The Precepts of Charles Blowsnake
by Jasper Blowsnake
Hočąk-English Interlinear Syllabic Text
"The people are really growing themselves," they would always say. You grow yourself in war. — Jasper Blowsnake.
Precepts for Young Men
(1) You should be something to the people. Therefore, fast. Our Grandfather who Stands in the Midst sends all kinds of things up above. Try to get one. If you get one of Our Grandfathers the War Controllers to pity you, (2) some day when you go on the road, you shall know what to do without effort, you shall go without effort for whatever honor you are seeking. Then you shall glory in your honor without any trouble. (3) Truly, if you thirst yourself to death, Our Grandfathers who are in control of all the wars that there are, if they bless them, you will not wear out your feet. If you do not blacken your face, you will cause yourself suffering for nothing. (4) It will not be obtained for nothing. Break the heart of one of the many of the various spirits that Earthmaker has created. What he says will be. (5) If you don't have one of the various spirits to strengthen you, no matter what you do, the people will not show you any respect. They will make fun of you. (6) Whoever grows up is told that it is not good to die in the village. You should not let women jump over you in the village. Therefore, they encourage one another to fast. Some day you will travel through difficulties. Also in the early days there, you will wish that you had fasted. I say this so that you may not blame yourself: fast!
(7) Unless you learn something, some day when they come back from the warpath, when the women are dividing the prizes, your sisters will stand there envying the rest of them. (8) If you know of one of the War Controllers, and if you are one of the scalp holders, your sisters will be very happy and proud to wear the prize, and they will dance. Your sisters will be strengthened. You shall make their lives good. (9) If you obtain that sort of thing, it is good, but the older people say that it is hard to be a leader of men, it is said. If you are not, and you are a "Warbundle Bearer" (Sak’į), as this kind is called, and "throw away a man," as it is called, (10) that is the greatest shame of all. One of the mourners might harm you. They might burn you with embers. The hearts of all your people will hurt on your account. (11) Even with ten of the various spirits, or twenty, to go forth carrying the Warbundle is not possible. All the various spirits there are above in heaven, (12) and all that are on earth, and all the Island Weights below, and whatever travels in the waters, and all who are on the sides of the earth, the four winds, (13) Disease Giver, the Sun, the Moon, the day, all those on earth, the War Controllers whom Earthmaker has put on earth, you must be blessed by all of them before you can command the Warbundle Bearer. (14) If you cast away dress for many men, they will benefit from your deeds. You will be a benefit to your people. All of the people will show you respect. They will like you. (15) If you obtain one of the limbs for yourself, from that time on they will honor you. If you fulfill two, three, or all of the limbs, whenever they boil one of the animal heads, you will always eat the head.
(16) And when you tell of your deeds for departed souls, don't, to add to your honor, tell more than you actually did. You will cause the souls to stumble. (17) If you lie and add on to your story, you will die. The War Controllers hear you. It is sacred. Tell a little less. It is said that the old men came and said this. (18) It is good to die in war. If you die in war, your soul will not become unconscious. Your soul will do much as it pleases. Your soul will be happy. (19) Again, if you choose, you can come back to life as a human being, and so it will be. You may live successive lives. Or else again, if you try to live as one of Those Who Walk upon the Light, it will be. (20) Or else, if you try to live as an animal upon the earth, you can do it. Thus it is if you die in war.
In truth, you know nothing of fasting. Fast for your place. (21) If you adopt fasting, and you marry a woman, then you will get along well. With children and happiness, you shall not worry. If you dream of your own lodge, you shall live in want for nothing. (22) Fast for your food. If you apply fasting to this, if one of your children cries to you for food, without trouble you can tell him, "bite into a piece of venison, (23) or else eat a piece of bear meat." Then your children will never be hungry. And again, do not abuse your wife. Women are sacred. (24) If you make your wife pitiable, you will soon die. Our Grandmother is a woman, so you will be abusing her. You will be abusing Our Grandmother if you do it. (25) It is she who takes care of us, so we take care of her. If there is a killing, it will be you who did it. And so, as you keep house, whoever comes to your lodge, whatever you have to eat, give it to him. Withholding it makes this food a source of death. (26) They will kill you for being stingy with food. They will poison you. Again, if they speak of one of the travelers who has arrived, if you are going to see him, prepare a table for him, and put out a call to send for him. (27) Thus, doing this, you do well, and they say that doing it is good. And again, when you see an old helpless person, help them if you have anything at all. If you happen to have a lodge, and give him food (there), it is unlikely that he might say bad things about you in the future. (28) It will strengthen your life, or else if he placed deep under his armpits a treasured medicine, he may give it to you. If he uses it without a stem, you can keep it to protect your lodge. (29) Your lodge will never be entered by anything bad. They would say that nothing but the good will redound upon your house. Witches will also avoid you. (30) And this being the case, in fasting you will benefit the people.
Earthmaker made the various spirits. Those up above, all those here on earth, that move about the face of the earth, under the ground, (31) in the waters, all things that he made, he put in charge of Light-and-Life. Earthmaker made all the things that creep over the face of the earth. The Maker of Things made each of them (the spirits) to rule over something. Thus he did, and afterwards he created us. (32) Therefore, not a single thing did he put in our charge. Then Earthmaker did this: he created a weed. Then he did it, he gave it to us. Earthmaker said to all the various spirits that he had created that they could not take it away from us for anything. (33) Earthmaker said, even he himself could not take it away from us for nothing, he said. Earthmaker said, if we poured out a pipe full of tobacco for Earthmaker, he would grant (our request) to us, he said. (34) As much as all of the creation, that much came to long for the tobacco. Therefore, if we cry at any time with a measure of tobacco, if they take pity on us, what Earthmaker put them in charge of, that is the sort of thing that they will bless us with. (35) It will be so for us. Earthmaker himself created it this way. If you are blessed and breathe on people, and the person jumps up quickly having been brought back to life, you will be a help to people by doing these things. (36) If you are able to do this, and really do it, again in this you will be very much more of a help to them. If you can draw out pain, you will be a benefit to all of the people, and they will respect you. (37) If you were not able to work, whatever you should have, they will all give you as long as you live. If you die, they will always speak your name. (38) They will always say about you, "He really had power."
If, in the end, you are not able to dream, then in any case, try to obtain this. Some of the people have knowledge of herbs, enough that you could go without fasting. (39) However, concerning these herbs that they know of, ask them to take pity on you. If they take pity on you, they will bless you with one of the good herbs, one of the Life-Standers, (40) yet even with this you will always give it freely to use, but one will not be enough for you. Some try and learn all about Our Grandmother's life-giving hair (41) until you have a medicine chest, then there will be a great reason to be thankful, but even more, as some of our medicine men had been blessed by the Chiefs with Light-and-Life, if you can obtain the genuine article, by obtaining that, (42) you will cause even more people to arise. Thus you can do, if they bless you with around four or maybe ten real things. If you obtain one, if someday you have children and anything harmful befalls one of them, (43) you will not have to seek out a medicine man. You open your own medicine chest, and however it goes with them, you can cure it. Finally, if there is anything wrong with a person, they will call you. (44) Then you can open the medicine chest and a human who is wanting in life, will receive whatever medicines he needs. If you have every kind that is appropriate for him, (45) you will not be embarrassed about knowing what to do. You will know what his troubles are. The medicine you obtained is great, therefore whatever you say will be so. (46) If they make you good offerings, then you tell them about how you administer medicines, and then they will work for you, the medicines will put forth their strength. (47) If you do a tobacco pouch for the plants, and if you did good hot water for them, and if you talk to them like you would a human, the medicines will put forward their strength for you. (48) Without doubt, they will thankfully send you offerings. And your children will wear the offerings, and they will be strengthened by them, and their lives will be good. (49) You should be very diligent in the preparation of your medicines. The medicines appropriate for everything whatever were put here for us. (50) Earthmaker gave us the kind that we are to use to heal ourselves. If anyone tries to get the Life Standers, if he makes himself pitiable, Our Grandmother will know of it. If he tries to get them anyone of the Life Standers, and makes himself pitiable, Our Grandmother will know about it. (51) So whatever you spend on it, she will know of you. All the things that you lost in obtaining it, she will all about you. Finally, all you lost in obtaining it will all come back to you. (52) You are placing things in the future. If you really know more, it will benefit you. The people look forward (to the future). They have all the appropriate medicines. (53) If you never wish to be without, then place in their midst the possessions of life.
If you would have paint (medicines), then make yourself pitiable. If you do, even if they overcome your paints, if you keeps paints in your lodge, you will never be in want for goods. (54) All the people, if they have good things, will be giving them to you. All the people will love you. (55) These paints themselves will be the cause of it. Whatever they all give you, it will be because of the paints themselves, they will be the cause of this sort of thing. That is because they are holy, the paints having been made from the blood of Waterspirits. (56) He thirsted himself to death, and since the Chiefs blessed them, there they obtained it, therefore the sort of thing that the Chiefs blessed him with is such that whatever he tells them, it will be so. It will be true. (57) What Earthmaker put the Waterspirits in charge of, he was making so that among the people they could blessed with it, and thus it is so.
The people tried to know of the good medicine that they had. (58) They know racing medicine. Try to learn something of that kind, and they know gambling medicine. (59) In addition, they know some hunting medicine. Some also have knowledge of courting medicine. And some married couples, (60) so that no separation might come to their marriage, have knowledge of medicine. And some know of pecuniary medicine. And they know that kind of medicine that might make a person crazy. (61) If someone made another's heart sad, he might go crazy, and if he did, and he wished to get even, one would harm him with medicine, and he might be driven crazy. And again, if they were to try to marry a woman and failed, (62) if they wanted to turn her into a harlot, and they gave that sort of thing, she would become such. All the men that she would fall in love with know this kind of medicine. Then again, for a man likes a woman very much, they'll have that kind of medicine, (63) whatever particular medicine you like, if you ask them, they'll tell you about it. Again, some of them know sleep-medicine plants. Again, some of them know of a kind of medicine for staying awake, so you will not sleep. (64) And again, they will overcome the vicious dogs that are present for young women, inasmuch as some of them have that kind of medicine for their activities. (65) And some have have used medicines with respect to activities at gatherings. If he does it at gatherings, they will see him alone as great, that's the kind of medicine they have. Again, they have medicine so that they would not get tired on their travels. (66) They would also use medicine if they had a dog fight. Whatever they do, they would use medicine. Again, if they planted a field, they would use medicine. Again, if they planted a field, they would use medicine. If you put the medicine-stick in the field, (67) no person in the area would go through that field, but they would do it if you did not know of such things, and in their affairs they would abuse your field. (68) However many medicines that you need, that many try to learn. The people look out for themselves, and learn all of whatever they can, and they would live comfortably. (69) Try to learn all of whatever you'll need. If, as you go through life, you learn whatever you will need, you will not have to buy it. (70) Take you own and use it. If you do thus, if you carry on the fast there, you will never be caught without. You will not want for anything, and afterwards you will never regret anything. (71) Go and try to obtain some life guidance. If you travel in the good customs of the people, they will not make fun of you. (72) If you cannot fast, try to have them take pity on you with one of those good plants. I am telling you this: if you do not act in this way, you yourself will have brought suffering upon yourself. (73) If you do all of what I have told you, you will benefit from it. Whatever you do, you will have to use medicine. You were unable to fast. War, if you ever see it, is where you would use medicine, (74) that you might not be hit, that kind of medicine you may know; and again, you may know of medicine to prevent you from becoming tired, and that kind it will be also. (75) If it is good, you will not get hungry, and it will still be the medicine itself that does this. Help yourself as you go through this life. (76) The earth has narrow places here and there. If you have something for strength, when you get to the narrow places of earth, you will go safely through.
That the people might like you, keep yourself desirable. (77) Be good friends with all of them. Therefore, if all of the people like you, you will live very well. They will never do wrong. (78) Even if one of the children asks you for anything, do it for him. If you do things this way, they will call you "good natured." And again, if some of the people then lose someone in death, and if someone is in misery, if you are worth anything, if you can cover the deceased for them, do so. (80) And again, if you can help them in the feeding of the dead, do so. Thus, if you do good things, you will do well. And if you are held to be a helper of people, they will know of you. (81) They will all know you. They will love you for all the good you do. On the other hand, it is not good being a winner. (82) You would be rich, but that is no life. If you are blessed with cards, or you know a gambler, you would be a winner and would have plenty, (83) but out of all the children you have, not a one would survive. Gamblers never have children. Bad spirits are an affair, they say. (84) If you do all of this, it is a good life, therefore, since they love a child, they will always preach to him. So whatever is not good, (85) they might know about. If one did it, he would be doing it to himself.1
Precepts for Young Women
Thus this is, and they also speak thusly to the women. (86) Also women, as you go through life, listen to your parents. Do not let your mother work. Attend to your father's wants. In the lodge, all the work is yours. (87) Do not dread to do it: chopping wood, packing wood, cooking, gathering and taking care of vegetables; and in the spring, if you move back to live in the village, then plant your field right away. (88) Do not get lazy. Earthmaker made you that way. And when your menstrual cycle begins, do not ask for food from the lodge. (89) Fast and do not eat until you go back in. If thus you do, you are fasting for your seat. You must keep your seat by fasting, and if you marry a man, and the one you picked is not good for anything, (90) yet he will be a good hunter. You yourself have caused it. He will not be found wanting in a single thing. You will live really well. If you do not do as I have told you, if you marry a man, (91) you will make him weak. You yourself will be the cause of it. The man will finally become ill.
To use harmful medicine is not good. If you marry a man and use medicine on his head, you will weaken him. (92) He will not amount to anything. If you intend that your husband not leave you, and you use medicine and do something on his head, it is not good. (93) You will spoil a man. What you do will be the same as killing him. Don't do this, it is forbidden. If you marry a man and you want him to always be with you, (94) it's your work that's the thing to keep him with. If you marry a man, listen to him. If you do your work right and the man likes it, he will never leave you. The way to keep him is with work itself. (95) Using a thing like medicine is not good. Such a life will make you weak. (96) And you may end up with the medicine working on you yourself, and you will drive yourself insane. Don't use medicine in your married life. If you marry one of the men, you must marry only him. (97) Don't marry several of them. Use the married life right.
If you don't listen to what I say, and you are bad, all men will make fun of you. (98) They will say whatever they want. They will tease you about anybody they want. Anybody who wants to will tease you. If you don't listen to me, it will be you who have done this to yourself. (99) And furthermore, it is the old people who say this. Thus they said to one another. They told one another about what was not good so that others would not get involved with it. (100) And furthermore, they themselves say that as a woman begins to grow up, they preach to her, as they say, therefore I'm telling you of this.
As you grow older, when you become a young woman, men will court you. (101) Never hit a man, it is forbidden. If there is something that you dislike very much, it is good to gently say that you don't do that sort of thing, and if you hit him often, every man will know it, (102) if you made one of them sad at heart. He had no knowledge of anything. Where one does have knowledge of something, there they would get medicine, and the nice young woman that you are, they would use medicine on, (103) and begin by running away with you. You would not amount to anything. They will do this just to make you bad, so that you will be just as they wish. This is what they are afraid of. (104) They preach this to them. What I'm saying is that I wish very much that you don't fall into such a thing. Don't make yourself so proud with your husband. Whatever he says, do it for him. (105) If you take what's good, he will also be the way you are. And if you have a child, do not strike him. If he did anything bad, they did not strike him, but made him fast. (106) When he gets hungry, he will think on it. If you hit him, he will instead become worse. The women are not to preach to the children, they say. The women would instead be making the children worse, that is why they say it is forbidden. (107) And if your husband said something to your children, don't take their side. If you take their side, they will be bad. Do not take the side of your children. (108) If someone else makes them cry, it is not right to say anything, if you are going to take their part. When it come to pass that your children are loyal, then make them a big present there. (109) Then they will know you. Do not just say to the children that you have raised that you have love for them. When things are donated, then they will see your good work. (110) They know you were telling an untruth. And again, do not love children that are not your own. They are different. In as much as they depend on their children, they are to love them. (111) If you are bad, you will love other children more than your own. They are different. If you take them someplace else, they are different. (112) I depended on them because they are my own body. They are to love them. This is the way our forefathers lived. However, if you don't have any interest in your husband's things, the other women like you will make fun of you. (113) You should pay more attention to your husband rather than your parents whom you are leaving for good. That man keeps and takes care of your parents, and as they depend on him, they made you be with him.
(114) Again, they used to say, don't injure the feelings of your relatives. If your relatives’ feelings are injured, you will make your in-laws ashamed. Don't wish for any other men. (115) You must marry just one, and they will never call you a whore. And again, they used to say, never hit any of your relatives. (116) If you happened to be mad at one of your relatives, and that relative with whom you are angry died, they will say about it that she liked it that it happened to the one she had quarreled with, and that she will dance, they will say about you. (117) Maybe then, your heart will pain you for that reason. And again you will think, "I wonder what will be best." On the other hand, if you put him away nicely, they will say about you that (118) she used to be envious, but now that he's dead, she loves him; she shouldn't spend a lot for nothing. If they say this, your heart will ache. If they say these sorts of things about you, maybe you'll get mad. (119) That's why they say to love one another. If you happen to love your relatives, and one dies, you have the right to be sorry. In all honesty, that is why they say this. All of them will think that way. (120) Again, all of your relatives will love you, nor will it be your relatives alone who will love you. The women that you are most like will all love you. (121) And in the course of time, if something happens to you somewhere, all hearts will turn towards your trouble. And this is all there is. Given what quakes you are going to undergo, it will be good if you do this sort of thing. And they all understand the home you have in the lodge, if you understand all the work, if there ever comes a time when you go to your husband's people, you will never be embarrassed. If you go to your husband's people, do not act proud around them. Do not keep yourself aloof from them. (122) Try to get them to like you. If they like you, they will give you charge of things where you live. If you are truly good natured, you will have charge of the lodge of those with whom you are camping. Sometime your husband's parents will say to your husband, "Our daughter-in-law has done good for us." What there is, she will take charge of. She has raised children for them. This is all there is of this.2
Further Precepts for Young Men
Now this they used to say to the man. (123) If you marry a woman, don't turn her into an angel. If you worship these women, the more and more they will want as they go along. They would preach against listening to women, they used to say. They would always say that listening to women is your death. Perhaps you could not heed even one of your father's warnings, as many as there were. Sometime, when they invite you [to the war feast], you won't go. (124) They are going to go to war sometime. Every now and then, you will listen to your wife. You could be raised like a woman. All men have accomplished deeds in their life. You will never do a man's deed. When someone asks you to come to a feast, if they place before you only a piece of lean meat, how is it that you will not be ashamed? Real men go to a feast if they can, (125) and as they eat the head, you will be eating a lean piece of meat, and it will dry your throat. After awhile, you'll be stopped from going to the feast, if you listen to your wife. If you listen to your wife, at the same time all of your relatives will be scolding you. In time, you sisters will think nothing of you. They are talking about you, but never go there. Why would any of them help you? (126) Once you have become a real slave, if she tells you to hit your own relatives, you will do it. This is not good. Those of you who are listening to women: don't do it. Again, it's a matter of taking charge of your woman. It is not good. If you try to watch her, there as well you will also become jealous of your male in-laws. The time will come when you get so bad that you will make the woman tire of you, and she will leave you. (127) If you think that she is the only one for you, then you are watching her. Then she will leave you. Finally, she will leave you by running away. There they will take her away from you. Inasmuch as they all know the woman whom you are making to suffer, not a single woman will there be to marry, since they all know you. (128) A very bad man, this you are, furthermore, and then it will be done again.
After she is gone, when some would go on the warpath, and the matter of whether you will go comes up, you will say that there is a good place to die. You must not do things that way. You make him (the Warleader) throw away a man. If you want to go to war, don't go to war because your wife was taken from you. (129) Only make war in the best state of mind. If the road to a military engagement is going to be fun, don't go to a knock-out, it is always forbidden. If you want to go to war, fast for that very thing. If you don't fast, and try to go to war, and see a fight, before you reach the midst of it, a bullet will find you. (130) If one does not do it (fast), one does not go to war. They know something about themselves. If you have something to depend on, sometimes, if you do some deeds, you can present trophies to your sisters, your nephews, and your aunts.3
Hocąk Text — The Precepts of Charles Blowsnake, Pt. II
Those in charge of the Warbundle, the sort who are good and cautious, this is what they will eat: they will consume a good dish. Again, if that is not the case, then they will eat at the center. These are the sort of men who bring back trophies, and what they tell you of it, that's the sort of thing that I would like to have you do.
(131) Therefore, the kind of advice that I'm giving you is what I am saying. And then they tell one another plainly all of whatever there is. This that I myself am saying, I never asked them about. My father asked them about it, he told me, and you should ask further things of your grandfather there. All men, however many there are, should ask of them how they should live, and they will never leave you at a loss. This is no ordinary thing that has been handed down from generation to generation. They say that if you love a child, it is not for nothing that you will tell him. Sometime, when one of them comes to his senses, it is going to be asked of you. When it is asked, you must tell them accurately. Over there, the one who was preaching had stopped, and the men who had been preaching were speaking to a man. There he went and asked the old men. (132) He said, "Grandfather, when my father spoke to me, he said that I should inquire, he said. I would desire to know how we should live the life we lead. If you tell me, if you do it, then you will have blessed me," he said. The old man said to him that he was thankful. "You said the right thing," he said, "It will be told." He who was coming to ask the old men had done well. That he had done. All of his body was wrapped up. Then he placed all of what he was going to eat in the lodge. Then he gave him a horseback ride. And this they had been doing. "Then in the course of time, when a child is raised, then this, what I've told you, is what you are going to say to him, what I've told you. In time, once they know you, when they name a child, you will get together with them (the elders). (133) As a result, you will not have nothing to say, and you are one who is asked things. There, whatever you say, you must say it well. And if a little child is a male, if you possess an offering, and if you smoke tobacco, then you will make kettles, and if he is a newborn child, then you will give him a dog name that you think well of. You're going to give a dog name, and very carefully tell them fully about the meaning of all of the dog names. Don't open your mouth too wide to say anything. He who will give the dog a name, if the dog is male, you will call him, "Yellow Tree (Nązíjega)," it must be called. When Thunderbirds strike a tree, that tree will look yellow, and its leaves withered. When the Thunders strike these trees, (134) very soon they'll rot and become discolored. They say that this is what this very dog name means. They themselves say, "The Yellow Tree." And when they name the newborn, if she is female, when they name her, and the band has gathered, and they place you among them, when you have finished saying your speeches, then you give her the dog name. You will select from among the female dog names. She must be called, "Stays in Her Place (Hogínąka)," if she owns a little dog. And what the War Clan, Bear Clan, Wolf Clan, and all of the other clans, would say in their speeches, each would listen to what they were saying to them. And of all the dog names, only one would he tell her. If he is a boy, they would ask him to pick a male dog name. (135) And if the child that they asked him to give a name for is a girl, they would ask him to pick just one name. And this is all I have to tell.4
Commentary. "Our Grandfather who Stands in the Midst" — this is the fire, so called because it is found in the center of the lodge. Many sacrifices are committed to the fire on the theory that spiritual counterparts to the offerings ascend to the heavens in the column of smoke.
"if you thirst yourself to death" — a hyperbolic reference to a fast in which the suppliant to the spirits deprives himself of drink as well as food.
"blacken your face" — a reference to fasting in which the supplicant always blackens his face with charcoal to help induce pity among the spirits.
"it is not good to die in the village" — this is a round about way of saying that it is good to die in battle, or as we might say today, "it is not good to die in bed."
"Sak’į" — the Warbundle Bearer is a position of high honor almost always entrusted to the nephew (sister's son) of the Warleader. Since the Warbundle contains objects sacred to the clan and possessed of supernatural power, its loss is akin to losing the Ark of the Covenant. If the Warbundle is lost, then the Sak’į is not expected to return alive. Whoever assumes a position of leadership in battle is held responsible for the lives of his men, and the relatives of those killed in action often took reprisals against those whose warparties failed to return all the men back alive.
"throw away a man" — that is, to cause him to be killed. Since the Warleader is suppose to have divine direction for his mission, if anyone dies under his command, it is generally attributed to some failure of planning or divine support on his part.
"burn you with embers" — often it was said of someone who had taken out a warparty that lost someone's close relative, that such a relative might, while they all sat around the fire, suddenly toss a scoop of embers upon the responsible party.
"the limbs" — the context makes clear that "limb" (was’a) denotes one of the four war honors.
"eat the head" — at feasts, the greatest warriors are served the meat from the head of the animal, since the head is the highest part of its anatomy and therefore corresponds to the highest status in society.
"you tell of your deeds for departed souls" — as part of the Four Nights Wake (Wainwrights), the warriors recount their deeds in battle in order to strengthen the soul for its journey to Spiritland.
"Those Who Walk upon the Light" — a Medicine Rite kenning that refers to birds.
"Our Grandmother" — the title given to the goddess of the Earth (Mą), represented as she is in so many other religions, as an elderly woman who has in her time given birth to many offspring.
"medicine (mąką́)" — by this term is meant what we might call "magical agents." The discussion moves seamlessly between magical agents and what is today termed "medicine." This is because the efficacy of medicines were thought to be spiritual, and sickness itself was thought to be the result of spiritual agents. Therefore, ordinary medicinal remedies were no different than any other tool of magic or supernatural power, so that some plant attached to a lodge (like our horseshoe over a doorway) was no different in kind from a bottle of aspirin.
"Our Grandmother's life-giving hair" — a reference to the aforementioned herbs, flora being homologized as the hair of Earth.
"the Chiefs" — an oblique reference to the Waterspirits, who are known to offer the most powerful medicines, although their blessings may be ambivalent in moral valence.
"do a tobacco pouch" — meaning a generous offering of tobacco to the spirits of one's medicinal herbs.
"good hot water" — a metonym for a feast, since most of the food is boiled in kettles.
"Life Standers" — a poetic name for medicines.
"paint" — this kind of medicine throughout this paragraph is referred to simply as "paint" (w re = wasé).
"the medicine-stick" — the text actually has w K (waką́), which would mean "sacred-stick" or "snake-stick." Given the context, the word should have been m K (mąką́), or "medicine-stick," and Oliver LaMère, recognizing this fact, changed the translation accordingly as, "medicine on a stick." This suggests that small medicine bundles were attached to sticks, and the sticks were stuck in the ground at various places in the fields requiring protection.
"the feeding of the dead" — this occurs during the Four Nights' Wake.
"bad spirits are an affair" — the word translated as "affair" is wošgą́. It has a broad enough meaning to include will and intention. In this context, what seems to be meant is that involving oneself with the blessing of bad spirits is to become entangled in a tangled web of unanticipated bad consequences.
"do not ask for food from the lodge" — a woman during this period had to set up in a separate menstrual hut some distance away from the family lodge. Ideally, she would fast completely and not contaminate utensils and plates, the miasma being thought to conduct itself through her person onto anything she might touch in that condition.
"you yourself have caused it" — given that the blood of the menstrual flow is inimical to male potency, both in terms of reproduction and in terms of sexual arousal, it is not surprising to find that it was believed to be dangerous to a man's war weapons. Since some of the same weapons were used in hunting, it was also thought that contact with menstruation would also debilitate them, and the ultimate result could be starvation. By practicing the full set of precautions dictated by the menstrual lodge customs, she will ensure that her husband, however worthless he might be otherwise, can succeed in hunting. Hunting is the foundation of wealth, and therefore her family should want for nothing.
"on his head" — the subsequent advice makes it clear that "head" refers to his psychology. That effects on psychology should be attributed to actions directed at the head is a Western idea, and replaces the older notion that the heart is the center of emotion and intellection.
"anybody who wants to will tease you" — the stem for the word translated as "tease" is ražíč, which means "to tease verbally." Certain relatives were not only allowed to tease the subject but were expected to do so, and the object of such humor was not ever expected to take offense. Considerable offense, however, would be taken if someone who was not a joking relative engaged in ražíč. The idea that anybody at all could engage in ražíč would be an appalling prospect.
"telling an untruth" — in other words, they can see that your actions do not match your words. Radin gives an interpretive translation: "Do not image that ... you love them if you talk merely about loving them. Show them that you love them by your actions. Let them see that you are generous with donations. In such actions they will see your good work and then they will be able to judge for themselves whether your actions equal your words."5
"(121)" — here there is a shift to another notebook (Winnebago V, #6). Page 121 is sloppy and rather beaten up, but on page 122, everything is strikingly neat, as if an original resembling the previous page had been recopied.
"something to depend on" — the object of the fast which is being referenced in the course of this advice is to obtain blessings from the spirits. These blessings are often guarantees of good results in combat. Having supernatural support in your military endeavors is something that you can depend on. After the end of this sentence, the text changes from syllabary to phonetic text.
"it is not for nothing" — that is, he must give gifts and probably fast before such valuable instruction would be given to him. If it had no price, then it would likely not be taken with the seriousness in which it is traditionally held.
"comes to his senses" — when he reaches the age of reason. This turn of expression shows that maturity is conceived as a process of moving from a rather insane state of mind to a more sensible one.
"when it is asked, you must tell them accurately (wogízokjį)" — this is understood to mean that they would ask the young man if he had fasted, and he was to reply truthfully, that is, that he had indeed fasted, otherwise the lecture could not take place.
"and the men who had been preaching were speaking to a man" — the "and" (égi) here is understood more along the lines of "inasmuch as." Radin renders this and the previous sentence as, "And this the young boy must always answer truthfully, for if he has begun his fast the instruction would stop. The old men do not preach to men, but only to boys." Closer to the Hočąk is, "Over there, the man preaching stopped inasmuch as the preachers were (now) speaking to a man."
"he who was coming to ask the old men had done well" — some confusion at this point has arisen in Radin's version from interpretive rephrasing being made from LaMère's interpretive translation. LaMère had rendered, Wiwą́ǧᵋnąka wągᵋnuną́ka rená, pį’úną, as "He who is asking the old man — he took care of himself." The "—" represents the absence of a translation for rená, "going." Radin has, "Now the one who was asking something of the old man had taken very good care of the old man's body and had led a good life." All that is actually being said is that in going to the old man, the inquirer had done well. In other words, what the young man had done was commendable, which is reiterated in the next sentence (untranslated by Radin): "That he had done." The next sentence says that "All of his body was wrapped up" (Rorá haną́čįxjį horukísoną). The succeeding sentences describe how the young man supplied food and even a horse to the old man. It seems reasonable to conclude that the first gift referenced was a blanket and perhaps other clothing. This is made clear by the concluding word horukisą, which means, "to enwrap," to which compare, horukís, "to close, to shut" (Marino, Helmbrecht-Lehmann). Nevertheless, LaMère translated this as, "he led a good life and had no scar of any kind."6 This was a metaphor for his unblemished character, which Radin rendered as, "He had no scars of any kind; that is, he had never done anything shameful." This captures much of what was said, but it must be observed that it is quite remote from the Hočąk.
"horseback ride" — šųgámįnąk (< šųk-hamįną́k) is a Hočąk kenning for a horse.
"you will make kettles" — a figure of speech meaning that he will give a feast.
"you will give him a dog name" — it is on the occasion on which a child is given his name that someone is appointed also to give that child's dog an appropriate name. The teacher is suggesting that this will be the young man's first role.
"don't open your mouth too wide to say anything" — in the Hočąk text, Radin has a gloss for this passage: "You are not speaking things you don't know anything about." In Hočąk the deaf are said to "have little ears," and the blind are said to "have little eyes"; conversely, keeping to the same logic, people who talk too much are said, as among us, to "have a big mouth."
"Hogínąka" — the hogínąk in Hogínąk-ka means, "to go via something, to go by an established route, to follow an established route, to go by a place, to go through a place, to go through" (Helmbrecht-Lehmann). This is from hogi, "around"; and nąk, "to run."
1 The original text is in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago V, #12: 1-120. An English translation was published in Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: Bison Books, 1990 ) 118-127.
2 Radin, Notebooks, Winnebago V, #12: 85-120, Winnebago V, #6: 121-123. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 129-132.
3 Radin, Notebooks, Winnebago V, #6: 123-130. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 128.
4 Radin, Notebooks, Winnebago V, #6: 130-135. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 128-129.
5 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 130-131.
6 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 128.