Drawing from our Northwest tradition, every year NW/MET bestows upon our conference host the Talking Stick.
For thousands of years West Coast Natives used Talking Sticks during Potlatches and other ceremonial occasions as a symbol of speaking authority and respect or communication by Chiefs, Elders and all other witnesses.
These sticks were carved from yellow cedar with various animal and mystical family crests signifying human attributes.
The Talking Stick affords the holder the honour and responsibility to speak uninterrupted. It also serves as a reminder to the witnesses of their vital roll of listening thoughtfully. Once the stick has been passed the honour of speech has been transferred.
The Bear is the Spirit symbol of strength, agility and guidance.
Because of its strength and human like qualities, the Bear was referred to by West Coast Natives as “The Elder Kinsman”.
Everyone in a traditional Native village has an Elder that is assigned to them for guidance and support.
During disputes between village members it was often the Elders that were sought out to end the dispute. So the Bear also represents the support and guidance one may give to another.
The Elder Kinsman was generally thought to be an older, wiser person who was respected and admired by his fellow people. Even a Chief would sometimes take private council from an Elder.