Talking Stick

owen owen at
Mon Feb 1 11:20:07 PST 1999

At 01:29 PM 1/31/99 -0800, you wrote:
>A conversation for anyone interested in responding.  I would appreciate
>What is the origin of the "talking stick?" How have people used it in a Open
>Space meetings?
>Don Ferretti
>______________________________ Reply Separator
Never having done the field anthropology I can't swear that the Talking stick
originated with Native Americans, but I am sure that every tribal group I have
even encountered on the North American Continent seems to have some varient of
the tradition. I don't recall the Eskimos in Alaska using a talking stick, but
the Inuits in Canada clearly do, and if I remember correctly, there is a
relationship. Although as I think about it, that relationship may be with the
Athabascans and the Eskimos are their own thing. However, when you get into the
SouthWest (Hoppi, Navaho, Utes, etc.) lots of talking sticks. It seems also to
be true with the southern tribes like Seminoles, but I can't say that from
personel experieince.. I have a truly fine one made by a Southern Ute lady
after we had done an Open Space with their tribal council and some Anglos. It
was truly fun watching the Chiefs smile while the Anglos squirmed when we
started in the circle. The rules are real simple in any area I have been in. If
you hold, the stick you talk with respect. If you don't hold the stick, you
listen with respect. The role of the chief is to hold the space while it all
goes on. The use in Open Space pretty much follows the tradition. I find it
particularly useful at Evening News, and certainly at the close.

Harrison Owen
7808 River Falls Drive
Potomac, MD 20854
301-469-9269 (phone)
301-983-9314 (fax)
email owen at
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