The Talking Stick

by Betty

The talking stick is a tradition of the Native American Indian. It was used in council meetings to signify who had the floor. Others were to listen quietly, to respect the words of the speaker, and consider carefully what was being said. Never would anyone interrupt. Never would two people talk to each other while the one with the talking stick was talking. A leader might hit a bell when a speaker’s time was up.

Some councils had the talking stick pass to the next person who could choose to talk and to respond or to pass. Other councils had the talking stick placed in the center of the circle for anyone to choose to hold it and talk.

Some believed the talking stick called for respect for the speaker. Some believed it was to stop interruption or talking on top or one another. Some people believed it was to control the length of the speaker’s talk. Some believed it was a call to silence, to think about what was said before voicing another opinion.

In one of today’s groups the talking stick passes from one person to the next person sitting by one. The second person may talk or may pass. Always the group respects the talking stick, the person talking or the person passing the stick on. No one talks without the stick in hand. No one interrupts. No one chatters on top of another.

The talking stick may be a short pole or an elaborate piece with feathers on the ends. Whatever it is, it causes respect, listening, silence and thought. It works~

September, 2012

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