Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches

by Jasper Blowsnake
retold by Richard L. Dieterle

Jasper Blowsnake

There was a man of the Ojibwe nation and he was a seer. He was very holy and had great powers of witchcraft. When he visited people at night, he would do so by flying through the air. He had three friends, and they too were witches with the same ability to fly through the air. People greatly feared them because of their powers. One night the four of them agreed that they would have a contest to see who could fly best at night.

Among the Hocągara there was also a great seer. His name was Mąnįxetega ("Great Walker"). He had gained knowledge of what these men were going to do. On the night of the contest, Mąnįxetega used his own night powers to get there and there he waited for them with great patience. Finally, the four Ojibwe arrived at their rendezvous point. Each took off into the night in turn, and of the first three, Mąnįxetega used his powers to ensure they would be lost. The fourth witch dove down from high in the air and landed on a strip of land. As he stood there, unexpectedly, he had deer horns (?) on his head. These Mąnįxetega seized and held onto tightly.

The other Ojibwe materialized, and asked Mąnįxetega to pay them a visit. This he agreed to do. Finally, Mąnįxetega came to where the witches lived. They tried to persuade him to let them give him their powers, but he refused, asking instead that they might give him the plants and potions that they used to gain these powers. But they pretended that they did not know anything about these matters. Finally, he asked them for their life-engendering greeting and the all power inherent within it. This they granted him, and it is this greeting that is used to this day in the Medicine Rite. It is spoken in the language in which it was given.1

Commentary."deer horns"— the question mark exists in the text, but unless it is a linguistic anomaly, such powers are not unusual for witches to possess.

Links: Witches.

Stories: about Great Walker: Great Walker's Warpath, Great Walker's Medicine, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (?)e; about seers: The Seer, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, Witches, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, A Prophecy About the End Time, A Prophecy, The Shawnee Prophet Predicts a Solar Eclipse, A Prophecy About the First School, The Claw Shooter, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Diving Contest; mentioning witches or warlocks: The Witch Men's Desert, The Thunder Charm, The Wild Rose, The Seer, Turtle and the Witches, The Claw Shooter, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Migistéga’s Magic, Mijistéga and the Sauks, Migistéga's Death, The Mesquaki Magician, The Tap the Head Medicine, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather, The Hills of La Crosse, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara (v. 2), Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, Potato Magic, Young Rogue's Magic; mentioning the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Ojibway): White Fisher, White Thunder's Warpath, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, The Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The First Fox and Sauk War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, First Contact (vv. 2-3), Introduction; 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.

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, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, 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), 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: a witch blesses someone with (things of) power: Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle; two (groups of) holy men contest one another with supernatural power: The Claw Shooter, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, The Tap the Head Medicine.


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]) 138-139.