Fire Poker

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Food is Sacred - Tyrell Woolboy

Image Credit: Tyrell Descheney

Hóneeshgish (fire poker)

One winter night, a fire was built inside a huge hogan as the snow fell heavily. They added wood after wood to keep it burning but didn't realize the fire would grow bigger. Their main concern was to keep the cold out. As the fire continued to burn, it grew bigger and louder. The crackling sounds of the wood burning began to roar so loud, everyone inside the hogan started to cover their ears and the infants began crying. They tried talking to it, hoping it would calm down, offered prayers and offerings, but still nothing. Until an old lady got up and walked to the fire with a stick she used as a cane and began to poke the fire. She moved the logs around and the roaring quieted down. From that moment she said it'll be called hóneeshgish (fire poker). She told everyone that it will be their sacred weapon from the evil shadows that lurk at night.

In most cases, it considered a sacred piece and protection. Every household should have one. If a child has bad dreams, place the stick near them or some would smear ashes across their forehead to protect them at night. They say to never throw or hit someone with the stick. Wives use it to stir the charcoal as she cooks. Husbands used it to move charcoal as he said prayers and burned cedar.


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