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The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber, [1936], at

p. 38

Shaman, the Medicine Man


The Shaman, to whom all the Indians looked for wisdom, was their counsellor in sickness and health. At all times he was looked to to keep the evil spirits under control. This spiritual power was generally hereditary although it could be acquired by going into the fastnesses of the forest. He had to be clean so he lived in seclusion, fasting often, only eating fruits and roots and living in such a state of near-starvation as would produce delirium and trance-like dreams and visions. After arriving at that state, with wondrous eyes he would choose a Tahmahnawis (Spirit) from among the surrounding ghosts. It might be a beast or a bird, a rock or even a mountain. This he would call upon to give him special magical and spiritual powers to cure the sick, insure the success of the hunt, to bring success in fishing and to foretell events and happenings in distant places. The newly made Medicine man would then stagger back to his village if he had the strength and did not die on the way. There he would proclaim to the tribe the things he had encountered. After his family had nursed him back to health the chiefs would consult with him and, if he possessed an active imagination, which he usually did, the tribe would call "Wild Man's Society" together in the assembly house where the wonders which he had seen in the forest would be recounted, emphasis being placed on the magic the Totem had given him.

Then there would be feasting, the Shaman would speak in a mumble of words, supposedly the language the Spirit used, wearing a peculiar nose ornament, dressed as the Spirit for whom he was speaking, using an oval rattle and blowing through a carved, hollow, white bone, suspended by a cord from his neck. He would also wear a long bone thrust through the septum of his nose. He would destroy the spirits of the enemies of the invited guests. This would cause much disorder. Food was then put in the fire to keep the spirits well fed. Incidentally, thereafter they had to generously supply the living as well, for he controlled this spirit and was in good repute with the demon so that their desires would be granted.

If this was not done the Shaman would oftentimes be put to death.

When a Shaman died his body was put into a carved box and placed in the branches of a tree or on a high stump. His soul was supposed to go to some special place. in the Skyland. Most Shamans had great power over their people and generally were very halo-klahowya (wealthy).

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