The Story of the Medicine Rite

by Fred Mallory (Wigoⁿsidᴇga)


A very long time ago, according to Fred Mallory's wife, and again related to me by Fred Mallory, Wis. Rapids, Mrs. Mallory was taken in to the medicine lodge after she was 13, but now with her husband belongs to the peyote lodge, so it is all right for her to talk about it all she wants to. Fred Mallory was never taken in to the medicine lodge, as he didn't believe in it — he thought it all a fake, but related the story to me [Huron Smith].


(534) In the early days, there were two brothers Konuga [Kųnųgá] the eldest and HᴇnÃka [Heną́ga]. These names still apply to the order of birth. The third son is Hagaga [Hagága], and the fourth Nahiga [Naxíga]. The two brothers were up at Kilbourne (535) on an island in the Wisconsin river. One, Konuga, told the other he saw a spirit in the water and HᴇnÃka also saw a spirit, but Konuga saw it first so it was his spirit. It was purple in color and rose from the depths of the waters to the surface and sunk down again. A sort of quarrel developed between them as to whose spirit should be followed, but when Hagaga the third son came in with them, they both united against him. He was as wise as an owl and knew more than the other brothers, though they were his elders. The two elder brothers made up their minds to do away with Hagaga. They went into the forest together and drew an image of Hagaga on the ground painting his heart with red earth. They were fixing a spear to thrust it into the heart of the image and thus kill Hagaga by so doing, but Hagaga was up on the limb of a tree watching them and yelled at them as they were ready to strike: (536) "Hey, what [are] you going to do?" They looked up and discovered him and were scared that they were discovered and ran away without stabbing the figure.

He followed them and they ran to Trempealeau Mountain, where the spirits live. It is supposed to be hollow inside and all the powers of the medicine lodge reside therein. In the center of the mountain, is the medicine lodge laid out in cardinal points of the compass. The poles are serpents and the tie pieces are serpents, and to the medicine lodge Winnebago the serpent is sacred. The various animal deities came into the center of the lodge. They were in order — the otter, the loon, the crane, the turkey, the ox, and a whole host of others. Nowadays, (537) when they have the lodge, they make song imitations of the various animal spirits coming into the lodge.1


 
A Narrow Passage in the Dells  

Commentary. "Kilbourne" — a town now known as "Wisconsin Dells." The Wisconsin Dells, called Nįšakisųjᵋra (Nįš-haki-sųč-ra, "Where the Cliffs Strike Together"), are an interesting and picturesque set of highly stratified rock formations through which the Wisconsin River has cut a channel.

A Hočąk Depiction of a Waterspirit (Wakjexi)

"a spirit" — this is a Wakjexi, or Waterspirit. They are the Spirits who are the essence of water. They have branching horns that represent the branching tributaries of rivers; they have extremely long tails, which represent the long, narrow channels of water that make up rivers and streams. Like water, they can be life-sustaining, but also treacherous. They occasionally offer themselves up to sacrifice for a medicine man, who makes medicines and poisons from their flesh, especially from their red scent bag. Since the world itself is surrounded by the Ocean Sea, Waterspirits are intimately entwined with the four quarters of Turtle Island. In primordial times, when the earth spun from the force of Earthmaker's creative power, four Waterspirits were sent down to earth to function as Island Weights. They stabilized the earth. The circularity of the water that surrounds the earth, and the special role of Waterspirits in maintaining its stability, have given them an important role in the concept of the temporal circle of life. We know that Ghost, who represents the soul of the human being who departs to the Otherworld at death, and who is dispatched from there when someone is born, lives in water. This is still true when he animates the flesh, his twin brother Flesh, and enters into the watery body of human beings. So Waterspirits should be at the very root of the circle of time achieved by the Medicine Rite, since it is their underlying substance, itself spatially circular about the four quarters, that is the underlying substance back to which the departed ghost of the Medicine Rite members return. In the mystical rite in which the initiate is shot with a metaphorical "arrow," then revived, the instrument of death is a seashell shot from the mouth where water resides, or from the mouth of the aquatic otter.

"Konuga saw it first" — this is appropriate because the oldest is expected to die first. The Waterspirit symbolizes not only the four quarters, but the Ocean Sea that encircles the earth at its edge. The circularity of the four quarters, held down and guarded by Waterspirits, and the circularity of the water that unites them, itself an expression of the underlying spiritual nature of the Waterspirit, is an exemplar in space of what is to be achieved in the progress of the Medicine Rite. The eternal return of the circle to its starting point is the end aimed at by the rite, a union of the end of life with its beginning in a never ending circle of time. Kųnųgá will be the first to bridge that gap.

"purple" — a purple Waterspirit has to this point not been encountered in the literature. They are usually said to be white, red, or green/blue (čo). This last color, čo, actually spans the spectrum from green through blue. The colors red and čo have a special cultural significance among the Hočągara. Red symbolizes youth and čo represents old age. Red is typically worn by young people, whereas čo colored wear is the standard apparel for older people. The ritual of the Medicine Rite often depicts the stages of life as it expresses the faith that the Rite will succeed in giving its members the power of rebirth. This is the power of Hąp, "Light-and-Life," the spiritual force that re-illuminates their physical existence on earth. Thus, the Rite spans the gap between old age and youth by making this line of succession into a circle, the pattern in which the whole Rite is organized. Purple is not only hapsį́č čó, "grape blue" [Helmbrecht-Lehmann], but čorašuj, "the blue (čo-ra) [that is] red (šuj)" [Jipson]. It spans the gap in the spectral wheel between red and blue. Given the cultural connotation of these colors, it can be said in this context to span the gap between the blue of old age and the red of youth. Purple is the missing path that leads from old age back to youth through the promise of rebirth gained through the circular Hąp of the Rite.

With the Bear Clan, the colors are reversed. In the creation story, it is the Waterspirits who are said to have stabilized the earth and to have caused its rocking or spinning to have ceased. Thus, they occupy the four corners of the earth as Island Weights. As such, they are frequently mentioned in the Medicine Rite. However, the chairs set up at the cardinal points are referred to as "bears." This is because an alternate version of the story attributes the stabilizing of the earth to the four primordial Bear Spirits who also occupy edges of the four quarters. Blue Bear occupies the east, White Bear the north, Red Bear the west, and Black Bear the south. Red Bear is the gatekeeper to the Otherworld since he sits at the place where the Sun sets. So red is associated with the dying Sun. The color blue in the person of Blue Bear represents the newborn Sun that rises in the east. Whether the nocturnal Sun is transported around the rim of the Earth over the waters of the Ocean Sea, or it descends into the underworld to reach its rising point on the other side, the Sun of the night lives in the realm of the Waterspirits. This is the Hąp, the Light-and-Life, of the underworld and of the night, the time at which the Medicine Rite is held. The Sun reaches its greatest depth midway through the night, where it is in between Red Bear and Blue Bear. This is where the Fire is situated in the rite. The natural color associated with this position would be purple, in between young and old, the midpoint between death and rebirth. Those dressed in blue enter through the gates of Red Bear to be reborn as they inherit a dress of red as they travel, like the solar Hąp itself, through the realm of Blue Bear.

"owl" — attributing wisdom to an owl may seem like a Western intrusion, but this exists to some extent in Hočąk thought. Magicians with the powers of witchcraft are known to assume the form of an owl. An Ioway, a member of the Medicine Rite, once bestowed blessings of power upon Keramaniš’aka. He demanded that Keramaniš’aka stay awake all night to show his worthiness. During the night he visited him in the form of an owl to verify that he had succeeded. The nocturnal character of the visitation is in conformity with the practice of the Medicine Rite that it be held at night. The Ioway magician, after appearing initially in the form of an owl, then transformed himself back into human form and granted Keramaniš’aka all that he had promised him.2 We see in this example, that the owl is the creature of the night that embodies the nocturnal wisdom, for good or ill, that can be gained by those who have mastered the Medicine Rite.

"drew an image" — the practice of drawing a picture of a man on the ground and performing symbolic actions on that image to harm whom it depicts, is something known from the Medicine Rite itself. Sam Blowsnake told Amelia Susman,

If anyone mocked medicine Lodge and talked about it, 4 older men took each a young one [an acolyte ?] and they decided whether to have the man sicken & die, or be hurt & die, or be bitten by a snake & die – and they decided on the last, and made an image of a man on the ground with the heart and everything, and opened the medicine bag & took everything out, put medicine on it and then they took green hay (?) and stuck it in the figure. Then they cleaned everything up. And in a few days they heard the man was dead, bitten by a snake.3

Snakes also defend the sanctity of waiką́na, the sacred stories. These tales can only be told in the winter when the serpents have retired to their underground chambers. The word that denotes snakes in Hočąk is waką́, which also means, "sacred, holy," and waiką́ derives from the same word, so it seems natural that serpents would be the divine agents in such matters. That the brothers, who feel that their younger sibling is intruding on their sacred experience, take an action that would come to be empowered by the Medicine Rite itself, but are ineffectual since they have not yet gone to the sacred mountain, the realm of the rattlesnakes, to become initiated in the rite that will bestow this blessing upon them fully and efficaciously.

"red earth" — although the heart is red, to effect a lethal result, there is nothing requiring them to color the heart with red earth. The red color here has a symbolic import. The heart, rather than the brain, was considered the seat of intellection and emotion. Red, as we have noted above, symbolizes youth, which given its normal vigor, expresses more of the life-force than is found in those of greater age. Hagaga, the third born, represents youth. He is said to be wiser than his elder brothers, as the overall vigor of his heart was greater.

"a spear" — the Medicine Rite involves the symbolic killing of an initiate and his revival, a ritual designed to demonstrate the power of returning from death. This death is effected by the shooting of a shell from the mouth of a master, or from his special skin bag, usually made out of an otter, that is made to appear to come alive in its own right when it makes the shot. The "victim" falls as if dead, then later revives and spits out the shell. The initiate is a young person, typically, one who is replacing a member of the rite who has recently died. The two older brothers reënact the process of a symbolic death when they make a representation of the youngest among them in the earth. They intend to use a spear to stab him in his symbolic life-spot, appropriate colored red. However, in the Medicine Rite itself, the shell projectile is referred to as an "arrow." The drawing on the ground itself evokes the image of the arrow, since both earth and arrow are denoted by the same word, . Mą́įsu were large flint or horn arrowheads, which, judging from the translation of this term in "The Dipper" (q.v.), could also serve as spear heads. The mą́įsura made of flint, as everyone testified, were not manufactured by the Hočągara, as they used the straightened claw of the snapping turtle to form a bullet-like point. Flint mą́įsura were obtained by simply finding them. The discovery of valuable objects by chance was never considered to be a pure coincidence, but to be the work of the Spirits. There can be little doubt that the Spirits in question will have been the Héroka, the diminutive Spirits of the hunt. So the mą́įsu came with a preexisting sacred dimension. The shell projectile that was used in the rite was homologized to a mą́įsu. However, Hagaga's interruption of his elder brothers' stabbing of his telluric image with a mą́įsu caused them to abort, and flee to a cave in the island-mountain of Trempealeau. There they would learn from the Spirits themselves how to properly conduct the symbolic stabbing with an aquatic mą́įsu.

"limb" — the twisted, elongated, living branch of a tree, is homologous among fauna to the serpent. The serpent, as detailed below, is a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. Just as serpents support the edifice of the Medicine Lodge, so the branch on which the owl-like brother reclines, recalls the "skin shedders" of the Lower World. The Lower World of the tree houses its roots, rejųra. The word rejų metaphorically refers to descendants as well. Given that the roots are descendants, the branches must metaphorically represent the ancestors, just as in the West. In fact, we find that the word wáixa means, "rivulet, tributary; branch of a tree; distant family relation." So we have the discordant situation of the youngest brother in that part of the tree associated with the very oldest and most distant members of the kinship group. This unity of the youngest with the oldest, the temporally immediate with the temporally remote, is reflected in the paradox of rebirth: those from the sacred world of the dead and departed reëmerge as the youngest in the secular world of the living. Such is the "Road of Life and Death" in the Medicine Rite.

The tree as a whole is meant to foreshadow the mountain in which all oppositions are resolved and the Medicine Rite Road is laid out. Such a World Tree expresses the concept of the Center. "... the Centre and Axis of the World, [is] the point of communication between the three cosmic regions; it is only at a 'centre' that a break-through can occur, a passing from one cosmic zone to another." Axes mundi are regularly homologized as Cosmic or World Trees.4 The Hočągara used the red cedar tree, the tree most particularly sacred to the Thunders, to represent the Cosmic Tree and to function as a Center.5 Here is recounted in the Medicine Rite the last leg of the journey of the soul to Spiritland:

And here will be that ladder possessed by those who are in charge of the Medicine Rite.6 The right side will be a twisted frog's leg, dappled with Light-and-Life. At the [other] side it will be red cedar blackened by handling and made very smooth. You must grab hold of each one of these. You will come to where Earthmaker is sitting.7

You'll get hold of the Medicine Road staff. On the right side is the frog's leg blackened by handling, there you will stand. And on the left, the chief-tree, the red cedar of smoothened bark, will be standing there blackened by handling. And when you take hold of this, the frog leg, the staff of our ancestors, it is going to be imprinted with Light and Life (Hąp).8

So the sojourning soul ends up ascending (the wood of) the Cosmic Tree to reach the zenith of creation. As Hagága climbed up into the branches of the tree, he foreshadowed the journey of the soul to the realm of the ancestors, homologized to the branches of the tree. His descent from the symbolic World Tree to follow after his brothers into the confines of the first Sacred Medicine Lodge, is like the soul of a member of the Rite returning from the land of the dead to once again participate in life and in the Medicine Rite.

Hagága is perched in this model World Tree after having been likened to an owl, which makes his presence there all the more appropriate. The archenemies of both the owls and the Nightspirits were the cranes. The white cranes are identified with the stars, and their chief, Wears White Feather, is likely the star Sirius. The Nightspirits were all cut up, because on the warpath the cranes used long spears (wošá séreč), a reference to the long sharp bills of the cranes. The resulting pock marks can be understood more esoterically as the stars that mar the smooth surface of the night sky. The relatives of the Nightspirits, the Thunderbirds, themselves the denizens of the dark clouds, were able to overcome the cranes by use of their famed warclub. The identity of white cranes with stars puts them in intimate association with owls. In primordial times, owls and cranes even ate the same food. Crane had to destroy some of his owl brothers, who were constantly stealing his food.9 That is why today the nocturnal owls never intrude upon the ecology of the birds of light, the cranes. Just like humans, the cranes use their spears to fish. "To fish," in Hočąk, is hoičgá, but this same word is, interestingly enough, a homonym which also means, "to be caught up in high places such as in tree branches."10 The two brothers, blessed as they were by Waterspirits, are poised with their spears facing downwards as if to hoičgá, to skewer their owl-like enemy. Had they succeeded they would have left Hagága hoičgá so that, as a soul who could hope to descend back to earth and bodily life, he would be stranded in Spiritland. However, owls are feared as harbingers of ill fortune, and when he challenges his crane-like brothers, they are stricken with fear. Hagága in the tree represents the departed spirit, the nąǧí or nąǧírak; and his effect is nąǧíre, "to frighten" them. These associations bring to mind the fourth brother, whose birth name would be Nąǧí. He would be the first to be initiated by human members of the Rite.

 
  Trempealeau Mountain

"Trempealeau Mountain" — this is actually a mountain-island between the Trempealeau River and the Mississippi (44.021130, -91.496618). Jipson says that Hay-nee-ah-cheh is the name of this mountain in Hočąk.11 This would be for Xenįaja (< Xe-nį-haja), which would mean, the "Mountain that Overlooks the Water." Trempealeau, of similar meaning, is from the French trempe à l'eau, "Soaked in Water." Dr. Bunnel quotes an informant:

"They say the Winnebagoes," he resumed, "before the wild duck hunts opened, used to hold a dance to propitiate Wakon, the god of hunting, on those hill-tops, so that they might bring home much game. You can see they are preëminently an altar-place—what a site for a cathedral they would make! And there is another tale that the Great Spirit set the island apart as a home for rattlesnakes—they used to swarm there, and I suppose the medicine men replenished their bags at Trempealeau."12 ...

In consideration of the sacredness of the trust no snakes have been killed by Indians on those bluffs, and the bluffs are still called by the Winnebagoes, in commemoration of the tradition, "Wah-kon-ne-shan-i-gah" [Wakąnįšąnįka], or the "Sacred Snake Bluffs on the River," and to the Sioux, "Maya-hin-ca-sin-ta-dan," which may be interpreted as "Rattlesnake Bluffs." The rattlesnakes are still there, though some of the bones and pottery of the ancestral dead have been removed, while the rattlesnakes were in their winter caverns.13

The Hočąk name, Wakąnįšąnįka (< Waką-nįšą-nįk-ka), actually means, "Serpents of the Little River." Altars were often made on hill tops, a practice known to have been pursued by the Blue Bear Subclan.14 Inasmuch as Trempealeau and the nearby bluffs are teaming with rattlesnakes, sacrifices were obviously made to Snake Spirits, here encapsulated in a single supposed deity Wakon (for Waką́, "Snake"). So we know from this somewhat garbled tradition that Trempealeau was a sacred site that was connected to both Waterspirits, from being a hill surrounded by water, and serpents, since the rattlesnake is extremely abundant in this area.

"the center of the mountain" — Mountains, hills, and mounds were often dwelling places of Spirits. Waterspirits typically live in hills.15 The Twins ended their career by retiring to a hill.16 Redhorn is particularly associated with Red Hill (Necedah Mound), where his body once roamed headless down its winding trail. There fasters have been blessed by Redman.17 His son's charges, the Little Children Spirits, can be approached from inside a certain cave.18 These are all versions of the widespread concept of the Cosmic Mountain. As Eliade observes, "Mountains are often looked on as the place where sky and earth meet, a 'central point' therefore, the point through which the Axis Mundi goes, a region impregnated with the sacred, a spot where one can pass from one cosmic zone to another."19 Trempealeau is not only a Cosmic Mountain, but does it one better: like Turtle Island, which is surrounded by the waters of the Ocean Sea, Trempealeau is surrounded by a ring of water, making it a microcosm of the Earth itself. In its vertical dimension it unites the Upper and Lower Worlds; in its horizontal dimension, it unites the world of water with that of land. These two axes intersect in the center of the mountain where this rite is first brought into existence. Both the World Tree and the Cosmic Mountain are expressions of the same concept of the Center, the place where the axes of opposition meet and are resolved. Here the brothers, who were in opposition in every way, now find themselves in union and unity. Centers are places of supernatural power, they are focal points that resolve opposition. Here the ancestor of the upper tree is one and the same as the youngest among them, since those who are born again are descendants at birth, but in their past lives have been among the ancestors of those who gave them earthly life. The meeting in the center of the mountain is a re-meeting of the brothers where the linear time of age is obliterated by the circular time of regeneration.

Trempealeau as a Cosmic Mountain corresponds to Hagága's tree. On the relationship between the mountain and the tree, Eliade remarks, "... the symbolism of the World Tree is complementary to that of the Central Mountain. Sometimes the two symbols coincide; usually they complete each other. But both are merely more developed mythical formulations of the Cosmic Axis (World Pillar, etc.)."20 So in the fashion typical of myth, the theme of the center repeats itself like a rondo with theme and variation.

"the poles are serpents" — the primary reason why the snake is sacred to the Medicine Rite is that, as they themselves characterize it, it is a "skin shedder." When snakes grow, they shed their skin, and emerge with fresh new skin, leaving the old skin behind like a dead body. As the serpent shuffles off this mortal coil yet to live on, so the Medicine Rite creates skin shedders to emerge from death to find life renewed. This is the very raison d’etre of the whole rite, whose aim is to give its adherents a renewal of their earthly life. Reincarnation is the essence, foundation, and framework of the whole Medicine Rite. Consequently, the holy skin shedders must form the essential framework of the spiritual lodge of physical rebirth. The serpents-as-poles serve also to unite the Upper and Lower Worlds, as do the tree and the mountain. The poles are made of the branches of trees or the trunks of saplings, and serpents are denizens of the Lower World inasmuch as they locomote on their bellies and live in holes under the ground.

"the tie pieces are serpents" — obviously, the shape of serpents suggests a role as ties for the poles, but they also have an equally obvious symbolic role: inasmuch as they express the essence of the rite, the skin shedders of nature also tie together the fundamentals of the rite: their example of rebirth is what binds the participants together and holds them in place, binding them together in the shared participation in their own metaphorical skin shedding.

"the serpent is sacred" — here Huron Smith introduces a parenthetical comment: "Fred Mallory's children killed a big puffing adder the other day, and the Indians here did not like it, prophesying all sorts of dire disasters that would come upon them." The term for "serpent" in Hočąk is waką́. The primary meaning of the word waką́ is very near to "sacred," as we find it as the stem for wakąčą́k, "holy, sacred," where čąk means, "great, true(ly)." They are probably so considered by virtue of being "skin shedders," that is, beings capable of rebirth and somatic renewal. Bunnell says,

For time beyond knowledge, the Dakotahs and Winnebagoes have held the yellow rattlesnakes as sacred—fearing them, but never killing them, except in rare instances, where a skin was required for use in a sacred dance or religious ceremony. The consequence was, that in some places, yellow rattlesnakes became so numerous as to make it dangerous for anyone to visit the localities of their dens, and, as these places became known to the Indians, they were pronounced sacred and avoided. The Trempealeau mountain and high bluffs of that range were terrifyingly alive with them at one time ...21

The Medicine Rite is a secret course of instruction and ritual. Sacred stories are told, and mysteries are enacted before the members assembled. For those who violate sanctity by telling a waiką (sacred story) when the snakes are still above ground, will in the course of time, be struck by the poisonous fangs of an avenging serpent (see above). So it is that the waką́ protects what is waką́.

Hočąk Otter Bags Used in the Medicine Rite

"the otter, the loon" — the otter and the loon as a semi-aquatic creatures live in and out of water, rather like the ghost. In primordial times, Otter and Loon lived with the Waterspirits as their kin. The Bad Waterspirits intended to capture and imprison Redhorn with a view to eating him. Otter and Loon argued against this, but when their kinsmen would not assent to their advice, they left the Waterspirit world for the Earth, where they and their kind still live today. It has been argued that Redhorn is a figure representing the initiate. So the rebellion against destroying the symbolic initiate makes them appropriate patrons of the Medicine Rite, which generates the revival of the dead. Otter skin bags are used in the shooting ceremony, in which the initiate undergoes ritual death from a shell shot from the mouth of a member of the Rite, or from the mouth of the otterskin bag, which is made to sound a tweet that sounds exactly like the vocalizations of the otter.

       
Loons   A Whooping Crane   A Wild Turkey

"crane" — cranes, especially white cranes, as we saw above, as birds of light associated with stars, are opponents of owls and Nightspirits. However, they belong to the realm of the Waterspirits who govern the four quarters of the world, and are central to the Rite that seeks to make time as circular as the spatial periphery of the earth. The crane unites the Upper World with the Lower World of the Waterspirits. As stars, they are birds of light that live in the darkness of night. Yet as birds that unite the Upper and Lower Worlds, they rise and set as stars, passing from one of these worlds to the next every day. As birds of light (hąp) they associate with what the Medicine Rite calls "Light-and-Life" (Hąp), which is also achieved by the enlightenment uniquely offered by the Rite. Therefore, the spiritual force of Crane Spirits is essential to the mission of the Rite, and they are among the Spirits that are mentioned as participants in its beginnings.

"turkey" — the tom turkey is an aggressive bird and appropriately associated with the spirit of war. As it happens, arrows are feathered using the plummage of the turkey, which makes the bird doubly warlike. The shells used to ritually "kill" the initiate, are explicitly called "arrows." Since the Medicine Rite is devoted to giving the ghost the power to return to the flesh, it naturally evokes the image of the Hero Twins, Ghost and Flesh. Earthmaker created a special turkey called Rušewé with the peculiar power to evoke fear in the Twins, and to drive them into their final home. This home was a hill. In like manner, Hagága who is unarmed and up in a tree like a bird, has the power to evoke fear in his two elder brothers, who like the Twins, flee to the hollow chamber of a large hill. Hagága, like Rušewé, runs after them. When they reach their destination, like the Twins, their unruly behavior comes to an end, to be replaced by the order and boundaries of the Medicine Rite which is to be revealed to them in the hill's hidden inner chamber.

"ox" — an ox, in the strict sense of the term, refers to a castrated steer, which is something introduced only recently by white people. So an ox can't be what was meant in the context of the Hočąk Medicine Rite. The ox's counterpart among wild bovines is the buffalo (bison). Buffaloes symbolize stars. The stars travel in a vast heard that moves across the night's dome with inexorable motion, as they bellow forth their light. They bring light into the darkness. This is the Light-and-Life which they bring with them in their trek across the ebony sky, illuminating the veiled mystery of the Rite. The thundering of the hooves of the vast herds of buffalo on the prairie have made them nature's drummers. They are the Messenger, the esoteric expression mirrored in the drum, that fills the void with its resonant voice. The herd of stars drum the light of their thundering hooves from the nocturnal sky. The celestial lights that are the vast concourse of buffalo are the bringers of enlightment that through the Rite is one and the same as Life.


Comparative Material. ...


Links: Waterspirits, Otters, Owls, Loons, Crane, Turkeys, Buffalo Spirits, Snakes.


Stories: in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, Peace of Mind Regained, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; about Bird Spirits: Crane and His Brothers, The King Bird, Bird Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Wears White Feather on His Head, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, Owl Goes Hunting, The Boy Who Became a Robin, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Foolish Hunter, Ocean Duck, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Quail Hunter, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Hočąk Arrival Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster and the Geese, Holy One and His Brother (kaǧi, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans, sparrows), Kaǧiga and Lone Man (kaǧi), The Old Man and the Giants (kaǧi, bluebirds), The Bungling Host (snipe, woodpecker), The Red Feather, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Waruǧábᵉra, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Black and White Moons, The Markings on the Moon, The Creation Council, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna (chicken hawk), Hare Acquires His Arrows, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (black hawk, kaǧi), Worúxega (eagle), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (eagle), The Gift of Shooting (eagle), Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Blue Jay, The Baldness of the Buzzard, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster (buzzards), The Shaggy Man (kaǧi), The Healing Blessing (kaǧi), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (kaǧi), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Įčorúšika and His Brothers (Loon), Great Walker's Medicine (loon), Roaster (woodsplitter), The Spirit of Gambling, The Big Stone (a partridge), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, The Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds, and the sources cited there; about turkeys: Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Bluehorn's Nephews, Hog's Adventures, Black and White Moons, The Birth of the Twins, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Old Man and Wears White Feather; featuring cranes as characters: The Crane and His Brothers, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spirit of Gambling, Bladder and His Brothers (v. 1), Wears White Feather on His Head, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman; mentioning loons: Old Man and Wears White Feather, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Medicine, The Raccoon Coat; about buffaloes and Buffalo Spirits: Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, White Fisher, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Bluehorn's Nephews, Redhorn's Father, The Woman who became an Ant, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Buffalo's Walk, Trickster's Buffalo Hunt, The Blessing of Šokeboka, The Creation of the World (v. 3), The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Red Feather, Wazųka, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, Holy One and His Brother, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse; mentioning otters: Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Fleetfooted Man, The Dipper, The Two Children, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Turtle's Warparty, The Origins of the Milky Way, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Kunu's Warpath, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Woman who Loved Her Half Brother, The Chief of the Heroka, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), Wojijé, Holy Song II, Morning Star and His Friend, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Story of the Medicine Rite; mentioning snakes: The First Snakes, The Woman who Married a Snake, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Snake Clan Origins, The Omahas who turned into Snakes, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Serpents of Trempealeau, Rattlesnake Ledge, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Two Boys, Wears White Feather on His Head, Creation of the World (vv. 2, 3, 4), The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Waruǧábᵉra, The Green Man, Holy One and His Brother, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Turtle and the Merchant, The Lost Blanket, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth; mentioning trees or Tree Spirits: The Creation of the World, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Visit of the Wood Spirit, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, The Old Woman and the Maple Tree Spirit, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, The Pointing Man, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Loses His Meal, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 2), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Blessing of the Bow, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Spirit of Gambling, Peace of Mind Regained, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death; in which the cardinal points are significant: The Deer Clan Origin Myth, Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2); mentioning caves: Big Eagle Cave Mystery, Blue Mounds Cave, Silver Mound Cave, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Woman Who Married a Snake, Little Human Head, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, A Giant Visits His Daughter, Kunu's Warpath, Soft Shelled Turtle Weds; set in the Wisconsin Dells: The Twin Sisters, White Flower, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Red Cloud's Death, Yellow Thunder and the Lore of Lost Canyon, Sunset Point, Mighty Thunder; 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, The Serpents of Trempealeau, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle; set at Trempealeau (Xenįaja): The Serpents of Trempealeau; pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Story of the Medicine Rite, The Journey to Spiritland, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hog's Adventures, Great Walker's Warpath.


Themes: someone is rejected by at least one member of his family: Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, The King Bird, Grandfather's Two Families, Kaǧiga and Lone Man, Moiety Origin Myth, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter; the youngest offspring is superior: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Young Man Gambles Often, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Children of the Sun, The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Sun and the Big Eater, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 4, 7), Snake Clan Origins, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Snake Clan Origins, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth; the eldest and youngest brothers dominate: Įčohorucika and His Brothers, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Bladder and His Brothers; snakes are used as poles in the construction of a lodge: Waruǧábᵉra, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth.


Notes

1 Fred Mallory, "The Story of the Medicine Rite," in Huron Smith, Winnebago Field Notes (1 August 1928): 531, 534-537.

2 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 92-93.

3 The "(?)" occurs in her text. Perhaps Susman misheard "clay" as "hay." Winnebago Texts by Sam Blowsnake, Amelia Susman's Notebooks, Book 2: 3-4 (May 29, 1938).

4 Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996) §99, 273-274; Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, trs. Willard Trask. Volume 76 of Bollingen Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964) 285.

5 Alice C. Fletcher, "Symbolic Earth Formations of the Winnebagoes," Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 32 (1884): 396-397.

6 For the role of the ladder in the ascension to the Above World, see Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, §§32-34, 102-107. For the soul ladder, see Eliade, Shamanism, 283, 285, 487-494.

7 (q.v.) Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago II, #6: 169-176 [175-176]; for the revised phonetic text (without the commentaries), see Winnebago III, #6: 362.91-372.140. Both a Hočąk text and an English translation are published in Jasper Blowsnake (Thunderbird Clan), "The Journey of the Ghost to Spiritland: As Told in the Medicine Rite," in Paul Radin, The Culture of the Winnebago as Described by Themselves (Baltimore: Special Publications of the Bollingen Foundation, #1, 1949) 66-72. A loose English translation is also given in Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 257-264; and inSam Blowsnake (ed. Paul Radin), Crashing Thunder. The Autobiography of an American Indian (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983 [1926]) 105-110. This story is discussed in Claude Lévi-Strauss, "Four Winnebago Myths," Structural Anthropology, vol. 2, trs. Monique Layton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976) 198-210. (q.v.) Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago II, #6: 169-176 [175-176]; for the revised phonetic text (without the commentaries), see Winnebago III, #6: 362.91-372.140. Both a Hočąk text and an English translation are published in Jasper Blowsnake (Thunderbird Clan), "The Journey of the Ghost to Spiritland: As Told in the Medicine Rite," in Paul Radin, The Culture of the Winnebago as Described by Themselves (Baltimore: Special Publications of the Bollingen Foundation, #1, 1949) 66-72. A loose English translation is also given in Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 257-264; and in Sam Blowsnake (ed. Paul Radin), Crashing Thunder. The Autobiography of an American Indian (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983 [1926]) 105-110. This story is discussed in Claude Lévi-Strauss, "Four Winnebago Myths," Structural Anthropology, vol. 2, trs. Monique Layton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976) 198-210.

8 Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago III, #1: 165-166 [165]; for a handwritten phonetic text, see Winnebago II, #1: 184-185. A typed phonetic text is found at Winnebago II, #5: 203-204. A loose English translation is also given in Radin, The Road of Life and Death, 171.

9 Paul Radin, "The Crane," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #48.

10 Chuck Kingswan, AottnK wo w KH Ao tti KAe Le Ai dn, Winnebago Lexicon Starting Kit (1993). Words taken from Valdis J. Zeps, Zepisicon (Winnebago Lexicon), Unpublished MS, Baltic Studies Center, University of Wisconsin, 1996.

11 Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923) from an old list by Lyman Draper, checked and emended by John Blackhawk, 399, s.v. "Trempealeau Mountain, Xa-nee-ā-ja-nak-ā-ja."

12 Lafayette Houghton Bunnell, Winona and its Environs on the Mississippi in Ancient and Modern Days (Winona, Minnesota: Jones & Kroeger, 1897) 114.

13 Bunnell, Winona and its Environs, 115.

14 Walter Funmaker, The Winnebago Black Bear Subclan: a Defended Culture (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota: December, 1986 [MnU-D 86-361]]) 49. Informant: One Who Wins of the Hočąk Bear Clan.

15 Paul Radin, "Mązeniabera," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 21: 1-134 [56]. "They say that whenever a hill is struck by lightning ... it is because a Wakčéxi is concealed under it (that is in its water-springs) whom the Thunders thus kill and eat." Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col.3, quoting the interpreter Menaige (ca. 1850). Bluehorn lives in a hill. "Blue Horn's Nephews," in Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature, Part I (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil Switzerland, 1954) 80-84. Apparently the story was obtained by Sam Blowsnake of the Thunderbird Clan from an anonymous older member of the tribe ca. 1912 (Ibid., 21). Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Winnebago IV, #9: 2-12 (missing the first two of its typewritten pages, and concluding just before the adventures of the Twins). See "Blue Horn's Nephews" in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Notebook 58: 1-104 (missing its ending). The lost ending of this story (pp. 104-107) was found inserted between pp. 107 and 108 of "Coonskin Coat," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 59. See this. Jim Pine, [untitled,] in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook #26, 262-284. See this passage.

16 "The Twins," in Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature, Part I (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil Switzerland, 1954) I.97. Sam Blowsnake, "Warečáwera," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Winnebago V, #11: 200-223. The published English translation is found in Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature, Part I (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil Switzerland, 1954) 94-95. Informant: Sam Blowsnake of the Thunderbird Clan, ca. 1912. See this passage.

17 (q.v.) Paul Radin, "The Red Man," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 6: 1-72.

18 (q.v.) Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 245-246.

19 Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, 99-100. See also, Eliade, Shamanism, 266-269. Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane. The Nature of Religion. The Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual within Life and Culture (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc., 1959) 40-42, 49, 57-58, 64-65; Mircea Eliade, Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1969) 42-43; William C. Beane and William G. Doty, edd., Myths, Rites, Symbols: A Mircea Eliade Reader, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, 1975) 2:373; Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees, Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales (London: Thames & Hudson, 1961) Ch. VII.

20 Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, trs. Willard Trask. Volume 76 of the Bollingen Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964) 269.

21 Bunnell, Winona and its Environs, 323. Publius Virgilius Lawson, "The Winnebago Tribe," Wisconsin Archaeologist, 6, #3 (July, 1907) 77-162 [134].