The Blessing of Kerexųsaka

by Jaspar Blowsnake
retold by Richard L. Dieterle


Jasper Blowsnake

There was a man who was called Kerexųsaka. He was Hočąk man. He used to always visit a Sauk named Nįmąxguawa. In the course of time the little son of Kerexųsaka, whom he loved very much, died. His father was disconsolate and spent four nights weeping in grief at his son's grave.

When Nįmąxguawa heard of his friend's grief, he came to him with two bundles. These he brought in hopes of consoling Kerexųsaka. Nįmąxguawa spoke to him saying, "My dear younger brother, I have come with these two gifts in hopes that you will cease your lamentations. These are gifts of great power. I myself have no equal on this earth. Of all the spirits that are, save Earthmaker alone, none can be considered my equal. Indeed, Earthmaker himself is but a little more powerful. Yet if Earthmaker came to you here and offered you a blessing, even this would not exceed what I am capable of giving you. Perhaps this is not so, but at least what I have will rival Earthmaker. At least my gifts shall endure as long as the earth itself. Listen to what powers I am giving you. For as long as the earth shall last, you shall not want for meat; your lodge shall contain buckets of fat. You may also do as much for anyone else you choose. I also grant you war powers. On the six times that I went on the warpath, even when my nephew was not attending me, I always returned with the highest war honor for which the necklace of wampum is awarded. Then there came a critical day of war. Greatly did a prepare myself. When battle was engaged I was struck many times by bullets, but whenever they hit me, they would turn cold and fall harmlessly off me to the ground."

Then Nįmąxguawa told him, "During a fast I had a vision. A foreign man came to me and said, 'My intentions and yours are the same. Like me, some day you too will give up your most prized possessions to a member of another tribe. Like me, you too will give a Warbundle and all its songs to a Hočąk.' Thus he spoke to me, younger brother. For as long as the earth lasts, you shall have the full power of these songs that I am giving you. All that I ask in exchange is that you remember me with a tobacco offering from time to time. These songs have the power to grant you whatever you have concentrated you mind upon; and when you concentrate you mind and heart upon any object, I shall be there with you to hear you petitions for Life. And when you dance to these songs in a ceremony, there too shall I be dancing behind you, encouraging you in every step. The power of these songs shall always bring me to you." Thus he spoke, and Kerexųsaka was turned away from his grief.1


Commentary. "two bundles" — we learn in the course of the story that one of these bundles is a Warbundle. Nothing is said about the other, which we may presume is some kind of medicine bundle.

"none can be considered my equal" — needless to say, this and what follows, is highly sacrilegious.

"when my nephew was not attending me" — a warleader's nephews are his attendants not only in battle, but in all the preparations leading up to the warpath.

"the necklace of wampum" — I am not aware of this award among the Hočągara. It is apparently a Sauk custom. For wampum, see the Glossary.


Links: Earthmaker, Supernatural & Spiritual Power.


Stories: pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hog's Adventures, Great Walker's Warpath, see also Other Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite; mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; mentioning the Sauk (Sac, Sagi): The First Fox and Sauk War, Mijistéga and the Sauks, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I (v. 2), Annihilation of the Hočągara II, Big Eagle Cave Mystery, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, Little Priest's Game, Gatschet's Hočank hit’e (St. Peet ...), A Peyote Story, Introduction; mentioning Kerexų́saka: The Warbundle of Eight Generations; 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 Blessing of a Bear Clansman (Bear), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (Hit’énųk’e Paint), 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 wampum: The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Little Human Head, Turtle and the Giant, Snowshoe Strings, The Chief of the Heroka, The Markings on the Moon, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 2), Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Bird Clan Origin Myth; in which dancing plays a role: Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Mijistéga and the Sauks, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Little Priest's Game, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Migistéga’s Magic, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Trickster and the Dancers, Wolves and Humans, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts.

Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite (The Road of Life and Death) in notebook order: The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, Historical Origins of the Medicine Rite, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Creation of Man (v. 8), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), Testing the Slave, South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 1), The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), East Shakes the Messenger, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Messengers of Hare (v. 2), North Shakes His Gourd, Grandmother's Gifts, South Seizes the Messenger, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Messengers of Hare (v. 1), The Island Weight Songs, The Petition to Earthmaker, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Completion Song Origin, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, The Diving Contest, The Sweetened Drink Song, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 3), The Tap the Head Medicine, The Claw Shooter, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 4), Peace of Mind Regained, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 5), A Wife for Knowledge, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), Death Enters the World.


Themes: someone is disconsolate over the death of a relative: White Flower, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Lost Child, The Shaggy Man, Holy One and His Brother, Sunset Point; someone is able to exert supernatural power upon an object by concentrating his mind upon it: Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Messengers of Hare, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 94-95.