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Pomo Bear Doctors, by S.A. Barrett, [1917], at


A bear doctor must always be assisted by some one. He usually hired some female relative who could be trusted to secrecy. She wove for him the water baskets which formed part of his costume and cooked for him the special food which he must eat while operating as a bear doctor. She must observe the same restrictions as the bear doctor himself, abstaining from meat or foods containing blood in any form, and also from sexual intercourse. The evil consequences of a violation of these restrictions did not befall her, but the bear doctor himself was sure to be killed in combat or captured, which meant certain death at the hands of an outraged populace.

This assistant was never the bear doctor's wife, but the wife, if he had one, must remain abed in the morning until the sun was high and the bear doctor was well on his way from his hiding place. She might then rise and go about her daily routine as usual. If he had no wife, his female assistant must observe this restriction for him.

In making a suit, it was necessary for a bear doctor to have an assistant who not only helped in the actual construction of the suit but also sang the long series of songs required during the ceremony when the suit was first put on.

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