Our Bundles: The Living Heart of Community

by Deb Bickford

Within each local dance a community Bundle is created and cared for by a Bundlekeeper. A Bundle is a collection of sacred objects that are wrapped within a blanket or hide, and kept in a good way. They may include items collected from the earth, the four-leggeds, the winged ones, items that may be considered special to our heart, and objects that represent the Dance and hosting community. All the prayers and dance energies that come forward from the people remain within the Bundle.

The Dance For All People is currently honored in eight locations including New York, New England, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Tennessee and California. Within each of these communities a Bundle has been created. The original Bundle from the first Dance is Standing Buffalo, Pia-gutchu Wanda (Shoshone), created for the New York Community by Clyde Hall and Dan Blanchard. All of the seven Bundles that emerged after the creation of Standing Buffalo hold a piece of the original Bundle. This connects all of the Bundles as one, thus connecting all of the energies and people’s prayers.

In addition to the eight dance Bundles two other Bundles have emerged to help to support the dancers and the Dance. They are the Bow and Arrow and Grandmother Bundles. Our communities have also been blessed by the presence and healing of two medicine bundles, Bear and Wolf Bundles.

Within each dance community a bundle is held by a Bundlekeeper. The living spirit of the bundle for each community determines who the keeper will be; and through the listening of the elders and other bundlekeepers at a dance, this individual is revealed. Each Bundlekeeper takes on the responsibility of holding the energy of the Dance, providing daily care through prayers, smudging, and being present to support interactions between the Bundle and the people.

When a dancer feels the need to connect with the Bundle or to ask for prayers they can call or send a tobacco offering or gifting to the Bundle through the Keeper. The Bundlekeeper provides the opportunity for dancers to connect with the Bundle throughout the year. They work with us and for us in wonderful, mysterious ways.

As the New England Bundlekeeper, I feel deeply honored to be able to care for the New England Bundle, Gentle Quiet Feather. I am blessed with the opportunity to be in service to the people and to the dance. My connection and relationship with the Bundle is an ongoing reminder of how important it is to live through prayer. In caring for her I have grown spiritually, and I am deeply attuned to the energy around me. She is my teacher, providing me with guidance through my connections with others. She is a dear friend, always there to provide emotional support and a sense of well-being. She has been an honored guest in my life for over ten years, and I hold her dear to my heart daily. She has been witness to the birth of my grandchildren, the passing of family members, and is a constant source of caring, guidance and love.

A community Bundle is a collection of sacred objects that holds the prayers and visions of all the people who have ever danced in that community.