The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave
An American Star Map
by Richard L. Dieterle
ABSTRACT. Picture Cave in Warren County, Missouri, contains a panel devoted to a series of drawings, partly painted in white, of four figures: the bust of a man wearing a long, white aigrette, behind whom is another man with prosopic earpieces; the next figure in the sequence is an inverted deer with a projectile embedded in its ventral side, and just to its lower right is a fawn facing in the opposite direction from the other characters. The central figure in the panel is Wears Faces on His Ears (Įčorúšika), known as "Redhorn." The various names and identities of Redhorn in Hočąk mythology are explored. Redhorn's stellar identity is not Morning Star, but the fixed star Alnilam in the Belt of Orion. The deer lungs and prosopic earpieces associated with Redhorn are bound up with directionality and the ancient funerary mythology of Orion. The inverted deer is shown to be a symbol of stars, and is understood in terms of the Pawnee myth of the creation of day and night. The layout of the panel is isomorphic in some detail with the Hočąk rite of the Society of Those Who are Blessed by the Heroka, a diminutive race of hunting spirits over whom Redhorn is chief. Central Siouan myths also show that the man with the aigrette is White Plume, who is identified with the Dog Star, Sirius. These contentions are proven by a demonstration that the panel is in fact a star map. This is the first cave painting star map found in the Western Hemisphere. How the star map was constructed is discussed, and its creation is attributed to the common ancestors of the Dhegiha, Chiwere, and Hočągara, who ought to have had some association with nearby Cahokia.
§1. The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave
§2. The Names "Redhorn" and Įčo-horúšika
§3. Įčorúšika as a Star
§4. Deer Lungs and Ears
§5. Only One Horn and the Rites of the Heroka
§6. The Inverted Deer
§7. The Riddle of the Two Morning Stars
§8. The Redhorn Panel as a Star Map
§9. The Making of the Star Map
§10. Who Made the Star Map?
§1. The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. In Warren County, Missouri, is a cave appropriately styled "Picture Cave." The landowner of the property on which it is found strongly defends the site against vandalism, and in keeping with the importance of that mission, no attempt will be made to divulge the exact whereabouts of the cave. As its name suggests, it contains a wealth of pictures, including one that has been identified with the Hočąk spirit Redhorn. The "Redhorn Panel" is seen in this photograph.1
|A Photograph of the Redhorn Panel at Picture Cave|
Other pictures in Picture Cave have been dated from about 915 a. D. to 1066 a. D. The "Redhorn" picture has not been dated. It differs stylistically from the other pictures in the cave and has a patina of silica which may suggest that it is older than the others.2 Even these dates take us back to Common Dhegiha-Chiwere-Winnebago, which Springer and Witkowski calculate as lasting from ca. 700 a. D. to ca. 1000 a. D.3
The position of Mandan is now disputed. At the time that the pictographs of Picture Cave were made, the ancestors of the Hočągara, Ioway, Oto, Missouria, Osage, Omaha, Kansa, Ponca, and Quapah all spoke the same language. If these dates do indeed correlate, then the picture dates from a time in which the antecedents of Hočąk tradition and the antecedents of Osage tradition were one and the same. It is a time during which these two peoples, whose oral traditions are so often cited in interpretations of this picture, were the same people. If all this is true, and it does represent a rather long line of inference, it would mean that if the picture could be understood in terms of Hočąk religion, then it is fairly likely that the ancestors of the Hočągara were once living in this part of Missouri, and that they had composed this pictograph.
I shall contend that the central character of this pictograph is Redhorn, or at least a preform of him; but this is not the Redhorn of the archaeologists. Archaeologists see Redhorn everywhere, and are convinced that he's just a form of Morning Star. The tendency in the literature has been to jump to conclusions, then take them as established and apparently inalterable facts. Almost solely on the basis of the prosopic earpiece, Duncan identifies the main character of this scene as Redhorn. He accepts the identification of Redhorn as the Morning Star (of Venus), an idea which has now become widespread.4 He also believes this Redhorn to be carrying the head of Morning Star, which is Redhorn himself being resurrected through his own actions,5* a conclusion based in part on the inter-generational identity of Redhorn with one of his sons. However, as will be shown below, this is not sustainable.
§2. The Names "Redhorn" and Įčo-horúšika. In trying to assess the prehistory of Redhorn, we need to more carefully examine who he is in Hočąk thought. In Hočąk, "Redhorn" is Hešučka, where he means "horn," šuč is "red," and the suffix -ka, which is a definite article, is used to indicate a personal name. The basic word for scalp lock is hókeré, from ho-, "that which is," and keré, "to put something long, to place upright." However, the usual word for scalp lock is heókeré, which is from he-hókeré, where he- means "horn." When he announces that on earth he is called "Redhorn," he immediately spits on his hands and drawing them across his hair, causes it to become both long and red. So that which he has made long (and vertical) is his hair, and it is this that forms his "horn" (he). The identity of horn and scalp lock is also found in Osage, where hegáxa means both "horn" and "scalp lock," and derives from the stem he, "horn," just as in Hočąk. The esoteric reason for his having the name "Red-horn" will be explored in detail later.
This leaves his most peculiar name, "Wears Faces on His Ears" (Įčo-horúšika). This is his sacred name, the name the spirits use for him. He established the grounds for this name on earth by applying his own saliva to his ears, causing living faces to appear there. The name Įčo-horúšika is a compound expression. Įčo itself means "face." It is an old word, as can be seen from its cognates: Biloxi, ité, "forehead, face"; Dakota, ite, "face"; it’e, "forehead"; Osage, įštse, "face." Now it often means "face to face" as in ’įjera, and as in the compound į́jokipáhi, which means, "butt to butt, end to end; face to face, opposing." The more common word for face is hišja, išja. So Įčo-horúšika is also known in one story as Wągíšjahorùšika, "Wears Man Faces on His Ears."1 The second part of the compound in Įčo-horúšika's name is horušík (-ka being the definite article used to indicate a personal name). Both Radin-Marino and Miner agree that this word means, "to wear in the ears (as earrings)." This sense is illustrated in the story about Hog, where it says, Kirigi, Xguxgúšega ǧ’eǧ’éra haną́č horušíkše ("When he got back, Hog was wearing all the earbobs in his ears").2 The stem meaning "to wear" (where the part of the body is unspecified) is -kax-, -kix-; however, most terms pertaining to wearing things are body specific: hajé, "to wear as a skirt"; hakere, "to wear on a scalp lock"; hoją́, hočą́, hokiją́, "to wear on the foot"; hok’ąk, "to wear on the head"; honąkišig, "to wear leggings"; į́, honązį́, "to wear over the shoulder." So the word horušík means specifically "to wear on the ears." Considering that the faces are alive and animated, it is a bit strange to say that they are "worn" at all. In the Hočąk story, despite the spirit's name, the faces seem rather to grow on the earlobes. Yet the closely related Ioway have this same character who reifies the notion that the faces are actually worn:
There were once ten brothers, six of whom were good hunters, three poor hunters, while the last was the hero of this tale. The eldest boys all killed big game, and the other three killed only turkeys, raccoons, and skunks respectively. One day it was announced that there was to be a great race around the world, and the tenth boy told the three poor hunters to get boughs and make a sweat lodge. The boys did this, while the six who were good hunters jeered and laughed at them and made their own lodge. However, after they had sweated, and the youngest brother had pulled at their hair till it was very long, then he too sweated and became handsome. He put on his best clothes, placed his human head earbobs in his ears, and came out. When the elder brothers saw how fine the younger ones looked, they became very jealous.3
The Ioway call him Wąkx!istowi, "Man Head Earrings." In this tale, the little faces have an independent existence as earbobs. The youngest brother actually places them in his ears. We later learn that they had the power to become animate, just like the more intimately incarnated faces of the Hočąk Įčorúšika. This has led Hall and others, this time I think correctly, to identify these earpieces with actual artifacts dating from the Early Mississippian culture.4 Following Williams and Goggin, he calls them "long nosed god maskettes," a rather odd designation.5 It must be observed that a great many of them have short noses. The idea that they represent gods is a supposition for which there is no evidence at all. "Maskette" was an unfortunate choice of words, since it is already employed to denote a kind of headdress worn among the Indians of the American Southwest. If it is to mean "little masks," it deviates from the primary sense, inasmuch as the article is not designed to hide anything. All we can say is that they are prosopic ornaments. So there once were such little comic faces that men actually wore on the ears and in some cases elsewhere. That they are not necessarily earrings or earbobs is made clear even in the mythological context, as it says of Redhorn's sons:
At this time, Red Horn's first wife was pregnant and, finally, the old woman's granddaughter gave birth to a male child who was the very likeness of his father, Red Horn, having long red hair and having human heads hanging from his ears. Not long after this, the giantess also gave birth to a male child whose hair was likewise just like his father's. Instead of having human heads hanging from his ears, he had them attached to his nipples.6
Redhorn had two sons who were just beginning to walk, when this [Redhorn's death] happened. One of them was just like his father and the other one had the man faces on his shoulders.7
So these faces were also found on the breasts and on the shoulders. However, they remain paradigmatically ear ornaments. The word horušík probably comes from ru-šik, "to hang or suspend by hand." This would most often apply to earrings and earbobs, and so the word became specialized. The Mississippian prosopic earpieces were apparently much sought after and are widely distributed over the midwest. Archaeologists have uncovered as many as 30 of these artifacts, made of bone, shell, and copper. They were certainly considered items of some value. At least in later times strings of shells or even attractive loose shells (especially white ones) were valued above most other things. They could function to some degree as a medium of exchange, as wampum. The Hočąk word for wampum is worušik, from wa-ho-ru-šik, "something which is hung or suspended by hand." This is our familiar word horušík with the object prefix wa- ("something") attached to it. There is one instance in Hočąk literature where the noun form of the word is found, that is, horušikra, where -ra is the definite article "the." It is of some interest to note that the translation given to it is wampum.8 So some earpieces are wampum. The Hočąk culture has traces of a time when įčo-horušikra, "the faces hung by hand from the ears," were a prized form of wampum.
Of course, these prosopic earpieces have an esoteric meaning in myth; but do we need to suppose, as the archaeologists seem ever inclined to do, that they must have had some ceremonial function? What did the characters of Hočąk myth think about their animate versions? Here is what happened when they were seen for the first time,
Then the chieftainess said, "Who is your friend that it takes him so long to come?" "Wait till he comes! You certainly will laugh when you see him." "Why, what is there funny about him that I should laugh?" said the giantess. "Just wait till he comes," said Turtle, "just wait till he comes, and then you will see." Soon after that he came and Turtle said to him, "My friend, let us go over there and look at the sticks of the ball players." "Very well," said he. They went and found the giantess there and, when she saw him, she most certainly laughed and bowed her head. "There you are," said Turtle. "I thought you said you would not laugh at him." "Well," said Turtle, "look at him again." The giantess looked again and the small heads he was wearing in his ears stuck their tongues out at her. Again she laughed and bowed her head. Then Turtle made fun of her.9
The living prosopic earpieces were more than anything objects of humor. The Mississippian antecedents seem equally funny, and their owl eyes and optional long noses accentuate their ridiculous appearance. In cultures, like that of the Hočągara, which have joking relationships, such ridiculous earpieces can lead to a great deal of fun. In this may have lain their greatest value. On the other hand, as we shall see below, they seem to have also denoted the soul/ghost.
§3. Įčorúšika as a Star. Radin, at one time or another, attempted to identify the Morning or Evening Star with either Redhorn or Bluehorn.1 As we have seen above, quite a number of scholars have settled on one of these possibilities, contending that it was Redhorn who was in reality Morning Star. There are good reasons for supporting such an identity purely within the Hočąk tradition. It may be noticed, for instance, that Redhorn's very name is a complement to Bluehorn's, and the latter is the Evening Star (Red Star). Since Morning Star and Red Star are brothers, their names might be expected to reflect their complementariness. Other things could be said for this identity, including Morning Star's association with the Heroka and the Little Children Spirits, as well as the friends of Redhorn. However, the friends of Redhorn become precisely the problem. Redhorn himself is said to be an acquaintance of Morning Star. In Morning Star and His Friend, Redhorn and Morning Star coexist in the same story. In The Origins of the Milky Way, it is said that Earthmaker "dispatched Morning Star, Thunderbird, Wolf, Otter, Sun, Turtle, and Hérok'a" to aid the humans.2 Given that Herokaga is Redhorn (as will be shown below), here again he is found coexisting with Morning Star. Along the same lines, but more circumstantial, is the evidence from the list of the eight Great Ones. In The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Bluehorn (Evening Star = Red Star) is beheaded by a man who is exactly like him in every respect, so that even his sister cannot tell them apart. The only star that can be considered identical in every way to the Evening Star is the Morning Star (since, as we now know, they are one and the same planet, Venus). As the conqueror of Bluehorn, Great Star (as Morning Star is called), must be a more powerful spirit. In fact he is so powerful that the Twins have to be created in order to subdue him. So in a list of eight Great Ones, he must be among those mentioned. Yet the list given is: Trickster, Bladder, Turtle, Redhorn, Hare, Sun, and Grandmother Earth.3 The waiką says that the opponent, whom we deduced to be Morning Star, was in fact the satanic Herešgúnina. As an opponent of the Good Spirits, he is always omitted from the list of the Great Ones, even though some have claimed that he is as powerful as Earthmaker. As I have argued elsewhere, Herešgúnina is here identified with Morning Star on the grounds supplied by contact with the whites, where Satan is identical to Lucifer, the Morning Star.4* This is why he is missing from the list of the eight Great Ones, a list that contains Redhorn as one of those who was to help Red Star against his doppelgänger. So this story too, seems to imply that Redhorn and Morning Star coexist as distinct spirits. Finally, in the Redhorn Cycle we are told that the Giants were able to defeat Redhorn and his friends in wrestling, although they found Turtle difficult to throw. In Morning Star and His Friend, Morning Star pulls an oak tree out by the roots in order to warm up for a wrestling match against the Giants, who upon seeing his prowess, turned and fled. So Morning Star is greatly superior to the Giants in wrestling, whereas Redhorn could not beat them when his life depended on it.
This would seem to finish the thesis that Redhorn is Morning Star were it not for one awkward characteristic of Redhorn: he seems to exist across generations. This allows Duncan, for instance, to see in Picture Cave a representation of Redhorn resurrecting himself in the form of Morning Star. This would not work well in the context of "The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head," as one of the spirits helping Evening Star is Redhorn. That would entail Redhorn helping to destroy the power of Morning Star, that is, of himself. Furthermore, there are, besides the convergent aspects of their respective mythologies, some divergent aspects. For instance, the Great Star has much to do with clouds. His brothers are said to be clouds (in the form of bladders), and he himself bears the unique title, "Girded in Blankets." This is never a title of Redhorn, Įčorúšika, or Herokaga. Furthermore, in the story The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, the Twins never address Redhorn as their uncle, despite the fact that Morning Star is said to be Red Star's (Bluehorn's) brother in "Grandfather's Two Families"; nor do they carry his warbundle as nephews would be expected to do. How indeed could they even be on good terms with someone whom they tried to kill in other stories? What seems truly fatal to the thesis is that while Įčorúšika has been identified with a star, it is not said to be the Great Star (Wiragošge Xetera). Quite to the contrary, Įčorúšika (Redhorn) is explicitly identified, along with two of his brothers, with fixed stars. Although a spirit can be a star and much else besides, it would be difficult to argue that a spirit could be two different stars that do not form a cluster or constellation. Therefore, Redhorn (Įčorúšika, etc.) is not one and the same as the Great Star (Morning Star). Consequently, the thesis advanced by Duncan that the Redhorn Panel shows Redhorn resurrecting himself as Morning Star cannot be correct. Nevertheless, it could still be argued that the ascending figure with the white aigrette is Morning Star, as distinct from Redhorn.
Who or what, then, is Įčo-horúšika? There is a waiką, apparently unknown to archaeologists, that answers this question, at least in part. I have entitled it "Įčorúšika and His Brothers." Since it is lengthy, it will be summarized:
Ten brothers lived in a longhouse. The eldest, Kunu, had four arms, and the youngest, Įčorúšika, wore faces on each ear. The brothers desired to marry, and over the course of ten nights, each evening a new bride would arrived at their lodge. Įčorúšika married the last and most beautiful (fattest) of these. The second oldest brother, Hena, became jealous and persuaded his other brothers that they should rid themselves of Įčorúšika. The brothers went about the several worlds trying to enlist the support of the spirits for their enterprise, but all refused them, saying, "We have already blessed Įčorúšika." Then one day, unexpectedly, an oval lodge popped into existence near their own. It contained a beautiful woman who offered to help the brothers. They hatched a plot to trap Įčorúšika. The brothers induced Įčorúšika to visit this woman on their behalf, and while he was there, he fell through a false floor and landed in the underworld. After Įčorúšika disappeared, Hena tried to have his way with Įčorúšika's wife, but Kunu and the next to youngest brother tried to stop him. They were constantly boxed about the head by the other brothers. The wives fled, and the rebellious brothers set up a lodge apart, leaving Kunu and the youngest brother to live alone. Meanwhile, Įčorúšika was bound in irons in the underworld of the Waterspirits, who intended to eat him. Otter and Loon petitioned for mercy, but even though they were the nephews (hičųšge) of the chief, they were denied, so they fled to the surface of the world. Įčorúšika broke his bonds of iron, which caused the Waterspirits to panic and try to flee, but he killed them all with flaming brands except for a single male and a single female, so that the race of Bad Waterspirits (Wakjexišišik) would not disappear altogether. He hunted down the treacherous woman and killed her. The brothers who had betrayed him became alarmed, and blackened their faces and began to fast. Nevertheless, Įčorúšika hunted down his errant brothers, striking them with a fire log. When they were hit, a fox jumped out of them. They had been adopted by the other brothers, but had shown themselves unworthy. The three good brothers were stars, a trio that is bunched together. Įčorúšika is the bright, white one.5
An examination of the stars of the northern hemisphere shows that only one set is consistent with this configuration (three clustered stars with four outlying "hand" stars), and that is the constellation that the Old World recognizes as Orion. Taking an inductive approach, there are really not too many sets of three prominent bright stars that are grouped together: Aquila (Tarazed, Altair, Alshain), Canis Major, Columba (Wazn, Pheat, ε Columbæ), Lupus, Orion (Belt and Sword Stars; π3 Orionis, π2 Orionis, π4 Orionis), Sagittarius, Scorpius (τ Scorpii, Antares, Al Niyat). As it happens, Orion contains important asterisms recognized throughout the world principally for their role in keeping time. Among the kindred Osage, Orion is divided into two asterisms. One of these is the "sword" of Orion, whose stars θ and ι constitute Stars Strung Together (Mikák’e Ukíthats’iⁿ); and the other is the belt of Orion which makes up an asterism called, interestingly, "Three Deer" (Ṭa Thabthiⁿ).6 Three Deer is one of the ten Deities of the Sky. Thus, unlike Aquila, Orion is an important Siouan asterism. The Hočągara also manage to preserve in their Orion constellation something of the Plains Indians' concept of these stars as forming a hand. For the plains Indians the Belt Stars are the wrists and Cursa and Rigel are at the finger tips, but for the Hočągara, each of the four outlying stars is itself a hand. Kunu as a figure with four arms is strongly akin with the Forked Men of similar anatomy who represent the bow. Even the widespread concept in the Old World of Orion being a hunter, as we shall see, is also found in the Hočąk asterism.
The conclusion of the waiką "Įčorúšika and His Brothers," reveals the stellar identity of the three brothers.
And these three were stars. The one star that is shining most greatly of the trio, it is he. The greatly shining white one, and the blue one, and the red one; and Įčorúšika was the yellowish one. And the other ones, his older brothers, are also stars. They are the trio that are bunched together.7*
The central bright star in the belt of Orion is Alnilam (ε Orionis), and that star is Įčorúšika. What has been maintained here is that the three stars in question are the Belt Stars (Cingulum) of the constellation Orion. We know that these colors are not given in spatial order since Įčorúšika is the brightest star and centrally located, yet the brightest star is said to be white. However, the raconteur equivocates with Įčorúšika's star by saying that although it is essentially white (ska), it is also somewhat "yellowish" (zi-nisge). Therefore, the first star mentioned is the second star in the series. As a matter of fact, all three stars are essentially white, perhaps just a little bluish, although it is hard to detect. So how is it that the Belt stars can be called "blue, white/yellow, and red"? We know, for instance, that the Evening Star is called "the red star," not because it is red, but because it is often found against the red background of the sky at sunset. In keeping with the same principle, the Fox call the Evening Star Maskuigwawa, "Red-eyed."8 The Hočąk name for the Evening Star, He-čo-ga ("Bluehorn"), is of similar derivation. As the sun sets the last remaining blue of the sky hangs at the horizon, and this is seen as the "hair" of Evening Star, elliptically denoted by the word he, "horn," given that queues look like horns. He is also known as "the Blue Man." Similarly, Alnilam is called "Redhorn," since his emergence into the sky from the underworld in July, puts him against the red background of dawn. In like fashion, he is also called "the Red Man." Let us hope that no one tries to use color to find the Pawnee Black Star or their Big Black Meteoric Star.9
The Color Contexts of the Cingulum Stars (Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak),
with the Four Hand Stars of Kunu (Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Cursa, and Rigel)
|Starry Night Software, www.starrynight.com|
This shows that the colors assigned to stars may have nothing to do with their intrinsic appearance. Alnilam, as Įčorúšika, is white because he is holy, and being the most powerful, he is also called the youngest. In the actual ascent of these stars, Mintaka (Kunu) is the first to rise, Alnilam the second, and the star of the penultimate brother, Alnitak, is the last. As a result, Alnitak lingers in the red of dawn after both Alnilam and Mintaka have moved beyond it, as can be seen in the representation of dawn in July in the picture above. By the usual conventions, as the oldest of Įčorúšika's brothers, Mintaka would be blue (čo), and as the youngest of Įčorúšika's brothers, Alnitak would be red (šuč). In Hočąk color coding in clothing, the color čo (blue through green) is worn by old people, and clothing of the color red is worn by young people. So this works out into a nice correlation, with age matching the background of the sky. As a person, Įčorúšika is the youngest, which is to say, the strongest; but his star is intermediate in the ascent into the sky, and so his color is intermediate between čo and šuč, which is zi (yellow). As the holiest of the three brothers, he is in a league of his own, and is assigned the color of holiness itself, white. Most will appreciate that the account of the colors of the stars is the weakest link in the argument for identifying Įčorúšika with Alnilam. And were it not for the discovery of the sky map, astronomers would no doubt be looking for three stars bunched together that are literally red, white/yellow, and blue.
The two heads on Įčorúšika's earlobes can plausibly be assigned to the two stars that flank Alnilam. In the "Dipper" we find that Polaris is treated in just this way. He is said to have hummingbirds for earrings, since the small stars that orbit Polaris at night do so in a way reminiscent of hummingbirds hovering in a circular pattern around the bunches of flowers on whose nectar they feed.
|The Living Stellar Earbobs of Polaris and Redhorn|
Similarly, the two stars flanking Alnilam-Įčorúšika can serve as his earrings in a purely stellar code. This shows that Įčorúšika is not the only mythological figure who has living earlobes, and that their stellar counterparts are the flanking stars of a bunch of three whose central star is slightly lower in their linear alignment.
§4. Deer Lungs and Ears. Redhorn is the youngest of ten brothers, and hints at his holiness by always staying at home while his brothers bear the burden of hunting for food. One day the chief declares that there will be a race, and the winner will be awarded his daughter. Much to everyone's surprise, the youngest of the brothers wins the race and is awarded the princess (yųgiwi). The young man decides to give the woman to his oldest brother Kunuga. One day Kunuga came back from hunting and
put his deer-pack down and dressed it. The lungs he laid aside and went on with his task. Then his wife picked them up and threw them at Kunu's little brother, striking him in the breast. She laughed.1* But Kunu got angry and said, "Why did you do that?" "Well," she answered, "I understand that this is what you always do to him and that is the reason why they called him by that name. That is why I am doing it." "No one ever did that to him before," said Kunu. "Once I told him to fast and he refused, so I threw a deer lung at him and that is the reason why they call him by that name but no one ever hit him with a deer lung." ... Now the little brother stood up and said, "Those in the heavens who created me did not call me by this name, He-who-is-hit-with-deer-lungs. They called me He-who-wears-human-heads-as-earrngs." With that he spat upon his hands and began fingering his ears. And as he did this, little faces suddenly appeared on his ears, laughing, winking and sticking out their tongues. Then he spoke again, "Those on earth, when they speak of me, call me Red Horn." With this he spat upon his hands, and drew them over his hair which then became very long and red.2
Much to-do has been made of the name "Hit With Deer Lungs," whose meaning we shall address shortly.3 In fact, Redhorn (under the name "Redman") was revived the way incarnate spirits usually are in Hočąk literature, by the sweat bath.4 The variant of the Redhorn Cycle, given the inappropriate title, "The Nephews of Redhorn," presents an alternate version to the arrow episode that is found in the Ioway story. The sons of Redhorn gather the bodies of their father and his friends and plan to revive them so that they can join them on the warpath.
"Here let us have our fathers accompany us," they said. Then there on the ground they put them in a row. Then the youngest one gave a loud shout, "Oh, my fathers! An arrow is about to drop on us, so run," he said. When thus he said, their bones became joined to one another. Again the second time he said it, "Young men, a point of a hill is about to fall on us and over here only is there a space to run," he said, and their sinews appeared on their bones. The third time he said it, "Young men the heavens are falling on us; over this way only is there an open space to run," he said; and they seemed to move even just a little. Again the fourth time they said it. "Oh young men, a war party is upon us so run," he said, and they said, "All right! All right!" they said, and started up, they opened their eyes very wide and looked about.5
For the Hočągara, the arrow is but the least of the alarms needed to quicken the dead. The theme of alarms to induce the soul to return to the dead is found in a number of Hočąk stories, perhaps from the similarity between nąǧire, "to be afraid," and nąǧi(rak), "soul."6 The other stories of this type make no reference to arrows.
When the woman throws the lungs at Redhorn, they strike him in the breast. This is where his own lungs are found, so it seems like a reasonable hint that the deer lungs belong to his chest, that he is the sort who has deer lungs. However, Kunu explains that he had thrown a deer lung to him because he refused to fast. (Omission of fasting is usually a sign that a person is really an incarnate spirit and therefore does not need the blessings from the spirits that might be obtained from such deprivation.) So Kunu is giving him the lungs to eat, since he has refused to go without food. Far from being a poor cut of meat, it is something special. In one story, the dogs decide that if their master gives them the deer lung hanging in his lodge, they will make him prosper in game.7 The reason for the gourmet value of deer lungs is explained in connection with an episode in The Fleetfooted Man:
There a Hočąk village was. To a great warrior was born a baby boy. It was very good. He grew larger, and when he was old enough to eat, whenever his father could, he would feed him only deer lungs. He wanted him to be able to run fast, that is why he did it.8*
It should come as no great surprise that a diet of deer lungs might be thought to empower a person to have lungs like those of a deer, and the capacity for speed that this endowment would bequeath. So when the woman struck him in the breast with deer lungs, she was unwittingly repeating the same message (as myths usually repeat their esoteric content), the message that Redhorn is someone who will have deer lungs and the fleetness of foot that goes with them. Indeed, his victory in the foot race, the major event of this episode, is a mere confirmation of this achievement. So the name that is presented as a misnomer, turns out on an esoteric level to be an understated description for the spirit who travels as fast as an arrow.
However, in the ideology of the Hočąk Deer Clan, deer lungs have a more important role to play. In the origin myth of the clan, the first deer emerged from the earth, made a circuit of it, then came back to where they started, which it transpired, was the center of the world. There they found a chief's medallion. This, from a Thunderbird Clan point of view, sounds rather like insubordination, since the Deer Clan is saying that they occupied the center from the earliest times, and that they were, by the agency of unseen mystery, given the emblem of sovereignty. Yet it is the Thunderbird Clan that holds the chiefdom and possesses the fire of sovereignty. The Deer Clan backs off their claim by saying they helped start the first fire, and that they therefore are entitled to "partial sovereignty." This share of the ultimate power still leaves them situated in the center. Whoever controls the center, controls all, which is to say, the four quarters as well. Indeed, if a Deer clansman were to move one of his limbs suddenly, inasmuch as they are counterparts to the four quarters, the disequilibrium in the cosmic balance of things would be enough to cause someone to die. However, it is usual to count the "quarters" as five: the cardinal directions plus the center. This centrality is symbolized by sound, which radiates out to the four quarters from a center which is its source. Sound is intimately associated with air/wind, and the pre-modern mind may be excused from making an unclear identity between them. Because they control the center and the four quarters, the Deer clansmen also control the wind. In this they have great powers. If a day is good, and "a voice is heard," then the day will turn bad; and, it is said, the inverse is also true. If a Deer clansman were to cry loudly, it could cause someone to die. This is because, as the Deer clansmen sing in their clan song,
I use the cries of the four directions,
I use the cries of the four directions;
I use the cries of the four directions,
I use the cries of the four directions.
This song must always be chanted in a hushed voice, for to do otherwise puts the order of things in jeopardy. To be possessed of deer lungs is to own the center of the animal symbolic of centrality itself.9* To have deer lungs is to have a voice strong enough to upset the world order. To say of Redhorn that he is hit with deer lungs (in the breast), is to say that he is a spirit of directions, which are symbolized by the arrows of which he is the animating spirit.
In pre-modern mythological thought the world over, the centrality that we have seen expressed in the deer's lungs is even more strongly focused on the sun. In terms of organs, the sun is most usually associated with the eye, not just because it normally enables sight, but because the sun itself is thought to be all-seeing. The Vedic Sūrya himself is most strongly identified with the eye.10 Yet the eye and sun both have a strange connection to the ear as well, as we have already seen in the case of Karṇa whose very name means "Ear."11 The eye of the gods can be reborn on earth as Ear because light is strongly analogous to sound. In Hočąk symbolism sound stands for light. Wears White Feather, for instance, who is the star Sirius, has a living loon for his headdress, a bird that makes a loud call that expresses the brightness of the star. The fact that both light and sound are waves makes them radiate from a center outward in every direction. They vary in amplitude and wave length, and just as light is seen in colors, so sound is heard in pitch. This well appreciated isomorphism allows the ear to stand as a symbol not only for sound, but for light. Thus the offspring of the solar Eye of the World is Ear (Karṇa).
The ear is a sound-Centre, a place at which sound from every direction finds its way into a single place. As such it is the complement of the lungs, a sound-Centre where sound originates and is disseminated outward in every direction. In Hočąk, the lungs exhale the breath, nį, a homonym also meaning "to be born." However, there is no linguistic connection to motion in the other direction which matches the role of the ear as the complement of the lungs. Nevertheless, this is achieved mythologically by the way in which Redhorn created his animate earlobes. When he took his own saliva and rubbed it onto his earlobes, they came alive with human faces. In Hočąk saliva is į-ni, "mouth water." So by pun įni would mean, "to be born from the mouth." "That which is born from the mouth" (sound) therefore comes to dwell in the ear. The little heads symbolize sound itself with all its symbolic implications, as they are born from both mouth and ear. Outside Hočąk culture there are traditions that link the ear to the soul and its progress. The people most closely related to the Hočągara are the Ioway. Just as the Hočągara have Wears Human Heads on His Ears (Wągíšča-horúšika),12 so the Ioway have a cognate personage, "Human Head Earrings" (Waⁿkístowi). Of him it is said,
Human-head-earrings was only a man like the rest of us, but he said that when he died his little heads should live always. So now when we die the little person invisible to us that dwells in us (the soul) goes to the other world.13
So the head worn on the ear is, or is at least symbolic of, the soul. That heads should be identified with souls is almost universal in scope and is widely found in both the Old and New Worlds.14* The ear-heads, that have a stellar identity in Hočąk, are representative of the soul in Ioway. The connection of the earring with the soul is found in a very distant Western Siouan people, the Hidatsa. In the Hidatsa Twin myths, the cycle concludes with the Twins shooting themselves back down to earth through the hole that they made permanent in the sky, as it says here:
The boys went back to the place where they had left the arrows sticking in the ground, pulled out the arrows and went home to their mother. She told them that the people in the sky were like birds, they could fly about as they pleased. Since the opening was made in the heavens they may come down to earth. If a person lives well on earth his spirit takes flight to the skies and is able to come back again and be reborn, but if he does evil he will wander about on earth and never leave it for the skies. A baby born with a slit in the ear at the place where earrings are hung is such a reborn child from the people in the skies.15
|White Cloud, Head Chief of the Ioway, by George Catlin|
In this charming account of the rebirth of the sky people on earth, we are told that babies born with earring slits give away their celestial origins. The hole in the ear symbolizes the hole in the sky. When the earring is in the hole, it corresponds to the soul that is in the sky; so when it is absent from the symbol of the sky, it is on earth. Therefore, when a baby of this nature is born, it is born with the symbol of the soul in the sky missing from the hole because it now has a terrestrial incarnation. The image-soul, now converted into symbolism by trading sound for light, is something that enters the ear. The soul has been "spoken" through the mouth of the sky, and "heard" on earth. The breath has been collected by the newborn as if it were a sound heard by the ear. The ruler of the sky, of course, did not want to loose any of his cohort, and attempted to stop their exhalation through this hole, but the Twins tore off his hand and left it in place with a hole through it. This reminds us of the victory emblem of a hand painted across the face of the warrior so that the palm covers his mouth. Its meaning in this context is clear enough. It is through this mouth that his breath, which is in some sense his life, comes in and out. The hand is the executive instrument, and symbolizes the enemy's attempt to seize the warrior's life, symbolized by sealing the hole through which his breath-soul sustains itself. The warrior's victory is a punching of a hole through this hand, the lethal frustration of his opponent's soul-graspng aim. So the Twins defeat Long Arm, ruler of heaven, and rip off his arm. He who would seal off the hole through which souls migrate back and forth from heaven and earth, has his hand "painted" in the light of the stars across this mouth-like soul-hole. And what is particularly interesting is the fact that the Hidatsa (and Crow) constellation which is the hand of Long Arm is none other than Orion. The palm of the hand through which this hole is made is framed by what we might call "the Square of Orion," circumscribed by the stars Alnitak, Alnilam (Redhorn), and Mintaka (Kunu) at the wrist, Algiebba at the base of the little finger, and 42 Orionis of the Sword Stars at the base of the thumb.
|The Hand Constellation (Lakota Version)|
|Starry Night Software|
So it is through Orion that the souls ascend to heaven, and a chosen few descend back to earth. This is the hole over which Redhorn-Alnilam stands. Among the Crow, the hand is said to belong to Red Woman (Hísšištawia).16 A faint reflex of the Hand Myth is probably to be found in the four hands of Kunu (Mintaka), two of which (Rigel and Cursa) form fingers in the standard Hand Constellation. Among the Central Siouan Oglala Lakota, we find the same basic myth. There the Chief of the Stars has his arm stolen by the Thunderbirds, but it is stolen back. The same Hand Constellation commemorates the event.17 However, there is a difference among the Oglala in that they place the hole in the sky in the Trapezium of the Big Dipper, which occupies the corresponding spot to Orion on the opposite side of the Milky Way. Yet they too believe that souls enter the Spirit World through the hole in the sky.18 The Arapaho (Algonquian)19 and the Arikara (Caddoan)20 who neighbor on Siouan peoples, also have versions of the hand myth. In the Arikara myth, and in others, one of the Twins at least is able, like Redhorn, to turn himself into an arrow. In this sagittary image of the soul, he shoots himself through the hole in the sky.
§5. Only One Horn and the Rites of the Heroka. In an obscure story, Trickster leads a warparty with predictable results, making it necessary to replace him before the violence ensues. The new warleader is Redhorn.
And at the warleader's forehead stood a single horn. And it was very red. This he took off ... Then the leader said, "Now then, from henceforth you will no more call me 'One Horn'. ... therefore, the humans shall ever call me 'Without Horns' [Herokaga], because I have caused myself to be without any," he said. That is why they call them [heroka], meaning 'without horns.'1
That Herokaga is identical to Redhorn is made more explicit in one story:
Then Redhorn also went back to his home up above. "Without Horns" (Heroka) they call certain beings, he [Redhorn] was their chief; his sons were the chiefs of beings called "Childish People," they say.2
And the parent [Redhorn] was the Heroka chief. And the Heroka village is called Nįjira Ğaǧará, a village on the Wisconsin River, "On the Edge-Sat-the" (Necide, Wisc.), it is called. It is on this hill [Nicedah Mound], the Without Horns village. Even of late, they knew of their presence there, the Without-Horns. And the son was the chief of the ones called "Little Children (Spirits)." They have the same power as the Heroka. Their arrows they never fail to get anything with, but the "Little Children" are a little bit the holier.3
When we reflect upon the nature of Redhorn, this identity is not at all surprising. In The Race for the Chief's Daughter in the Redhorn Cycle, the hero is able to win the race against the other spirits by turning himself into the fastest of all known things, the arrow.
On he went until he came in sight of another group of runners. They were Black Hawk, Hummingbird, and Eagle and two of his other brothers. When he saw that he could not get any closer to them, he took one of his arrows and shot in their direction. It alit beside the runners. He had turned himself into the arrow.4
Therefore, Redhorn has a special identity with the arrow. Redhorn's mystical identity of the arrow is also expressed in the bow and arrow emblem of the Heroka [see inset]. The Heroka are actually a race of lilliputian spirits who have magical powers over the hunt. When the Heroka shoot an arrow, it never misses its mark.5 Thus, the Slow Song of the Heroka has the lyrics,
Who can miss anything,
With the one the Creator made for me? Hįha!6
The he, "horn," in the names He-žą-ki-ga ("Only One Horn"), He-roka-ga ("Without Horns"), and He-šuč-ka ("Red Horn"), can be understood in these sagittary terms. In the myth known as "The Brown Squirrel," the hero of the story terrorizes a bad spirit by constantly pointing a red cedar (waxšuč) arrow at him. The arrow is usually called "the red protruding horn," Ae lo tto Ke doAo tts (he-pųjoke-šujera).7 Therefore, an arrow can be a red horn (he-šuč). Consequently, the name Hešučka not only refers to his red hair, but to his mystical identity with the arrow. Redhorn is also called "Only One Horn," a name that is well attested in a number of different clans as Hežąkiga, from he, "horn"; hižą, "one"; -ki, "only"; and -ga, the definite article suffixed to personal names. The reason why Redhorn can be called Hežąkiga, "Only One Horn," lies in his identity with the arrow, which is a single "horn." One of the reasons that the Heroka, the very embodiment of the arrow, can be called "without horns," is that they can produce the effects of the arrow without need of the physical object itself. All the Heroka have to do is pull their bowstrings back and forth and utter the inscrutable "Heroka breathings," ahahé ahahé8*, and their target falls to the powers of the Invisible World. Even without aiming, their unseen shots invariably strike home. There is also a kindred race of lilliputian archer spirits who have the peculiar property of being able to change themselves into the likeness of infants. They are known as the "Little Children Spirits," or "Those who Turn Themselves into Babies" (as well as several other names). Just as Redhorn himself governs the Heroka, so the sons of Redhorn govern the nearly identical Little Children Spirits.
In the same way that Redhorn loses his red haired head to the Giants (Wąge-Ručge, "Man-Eaters"), so Only One Horn sacrifices his single red horn to defeat the Man-Eaters once and for all. This is what the translation says in detail of this scene:
Then the war leader said, "Now then, attendants! I will help you." And at the war leader's forehead stood a single horn, and it was very red. This he took off and struck the water with it and the water burned like fuel.9
This horn set the Ocean Sea aflame. In the story "Įčorúšika and His Brothers," as we have seen, a similar relationship is transposed, with the Ocean Sea becoming the Bad Waterspirits, as it says here,
Then he did this. Įčorúšika broke the iron bonds he had to pieces. "Hąho!" they said. They overflowed the door. Then he took up a piece of firewood and threw it at them. As he struck one, it would start to blaze. He pressed the matter. Their town was aflame. But they jumped into the water. He chased them into the water. Then again he struck the waters with a piece of firewood. Then the waters themselves were set aflame. There were two there that he did not kill. A boy and a girl, that many he spared. He said to them, "I thought I might put an end to you, but what would human beings call 'Bad Waterspirits' (Wakjexišišik), I thought, so I have not destroyed you utterly, as the Creator himself has made you," thus he said.10
So the red horn atop Only One Horn's head here becomes a flaming brand in the hands of his stellar alter ego, Įčorúšika. What has been suggested hitherto is that the name "Redhorn" derives from the red scalp lock of the deity which was identified with the red clouds that hang low in the sky at sunrise. More fundamentally, it is the light of the sun. When Alnilam, the star of Redhorn, rises with the sun, the top of his head emerges into the red glow of the sunrise. This is his hair. When he rises thus at the edge of the world, emerging from the Ocean Sea, the red glow of the waters is the torch wielded by Įčorúšika, the fire that sets the waters aflame. Only One Horn takes off the horn on his head, which is the solar light, and with it sets the waters on fire. Once again, a transposition of the same set of physical facts into a variant allegorical language. When, over time, Redhorn rises high enough, he loses this horn; and in other accounts, his scalp or head is then said to turn white, which is the color of his star in the absence of its red context.11 This solar light, the manifestation of the sun's disc, is the arbiter of space and time, the giver of the cardinal directions, and the measure of time. It is the arrow, the spiritual reality of Herokaga, that is an expression of direction and in its very name, mą, an expression of time, since the word means both "arrow" and "time." So when the two sons of Redhorn recapture him, inasmuch as he is a star that also sets with the sun at midsummer, they reduplicate the actions of Only One Horn, only this time they do it with the arrow in the role as solar light.
Then the younger one said, "Now! let me at them," he said. So he in turn did shoot the waves and on it began to burn but even then it began to come again; then he shot one of his arrows ahead of them, and as far as he shot it, that far they advanced ahead. Thus they did on, as often as he shot the arrow, that often he would shoot one ahead. When he did this, very far they would get ahead of them. Thus they did on, until they reached the land. There they quit bothering them.12
They themselves, being Heroka or Little Children Spirits, are like their father in being able to change themselves into arrows, their spiritual nature. The first arrow is the solar light that has the same effect as the horn of Only One Horn. Redhorn (or his head) and his two sons now represent the three stars bunched together, the Cingulum of Orion. They are arrows of stellar light. The sun itself is called "the luminary of Day," Hąp-wi-ra. The word for day and light is hąp, a word that also has a ritual, metaphorical meaning as "life," and is usually translated by Radin as "Light-and-Life." The reflection of light seen on a surface such as a still pond is called a naǧirak, "image." This word also means "soul." The arrow, which among the Hočągara also functions as light having spatial and temporal import, is almost universally used in other tribes as a symbol of the soul.13* The Hočąk Twins, Ghost and Flesh, have no association with the arrow, but their counterparts among the Crow and Hidatsa, as we have seen, transform themselves regularly into arrows, and shoot themselves through the hole in the sky, the same hole through which souls transmigrate after the precedent and example of the Twins. The theme of birth and rebirth through the hole in Orion, is expressed by the Hočągara in the identity of Redhorn across generations, probably rightly understood by Brown as the immortality of reproduction, the limitless continuation of a person through his offspring.14 The head of Redhorn, with the two living heads on his ears, is once again the image of the Cingulum of Orion, as well as the image of Redhorn and his two sons. It is, as the Ioway have said,
Human-head-earrings was only a man like the rest of us, but he said that when he died his little heads should live always. So now when we die the little person invisible to us that dwells in us (the soul) goes to the other world.15
Although Ghost and Flesh are not said to be Heroka, they nevertheless fall into Redhorn's warparty, as is told in the story of that name.16
Worshippers appeal to these many powers of Only One Horn in ritual as well. In "The Baldheaded Warclub," it specifically says that the single horn stood on Redhorn's forehead. This comports with an important rite associated with the Heroka. In the feast sponsored by the Society of Those who have been Blessed by the Heroka, the leader of the Society paints his body the same color as his arrows and has a headdress with a single horn surmounted on it.17 In the painting at Picture Cave, the dominant figure wears a headdress having a single horn, and this piece of head gear is placed on his forehead. All the arrows are projecting out of the cervid horn on the head, with the points as if embedded in the horn. This turns the arrows into horns in their own right. This reinforces the identity of he ("horn") = arrow (and perhaps, = hair, if forelocks existed at this time as they did at Mississippian sites). It is also said of the worshippers of Heroka in the rite, "Every participant brings his bow and arrows ..."18* Likewise, we see the figure in the painting grasping his bow and arrows in his left hand.
So prima facie, we seem to have a case for exploring the working hypothesis that the dominant figure in the Picture Cave painting is indeed Redhorn, the Chief of the Heroka. Here he appears as Herokaga, with a single horn on his forehead, a bowed horn with arrows arranged in the headdress in a way resembling the standard emblem of the Heroka of centuries later. It is said of the rite, furthermore, "Each member paints his bow and arrows in the particular color with which the Heroka have blessed him ... [and] the leader of the Society paints his body the same color as his arrows ..."19 As Herokaga, this spirit does not bless himself, but comes with a predetermined color. In the painting as well as the myth that color is white. In the myth of Įčorúšika, it was said that, "The one star that is shining most greatly of the trio, it is he [Įčorúšika]. The greatly shining white one ..."20 Įčorúšika is the brightest of the Orion belt stars, and it is at least conventionally white, although the author says that it is in fact rather "yellowish." As the strongest spirit of the three brothers, its star would be the brightest. As the holiest of the three brothers, his color must be construed as white, since white is the paradigmatic color of holiness. That his stellar valence is being recognized and expressed is not only shown by the color and, of course, the prosopic earpieces, but by a design that occurs at the center of his chest. Diaz-Granados thinks that this is the same dot-in-a-circle design found on the Mr. Head sculpture from Gottschall (q.v),21 but there is an important difference. The oval in the Picture Cave pictograph that contains the large dot actually has corners, like an eye. In other words, it is slightly almond shaped, except that its vertical dimension is a bit larger, making it look almost round. This is a conventional eye decoration, which in this context probably denotes a star. Stars are represented as eyes worldwide.22* As we have seen, Įčorúšika is the star Alnilam, so the eye motif in a field of white would be an added identification device, and is therefore consistent with the other features of the painting which suggest that it is of Redhorn (Herokaga, Hežąkiga, Įčorúšika, etc.).
However, this is not all. In the Heroka rite, as the participants file in, "The bows are stuck in the ground in a row with the arrows behind them."23 We certainly seem to be seeing something very much like this. In the picture, behind the figure of Herokaga is an upright bow which is not being held up by any visible means. It is as if it had been stuck in the ground. There is but one arrow, and that is situated in front of the bow and like it, appears to be upright. That an upright bow and an arrow are left by themselves behind the chief figure is at least an approximation to the procedure prescribed for the Heroka rite. It would be surprising indeed if every detail of this rite persisted unaltered in any respect for numerous centuries. This bow and arrow reinforces the identity of the main figure as Herokaga, the chief of the race that is spiritually responsible for good fortune in the hunt. As we shall see below, the symbolism of pictograph and rite also embrace the image of the inverted deer seen at the lower right of the work.
§6. The Inverted Deer. In the finale of "The Red Man," it is said,
There they [Redhorn and his son] remained in that village, and they were given charge of the village. There the father [Redhorn] got married also. There the man lived in a place called "the Red Hill." There it was that he was feeling his way around [after he was beheaded]. Ne ci chah Wis. at that hill it happened. Therefore the path use to be visible in the early days. Around the hill there used to be a road visible. There the village is, and they are there yet with his son even now. There only recently they blessed some Indians it is said.1
The variant myth "The Chief of the Heroka" is in essential agreement, saying,
The Heroka village is called Nįžira Ğaǧará, a village on the Wisconsin River, on the edge-sat-the (Necide Wisc.) it is called. It is on this hill, the Without Horns (Heroka) village. Even of late, they knew of their presence there, the Without-Horns. And the son was the chief of the ones called "Little Children (Spirits)." They have the same power as the Heroka.2
Spirits, of course, do not live on the hill, but rather inside it. Xešučra, "the Red Hill," is the Hočąk name of Necedah, Wisconsin.3 The first text has "ne ci chah," a misreading of "ne ci dah," a variant (syllabary influenced) spelling of "Necedah." The name of the town Necedah is itself a corruption of Ni-zi-ra, "the Yellow Waters," the name given to the Yellow River on which it is situated. In the second text, the Nįžįra in the town's name is likely a pun on Nizira. The hill in question is now known as "Necedah Mound," an oval hill in the middle of Necedah made of purplish quartzite and orange sandstone. As to the last stone, it is quite similar to the lithic make-up of Picture Cave. A hill of this color and name seems like the right place for Redhorn and the Heroka to live. Since spirits typically inhabit the interiors of hills, a cave found in such a hill would be especially holy, since it would form a conduit into which those who enter can reach an intimate proximity with the spirits. Such a cave was at least once known to be inhabited by the Little Children Spirits. There many miraculous things could take place, as it says here:
There was a hill near our place called the Place Where They Keep Weapons [Wapahiručguseja ?]. This hill was very high and it looked steep and rocky. It must have been a very holy place. There my father had lived. Within this hill lived the spirits that we call "Those who Cry like Babies." These spirits were supposed to have arrows and bows. There were supposed to be twenty of them in this hill. My father had control of these spirits. If he (my father) blessed a man he would do as follows: he would take his bow and arrows and holding them in both of his hands, take the man around the hill and then into the lodge (i.e., into the hill). There he and the man he wished to bless let their breath pass into the middle of the lodge. There stood a stone pillar and upon this stone pillar, at about an arm's length, he drew the pictures of different animals. My father had only one arrow, but that arrow was a holy one. Then my father danced around the stone pillar and sang some songs, and when he was finished he began to breathe upon the stone pillar; and, walking around it, he shot it. When he looked at it, he saw that the stone had turned into a deer with large horns. This deer fell dead at his feet. He repeated this a number of times and the little spirits who were following him breathed with him and said, "Hočąk, whenever you wish to kill a deer with one horn, do as you have done here. Then offer tobacco to us and you will be able to obtain whatever you wish."4
The strange rite of breathing must be akin to the Heroka breathings, which are expressed as, ahahe ahahe. In Hočąk ni means "breath, to breathe," and secondarily, "to be born." Ni, therefore, is the life principle, hence, ni’ąp, the standard word for "life." Compare, Osage ni, "to exist, to live," and ni-oⁿ, "breath." It may be, therefore, that the breathing ritual is tied to the idea that hunting powers are themselves a life principle. The Cave Where They Keep Weapons and Picture Cave are both at least in part devoted to Herokaga and his sons, sovereigns among those who have hegemony over game. In the former cave we are told explicitly that the paintings pertain to the magic of the hunt and are bound up with a ritual tied to the world of Herokaga. The man performing the rite has but one arrow, that is, one "horn," and the Little Children Spirits, the minions of Herokaga and of Only One Horn, offer him a one-horned buck. Before we can understand the emphasis placed upon one-horned bucks, we need to examine the import of the inverted cervid shown to the right of the Picture Cave painting.
Just below the standing bow and arrow and to its right, is a picture of an inverted deer. We know that it is a white tailed deer because its rack sweeps forward. Otherwise, it would be impossible to say precisely what kind of cervid it is. The deer has two notable peculiarities: it is on its back with its legs straight up, and it is covered in black spots. These two features are probably related. Pictographic symbolism from a much later period, the XIXᵀᴴ century, in use by the Indians of the plains and midwest, uses inversion to indicate death; but this is not the only convention, as we see from the examples below.
Just turning an animal upside down is sufficient to indicate that it is dead. A set of instructions on how to make American Indian pictographs makes this abundantly clear: "Death of an animal is indicated by the animal being shown in an inverted position, viz., upside down. In case of a deer being shown by a set of deer horns, reverse the horns to represent death. Where a bear is shown by the bear's paw, reverse the paw with claws up to represent death."5 In addition, an animal may be filled in with black or a solid dark color to reinforce the meaning. As we see on the extreme right of the examples above, the same applies to humans. However, given that black means death, a convention arose in which the filling in of the image in solid black was abbreviated by merely putting a black dot in the middle of the image (as in the pictogram for "bear dead" above). However, the deer in our pictograph is speckled in black dots. These dots could hardly represent the pattern of its hide. Only fawns have a spotted hide, and their spots are white. The pictograph is of an adult male deer, as we can see from its large rack. So the black dots must represent something else. Given the conventional indication of death found in later times, it is plausible that putting in multiple dots serves the same purpose later served by a single dot. Given the inverted orientation of the deer, the black dots would therefore be a second indication of its being dead. In addition it appears to have a spear or arrow lodged in its abdomen, just to hammer the point home all the more. In the Picture Cave pictograph, therefore, it seems reasonable to suppose that in an image so strongly akin to the themes uniquely associated with the Heroka, that the inverted animal has been killed by humans in the hunt. When the Society of Those Blessed by the Heroka conduct their rite,
Every participant brings his bow and arrows and is responsible for supplying a deer. ... After the dancing, they begin the feast. They eat with forked sticks that have been whittled down at one end. When the feast is concluded, they take their plates in hand and dance out of the lodge.6
The sharpened forked sticks are an image of deer antlers. So the dead deer fits in the general scene of the pictograph with a setting that duplicates so much of what occurs in the rite.
However, there may be an additional reason for the spots on the inverted cervid. Among the kindred Omaha, spots can stand for stars. In a myth of the Shell Society, it is related that a stranger introduced a rite in which the four children of the couple he was visiting were magically killed and painted.
Again she circled the lodge and passed outside and called her second son to come to the tent and returned to her seat. Soon he was heard coming rapidly along. As he stooped to enter the stranger cried, "Hah!" and the boy fell as his brother had done. ... Then the stranger arose and painted the second child, making the same red lines; but when he came to paint the body he put the blue paint on in spots. ... The painting on the body of the second son, which represented the night sky, spotted with stars, was related to the painting on the body of the youngest child, which was the color of the earth, for the earth and the stars were brothers.7
The color of the spots has little relation to star colors. These spots can be related to deer. In the Omaha Ṭapa Clan, spotted animals are important in their rites.
Ṭapá, "head of the deer," is the name given to the Pleiades. The rites formerly in charge of this gens are lost, but there are traditions that point to the strong probability that they related to the stars and the night skies. These rites seem to have been connected with myths dealing with the Creation. In them wild-cat skin and the fawn skin were used, their spotted appearance having a symbolic reference to the heavens at night.8
The spots on the inverted deer could therefore represent stars. The Pawnee assert the same thing in a context very reminiscent of Only One Horn's setting the sea afire. Paruksti, a Thunder Being, gave the first man a bow and certain special arrows. The man shot a deer, which was speckled. "This deer was the sun and carried the night upon its back. Thus day and night originated."9* These considerations suggest that the deer of Picture Cave is in some way stellar, which is what we ought to expect, given the stellar nature of Įčorúšika.
We can now better appreciate why the Omaha called the Pleiades, "Deer Head." The very same name, Ṭa-pá, is also used for the Pleiades by the Osage.10 The Hočągara would insist that they have it ass-backwards. The Pleiades are a tight cluster of six visible stars, or seven if your eyesight is good, that are located to the right of Orion, just past the bright star Aldebaran. They are a bright white compact patch of stars with a vaguely triangular shape, leading the Hočągara to call them the Čašįč, "Deer Rump." It is as if the deer were fleeing the greatest of hunters, Herokaga, who as part of Orion, is not far behind. And this is indeed the kind of view that a trailing hunter would get, since a fleeing deer "flags" as it departs. This flagging consists of raising its tail straight up, exposing both its own white underside and the white spot on the rump. A fawn instinctively follows this bright patch as its mother flees danger. So the Hočąk name is apt. However, this is a case where, for a change, the Hočągara have innovated. When we look into the name of this asterism among more distant relatives, the Sioux, we find that they call it Ṫa-yamni-pa, "Head of Three-Ṫa," where "Three-Ṫa" is a giant asterism whose head is the Pleiades. The Lakota are unsure what Ṫa is, although the prevailing opinion is that it's a buffalo.11 A buffalo is termed ṫaṫañka, the "great ṫa." The word ṫa by itself means "moose," but clearly the buffalo is not thought of as a large moose. When ṫa- is found in compounds, it is a very broad term, and seems to denote ruminants generally.12* Deer are ṫáhiñca, where híñca is an intensifying suffix, and in this context, like its Hočąk cognate -xjį, means "real, genuine." As this suggests, ṫa once meant the same that it does in Osage and Omaha, "deer," with ṫa being cognate to Hočąk ča, of the same meaning. So, it seems likely that as early as Common Central Siouan there was an identification of the Pleiades as Deer Head.
In the Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave we see all the elements of the rite of the Society of Those Blessed by the Heroka. A man out front, a leader, who is painted, and has a single deer horn on his head. Behind him we find the deer that every participant is required to contribute. Behind the deer we find the bows and arrows laid out as required by the Hočąk rite. Given the identity of the leader as the very Chief of the Heroka, the spirit Redhorn himself, the depiction serves as a paradigm of the rite and its purpose. There can be no doubt that the purpose of the rite is to affirm the blessing of the Heroka spirits, to make them offerings, and to insure that when deer are hard to get — in the winter when they may have only one horn — that they will still succeed and thereby escape the ravages of famine. The heliacal setting of Sirius occurred (in 1064) on May 3, May (Hočąk Mąįtawuši-wira) being the month that inaugurates the deer hunting season. Sirius rose with the sun on July 12, 1064. This month (Hočąk Waxojera-wira) is the peak of the deer hunting season, when they are at their fattest.13 This recalls the role of Sirius among the Crow. When Sirius comes to earth, it is the time when the buffaloes calve, which gives this star a strong association with buffaloes.14 In addition to success in the hunt, the Society also has the ecological ambition of making deer fruitful so that there will always be many of them. Thus the picture of the Redhorn Panel shows a fawn prancing away at the edge of the composition. This doubtless represents part of the blessing expected from the offerings and other aspects of the rite sponsored by the Society. Not only success in the kill, but replenishment, is asked of the hunting spirits.
This replenishment of deer is graphically displayed on the Redhorn Panel. Just to the lower right of the inverted deer, a small fawn scampers playfully away. Clearly the rite of the Heroka helps achieve not just a blessing of destruction, but a blessing of birth as well. In southern Wisconsin there exists another cave painting of similar age and content. This is the Gottschall rockshelter, whose paintings date from the Xᵀᴴ century a. D.15 The Bison Panel in this rockshelter shows a buffalo being shot by a bowman, with a calf romping in the right foreground.16 The buffalo appears to be male, the erection of its hair a sign that it is in rut. The plan of the bison composition — bowman, shot (male) game animal, young offspring of the same species prancing off in the opposite direction — is clearly like that of the Redhorn Panel, at least apart from the man wearing the aigrette. The style of the Bison Panel is rather different, but the other pictures at Gottschall are very similar in style to the Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave.17* Salzer claims that another panel (#5) at Gottschall actually contains a picture of Redhorn and his friends shown acting out one of the stories of the Redhorn Cycle. This speculation, unfortunately, turns out to be false, as I show in a comprehensive analysis in "Gottschall: A New Interpretation" (see also, "Gottschall Debate and Discussion."). Nevertheless, we can at least agree that the artwork of Gottschall could plausibly be Central Siouan.
photo by Laura Erickson
Creative Wave Jewellery
|The Snowy Egret
photo by Sandy Brooke
§7. The Riddle of the Two Morning Stars. The Redhorn Panel has one member who does not seem to fit into the theme of the rite of the Society of the Heroka. This strange person at the extreme left has a very unique feature, a long white egret plume of the sort later called an "aigrette." In Hočąk mythology, there is a well known figure who is chief over the white "cranes" (peją́). These "cranes" are technically herons, and in temperate North America there are really only three such types of birds: the snowy egret, the whooping crane, and the white variety of the blue heron. The chief over the peją-ska is appropriately named "Wears White Feather on His Head" (Mąšųska-hakerega).1* The white cranes are esoterically stars. We can see this in mythology, where they are said to be the mortal enemies of the Nightspirits. These latter rise in the east as the sun sets and actively spread the substance that makes darkness. It is said that cranes attack them and scar their faces with their bills. It is the night sky that is the face of the Nightspirits, and the illumination of the stars that "scars" the darkness that these spirits are trying to establish. We might expect, of course, that the chief of these night-scarring stars would be the most prominent among them. Some would say that this alone makes White Feather the brightest of all fixed stars, Sirius. However, it is not the brightest of all "stars" — that honor falls to Morning Star or Evening Star; but these are stars with a difference, since they are not fixed, but seem to wander about as in the Greek name for them, πλάνητες | plánētes. On the other hand, there are times when they are not in the sky at all, and the pattern of the alteration of their presence and absence from the heavens is not easily grasped. So which of them is chief of the "white cranes" (stars)?
There is a set of isomorphic myths among a wide range of Central Siouan tribes in which White Feather or White Plume, as he is also known, is the chief protagonist. The one of the most immediate interest appears in a collection of Ioway stories, but the name of the chief character shows that it is of Osage provenance.
Two young women went out to the wilderness to cry to the spirits that they might be blessed to marry White Plumed Man (Wagre Kagre). Many animals came forth and pretended to be him, but when questioned, they could not hide their real identity, so the sisters continued on. Finally, a man came to them wearing a white plume. The girls asked him, "What sort of things do you normally kill?" He replied, "I kill such things as deer, bear, turkeys — those things that people normally eat." The older sister accepted him immediately, but her younger sister remained skeptical. They argued, and in the end, the younger sister said, "Then you marry him. I'm going to wait." So the older sister married this man, but the only game animals he ever brought home were rabbits. One day a voice came to the younger sister and announced that at noon the next day White Plume would appear. Just as it had presaged, White Plume appeared with a chorus of birds announcing his arrival. The younger sister accepted him. The next day the two who claimed to be White Plume went out hunting, and the second one brought home deer and bears, but the first could only manage rabbits. His father-in-law quickly appreciated who he was, and even the elder sister realized that her husband was an imposter, but this only made her jealous. The next day the two of them went hunting again. While they were out the imposter changed White Plume into a dog, and when he returned he said White Plume went another direction, but that he had found his dog. The younger sister treated the dog well and even let it sleep in the lodge. When they went hunting, this dog could flush out bears, but the imposter, who in reality was a Giant, could only get rabbits. One day the dog spoke to the younger sister and instructed her on how to help him. She took him to a hollow log, where he entered at one end, and upon emerging at the other, he had shed his skin like a snake, and now he had returned to his human form. Once again the two went out hunting, but during the expedition the Giant froze to death. White Plume went home again to his wives. He told them that he was not really a human being but a bird, an eagle. When men wish to be good hunters he said they should wear a white eagle plume in the hair. Then he flew away, and I came home too.2
Who is Wagre Kagre? In the Ioway parallel to Old Man and Wears White Feather, the hero, Wagre Kagre, is called "White Plume" in English. Jimm Goodtracks, an expert on his own tribe the Ioway, finds some remotely similar words in Ioway, but was able to track down much closer parallels in Osage.3* The Osage word most resembling wagre is wagthe, "a symbolic plume made of a downy feather of an eagle."4 This certainly puts us in the right universe of discourse. Given the substitution of Osage /th/ here with Ioway /r/, the second word (kagre) should be derived from something like kagthe in Osage. Indeed, we do find a nearly perfect match in çkágthe, "a white downy feather taken from the under part of an eagle's wing or tail and used as a symbolic or decorative plume."5 The çkágthe seems to be merely a special case of the wagthe. The word çka, which we have already encountered, means "white"; and to -gthe, compare gthe-dóⁿ, "hawk, falcon."6 So the Wagre-Kagre of the Ioway seems clearly borrowed from an Osage original, *Wagthe-Çkagthe, "White Down Feather (Tail or Wing) of an Eagle." Indeed, at the end of the story, the hero turns into this very bird. This shows that the Ioway story of White Plume was, at least in part, borrowed from an Osage original. In a poem about the çkágthe, the symbolism of the white plume is transferred to sun dogs (parhelia), who stand to the right and left of the sun respectively.7
Çká-gthe, the White Plume (Tsí-zhu version)
Of the god of day, I, as a person, have made my symbol.
There is a god who never fails to appear at the beginning of day,
The god who lies as though dipped in red (dawn).
Of that god I have made my symbol.
By the side of the god who never fails to appear (the sun),
Even at his left side,
Stands a plumelike shaft of light.
Of this plume I have made my symbol.
When the little ones make their plumes of this shaft of light,
They shall live to see old age.
Having their plumes like the shaft of light,
Their symbolic plumes shall never droop.
Also at the right side of the god who never fails to appear (the sun)
Stands another plumelike shaft of light.
When the little ones use these shafts of light,
Their symbolic plumes shall never droop as they travel the path of life.8
The two feathers seem to represent sun pillars, shafts of light occasionally seen to the right and left of the sun. However, the feathers apparently have more general valences, as it says here:
Çkágthe [is] a white downy feather taken from the under part of an eagle's wing or tail and used as a symbolic or decorative plume. Used as a symbol in the tribal rites, it represents the white light of the sun. In the ceremonies two downy plumes are used, one white and the other red. The red plume is used to represent the red dawn and is called Çkágthe zhudse.9
To the Osage of recent times the white plume fundamentally represents the light of the sun, so it is wholly appropriate that its concrete exemplar be taken from the bird of the sky, the eagle.10 So according to the same source, the white plume could generally represent the bright light of the sun, and the red plume could represent, not a second sun dog, but the red of the dawn. Thus, La Flesche says elsewhere that the red plume is a "symbol of the dawn and of peace."11 The çkagthe proper, the white or *wagthe-çgathe, generally represents the white light of the sun; the çkagthe zhudse, the red çkagthe, represents the red light of the dawn. There is a set of strongly similar stories, all Central Siouan except a single version from the Blackfeet, that feature a hero who claims in fact or name both the white and the red plumes. The story of the red plume will not be taken up here, but see the set of comparisons among these myths. The cognate Hočąk story to *Wagthe-Çkagthe diverges not only in symbolism, but in the nature of the bird from which the feather is taken. The Hočąk story has been titled, "The Old Man and Wears White Feather," a summary of which follows:
A young man lived with his grandfather, who encouraged him to fast for blessings. The young man announced that in the upper world he was called "Wears White Feather on His Head," and in the world below they call him "Wears Sparrows for a Coat." He had a coat made of live sparrows who would sing when he shook it, and for a headdress he had a living loon and a very white feather. The next day he was challenged to a race to the edge of the world and back. At the starting line they told him to recline on a tree, but when he stretched out, they bent the tree back and launched him as from a catapult. He landed in the fork of a great oak tree on the edge of the Ocean Sea, and there he stuck fast. However, a passing hawk took pity on him and broke the fork of the tree to free him. He began running and ended up far ahead, so he sat down and began smoking. When his opponent came up, he asked if he could smoke, since he was going to die anyway. White Feathers put out the pipe, and said, "You must have said the same thing to my brothers." He killed his opponent with a warclub, then crossed the finish line alone. As he did so, his loon could be heard singing. During the night, he noticed a second fireplace in the lodge and that it had moved closer. The next day they were going to race again, but this time when he climbed on the tree, he changed himself into a squirrel, and began running up and down the tree so that they could not launch him as they had done before. The same things happened as before, and White Feathers again won the race. That night the second fireplace in the lodge moved closer still. That morning they raced again, and this time he was pitted against the youngest of them. As they were racing, this young opponent threw a vine at him, and his feet became tangled up. He fell behind, but before his opponent could get too far, he threw a piece of the vine at him and tripped him up. Eventually, White Feathers passed his opponent and stopped for a smoke. Things went as before, and as White Feathers was about to strike him dead with his club, when unexpectedly, the man turned into an old woman, pleading with her hands outstretched. This made him pause, but he resolve anew to strike, when suddenly she changed into a beautiful young woman, who cried out in alarm. He could not bring himself to kill her. She said that if he would spare her she would tell him a secret. He agreed, so she told him about two beautiful princesses that they could marry. This appealed to him, so they went off together for the village where they lived. On the way, they stopped for the night and built a grass lodge with a deer hide covering. It snowed. During the night he was seduced by a beautiful woman, but while he was sleeping, his companion took hold of his body, twisted his mouth to the side, made his elbows and ankles longer, and generally made him look like an ugly old man. He robbed him of his voice, save that he could say "Ho." His companion took everything he owned, and even assumed his form. Then the two of them went on their way. They came to where the two sisters, Hinų and Wiha, lived with their father the chief. Hinų had dreamt of Wears White Feather, and when she saw the man with the white plume she knew immediately that it must be him. He entered the lodge to a warm reception. He told the sisters, "The one outside is my dog," but Wiha said, "Never is it told that White Feathers has a man for a dog." "He is not human, but only a dog," insisted the imposter. Nevertheless, Wiha took him in and cared for him. The next day the imposter went out and killed a wildcat, but Hinų would not feed either Wiha or the dog-man. So the next day the "dog" went out and kicked a stump, and a bear fell out dead. He packed it home and they alone ate bear meat. So the imposter went out and did the same thing, but when he told Hinų to go out and prepare the bear, all that was there was an old stump. This sort of thing happened every time he went out. However, when the mother of the sisters visited, he retreated into the wilderness. There he was told by a woman how to rejuvenate himself. So he came back and took Wiha to the wilderness with him. There he dipped into a lake four times, and when he came out he was restored to his former self. They returned with the form of the old man rolled up as a pack. When they met the imposter, after they smoked, he threw the old man form at him, and immediately he returned to being an old man. They chased after him, but as he fled, he transformed into an owl and flew away hooting. White Feathers was a great boon to the community. Whenever he smoked, turkeys would come out of his pipe. He showed the people how to make wampum out of the feathers. He killed many buffalo. Hinų felt rejected, so she returned to her spirit home, but before she left, she told them that she would have their first child. One day that child was pulled under the waters. He had been taken by Hinų, who was a Waterspirit. One day the boy's father was walking along the seashore when the boy spoke from the waters and told him that when their lives were over they would join him in the Waterspirit land. And thus it was.12
There are three cognate stories in other Central Siouan traditions. The closest is the Dakota story of Ćáḣpi ("Warclub"), who is also known as "Wearer of the White Feather" (Ṫa-waćiñhe-ska).
A figure called "The Man of Wood" appears to instruct Ćáḣpi on how to proceed. He has a human head, but the rest of him is wood. A race occurs in which he trips his opponent with a vine. Before his last race, the Man of Wood tells him that he must turn into an elk to protect himself from the most beautiful woman in the world. He met this woman, but she was actually the last Giant. She wept, and said that she had intended to marry him, but he was in the form of an elk. So he changed back into human form and went to sleep with his head on her lap. "She" then broke his back and turned him into a dog. In this guise, they went to the village where the two daughters of the chief lived. The eldest one married the imposter, but the youngest took good care of the dog. The imposter, however, cannot match the hunting magic of the real White Feathers. The chief summoned the man and his dog to his teepee, only to find that the dog had transformed back into a man. When the man smoked, he regained his speech and told them what had happened. The chief turned the impostor into a dog, and they stoned it to death. Ćáḣpi then married the youngest daughter.13
"The Man of Wood" also appears in the Hočąk myth, "The Dipper," and probably represents Deneb atop the Milky Way. The second Dakota version is the most divergent of the set.
White Plume is the son of Dead Shot, a great archer, and Pretty Dove. He is able to speak at birth. When he grows older, his father gives him special painted arrows, and with the red one, he shoots down an amazing bird of variegated color and having a white tuft of feathers on its head. The bird is put on a pole, and during a feast, as it faces the setting sun, a cloud forms over the sun like in appearance to the bird itself. This presages the greatness of the young man and he is named "White Plume" then and there. A village some ways off asks for aid against three witches who have assumed the form of animals. When he goes to their aid, he is tricked by Unktomi into climbing a tree, where Unktomi causes him to become stuck. Unktomi takes his clothing and weapons, and presents himself at the village as White Plume. They immediately give him the elder of the two daughters of the chief as his wife. However, he is unable to achieve the archery skills of the real White Plume and fails to kill any of the animal-witches. The younger daughter discovers the real White Plume while she is out looking for wood. She frees him from the tree, and they return to the village, where Unktomi surrenders his clothing and weapons. However, the clothing is wrinkled and the bow and arrows are twisted out of shape, but White Feathers passes his hand over them, and they are restored. He was then able to kill the three witches. Unktomi was punished and fled.14
As we have seen above, the Ioway-Osage version also shows some innovations, but is essentially the same story of mistaken identity. All the versions agree on a basic story in which a great archer named "White Plume" or "White Feathers" is tricked by someone, who turns him into a dog, while the stranger assumes his identity as White Plume. The two of them meet two princesses who expect to marry White Plume. The eldest falls for the imposter, while the youngest is skeptical, and takes good care of the dog. However, the imposter cannot live up to the reputation of White Plume, and even the dog excels him in hunting prowess. People become suspicious. With the aid of the younger daughter, the dog is restored to his true form. The imposter is exposed, and he flees or is killed. White Plume then marries the youngest daughter.
We are able to glean a bit more information out of the Hočąk tradition since we have two different stories (1, 2) about White Feathers. Like Bluehorn, Wears White Feather is a Waterspirit, and we were told previously that he is chief of the white "cranes" (egrets). In addition to white feathers, he wears a living loon on his head. We learn from the Įčorúšika story that Loon was once high placed among the Waterspirits, but abandoned them to live above ground. The loon is a diving bird, but also capable of flight. The squirrel is a mammal that is similar in traversing the worlds, this time moving from the above to the ground and back. This suggests that Wears White Feather is, like the Waterspirit Bluehorn, a stellar being as well, and one that dips below the horizon for a time. The loon has a loud clarion voice, and using sound for light, it suggests that the "headdress" of White Feathers is a bright light, one that is as white as the feathers that he wears next to the loon. When he loses his voice, he also loses his headdress, a description of a star that passes under the horizon. Who is it that enslaves him? His enemy is a shape-changer par excellance, and in the end turns into an owl and flies away. This second being, behind whom the first trails, is there for a time, but in the end flies away as an owl, a frequent symbol for the other night-flyers, the stars.15* He can be young or old, male or female, beautiful or ugly. He is an enemy of Waterspirits. White Feathers, on the other hand, is said by him to be a dog. This alone is a very strong indication that White Plume is the bright star Sirius, known the world over as a "dog star." The view of Sirius as a dog is best known from the Old World, where the Greeks called Sirius the "dog of Orion,"16*,"Sirius Dog" (Σείριος Κὑων | Seírios Kúōn),17 or simply "dog,"18 and placed him in the stars as the hunting dog of Orion.19 (The oft cited लुब्धक | Lubdhaka, the Sanskrit name for Sirius, as "Hunter" and "Dog," proves to be incorrect.20*) Farther afield, the Chinese call Sirius T'ien-lang, the "Celestial Jackal."21 In the Western Hemisphere, the Seri see Sirius as a dog that chases after the Cingulum of Orion, which is in the form of three mountain sheep.22 The Blackfeet refer to Sirius as "dog-face,"23 and the Dog Star, Sirius, is the patron of the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.24 The Eskimo of the Bering Strait area in Alaska called Sirius, I?alum kimukhti, "the Moon's Dog."25 However, Sirius is not always identified with that kind of canine. The Inuit of the western Arctic call Sirius the "Fox Star."26* The Pawnee refer to Sirius as "the Wolf Star."27 Among the Osage, who have a reasonably close relationship to the Hočągara, Sirius is also viewed as a dog star. They call Sirius, Shóⁿge Agak’egoⁿ, the "Dog as though Suspended in the Sky," as it says in this prayer:
Verily, the Chief Messenger
The side of the heavens,
Where lay Shóⁿge, the dog (Sirius) as though suspended in the sky,
And returned with him to the people.
They spake to him, saying: O grandfather,
The little ones have nothing of which to make their symbols.28
The Cherokee have two dog stars, Sirius and Antares, who guard the two entrances to the Milky Way.29 Being the guard to the entrance of the Milky Way may be an alternative explanation for why Sirius is so often identified with a dog.30 We find the dual guard dogs of the path of the dead in Indo-European antiquity, perhaps extending across the Mediterranean area generally. It has been argued that one dog guarded the entrance for the dead, and the other guarded the entrance for those souls coming to life, a pattern matching the role of the hole in the sky in Orion where souls go back and forth.31* With its proximity to both the Milky Way and Orion, Sirius-as-dog is a logical candidate for such an office. None of these attributes consistently apply to the erratic and devious Morning Star. And although Sirius is rather tricky in its many changes of color,32* there can be little doubt that White Plume, who was turned into a dog, is in fact the bright white Dog Star, Sirius.
Nevertheless, it would be very tempting to identify White Plume with Morning Star. The two often appear together when there is a heliacal rising of Sirius in late July and for some time thereafter. The Pawnee say that the wolves howl at the Morning Star because its rising indicates the approach of dawn. However, when Sirius rises with the sun when Morning Star is no longer in the sky, they say that the wolves become confused and howl at this star thinking that it is the Morning Star, the true herald of the dawn. This case of mistaken identity has led them to call Sirius, Tskirixki Tiuhats ("Wolf He is Deceived").33* However, the situation is symmetrical. Sirius is constant — it always has its heliacal rising at the same place and time of the year (setting aside the precession of the equinoxes). The confusion of the two stars of the morning has led to the widespread Siouan myth of the imposter and his dog. Despite their similarity, they can be told apart. The Old Man, who makes Sirius assume his aged form and turns him into a dog, is said to be the last of the Giants. There is, indeed, a connection between Morning Star and Giants, as we see in the title "The Giant, or The Morning Star."34 The Morning Star has a complex eight year cycle in which it is often not present in the sky. Of the two, it has the most erratic presentation, the trickiest to predict in a pre-scientific society. To the pre-modern mind, Morning Star seems capricious and without rules of conduct, rising arrogantly before the sun, if it chooses to rise at all. Morning Star is a shape changer, sometimes very bright when, as we now know, the star is closer to earth; and significantly dimmer when it is distant. He is only in the sky for 263 days at a stretch, so this means that he is with Sirius only part of the time, then as a wandering star, a planet, he "flies off" as Sirius and his associated stars run after him. It's no wonder that the Hebrews identified it with the rebellious angel Lucifer. Morning Star's less than stellar character has made him a paragon of war gods, expressing in his transgressions the very spirit of war. It can therefore be argued that its rising just before Sirius tricks some into thinking that it just is Sirius. Nevertheless, apparently the world over, Sirius is the Dog Star. In every myth about Wears White Feather and his cognates, the hero is transformed into a dog. This leaves no doubt that Wears White Feather is Sirius, and that it is Morning Star that plays the role of imposter and trickster. In the Hočąk version, Wears White Feather, Sirius, is explicitly said to be a Waterspirit and chief of the white cranes. Therefore, he is the automatic enemy of Morning Star in that tradition, since Morning Star is allied to the Thunders who intermarry with the Nightspirits. The cranes are in turn the mortal enemies of the Nightspirits. This leaves Redhorn, whose Heroka are friends of Morning Star, somewhat at odds with White Feathers, despite the fact that they are both good hunters. White Feathers' grandfather (called "Flint" elsewhere) is the assassin of Redhorn in other stories. So Wears White Feather is probably an enemy of Redhorn, and this alone is incompatible with his being identified with Morning Star, the friend of the Heroka.
§8. The Redhorn Panel as a Star Map. Much of what has been said about the identity of Redhorn, under all his names, and Wears White Feather (White Plume), is in the end capable of being dismissed as idle speculation. However, by good fortune, a means of proving these identities has presented itself. I recently became acquainted with the work of Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez on the famous cave paintings at Lascaux and cave art of a like age elsewhere in France.1* The success of her work demands that the same steps be taken here in the New World to see if Native America used similar practices in their pictography. Picture Cave presents itself as the most obvious starting point, since from the beginning its subject matter was understood in astronomical terms. Since we possess a photograph of the Redhorn Panel from Picture Cave, it is not too difficult a matter to superimpose upon that image the image of the relevant part of the night sky and see whether the band of stars running from Sirius through the Pleiades align with the subjects of the pictographs. This was done with astronomy software (Starry Night Software, www.starrynight.com) uniformly adjusting its size and angle so that it would fit onto the panel. Both the upper and lower star panels are of the same scale and angle.
|The Redhorn Panel at Picture Cave with Stellar Superimposition|
|Starry Night Software, www.starrynight.com|
The result was a striking degree of correspondence, some of which had been predicted by mythological analysis. This reveals what is, to my knowledge, the first star map found in a cave painting in the New World. A less thorough but clearer map is given in the following link.
The band of relevant stars runs from Sirius to the Pleiades in length, and from its highest declination at τ Tauri to its lowest at Rigel in Orion. The width of the sky containing relevant stars runs from Sirius at 6h 45.74m (6h 3.9m in a. D. 1064) to the end of the Pleiades (Maia) at 3h 45.8m (2h 51.4m in 1064), a span of 3h (3h 12.5m in 1064). The height of the stellar swath running from Rigel at the bottom at a declination of -8° 12.1' (-9 ° 43.4' in 1064), to τ Tauri at a declination of 22° 27.6' (20° 38.7' in 1064), is a span of 30° 39.7' (30° 22.1' in 1064). Since the panel also functions as a depiction of the rite of the Society of the Heroka, the star map is subordinated to the demands of showing the sacrificial deer and its divinely sent replacement (the fawn at the far right). As a result of this, as well as spatial constraints, the star map is disjointed into two sub-panels. The two sub-panels are cut around the position of 27 Orionis, Right Ascension (J2000) of 5h 24m (4h 37m, in 1064). The space between significant stars on the right of the upper panel, Mintaka at 5h 32.0m (4h 44.5m in 1064), and the left of the lower panel, 22 Orionis at 5h 21.7m (4h 34.3m in 1064), is an interval of only 10.3 minutes. The stars of both sub-panels were taken from a single representation of the sky for 2316 hours on January 29, 1065 a. D. The angle of the star panels was set by making the Pleiades ("Deer Head") coincide with the deer's head in such a way that the star HIP 17954 fit exactly in the eye; and so that 14 Orionis fit exactly in the eye of the inverted buck. The result was that Bellatrix and 32 Orionis fit on the distal tips of the two horns exactly. In the upper panel, the least amount of distortion using the same angle as the lower panel was obtained by centering the star Betelgeuse on the eye of the maskette. This left Alnilam and Sirius just slightly off, yet still within the orbit of the large dots. The distance measurement from Betelgeuse to Alnilam is just a little long, and the angle is just a little too far left. The dots representing Sirius (and perhaps Mirzam) are slightly too far up and to the right (although the alignment and distance between Sirius and Mirzam are represented with perfect accuracy). Why are Alnilam, Sirius (and Mirzam ?) not perfectly accurate? In truth, what is surprising is the degree of accuracy, not inaccuracy. Measurements were presumably made by marking a stick, perhaps (appropriately) an arrow. They may have been made by more than one person, and it can be little doubted that all these measurements took some time to complete. All the while the stars continued in their circular procession across the night sky. Consequently, these early astronomers were dealing with a moving target. The longer it took to measure the stars, the more that they shifted with respect to their angle to the horizon. Yet it can be seen at a glance that despite all the difficulties, they did an impressive job of transferring the measure and even the soul of these many stars to the stone wall of a dim cave.
The Upper Panel. We immediately discover that the two ocular symbols, one on the side of White Plume's head, and the other on the center of Redhorn's chest, are stellar identity markers. The star Sirius falls just slightly off center of the dot in White Plume's ocular symbol; the star Alnilam, which was argued here to be identical with Redhorn, falls just at the top portion of the dot in the center of his ocular symbol. Since the mythological analyses in this case came first (in the year 2006),2* these stellar correlations act as a striking confirmation of the identities proposed then. The usual situation is that an archeological artifact is first discovered, and its mythological relevance is later inferred with no way of proving the results. The discovery of the star map serves to confirm the original speculation of archaeologist of this site, Carol Diaz-Granados, that its central figure was Redhorn, as well as most of what I had suggested in 2006. On the other hand, it disconfirms the idea that the figure with the aigrette is Redhorn raising himself as Morning Star, as the position of Morning Star does not coincide with Sirius. What was surprising and unexpected was the discovery that Betelgeuse fit exactly into the pupil of the eye on Redhorn's prosopic earpiece. Another correlation is of Rigel touching the tip of the thick short line running up from the crouch, and perhaps representing the penis. The color sequence of these stars, interestingly, is red (Betelgeuse), bluish-white (Alnilam), and blue (Rigel).
|The Ocular Star Symbol on Redhorn’s Chest|
The ocular marks are to the star map as the circular dots used to indicate cities are to our mundane geographical maps. The dots are digital with respect to most of the attributes of what they denote. However, the position of the dots is (meant to be) analogue. The ocular mark on the White Plume figure is located on his cheek, which seems appropriate since the head has a special identity relationship with the individual. On the other hand, the ocular mark on Redhorn is centered on his chest. This brings to mind an interesting detail from the Ioway version of the Redhorn Cycle:
|Human-head-earrings had a son who was exactly like him in appearance except that instead of having tiny human heads in his ears, one grew out of the middle of his chest.3|
In the stellar code (q.v.), the miniature heads represent the two flanking stars of Alnilam, so a single head in Redhorn's generational twin probably indicates Alnilam alone, just as we see it in the present star map. The inset shows the detail of the ocular mark on Redhorn's chest whose center dot identifies the position of his star, Alnilam. The outermost of the surrounding stars fit very nicely on to the outline of this ocular mark. The outline of this slightly elliptical figure is perfectly framed by a set of 6 stars, clockwise bottom left to right: σ Orionis (magnitude 3.75), Alnitak (mag. 1.71), HIP 26736 (mag. 4.93), HIP 25976 (mag. 6.12), Mintaka (mag. 2.25), and 311 Orionis (mag. 3.68). It certainly appears that an effort was made to scale the ocular mark to coincide with the parenthetical outline formed by these stars. Although the symbol is ocular in form, including a pupil-like dot to indicate the specific star to which it refers, it is decidedly distinguished in form from the drawing of the human eye, which in the case of both White Plume and Redhorn is made in an exaggerated ellipse with a somewhat smaller dot for its iris and pupil. The notable exception is the eye of the maskette, which being artificial and stylized, is perfectly round with a small dot as both pupil and stellar marker. The eyes of both deer in the lower panel are mere small, period-like dots, but periods that coincide perfectly with the stars that they represent.
|A Photograph of the Tine of a Mule Deer Superimposed over the Nose of the Prosopic Earpiece|
One of the most striking and unexpected stellar correlations is Betelgeuse with the pupil of the prosopic earpiece's eye. Unlike the living faces on the earlobes of the Hočąk Redhorn, this face is not alive, it's just an ear ornament like the many that were manufactured within the Mississippian culture. The characteristic notch at the top is itself marked by the star μ Orionis. These maskettes are all very similar, but vary markedly in the treatment of the nose. There are many with short noses, and many others with extraordinarily long noses, some straight, others curved or even wavy. The one in our picture is unusually long, and has an upward curve. Is it meant to be phallic? This would be plausible given the popular homology between the nose and the phallus, especially in cultures that view the brain and semen both as a variety of marrow (μυελός). However, it would seem that this is not the case, since it tapers down to a point. It is really more a horn. A tine on a deer or elk antler could be found of the same proportion and shape, as is shown in the inset. In one Hočąk myth, "The Brown Squirrel," the arrow is referred to as the he pųjoke šujera (Ae. lo tto Ke. doAo tts.), "the red protruding horn," or "red horn" for short. The word for "protruding" is probably akin to the stem pųč, "nose, snout." The almost formulaic expression he pųjoke šujera for "red horn = arrow" shows at least a remote connection between the nose and a horn. The horn of an arrow is, of course, its point, which occurs at the "nose" of the arrow. On rare occasions an arrow point is fashioned out of horn, making the nose of the arrow literally a horn.4 That Redhorn's aural alter ego, perhaps representing his soul, should have a horn for its nose is hardly out of keeping with his nature as the spirit of the arrow. So our pictograph presents Betelgeuse as the eye of Redhorn's masquette, a brilliant red star, the tenth brightest in the sky. Is such a conjunction of red and horn a de facto ideogram, red + horn? If so, it suggests that the name "Redhorn" has been extant for at least a millennium.
In the picture of the figure with the aigrette, some trouble was taken not only to draw the egret display feather, but to paint it an unmistakable white. It is to be understood as a white feather, and as such evokes the names "White Feather" and "White Plume," variant names for a spirit strongly associated with the kind of bird whose feather he wears. When the stars are superimposed over the panel, the star Sirius lands within the "eye" of the ocular star-symbol, just missing the black "pupil" in its center, although not by much. There are no other stars that fall within this marker other than Sirius, including stars just beyond the range of visibility. Consequently, the slight inaccuracy of measurement does not lead to the emergence of a competing referent for the star symbol. This includes Venus as the Morning Star. While the planet passes between the Pleiades and the Hyades on some occasions, and on others passes in and out of the Hyades, it never comes close to Sirius (see the illustrations in "Wears White Feather"). The unique placement of Sirius within the star marker therefore proves that the figure with the aigrette is to be identified with this star. Perhaps it is not particularly surprising that the figure that wears a white plume corresponds to Wears White Feather on His Head. Despite the age of this panel, we would almost have to think that even then he was called "White Plume" or some other synonymous name, since his chief identifying feature pictorially is his conspicuous white egret feather. These considerations suggest that the mythological identity of Sirius, and perhaps even his name, has remained stable for the entire millennium.
It appears that Įčorúšika is pulling White Plume up from the horizon in conformity with the sequence in which their respective stars rise. An important point to note is the fact that although the panel is laid out horizontally, it depicts stars that are seen vertically. Although the stars are mapped out with impressive accuracy with respect to their relative positions, the angle at which the composition inclines does not occur in nature. As these stars set in the west, they lie almost horizontal on the horizon. However, they never quite level out, and sink below the earth at a slight downward angle. The panel, however, is at a slight upward angle. This is because it was translated from its vertical orientation in the east to a horizontal layout suitable to the cave wall and to the mythology it was intended to express. When these stars rise, they begin with the Pleiades, followed by the Hyades, after which Orion rises, with Sirius bringing up the rear. The last phase is made obvious by the depiction of the last two spirits. Redhorn/Herokaga has his feet in view and is understood to be standing; on the other hand, White Plume is cut off at the waist, with at least half of him being below the surface. Redhorn appears, with his hand on White Plume's head, to be in the process of pulling him up, a fair metaphorical description based on the sequence of their rising. Another interesting reason that helps confirm these conclusions is the odd pinstripe pattern drawn on both figures. Elsewhere, in the past, this pinstripe pattern has been thought to symbolize light shining on a surface.5 This light, in the context of the rising of stars, can only be the sun. What is expressed here, therefore, is the rising of this star group with the sun. It could not be the horizontal setting of the star group with the sun, because in the west, the sun is to the right of the stars. In our depiction, the star spirits are made to look to our left. This is where the sun is found when they rise with it in the east in late July. Therefore, the Redhorn Panel depicts Herokaga pulling up the dog star Sirius in late July and early August, with both figures set out in perfect proportion to their stellar pattern in the night sky. This occurrence is placed in the ritual context of the rite of the Society of the Heroka, no doubt held in this very cave, for the purpose of engendering hunting blessings in the deer hunt.
|The Shape of the Pictorial Figure Compared to the Power Stroke of the Wings of a Dark-Eyed Junco|
A strange pattern, an almond-shaped figure with two unclosed curves extending out from each corner, is seen in the area above the lower panel. The overall impression is that of a bird seen head on engaged in the lowest downward sweep of its power stroke. The oval usually indicates a star, but this one seems to lack the usual circular dot, although the rock surface may have interfered with its pictorial execution. It turns out that if we extend the upper panel out to this figure we get an interesting result. The oval is roughly defined by two very faint stars, both of magnitude 5.87. The one on the left is HIP19284, RA (J1028) 3h 13.29m (J2000, 4H 7.982m), Dec (J1028) 14° 14.936' (J2000, 17° 20.575'). The other star is HIP18735, RA (J1028) 3h 5.83m (J2000, 4h 0.665m), Dec (J1028) 14° 57.95' (J2000, 18° 12.074'). It transpires that at certain dates, but not regularly, the moon, just past half moon, passes over this exact spot nearly occluding both stars. Its oval gibbous form fits nicely into the space provided.
|The Extension of the Upper Panel for August 15, 1028 a. D. Showing the Position |
of the Moon (Accompanied by Saturn) Superimposed upon the Figure at the Far Right
|Starry Night Software, www.starrynight.com|
This presumed lunar marker stands very close to the ecliptic, the spot through which pass the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter, and occasionally the Morning Star. The Morning Star passes through this area only in early June, far before the time that Sirius rises in early August. The planet Saturn can be seen just behind the moon (an artifact of the astronomy program, and does not play a role in the pictogram). This does not mean that this culture had a concept of the ecliptic, but only that they observed that the moon and certain odd stars occasionally traveled through this gap. The moon, in nightly quantum leaps, jumps this gap between the Hyades and Pleiades, being sometimes closer to the one, and at other times closer to the other. Therefore, only a few moons will fit in this particular position. This may help to date the composition, if indeed, the figure in question has been properly identified as a moon-marker. The date of this match, which is the best match, is August 15, 1028 at sunrise. Other matches are possible, for which see:
The other strong matches are Sept. 16, 957, Sept. 6, 958, Sept. 9, 974, Sept. 8, 1012, and July 19, 1047. It may also be observed that the extended arm of Redhorn, perhaps coincidentally, points to this region. The bow, held in his extended arm, is universally connected to the moon, since as in this case, the crescent moon resembles it. Įčorúšika and his brothers are also married to moons (see its Commentary). Furthermore, the Little Children Spirits, as we learn in "The Chief of the Heroka," are berdaches, and berdaches are always (among humans) blessed by Moon. One of the sons of Redhorn (who has some identity with his own father) is chief over these spirits.
The Lower Panel. On the second panel, the two antlers end exactly where the two brightest stars in the area fall. These stars are, left to right, 32 Orionis (magnitude 4.18), and Bellatrix (mag. 1.62). A straight line (such as might be made by an arrow shaft) that runs from Bellatrix through σ2 Tauri (mag. 4.65), then Aldebaran (mag. 0.84), reaches a star just visible above the Pleiades, HIP 17954 (mag. 5.21). This last star falls exactly on the eye of the second fawn deer. The Pleiades themselves form the contour of its lower jaw. This comports well with the usual Central Siouan name for the Pleiades, *Ta-pa, "Deer-head." The star 14 Orionis (mag. 5.31) coincides exactly with the eye of the large buck. About a dozen stars fall on the outline of the tines that define the bottom curve of the inverted antlers. The arrow lodged in the chest of the buck falls exactly along the line of the two stars 97 Tauri (mag. 5.06) at the proximal end, and τ Tauri (mag. 4.25) at the distal end. While the fawn deer clearly exemplifies the old asterism of the Deer Head, the buck represents an unattested asterism. It's never surprising to find the Hyades associated with a horned animal such as a deer, but it is surprising to find the "V" of the Hyades not defining antlers.
The Position of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and τ Tauri, Sunrise, May 19, a. D. 951
|Starry Night Software, www.starrynight.com|
A clue to the provenance of this speckled and inverted deer lies in the mythology of the Pawnee, a people well known for being obsessed with astronomy. This brilliant, miniature allegory seems to match our spotted deer perfectly.
As Paruksti stood upon the shore, he struck the water with a warclub and seven deer came forth. With his bow and red arrow the man shot the fifth deer, which was speckled. This deer was the sun and carried the night upon its back. Thus day and night originated.6*
The horn on Redhorn's head, we concluded on purely mythological grounds, was the light of the sun. The five arrows in the deer horn mark it as the controller of the five directions, which is to say, Redhorn. The central arrow of the five is marked with an exaggerated nock. This is also the arrow of the sun representing the center. It was with a red arrow (red horn) that the 5th deer was shot. The sun, expressed as the horn, as the source point for the five cardinal points (the four directions plus the center), is the embodiment of arrows, and in particular the five arrows of directionality. All the arrows of direction converge upon the sun since it is used to define the directions themselves. In the Pawnee myth, the sun is a deer, playing again the role of fire-kindling centrality. This unity of deer and five arrows is symbolized in the headdress of the Picture Cave Redhorn, which has five arrows embedded in a gently curving deer horn. The horn's three tines, like the three feathers of his occipital headdress, represent the three Cingulum stars of Orion. He has but one horn, suggesting the antiquity of the name "Only One Horn." It expresses the ownership of the solar "horn" by the spirit of the arrow, Redhorn/Herokaga. It is with this solar horn of the five arrows, the five directions, that Alnilam-Hežąkiga is able to set the waters aflame with light. In the Pawnee myth, the arrow ("horn") is red. The inverted deer is right in front of Orion who in the logic of allegory is its pursuer, the one who would shoot it with the red arrow. The unusual upside-down deer of Panel 2 seems to fit the description of the deer in the Paruksti myth. It is speckled, as was expected of a symbol of the night sky. Adult speckled deer, of course, do not occur in North America, so it is not a representation of a deer taken from experience. The deer is inverted because it is dead. The arrow that killed him, oddly, is embedded from below when the deer was upright, an impossible shot for a hunter under normal circumstances. However, this is the shot that Paruksti's man made into the sky above him in primordial times. In this deer asterism, the arrow is defined by τ Tauri at its distal end, and 97 Tauri at its proximal end. When τ Tauri rises with the sun, its declination is 20° 17.522'; the sun's declination is 14° 20.705', so the ecliptic passes right underneath it. Seven celestial bodies pass between the gap between τ and 97 Tauri: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Moon, Sun, the matutinal Mercury, and Morning Star. These are the seven deer of the myth, the deer being chosen to represent celestial bodies that are, unlike stars, not fixed to the celestial vault with respect to their motion. In the star map, the highest point on the inverted deer asterism is τ Tauri, so when τ Tauri rises with the sun, the whole constellation is initiating its heliacal rise. At just this time, Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) swoops down to its lowest point in relation to the horizon. This is represented in the myth as Paruksti's club hitting the water. The water is that of the Ocean Sea that surrounds the rim of the world ("Turtle Island"). Apparently, the inverted deer asterism itself, not mentioned in attested mythology, was thought by the pictographers to have been placed in the sky by the spirits (Paruksti ?) to commemorate the shooting of this first sun. This shooting took place while Alnilam/Redhorn was on earth. For the pictographers, it may have been he who fired the shot, inasmuch as he owns the red arrow (horn). The role of Sirius may be clarified by the version of this story found among the relatives of the Pawnee, the Wichita. A man is created and instructed to shoot the third deer he sees. The first deer is white like the moon, the second was as black as the night, but the third deer, the one he was instructed to shoot, was both black and white. This he shot and wounded. As he chased after them, the three deer became stars, and he himself became Star-that-is-always-moving. It is reasonably clear that the three deer stars are the Belt of Orion, and the star chasing after them is Sirius. So it seems most likely that Sirius is the one who shot the speckled or blank and white deer that symbolizes the day and night. For the Wichita, Orion is the deer, but in Central Siouan, Orion is the weapon of Sirius, so the deer is made into another asterism. For the Hočągara in particular, Orion is the arrow by virtue of being the chief spirit of this weapon. In the context of the rite, it is Sirius who is the man who shot the speckled deer, and it is he, therefore, who is making the offering for the sake of future fecundity. It is his sacrifice, through the power of the Heroka, that makes day and night, the essence of time, possible. It is through time that all is created. This speckled deer asterism, along with the myth that goes with it, seems no longer extant among the Siouan tribes; but a great deal of time has passed since the pictography was executed, and when the Central Siouans were a single tribe, they were likely more under the influence of the nearby Caddoans, whom many believe to have been participants in the Mississippian culture. The Central Siouan constellation of *Ta-pa, on the other hand, does still exist, and is clearly represented in the picture.
The role of the fawn in the stellar code of this picture is minimal. It is only its head, *Ta-pa, that marks the position of an asterism. This strongly suggests that there was no fawn asterism, but only the familiar Deer Head of the Central Siouans. The fawn functions in the code of the Heroka Rite, where it represents the fruit of the ritual. These facts also suggest that the name and astral identity of *Ta-pa existed as early as the Xᵀᴴ century, or perhaps the XIᵀᴴ century, about the time that the Springer and Witkowski model suggests that the Dhegiha began to split from the Chiwere-Winnebago branch of Central Siouan. The name *Ta-pa itself should be Central Siouan, and therefore date to a time prior to the VIIIᵀᴴ century. The stellar code of the pictogram is therefore quite consistent with the linguistics, both as to sense and time. The bow and arrow set upright above the fawn also have no stellar value, but represent elements in the rite and therefore function only in the ritual code of the pictogram. The inverted deer functions in both codes. The fact that it is spotted shows that it represents the whole of the night sky, yet at the same time, it is commemorated in a particular asterism. It may be an "artificial" asterism, in the sense that it was created to satisfy the need for a stellar deer. It fits quite well the curvilinear horns of the white deer, but is awkward in having no pictorial role for the bright Hyades, which are themselves typically homologized to horns. In a myth apparently borrowed from the early Pawnee, the deer carried the night sky on its back. Since it was shot in primordial times by a man under the patronage of a Thunder being, in Central Siouan terms, the logical candidate for this man would be Redhorn. In the rite of the Heroka, each participant supplies a deer, so in the primordial charter of this rite, it would make sense that the spirit of the arrow, the Chief of the Heroka and leader of the rite, would down the solar deer and create from it the night sky. As a deity of the directions, and as the center through which souls transmigrate to and from earth, it is his red arrow that unites with the fifth deer, the sun, symbolizing both centrality and the arrow-hole through which souls (= arrows) travel to the Otherworld.
§9. The Making of the Star Map. The first question that comes to mind is, How was this star map made? As can be seen, there were a great many stars whose relative positions were plotted. The chief problem was how to measure the positions of stars with only those instruments afforded by Stone Age technology. It is easy enough to imagine using one or more sticks to mark the intervals between stars. Sticks, as we know, were used as calendrical devices on which records of days and moons were incised. A notable example is the calendar stick of Čiząhaka [inset].1 So sticks for measuring time associated with astronomical bodies are attested, but we have no record of sticks being used to measure space. Nevertheless, it is difficult to see what else could have been used. In an experiment, I attempted to use a plastic ruler and a felt-tipped pen to mark the position of the Belt Stars of Orion. It became evident that the first variable that needs to be controlled is the distance of the stick from the eye. The closer it is to the eye, the wider the stars will be marked on it. Therefore, in making multiple measurements, great care has to be taken to fix the distance of the stick from the eye. When holding the stick up to sight the stellar targets, the same problem is encountered as when sighting with a rifle: there is an inevitable unsteadiness of the hand that makes it hard to mark the target accurately. However, there are many ways to counteract this, so the problem is not insurmountable. In fig. 6.6 (p. 208) of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri, Diaz-Granados and Duncan have a drawing of most of the Redhorn Panel with a scale attached. On that scale, a distance measured in the drawing as 3.3 cm equals 10 cm on the actual panel. The distance between the dots representing Sirius and Alnilam was 2.5 cm, which means that these dots are actually separated by 7.58 cm in the cave. These dots on the color photo are separated by 4.2 cm. So on the photo, measurements must be multiplied by a factor of 1.79 to derive their actual distances in the cave painting. Using the superimposed stars, the distance between Sirius and Mintaka is 4.6 cm. In the cave, this would be a distance of 8.2 cm. Holding a ruler 4 cm from my nose, I marked off on it the perceived distance between Sirius and Mintaka, arriving at the figure 8.15 ± .1 cm.2* This shows that the scale of the map on the cave wall is the same as that of the original measuring rod. So there are no arithmetical transformations involved in transferring the data from the measuring stick to the wall.
In the present case, the really difficult problem is that the stars measured were aligned vertically (the way that they rise), but in the cave, they were transposed onto a horizontal plane. A more immediate problem is how to transfer an angular measurement without changing the tilt of the stick. There is a common piece of technology relevant to this problem that was universally used by the Indian nations: the tanning frame. This is a wooden frame onto which a hide is stretched to be scraped and tanned. It's of interest because it is a stable vertical platform.
|Setting Up the Vertical Frame||Scraping the Hide|
|Missouri Department of Conservation|
A hide stretched out on a frame would not only be vertical, but would serve well as something upon which to write. As is well known, hide was commonly used in recent times to keep pictographic records of historical events ("winter counts"; see also under "Kiowa"). So the idea of recording something on hide is quite natural. If such a frame and hide were set up right at the site where measurements were being done, the angle of the stick on which star positions were marked could be held at that angle long enough to position it on the surface of the nearby vertical hide, where the data could be transferred with ease. In the present case, the stars would be mapped onto the hide with Sirius at the bottom and the Pleiades at the top. Once the measurements were thus recorded, the hide map would simply be rotated clockwise so that the stellar positions could be transferred from left to right. This is not to suggest that this process was easy, and in fact some small error had crept in for the measurement of Sirius and Alnilam, but despite all difficulties, it was on the whole accomplished with remarkable precision.
§10. Who Made the Star Map? It is not too hard to frame an idea of how the star map was produced, but it is somewhat harder to try to deduce exactly who made it. By simply analyzing the extant mythology, we were able to correctly predict much of what the Redhorn Panel was about. A figure known as "White Plume" (or some other name reasonably synonymous) found in the mythology of the Central Siouan tribes of the Dakota, Lakota, Hočągara, Ioway, and Osage, was linked to Sirius. The primary figure was identified with Wears (Man) Faces on His Ears (Įčorúšika), a spirit found in stories of both the Hočągara and the Ioway, but apparently nowhere else. Among the Hočągara he is also known as Hešučka (Redhorn), Wąkšučka (Redman), Hežąkiga (Only One Horn), and Herokaga (Without Horns). The layout of the whole composition, including non-stellar elements, strongly suggests the rite of the Society of Those Blessed by the Heroka, which is known only among the Hočągara. The association of Redhorn with bows and arrows, deer hunting, faces on his ears, and esoterically, with directionality and the star Alnilam of Orion, are all attested among the Hočągara. However, we also find that the fawn depicted in the panel can be tied to the Dhegiha Siouan constellation Ta-pa (Deer Head), which was also known in a slightly different form by the Oglala Lakota. The Hočągara, on the other hand, call it "Deer Rump." Outside Siouan altogether is the inverted speckled deer which has been shot dead from underneath, presumably by an arrow. This fits perfectly a myth found among the nearby Pawnee. The Pawnee are neighbors to several Central Siouan tribes, but are themselves Caddoan, and their language has no relationship whatever to Siouan. The Pawnee are fairly well documented, but almost none of the Siouan mythological material associated with the Redhorn Panel is found among them, or among the Caddo and Wichita for that matter. It seems rather more likely that a branch of the Central Siouan people in the Xᵀᴴ or XIᵀᴴ centuries created the Redhorn Panel, having borrowed the myth of the spotted deer from their neighbors, the ancestors of the Pawnee.
An examination of the map of the distribution of the American Indian tribes suggests a temporal pattern. At one time the Pawnee and Caddo formed a single language group, and once must also have had a contiguous territory. The Dhegiha Sioux tribes appeared to have wedged themselves between the Pawnee and the other Caddoan tribes. The Chiwere Sioux in their turn, appear to have wedged themselves between the Omaha-Ponca and the rest of the Dhegiha tribes. The Algonquian Illini tribe, the bitterest enemies of the Hočągara, seemed to have wedged themselves between the Hočągara and their nearest kin, the Chiwere, and to have occupied the territory in which Picture Cave is found. However, this last invasion probably occurred ca. 1650, and cannot be used to explain the great distance of separation between the Hočągara and the Chiwere Sioux.1* Not long after the Redhorn Panel was created, around 1000 a. D., the Dhegiha Sioux began to split from the Winnebago-Chiwere branch, and to move west at the expense of the Caddoans. This left the Winnebago-Chiwere on the Mississippi. The strongly Hočąk character of the Redhorn Panel may owe to the fact that they are simply more conservative; or it may owe to the fact that they once occupied the Cahokia neighborhood, and at some point pushed northward.
Since Picture Cave is not very far from Cahokia, the only Native American city north of Mexico, and the Red Horn panel was executed not long before that city was founded, we must inquire into what relationship its authors bore to that metropolis. The Central Siouans and the Caddoans have been linked to Cahokia, which was situated near modern St. Louis, Missouri. Picture Cave is about 60 miles from Cahokia. Given this connection, Timothy Pauketat has raised the question as to why there are no oral histories of Cahokia among these people.
It's true: after greater Cahokia was abandoned and the vacant quarter emptied out, the great capital city of the north — with its artisans, neighborhoods, huge pyramids and plazas, cult of the rulers, and pervasive pan-eastern influence — was simply forgotten. ... And there are hidden clues to Cahokians in the Morning Star legends and bird-man artwork. But there are no actual stories of a founding city in legend or lore (contrast Chaco Canyon ...).2
There may be such a story, as well as other traditions of urban origins to the south that have recently surfaced. There is a Hočąk Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-10) tale from Joseph LaMère, the older brother of Paul Radin's chief translator.
After all the clans had originated and gathered at the Red Banks [Mogašuč], then the chief of the people built a big lodge that they might all live in it. So they did, but the clans had a fight within the lodge and even killed one another. So the lodge was abandoned and after that anyone could live in it that cared to.3
The Red Banks overlook Green Bay, an inlet of Lake Michigan. This is the Hočąk Garden of Eden where the theriomorphic founders of the clans first met and formed the nation. There are Hočąk stories, however, that say that the nation migrated either across Lake Michigan, or from someplace in the south. Therefore, although the land in which they lived was treated as their place of origin, it is clear to many that, despite this fact, they had for sometime lived elsewhere. The Great Lodge was something that they had built shortly after the Hočągara had come into existence as a people. Since it is a lodge of ancient times, it cannot be identified with the "Winnebago Fort," a stockade of relatively recent vintage in the Red Banks area that in the end proved indefensible. The Great Lodge may be just a mythological "Creation Lodge," but its abandonment from internal strife is not inherent in the logic of such foundation stories. The Great Lodge is conceivably an anachronistic image of an unimagined urban setting long since faded into the remote past.
The issue becomes complicated when we consider the Mississippian settlement later known by the Mexican name Aztalan. The ancient town is located in what is now south central Wisconsin, within the historical territory of the Hočąk nation. The archeology of this town reveals it to be a northern outpost of Cahokia. Lurie and Jung have recently assembled impressive evidence that cultural memories of Aztalan are still retained among the modern Hočągara. In 2002, a Hočąk man named Jack Monegar (b. 1941) who was raised by traditionalists, had read a newspaper article about the work of Professor Melvin Fowler on Cahokia and Aztalan. He had remembered what his maternal grandfather had told him, and repeated this in interviews with Fowler (June, 2002) at Aztalan, and later with Lurie (2005):
When I was young my grandfather mentioned a lot of stories, and a lot of them are myth and legend. But this one story concerns this here [Aztalan] and possibly Cahokia Mounds. Where we come from, he said, a long time ago, we built pyramids and he said we built palaces. He said we were good at it. And somewhere along the line we got into a squabble and the tribe kinda split into bands. And he never said where all this took place.
He then says (in the typical exaggeration of oral tradition) that the nation went all the way to the east coast, then turned back west,
and stayed at that place quite a while. Fowler's "lost city," the way he described Cahokia, it might be. Then they decided to go North where we're at now [Aztalan]. We were the first Indians here and covered the whole state at one time or another. Wherever there is a big lake where there is red earth there are Hočąk graves. Mogašuč [Red Banks] is not just one place, there's Mogašuč's all the way to Duluth. [They were friends with the Menominee from early on.] Now my grandfather could read a little, not real good, or his English wasn't real good. He mentioned we lived at that place one time, coinhabited with other tribes and were cannibals. He didn't say if they did it just at ceremonies or ate people regularly.4
The tradition is full of wild exaggerations as to time and geography, but that is to be expected of anything that is orally transmitted. However, the idea that "Red Banks" was a transferable name is not without its parallels, as we see a similar process taking place among the ancient Indo-Europeans. The old Indo-European leagues mirrored themselves after the moon, associating their land and king with the color white.
Thus far, as well as the Sugar Cane Mountain standing above the provincial capital of Xieng Māi, we have two mountains named "White" situated at the capital of a (presumed) tribal "league": Ḫarkiyas and Albano Mons. Furthermore, there are two countries bearing names of the same meaning: Albion and Argos. We may adduce an interesting addition: Ārçi, "the Whites," which is the national, territorial and linguistic name of the Tokharians of the A dialect. The word for the world as a whole in Tokharian A is ārkiçosi, "the white-world," an extension of their own territorial name. The Chinese called the king of Koutcha (the capital of the dialect B Tokharians), Po, "White"; from the title ārcune, "white," which they themselves gave their king. This may explain why Arjuna is so often a element in the names of the Indian rajahs of Karachar. Might this not at least partially account for the name of the epic personification of Indra, the Arjuna of the Mahābhārata? In this connection, vide the Tokharian A name Ārjuṃ.5
So wherever they moved, the early Indo-Europeans tended to name the territory or the mountain where sacrifices were made, "White," a title also given to their king. In just this way, if Monegar is correct, the Hočągara also tended to call any central locale where they established themselves on reddish ground, "Red Banks." Each new "Red Banks" would, of course, tend to eclipse its predecessor in the collective memory.
However, Aztalan was not forgotten. Gordon Thunder when he was six, back in the 1930's or early '40's, went with his father Frank and his grandfather Henry to Aztalan. Henry Thunder was a traditionalist and wanted to show his son and grandson something of Hočąk history. Gordon was of such an age that he can remember no details, but he does recall how his grandfather showed the sites at Aztalan and explained their significance to the history of their people. It is interesting that Gordon says that the name given to Aztalan was Te Rok, "Within Lake," the name currently used for Green Bay (on which Red Banks is situated).6 The use of this name is rather like someone today saying of a place in Mesopotamia that it was the Garden of Eden. The memory of Aztalan could only occlude and eclipse an older memory of Cahokia so that in time they came to be blended, but attributed only to the later geographical site. Radin knew of a myth which he originally dismissed as containing "too many literary touches to justify its use as an historical document," a judgment over which he later had second thoughts.7 In this story it is said that there was "a village that at one time was so long that those living at one end did not know what was transpiring at the other ..."8 This certainly sounds like it could apply to Cahokia even more than to Aztalan.
Since so much of Central Siouan mythology seems to be expressed in artifacts found in the Mississippian culture area, it is likely that they participated in that culture. As we now can see, the Redhorn Panel at Picture Cave is strongly rooted in Central Siouan mythology, and particularly in Winnebago-Chiwerean. At the same time, it shows some affinities to the Mississippian culture. Most of the mythology and rites behind the Redhorn Panel have journeyed from the XIᵀᴴ century outskirts of proto-Cahokia all the way to the modern Hočągara, largely intact. Could the contemporary Hočąk traditions of an urban past have been a relic of this same journey as well? Was the first Mogašuč Cahokia itself?
§11. Conclusions. The star map of Picture Cave is in fact unlike those of Paleolithic Europe where asterisms fall within and define the shapes of the animals with which they are associated. Only the inverted deer approaches this style of representation. The rest of the map is best described as "digital." It is very much like a road map with cities represented by conventional dots. Indeed, this is precisely what is done in the case of Sirius, Alnilam, and Betelgeuse, each one being represented by a dot. These dots are placed inside conventionalized eyes, suggesting a history in which stars were once seen as literal or metaphorical eyes. What is important, and what makes it a map, is that like a contemporary road map, the distances between any two such symbolic dots is proportional to the distance between the positions of the objects which they denote. By measuring the distance between the various symbolic dots, one could learn the almost exact proportion of the distances between the stars which they represent. There is no need for a dot to indicate the position of the moon, since the moon has an ocular shape that fits into the symbol used to denote it. The need for an ocular star-symbol for the Deer Head asterism is obviated by its depiction as a deer. The map mixes techniques of representation, but although it is strange in relation to familiar conventions, it is not too difficult to create a similar modern analogy.
Could another set of stars and asterisms have fit the Redhorn Panel? There are several reasons to think not, although investigators are invited to test the idea.
1. Back in 2006, the author had predicted (in effect) that the identity of the white plumed figure was White Plume, and that the identity of the figure who wears faces on his ears was Wears Faces on His Ears (Įčorúšika). The latter identity is universally agreed upon by archaeologists. It had been further argued that White Plume was identified with Sirius, and that Įčorúšika (Redhorn) was the star Alnilam. When the stars were measured out, Sirius fell on the ocular symbol on White Plume, and Alnilam fell on that of Redhorn. This is rather similar to a scientific prediction later verified by observation.
2. It did in fact take quite a bit of scaling and tilting to get the stars to fit according to the working hypothesis. Had this match been forced, the scale would have been disrupted. If one were to take a large constellation like Scorpio and fit one end on the ocular symbol of White Plume, and the other end on the head of the fawn, it would measure to a different scale. This is important, because the author actually went out and measured the stars holding his stick (ruler) at his own far-sighted focal length. When the arithmetic had been completed, it was discovered that the stellar scale expressed on the cave wall and that which had been obtained by holding up a ruler, were in perfect 1:1 correspondence.
3. All the scaling and tilting was designed to see if Sirius could be made to fit into the ocular symbol on the White Plume figure at the same time that Alnilam could be made to fit the corresponding symbol on the chest of Redhorn. This means, of course, that all the other stellar and lunar matches were purely incidental. That extraordinary matches could result incidental to establishing another result exemplifies the process known as the "invisible hand." Even though it is well known that certain Central Siouan tribes called the Pleiades "Deer Head," no idea had been entertained that this star cluster would coincide with the head of the fawn. Nor was it ever anticipated that Betelgeuse would fall exactly on the pupil of the maskette eye. It later became clear that the winged (?) ovaloid figure could coincide with a moon, particularly the kind of gibbous moon that occurs at the time that Sirius rises from the horizon (as depicted in the Redhorn Panel). It could not have been anticipated that so many stars would have coincided with the inverted deer, or that the eyes of both deer would coincide with particular stars.
No doubt one could find a set of stars such that two of them fit into the ocular symbols, but they would not match the mythology of the figures portrayed in the painting, nor would one find the "invisible hand" at work in such a way that other mythological or ethno-astronomical figures come to light as subjects in the painting.
Not everything on the panel has a role in the celestial map. The vertically aligned bow and arrow have no stellar correspondents. However, the general layout matches what we know of the rite of the Society of Those Blessed by the Heroka. That this rite is alluded to is accentuated by the fact that the chief figure in the painting is Herokaga himself. The event of the heliacal rising of Sirius is part of what is portrayed, as we see White Plume being drawn up from the horizon by Orion. It is at this time of the year that we have the peak of the deer hunting season. The purpose of the rite is made manifest in the inverted stag that has been shot and the fawn that scampers away at the lower right of the scene. This is almost a perfect match for the Buffalo Panel at Gottschall. Both of these depictions represent the shooting of a bull, in one case of the white deer genus, and in the other, of the buffalo (bison). It is the offerings from these killings made to the spirits of the hunt (the heroka) that lead to the descent of animal souls from heaven to be reborn as a converse sacrifice to humans. This "Hunting Cycle" is a co-extentional subject matter of the Redhorn Panel depiction. So the paintings are serving a dual purpose in depicting the heavens at a certain time of the year, and of showing the structure and outcome of the special hunting rite associated with it. So the panel is like a myth with two "codes."