The personal shield of Native Americans were constructed and given to young people after their vision quest as a symbol of the change from childhood to adulthood. A vision quest is a journey of self-discovery that helps a person celebrate the positive growth and change in their life. The personal shield is a symbol of this growth and change. A vision quest is similar to the North Star experience where we separate ourselves from everyday life.
Each girl creates a shield that identifies four animal attributes. She chooses two animals which possess her innate characteristics or strengths, and two animals which have characteristics she would like to possess. This exercise encourages the girls to think about themselves and recognize their strengths and weaknesses. The activity helps the girls to look at themselves in a positive light and also to identify areas they need to work on or goals they would like to achieve.
What are your personal strengths and what are the personal qualities you wish to attain as you grow older?
What are your personal goals?
How do you think others would describe you?
How would you describe yourself?
“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round…The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”
(Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man)
“These signs told who the man was, what he sought to be and what his loves, fears, and dreams were. Almost everything about him was written there, reflected in the mirror of his shield.”
I am unique