The Blessing of a Bear Clansman

by John Rave's Grandfather


There was a village near Big Lake (Lake Winnebago), and at this village the upper people and the earth people played lacrosse. The Bear was the chief clan of the lower people, and those representing that side in the game defeated the representatives of the other side by sheer strength. Then one of the upper people said, "What effeminate follows those Bear people are. They are very strong, but it would be much better if instead of being so strong in playing lacrosse they were strong when on the warpath." Thus he spoke.

Then one of the Bear people felt very much grieved and went out into the wilderness to fast. His desire was to be blessed by those spirits who are in control of war, and in his longing to be blessed by them he cried bitterly. Soon he heard someone saying, "Do not cry any more, we have come after you from above. The sprits have blessed you. You are going to be taken to the lodge of your friends." When the young man got there he saw four men. They were called "cannibals," and they were brothers. "Our friends have blessed you and we also bless you," said [another] four spirits. These four spirits were catfish. Then some White Crane Spirits said, "Our friends have blessed you. With spears they have blessed you. Indeed, for good reason was your heart sad. With victory on the warpath do we bless you. Here is your bundle. Here also are your spears and your bow and arrows. This bundle you must use when you go on the warpath. Here also are some songs to use when you start out and when you return. With these songs I bless you. Here they are:

Song for Starting Out
Hósto k'iné. Jąnéja rahíže?
The place of gathering they became. When did you come?
They became at the place of gathering. When did you come?

Song for Returning
K'aró, hičak'aró! Hágixewìre.
Karó, my friend! Shout at it for him.
K'aró, my friend! Shout at it for him.

When the enemy is close upon you and aim their guns at you, if you sing these songs they will not be able to hit you. If you sing these songs then, those who gave you a name will honor you. Thus we bless you. With life also we bless you."1



Commentary. "cannibals" — these are the Wangeručge, the "Man Eaters." They are conventionally called "Giants," since the males are about four times the height of a normal human being.

"shout at it" — a basic bear hunting technique is for one person to drive a bear into an ambush. This is done by "shouting at bears." The driver yells "Ho-o-o-o-o-o!!" causing the bear to flee in the direction of the waiting hunter.


Links: Giants, Fish Spirits, Crane and Crane Spirits, Lake Winnebago.


Stories: about fasting blessings: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Difficult Blessing, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Seer, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Great Walker's Medicine, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, Holy Song, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Blessing of Šokeboka, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Sweetened Drink Song, Ancient Blessing; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧápara, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Man Whose Wife was Captured; featuring Giants as characters: A Giant Visits His Daughter, Turtle and the Giant, The Stone Heart, Young Man Gambles Often, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Morning Star and His Friend, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Old Man and the Giants, Shakes the Earth, White Wolf, Redhorn's Father, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, The Roaster, Grandfather's Two Families, Redhorn's Sons, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Little Human Head, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Origins of the Milky Way, Ocean Duck, Wears White Feather on His Head, cf. The Shaggy Man; featuring (spirit) fish as characters: The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Were-Fish, The Greedy Woman, Wolves and Humans, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Great Fish, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The King Bird, Fish Clan Origins, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; featuring cranes as characters: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Crane and His Brothers, The Spirit of Gambling, Bladder and His Brothers (v. 1), Wears White Feather on His Head; mentioning Warbundles: Waruǧápara (Thunderbird), The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons (Thunderbird), Redhorn's Sons (Thunderbird), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Thunderbird), The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (Thunderbird), Wanihéga Becomes a Sak’į (Thunderbird), Šųgepaga (Eagle), The Warbundle Maker (Eagle), The Masaxe War (Eagle?), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (Hit’énųk’e Paint), The Blessing of Kerexųsaka (Sauk), Yellow Thunder and the Lore of Lost Canyon, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store (Potawatomi), A Man's Revenge (enemy); mentioning lacrosse (kísik): Redhorn's Father, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Morning Star and His Friend, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Roaster, Redhorn's Sons, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, The Shaggy Man, How the Thunders Met the Nights; set at Lake Winnebago (Te Xete): Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The First Fox and Sauk War, White Thunder's Warpath, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Great Fish, The Wild Rose, The Two Boys, Great Walker's Warpath, The Fox-Hočąk War, Holy Song, First Contact (v. 2), The Two Children (?).


Themes: a person who fasts receives blessings from the spirits: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Redhorn's Sons, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Seer, Maize Comes to the Hočągara, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Thunderbird, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Heną́ga and Star Girl, A Man's Revenge, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder's Warpath, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Diving Contest, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Holy Song, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Blessing of Šokeboka, The Completion Song Origin, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, Sunset Point, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1), The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights; a messenger leads a man to Spiritland: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Foolish Hunter, Aračgéga's Blessings; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), Trickster Concludes His Mission; a spirit is quoted as he gives someone a blessing: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Great Walker's Medicine, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Completion Song Origin, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Difficult Blessing, The Blessing of Šokeboka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bow Meets Disease Giver, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Sunset Point, A Peyote Vision, The Healing Blessing; anthropophagy and cannibalism: A Giant Visits His Daughter, Turtle and the Giant, The Witch Men's Desert, The Were-Grizzly, Grandfather's Two Families, The Roaster, Redhorn's Father, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Blanket, Young Man Gambles Often, White Wolf, The Shaggy Man, The Twins Get into Hot Water, Partridge's Older Brother, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Fox-Hočąk War, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Morning Star and His Friend, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Seven Maidens, Šųgepaga, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, Shakes the Earth, The Stone Heart, Thunder Cloud is Blessed; four spirit beings help those who travel to Spiritland: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Lame Friend, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Petition to Earthmaker; spirits bless a man with an artifact: Waruǧápara (warbundle, warclub), The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (warbundle, flute), The Thunderbird (warclub), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds (warclub), Origin of the Decorah Family (drum), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (magical paint), Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka (flute), Ancient Blessing (pot, ax, spoon), The Blessing of the Bow (bow and arrows), Heną́ga and Star Girl (Thunderbird Medicine, arrow); a spirit blesses a man with knowledge of sacred songs: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Holy Song, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Island Weight Songs, A Snake Song Origin Myth, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Song to Earthmaker, The Completion Song Origin, The Sweetened Drink Song; a being is invulnerable: Worúxega, Tecumseh's Bulletproof Skin, The Canine Warrior, The Man who was a Reincarnated Thunderbird, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men.


Songs. Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 2), Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 3), Buffalo Dance Songs, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Returning, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Starting Out, Clan Song, Bear Clan, Song of the Youngest, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, The Four Songs of Hojanoka, Clan Songs—Deer Clan, Clan Songs—Wolf Clan, Clan Songs—Wonáǧire Wąkšik Clan, The Crawfish's Song, Duck Song, Farewell Songs, The Four Services Songs, Grandfather Sparrow's Rain Songs, Grizzly Bear Songs, Hare's Song to Grasshopper, Hare's Song to the Wągepanįgera, Hare's Song to Wildcat, Hawk's Song, Heroka Songs, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Little Fox's Death Song, Little Fox's Death Song (for the Warpath), Little Fox's Tail Song, Love Song I (female), Love Song II (female), Love Song III (female), The Mouse Song, Nightspirit Songs, The Quail's Song, Redman's Song, Slow Song of the Heroka, Soldier Dance Songs, Song for Calling the Buffalo, Song from the Water, Song from the Water (King Bird), The Song of Bluehorn's Sister, Hočąk Text — The Song of Sun Caught in a Net, The Song of the Boy Transformed into a Robin, Song of the Frog to Hare, Song of the Thunder Nestlings, The Song of Trickster's Baby, Song to Earthmaker, The Song to the Elephant, The Sun's Song to Hare, Three Warrior Songs, Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 1), Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 2), Turtle's Four Death Dance Songs, Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 1), Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 2), Twins, Ghost's Song (The Two Brothers), Twins, the Songs of Ghost and Flesh, Twins, Song of the Father-in-Law, Victory Song, Wailing Song, Warrior Song about Mąčosepka, What a Turtle Sang in His Sleep, Wolf-Teasing Song of the Deer Spirits. Songs in the McKern collection: Waking Songs (27, 55, 56, 57, 58) War Song: The Black Grizzly (312), War Song: Dream Song (312), War Song: White Cloud (313), James’ Horse (313), Little Priest Songs (309), Little Priest's Song (316), Chipmunk Game Song (73), Patriotic Songs from World War I (105, 106, 175), Grave Site Song: "Coming Down the Path" (45), Songs of the Stick Ceremony (53).


Notes

1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 248. The original texts are in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago III, #8: 4-6 (phonetic text only), and Notebook 26, 6-10 (phonetic text with an interlinear translation).