by Richard L. Dieterle

"J.'s older brother and a friend had failed to return home and so J.'s grandfather went to a man called 'C. English' and, offering him some tobacco, asked him to find out something about his son — i. e., to exert his power. English did so and told the old man that they were camping and making sugar and that if the old man went to a certain place he would find them. He went and found it was so."1

Commentary. "Waruką́ną" — Paul Radin comments, "There are two general magical ceremonies. Warukᴀ́na, to know something by exerting one's powers; wanaⁿtcere, to hypnotize in the distance. (For description of latter, see p. 111)." On the same page, Radin says that waruką́ną is "exerting one's powers." Miner says that waruką́ną means, "to go into a trance to recover a lost thing." In the story Mąznį’ąbᵋra, the Chief of the Giants can't find the whereabouts of two of his sons, so he petitions the "Holy Ones" (Spirits) to waruką́ną on his behalf: Ésge, Wakącągᵋra warukąną wagigi hireže: "Therefore, the Holy Ones were caused to waruką́ną." The one who performed waruką́ną was able to tell the chief not only where they had gone, but what fate had befallen them. It seems to be the power to have a second-sight back in time to see what befell something that has gone missing (in space). It is to be a seer in reverse, although it pertains more strictly to the position of things in space.

"power" — Radin summarize the general range of these magical powers:

The Winnebago make a fourfold classification of their medicines: Those that affect a person by direct administration; those that affect him by their odor, like love and racing medicines; those that affect him at a distance; and those that are shot at an individual. Most of the medicines are obtained by fasting, although they can also be bought. The most important of these medicines are those called the stench-earth medicine (see p. 259) and the black-earth medicine. Medicine may be used in a number of ways, but principally as offerings or as means of killing animals or men. It is often chewed. In order to make arrows or guns unerring, medicine is frequently rubbed upon them. Sympathetic magic is of course well known. The procedure is the common one. A picture of the man to be harmed is drawn on the ground and shot at, stabbed, etc. The man is then certain to die a short time after, in the same manner as the figure has been mutilated.2

Links: Supernatural & Spiritual Power.

Stories: about seers: The Seer, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, Witches, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, A Prophecy About the End Time, A Prophecy, Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, The Shawnee Prophet Predicts a Solar Eclipse, A Prophecy About the First School, The Claw Shooter, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Diving Contest.

Themes: a seer makes true predictions down to unusual details: The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, Witches, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Fox-Hocąk War, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, A Prophecy, The Shawnee Prophet Predicts a Solar Eclipse, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Claw Shooter, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store.


1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1923) 255.

2 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 254.