Native American Vision Quest – Black Elk

Bailey here again –  

I’ve been trying to convince my mom (yeah, right) to let me go on a vision quest ever since I was 10-years old.  A vision quest is a Native American ritual where you go into the wilderness and connect with the Creator to seek your mission on earth – or to seek healing or solutions to problems.  I want to know what my mission is.  I think I want to be a detective, but how do I know for sure that’s what I’m supposed to do?

I’ve done my research and I know a vision quest isn’t something to mess around with.  Not something to enter into lightly.  It’s serious.  But I know I’m strong enough to do it.  You have to be able to fast for a couple days, camp outside (no problem), be open to the spirit world, and able to be alone.  So, no problem.  BUT, my mom won’t let me.  Ugh.  Someday.

Black Elk, a famous Lakota holy man, had many visions – sometimes when he wasn’t even on a vision quest.  Black Elk lived from 1863 to 1950.  He was in the Battle of Little Big Horn and was wounded at the Wounded Knee Massacre.  Black Elk saw a lot of pain during his life, but he also saw hope.

One of my favorite visions Black Elk tells of was when he journeyed to the top of a sacred mountain and found a circle of stones with a cross in the center.  Black Elk looked around and saw that every created thing had a thread of smoke or light going from it.  A voice told him that the thread connects every created thing to the Creator.  Without the thread, it wouldn’t exist.  Black Elk saw that all the threads connected at the center of the cross, representing the Center of the Universe.  That’s when Black Elk understood that everything is related, all the seen and the unseen of creation. 

I love this vision because it makes me feel safe and connected.  Like everything has a place and a reason.  I want to make sure I’m doing – or will do – what I was put here to do.  Do you ever wonder what your mission is?

Native American Flute, Carlos Nakai

Hey, it’s Bailey again.

So speaking of gifts and talents, have you ever heard of Carlos Nakai?  Or listened to his amazing music?  I know it may sound odd that a teenage girl loves Native American flute music.  But hey, I’m an admitted Native wannabe.  I like rock music and even some country, too.  But for the Native flute, as far as I’m concerned, Carlos Nakai is the master.  What Carlos does with the flute is haunting and beautiful; moving and inspiring.

Now Carlos (who is of Navajo-Ute heritage) was originally trained in the classical trumpet, and I’m willing to bet he was good at it.  Really good at it.  Probably thought he had his whole life planned out.  And then disaster stuck.  He was in a car accident and got the horrifying news that he’d ruined his embouchure (which means the facial muscles necessary to play the trumpet). 

Devastating.  His whole life must’ve come to a grinding halt.  How could that happen to him?  Why the injury to the embouchure to someone who wanted to play the trumpet?  Why not an injury to the arm or the leg?  Okay, so what do you do now?

During his recovery, I think an uncle or a close relative presented Carlos with a traditional Native cedar flute, and challenged him to master it.  Now I’m sure Carlos went through all the emotions anyone would in that situation – disbelief, anger, sadness, wanting to throw in the towel and just curl into a ball.  But somehow he made it through it.  And he took that cedar flute and mastered it.  And I thank the Creator he did, otherwise I wouldn’t be enjoying it right now. 

Carlos now travels the world to play his music.  He plays solos, plays with symphonies, with jazz bands, and joins with other solo artists.  He has over 30 albums out there.  So, what if he’d just curled into a ball when tragedy hit?  What if he hadn’t taken his musical ability and applied it somewhere else?  I love Carlos Nakai’s music, but I think I love his spirit and his story even more.  You can find Carlos and a list of his amazing music at

I’m starting to believe what Mrs. Creek said – that each of us has many talents to choose from.  Have you thought about what your gifts and talents are?  About what you were given to share with the world?

Gifts and Talents

I spent today with Mrs. Creek (Jazz’s mom).  She’s one of my favorite people in the world.  She’s a tribal holy woman and you can feel the peace and calmness coming off of her.  She wanted to show Jazz and me how to make Native American jewelry, but Jazz wasn’t interested.  She left to go work on the school newspaper, but I stayed and made my first turquoise and black onyx bracelet!  Came out pretty cool. 

While we were beading, Mrs. Creek told me that every person has many gifts (or talents), and that each of us can choose which gifts to develop.  Made me wonder what my talents are.  She told me to think about the things I’m interested in – the things I seem to have a knack for – and that’s where I can find some of my gifts.

Take Jazz for instance.  She’s good at running, sinking a rebound, and she can write.  She’s actually the editor for our school newspaper, and she’s even written a couple articles for the Durango Herald.

As for me, I really loved making the jewelry – thinking of the design and using my hands to create something.  I’m a decent runner, and I can play basketball, but professional athletics aren’t in my future.  But I do want to be a detective/crime profiler.  Hopefully my insane attention to detail and weird love of research will help me make it through the Criminal Justice program at Fort Lewis College.  Oh, and I can just feel things sometimes – like I know certain things are going to happen.  Call it a sixth sense, intuition, or whatever, but I always listen to it because many times what I think is going to happen, does. 

Do you know what your gifts and talents are?

Good Run

Jazz and I had another good run this morning.  We’ve kept it up all summer, running at least 3 times a week.  We’ll be ready when the Basketball and Track seasons start.  As usual, Jazz outran me.  She does every time.  We did 5 miles today, and she still beat me on the sprint home.  Maddening.

We ran up in the San Juan Mountains and passed a kiva (holy place of the ancient Aztecs).  I told Jazz the place had magic, and that I could feel the ancient peoples watching over us.  She just rolled her eyes.  She doesn’t believe in anything she can’t see.  But I believe mysteries surround us all the time.  Wonderful, mystical things we can’t see, but can feel if we want to.  And her mom’s a tribal holy woman.  I don’t know what’s wrong with Jazz.  She doesn’t believe any of it.  But I do.  What do you believe?

Rafting Trip!

I met the hottest guy when Jazz and I went rafting today!  His name is Luke and he was our guide.  All rafting guides are hot, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen.  And he totally flirted with me!  He has short tousled brown hair, warm hazel eyes, sensual lips and a slight dimple when he grins.  He’s athletic and muscular, sultry and sweet.  He even did a back flip off the raft into the river.  It was way cool.

He goes to Bayfield High and I think he’s a Senior.  Jazz thinks he’s too old for me, but hey, I’m a Sophomore.  Not so bad.  I almost fell to the ground when he took off his shirt.  NICE.  And he said he wants to take me out sometime!  Eeeek!  I can’t wait!