How to Decorate Indian Walking Sticks

Written by mackenzie wright
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Native Americans have long used walking sticks for practical and cultural reasons. On a long journey, walking sticks could be used to aid weary travellers, extend their reach, carry heavy packs or defend themselves in times of trouble. Sticks were also symbols of status, decorated vividly to show a members' place in the tribe, or to record the stories of their journeys by the markings on the sticks. You can make your own Indian walking stick for hikes or decorative purposes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Walking stick
  • Sand paper
  • Damp cloth
  • Oil or stain
  • Paint
  • Craft paint brushes
  • Chalk
  • Beads
  • Twine or leather cord
  • Feathers

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  1. 1

    Find a sturdy piece of wood cut from a recently pruned tree or buy a ready-made walking stick. Be sure the stick can hold your weight if you intend to walk with it. Look for sticks with interesting natural tips that can be used as handles or that resemble antlers.

  2. 2

    Strip the stick of bark and sand the stick with a coarse or medium grit sand paper to reduce the rough spots. Go over the stick a final time with a fine grit sand paper to make it smooth. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth to move dust and debris.

  3. 3

    Choose a colour for the base of your stick. If you like natural wood colour, rub the stick several times liberally with mineral oil and a soft cloth. It will slightly darken but will preserve the look and bring out the natural markings. Allow the stick to dry between applications. If you prefer, you can stain your wood. Use a wood stain from the hardware store in the colour of your choice and follow the manufacturer's instruction.

  4. 4

    Select designs to paint on your stick, such as small animals including turtles, buffalo or cranes. You might prefer to paint the images of petroglyphs with black paint and a fine brush, or paint brightly coloured decorative bands around the top and bottom of your stick with zigzag or wavy lines, or leafy designs.

  5. 5

    Choose a wood craft paint from a craft store. Sketch the outline for your paint designs lightly with a piece of chalk. If you don't like the way the design is coming out, simply wipe off the chalk with a damp cloth and start over. When you are satisfied with the outline, paint over the chalk lines with a fine craft brush. Allow the guide lines to dry and wipe away any excess chalk. Paint over the guide lines to fill in your images and designs.

  6. 6

    String beads onto leather cord or twine, leaving a length at the end. Add feathers to the end with the beads and tie off the cord. Use a dab of craft glue to hold the feathers in place. Wrap the other end of the cord around your staff tightly to hang down as a decoration. Other items you might tie on are sea shells, acorns and pine cones.

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