group and allows for multiple people to speak in turn.

Traditionally, talking sticks were used at major events such as Pow-wows, tribal council meetings, and important ceremonies, but their use was also extended to storytelling circles and teaching children. Talking sticks allow people to present and express their sacred point of view. It has also been used by tribal leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.

The particular adornment of the talking stick, including colors, fur skins, feathers, and the animal it may represent, is very symbolic to the actual use and meaning of the talking stick. The reason behind this being that indigenous peoples have the belief that these adornments brought the attributes, characteristics and medicine of the creatures to the meeting.

It is believed that success of the event was brought by the talking stick and the depth of meaning it holds. The tables in this article convey the greater sense of meaning of the colors and animals displayed on talking sticks.