The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle
by Jasper Blowsnake
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
This is a brief account of a medicine bundle that was acquired long ago by members of the Hočąk Medicine Rite.
There was a village called Mogu’iča that was on the banks of the Mississippi. It was an Ioway village. There lived a man named Čašex’įga ("Wrinkled Neck"), who was very holy and was a member of the Medicine Rite. His son had married a very beautiful woman who had red hair.
Čašex’įga possessed many holy objects, objects of great power that he had collected together. Indeed, these were very much why he himself had become holy. These things could not be allowed to touch the ground, as they were holy. Therefore, he needed a wrapping to make them into a medicine bundle. As they were very holy, it could not be an ordinary cover.
One day Čašex’įga asked his son to give him his wife. The son loved his wife very much, but there was nothing that he would not do for his father, so he gave the woman to him. Čašex’įga took the woman and killed her. Before he buried her, he removed her scalp. This he used as the cover to his medicine bundle. As powerful as these holy items had been before, they were now all the more so.
It was this bundle that Čašex’įga awarded to Keramaniš’aka when the latter sought to bring the Medicine Rite to the Hočągara.1
Commentary. "medicine bundle" — in the sequel to this story, we learn that he also had another and even more powerful bundle cover made of the skin of a child.
Radin says in a note, "The woman was the daughter-in-law of the Iowa chief. She was very beautiful & had red hair. The Iowa asked for the woman & she was given to him. Where upon he [poison ?] killed her, buried her body but kept her head. [These explanations have to be bought specially by giving a feast to the one who knows them.]"2
The bracketed word "poison," which is difficult to read, is inserted above the line. The second set of brackets is Radin's own.
Links: Supernatural & Spiritual Power.
Stories: mentioning the Ioway: Ioway & Missouria Origins, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Migistéga’s Magic, Little Priest's Game, A Peyote Story, Introduction; mentioning witches or warlocks: The Witch Men's Desert, The Thunder Charm, The Wild Rose, The Seer, Turtle and the Witches, Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, The Claw Shooter, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Migistéga’s Magic, Mijistéga and the Sauks, Migistéga's Death, The Mesquaki Magician, The Tap the Head Medicine, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather, The Hills of La Crosse, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara (v. 2), Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Potato Magic, Young Rogue's Magic; pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hog's Adventures, Great Walker's Warpath; mentioning medicine bundles: Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Tap the Head Medicine, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Mesquaki Magician; about scalping: Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, The Scalping Knife of Wakąšučka, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Moiety Origin Myth, Turtle's Warparty, White Fisher, The Dog that became a Panther, Wazųka, Great Walker's Warpath, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Fox-Hočąk War; set on the Mississippi (Nį Kuse): The Two Children, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Oto Origins, Bluehorn's Nephews, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing.
Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite (The Road of Life and Death) in notebook order: The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Historical Origins of the Medicine Rite, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Creation of Man (v. 8), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), Testing the Slave, South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 1), The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), East Shakes the Messenger, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Messengers of Hare (v. 2), North Shakes His Gourd, Grandmother's Gifts, South Seizes the Messenger, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Messengers of Hare (v. 1), The Island Weight Songs, The Petition to Earthmaker, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Completion Song Origin, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, The Diving Contest, The Sweetened Drink Song, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 3), The Tap the Head Medicine, The Claw Shooter, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 4), Peace of Mind Regained, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 5), A Wife for Knowledge, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), Death Enters the World.
The sequel to this story is found in Keramaniš’aka's Blessing.
A version of this story is found in A Wife for Knowledge.
Themes: red as a symbolic color: The Journey to Spiritland (hill, willows, reeds, smoke, stones, haze), The Gottschall Head (mouth), The Chief of the Heroka (clouds, side of Forked Man), The Red Man (face, sky, body, hill), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (neck, nose, painted stone), Redhorn's Father (leggings, stone sphere, hair), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (hair, body paint, arrows), Wears White Feather on His Head (man), The Birth of the Twins (turkey bladder headdresses), The Two Boys (elk bladder headdresses), Trickster and the Mothers (sky), Rich Man, Boy, and Horse (sky), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Spirit), Bluehorn Rescues His Sister (buffalo head), Wazųka (buffalo head headdress), The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (horn), The Brown Squirrel (protruding horn), Bear Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Deer Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (stick at grave), Pigeon Clan Origins (Thunderbird lightning), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (eyes), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (scalp, woman's hair), The Race for the Chief's Daughter (hair), The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy (hair), Redhorn Contests the Giants (hair), Redhorn's Sons (hair), A Wife for Knowledge (hair), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (hair), The Hočągara Contest the Giants (hair of Giantess), A Man and His Three Dogs (wolf hair), The Red Feather (plumage), The Man who was Blessed by the Sun (body of Sun), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (body of the Warrior Clan Chief), Red Bear, Eagle Clan Origin Myth (eagle), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (Waterspirit armpits), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Waterspirits), The Roaster (body paint), The Man who Defied Disease Giver (red spot on forehead), The Wild Rose (rose), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (warclub), Įčorúšika and His Brothers (ax & packing strap), Hare Kills Flint (flint), The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head (edges of flint knives), The Nannyberry Picker (leggings), The Seduction of Redhorn's Son (cloth), Yųgiwi (blanket); someone kills his own kinsman: The Chief of the Heroka (wife), The Red Man (wife), Worúxega (wife), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (wife), Bluehorn's Nephews (mother), The Green Man (mother), Waruǧápara (mother), Partridge's Older Brother (sister), The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother (sister), The Were-Grizzly (sister), Crane and His Brothers (brothers), White Wolf (brother), The Diving Contest (brother), The Twins Get into Hot Water (grandfather), The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter (daughter), The Birth of the Twins (daughter-in-law), Snowshoe Strings (father-in-law); a person is killed so that his skin can be used to make a sacred bundle: The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons; a witch blesses someone with (things of) power: Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Paint Medicine Origin Myth.
1 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 ) 337 nt 30.
2 Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago II, #6, p. 19 verso.