Crow Medicine Bundles

It is not possible to classify the great variety of Crow sacred bundles on the sole basis of either (i), similarity of contents, or (2), similarity of functions. Many bundles which served the same general functions differ markedly in their content. Other bundles containing sacred objects of similar appearance served a variety of uses. Nevertheless, it is possible to divide Crow medicine bundles into a limited number of meaningful categories which can be briefly characterized as follows:

  1. Sun Dance Bundles. These were the only individually owned bundles employed in a ceremony in which the entire tribe participated. The Crow sun dance was never given as a tribal act of adoration of the sun. It was essentially a ceremony in which the participants hoped to receive visions which would enable them to gain revenge upon their enemies. The sun dance bundle, therefore, may be considered the principal war medicine bundle of the Crows. However, unlike other war medicine bundles, it was seldom if ever taken on war expeditions.
  2. War Medicine Bundles. These sacred bundles were employed to bring success in warfare and in horse stealing. They contain the material representations of the original makers' visions and are, therefore, of many varieties. Of these, the hoop medicines and arrow medicines might be considered sub-classes.
  3. Shields. Painted and decorated shields, formerly numerous among the Crows, were important war medicines.
  4. Skull Medicine Bundles. The principal article in each of these bundles is a human skull. These bundles approximated the sun dance bundles in sacredness, but they were used for many purposes. At one time they were numerous.
  5. Rock Medicine Bundles. These bundles each contain as their most vital object some kind of sacred rock. They served many different purposes. Some of them were used as war medicines.
  6. Medicine Pipe Bundles. The principal articles in these bundles are pipe stems or stems and bowls. Some of these bundles were employed in the Medicine Pipe Ceremony which was of foreign origin. Others were carried by leaders of war expeditions.
  7. Love Medicine Bundles. These bundles contain sacred objects which were credited with the power to attract such members of the opposite sex as their owners desired.
  8. Witchcraft Bundles. These bundles were used to gain revenge upon or to do harm to personal enemies of their owners. Great secrecy surrounded their use.
  9. Healing Medicine Bundles. These bundles contain various articles used in doctoring the sick or healing the wounded.
  10. Hunting Medicine Bundles. These bundles contain sacred objects used to bring success in hunting buffalo or other wild game.



  • Wildschut, William. (1960). "Crow Indian Medicine Bundles." CMAI 17, pp. 16-17.

This article incorporates text from Crow Indian Medicine Bundles (1960) by William Wildschut, which is in the public domain.