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The Peyote Cult, by Paul Radin, [1925], at


(Pl. 3)

Among the Winnebago there is a man named Little-Red-Bird, and when he reached middle age he began to travel around the world and learn different Indian languages. He used to travel inland a good deal. Once he joined a circus and crossed the ocean. He felt so ill while crossing that he wanted to die. Suddenly a wind came up and he got very frightened. He did not know what to do. Then he prayed to Earthmaker. When he came to the other side of the ocean there he saw a big island and a big city (London), and in this last place they held their circus. The chief of that country (the king) he met there.

When he came back to his own people he told them that on the other side of the ocean the Thunderbirds did not thunder. All they did was to drizzle. There was no lightning either. As he crossed the ocean on his return it thundered and lightened.

When he came home he was very glad to see his relatives and he offered tobacco in thanksgiving.

p. 349

Shortly after this he traveled again and came to a band of Indians who were eating peyote. It was his custom to try everything when he went visiting. He did not realize what he was doing when he ate this medicine, but he did it anyhow. After a while he began to think of his manner of life, and he felt that he was doing wrong. All the evil he had done he remembered. Then he prayed to God. Suddenly it occurred to him, "Perhaps I am the only one doing this." Then he looked around and watched the others, and he saw them praying in the same manner.

Not long after that he came home, taking with him some of this medicine. He knew it was holy. At home he offered tobacco to it and kept on eating it. Soon it cured him of a disease he had. He tried to induce some of the others to try it, but they refused. After a while a few tried it, and the peyote movement began to spread. All the old customs that they had been accustomed to observe they abandoned. They gave up the medicine dance and the ceremonies connected with the clans. For that reason, therefore; the conservative people hated them; their own brothers and sisters hated them, for they had abandoned what were considered holy ceremonies.


348:1 The narrator was a very lukewarm follower.

Next: Albert Hensley's Account of the Peyote