Fourth Universe

by One Who Wins, Bear Clan

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

There once was a man who was born among another people, and one day he "stumbled upon the warpath" (was killed in action). Since he died honorably in battle, he was able to enter the spirit village of Earthmaker. Every now and then, the man would ask Earthmaker if he could return to mortal life, but the Creator replied, "The moment is not yet right." However, after many entreaties over a period of time, Earthmaker finally asked the man where he wanted to be reborn. He replied that he wished to be among the Hocągara, for these are a holy people and their ancestors are as numberless as the stars. When the man descended to earth, he grew in the womb of a Waraxi (Potawatomi) woman, in a village of that people. where they called him "Dawn." As a boy he always visited the Winnebago village, and when he came of age, he married a Winnebago woman and lived in her village as a member of the tribe. They renamed him "Fourth Universe." Fourth Universe fasted rigorously during his vision quest, and received not only great blessings from the Nightspirits, but also knowledge of his past lives. They revealed that he had begun as a Nightspirit who lived in the sky village of the coming sun. The Nights also gave him the prophetic vision in which he saw himself as the founder of a new Winnebago lineage. And so it came to pass that Fourth Universe became the progenitor of the Black Bear Subclan.

After a fulfilling life, Fourth Universe had a vision that Earthmaker would summon him back to his lodge. So near the summer solstice, he gathered together his kinsmen, and told them that he would soon die, and that they should not mourn for him, as he would leave behind something that would benefit them. That evening he died, and they took his body to a hill, and placed it sitting upright, facing the setting sun. When the Nightspirits had walked their course, the sun rose on high to a clear day, but suddenly the sky darkened, and a terrifying thunderstorm enwrapped the earth, so that all who suffered it feared for their lives. Over the thunder and wind could be heard the clear voice of Fourth Universe: "Fear not, I but leave this earth." As the storm died down, the sun reemerged, and where the body of Fourth Universe had been, they found a tall, white flower. In this flower resides the powerful medicine of the Bear Clan, the magical force by which they master war, and convert fear itself into their ally.1

Commentary. As a reincarnated Nightspirit, Fourth Universe had the power to create plants that possessed strong medicine. This suggests that he originated as one of the Happy Nights, since it is among them that this unusual power resides.2

Links: Nightspirits, Black Bear, Bear Spirits, Earthmaker, Ghosts, Lake Winnebago.

Stories: about flowers: The Wild Rose, White Flower; mentioning Nightspirits: The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, The Nightspirits Bless Ciwoit’éhiga, The Origins of the Sore Eye Dance, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, The Big Stone, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Ocean Duck, The Origins of the Nightspirit Starting Songs, Black Otter's Warpath, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Sun and the Big Eater; about the origins of Bear clansmen: Bear Clan Origin Myth; featuring (were-)bears as characters: The Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Red Man, Bear Offers Himself as Food, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Creation of the World (v. 5), Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Partridge's Older Brother, The Roaster, The Woman Who Loved Her Half Brother, The Shaggy Man; mentioning the Potawatomi: Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Masaxe War, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), The Annihilation of the Hocągara II, First Contact (v. 2), Little Priest's Game, Xųnųnį́ka, Introduction; mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hocąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hocągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow.

Themes: one of the Hocąk (sub)clans originated from another tribe: Snake Clan Origins, Pigeon Clan Origins, Fish Clan Origins, Bird Clan Origin Myth; a Hocąk (sub)clan was founded by a single foreign man: Bird Clan Origin Myth; a person's body turns into a plant: White Flower (white flower), The Boy who would be Immortal (tree), The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, Aracgéga's Blessings (inverse: log > human), cf. The Wild Rose, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 2); someone is blessed with a medicine: The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Great Walker's Medicine, Bow Meets Disease Giver, The Seven Maidens, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Seer, The Healing Blessing, A Weed's Blessing, A Snake Song Origin Myth, Young Man Gambles Often, The Origins of the Sore Eye Dance, The Elk's Skull, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, A Peyote Vision, The Sweetened Drink Song; ascending to heaven in a storm: The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, cf. Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, The Glory of the Morning, Red Cloud's Death; ascending to heaven with a clap of thunder: Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, cf. The Glory of the Morning.


1 Walter Funmaker, The Winnebago Black Bear Subclan: a Defended Culture (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota: December, 1986 [MnU-D 86-361]]) 51-57, 180. Informant: One Who Wins of the Winnebago Bear Clan.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 282, 286.