Dream Seekers

[Absarokee = Crow;

Dhegiha = Iowa, Kansa, & Ponca]



dream, vision, myth, or cosmology



"All above the Earth’s surface is heammahestonev.

All that lies below is aktunov.

.... air, the atmosphere ... taxtavo ...

Above the air-layer is setovo, the Nearer Sky Space. ...

Above everything else is the Blue Sky Space, aktovo."


Blackfoot [of western Montana]

"Spo`mitapi, People-Above, including all visible objects of the heavens ... and

Ksha`>komkomtapi, Earth-People, including all the spirits of the creatures of the earth and the air."


Plains Cree

"the atayoh-kanak, those mysterious beings that appear in visionary dreams."



vision : "The badger stood up on his hind legs and turned into a naked man painted red over his body. This badger-man looked like an image of the man who saw him. ... He directed the faster to use a badger skin for his medicine-bag."



"Once I went ... to sleep and this rock gave me the power to cure diseases. It gave me a little drum. I dreamed ... that the rock became a man. The rock man was about to doctor a skeleton. {cf. "skeleton" on p. 50} He had three ... hot stones. ... One after another, he took up all the heated stones. ... It was in this dream that I was given the power to handle ... hot stones."



"there are seven sacred bluffs on the Platte River in Nebraska that are considered to be the homes of animals from which a dreamer could attain various powers."

legend of sacred dream-vision : "He had a vision and gone to the [underwater] animal lodge. ... When he awoke {in the dream} ... Near the door was a big snake. Near the altar at the west was Scalped man, Kitsahuruksu, who was boss of the all. ...



the mole told of his power [and] ... the weasel said, "While he is looking at me, I can eat up a man’s liver." ... In this way Small came to know that these two were bad animals and because of what he had learned about them, he was able to practice sorcery". {the mole is animal of Rudra, god of harmful magic; and the weasel is of similar nature in Bon}


Assiniboine [of north-eastern Montana]

legend : "Suddenly, in the night, he ... beheld a large number of rattlesnake approaching him. ... He began cutting strips of flesh from his own body and fed them to the snakes. Then one very large snake arose from its hole, and thus addressed him. "I am thankful to you for feeding my children. ... Come, follow me ..." The youth went down into the hole and was ushered to a large blue tent, encircled by two large snakes ... and from ... the snakes he received religious instructions."



vision by shaman : "he was taken to the underground tipi home of a great one-eyed horned snake."


Omaha [of eastern Nebraska]

secret society : "the Inkugthi Athin ("those having the translucent pebble") consisted of members who had dreamed of Water Monster ... This giant creature ... gave protective power and healing medicine to the dreamers, who would paint their bodies with designs meant to identify them with the creature."



legend of the "origins of the Four Quartz Crystal bundle" : having been "tested by a number of frightening visionary beings from the waters, ... he was invited into an underwater lodge and given special instructions."



"The bear is the only animal which is dreamed of as offering to give herbs for the healing of man."


Nez Perce [of Idaho]

"One person might obtain self-curative power from Wounded Buffalo ... a person might obtain only a small part of the total power conferrable by Grizzly Bear, whereas yet another would get all of Grizzly’s power."


Piegan Blackfoot [of Montana]

"the bear, whose image was painted on the traditional dream tipis." "The tipi is actually owned by the bear and is a gift to the dreamer, who makes a representation of it."



[apparently astral projection :] "I dreamed. ... a Buffalo bull ... had changed into a Man-person wearing a buffalo robe with the hair outside. ... When I reached his side he began to sink slowly in to the ground ... "Follow me," he said. ... And I got down into the hole in the ground to follow him. ... I ... went after the Man-person, ... with my eyes always looking ahead at the hole of



light ... and at last we came out [at Castle Rock]. ... I saw that the Man-person had a rattle in his hand. It was large and painted red. ... Then he shook his red rattle ... Out of the ground came ... strange animals from another world. ... I followed him back through the hole ... until we came out ... where we had first entered the hole in the ground."



"I slept and ... there appeared to me an old couple with a son. The old man addressed me, "... my name is Always Visible." This I knew to be the sun man. Then the old woman addressed me, "... my name is Moon Woman." ... [The son said] "My name is Morning Star." ... Then the old woman addressed me, "... all the clouds in the sky are paint for my face. Now, if I paint my face, it rains; if I do not paint my face, it does not rain. ..." Then the son gave me feathers".



vision by shaman : "I heard a voice speaking ... The voice was above me and commanded me to look at the sun. I looked and saw that the rising sun had the face of a man and was commanding all the animals and trees and everything in nature to look up. ... Then the voice above me told me to observe the structure of the human body. I then saw blood run into the skeleton, and a buffalo horn appeared on the back, between the shoulders, and drew blood out of the skeleton." {cf. "skeleton" on p. 35}



"Dreaming of the moon ... might bestow the power to prevent conception in women".



"a dream during the full moon might reveal the future."


Oglala Sioux; Winnebago; Dhegiha

"the dreamer might ... be presented with a choice by the moon ... If he chooses ..., he must then live the life of a woman, wearing female clothing and behaving in accordance with recognized female proprieties."



"men who live like women are called mixu`ga, "instructed by the moon.""



dream-vision : "he was taken to a lodge inhabited by a man-person whose teeth were like those of a bear and on whose forehead shone seven stars. This was Many Together, a mythic dream-spirit what granted ... the hoop-and-arrow game."



"woman dreamed of a healing method given to her by a meteorite found by her daughter."



man "also found a meteorite ... from which he received a dream granting him bundle power rites."


Sioux [of Canada]

"medicine men were believed to have lived with the thunder powers before being born on earth. They would travel about with every thunderstorm seeking a place to be born, after which the thunder power would awaken them to their preexistence during a dream of vision experience."


Oglala Sioux

secret society : "Dreams of lightning ... were regarded as a call ... to become a member of the Heyoka order of dreamers".



secret society : "the Hohnuhk>e were also dreamers who had dreamed of thunder".


[Sioux : n. 2:69, p. 254]

secret society : "Before becoming a recognized member of a thunder society, the dreamer might experience increased anxiety during thunderstorms. This frequently involved erratic behavior motivated by ... the thunder power."


[Teton Sioux : n. 2:70, p. 254]

secret society : "Only after the dreamer had performed certain public ceremonials and assumed the responsibilities of being a thunder dreamer would this anxiety be lifted.

Women dreamers might also become Heyoka."


Mandan [of North Dakota]

"All creatures, spirits, objects, and phenomena possessing hopini, or inexplicable power, are called maho`pini, and are thus personified and deified."

"The special quality, hopini (like wakan among the Sioux), ... imbues a dreamer with extraordinary power, and ... the mysterious beings through whom it is received are qualitatively more powerful than humans".



"The Wakonda ... is ... an invisible life and power that reaches everywhere and everything, and can be appealed to by man to send him help."



"I dreamed ... that I had grown feathers. Soon I felt just like a bird, a kini>u (golden eagle). ... I spread my wings and flew".



legend of the founding of a dreamer-society : "He dreamed that a large number of animals appeared to him a gave him power.

First, there came to him two eagles, one white and one dark. ... They promise him eagle powers.

Next he saw a duck, which offered him the privileges of the duck people who can even walk on water.

The owl came to him in the clear day and ... gave the dreamer owl power over the night. ...

said the woodpecker to him "... my streak of warmth I give you ... power ... to."

The plover next appeared, and said, "I can give you health."

The prairie owl that lives in the burrows of the prairie dogs appeared and said, "... Just at dawn ... the streaks of light ... I give you ..." "



vision : "He saw himself standing alone ..., looking to the east. On his left, to the north, he saw a person seated, dressed entirely in black ... The man wanted to approach him and touch him; but ... he was unable to move. Then this person in black spoke to him. ... He told ... that they were now on a cloud. Then the informant saw the earth below him ... The person in black, who was the crow, then showed him a rainbow ..., and another ... He also saw the sun, the stars, and the morning star." [this vision may entail "possible Christian influence" (p. 257, n. 3:37) {standing on a cloud; a rainbow; and sun, stars, and morning star : these are all in the Revelation of St. John the Divine}]



vision by shaman : "an eagle, a bear, and a badger appeared to him.

The eagle ... telling him ... he would be able to command all the powers of the air.

The bear ... promised him aid from all the powers of the earth.

Finally, the badger gave him ... all that was under the earth."

257, n. 4:2 [cf. p. 175]


"witchcraft" : "This power was obtained through dreams, which must be kept secret, and whose commands it was essential to obey implicitly. The Wae`chonsa in his conjuration made an image of birchbark (or rawhide), punched four holes through the vital parts, and buried it in a freshly raised mound on a hilltop."



dream-vision : "He was so ill ... his soul left his body. He saw a man coming from the west all in white. ... Immediately the skull and horns of a buffalo emerged from the ground. The skull moved, the earth cracked and trembled as the skeleton struggled to come forth. The hum and bibs emerged, the forefeet came out, and at last the whole skeleton heaved up and stood on the prairie. ... Flesh covered the bones, hide covered the flesh, hair grew. The buffalo was alive."


Gros Ventre

"The faster is to direct his prayers to the highest power, Beha:tixtch, the Leader of All, "so that ... the one who owned or lived in the hill would be forced or commanded to grant the power that was requested"." {compelling the deity of the locality by means of a more powerful deity is likewise a Bodish technique}



"any power could be appealed to, the sun being most commonly addressed, particularly at dawn and dusk."



"Hanble (a vision) is a communication from the Wakan-Tanka or a spirit to one of mankind."



vision by shaman : "A person rose above the horizon until I saw his entire body. As he walked toward me, fires burst out where he stepped. ... He was wearing strange moccasins, the left upper made from a silver fox’s head, the right from a coyote’s head. ... A little rain woke me and my dream became a real vision. My dream person was standing next to me. He carried a coup stick with a raven sitting on it. ... Suddenly I heard a loud thunderclap. ... I saw a bird’s big tail and large claws, ... Red streaks of lightning shot from each claw ... My



dream person told that this bird [Bird Going Up] was great, that the noise from his throat sounded like thunder."



vision by shaman : "after the sun set he lay down. ... The owl seemed to turn into a man, and he told ... to look at him. ... did but he saw only a pile of bones."



vision : "A big thing like a big swished by him close but its voice was human. Then the fog lifted for a moment and he saw through it a figure as large as a man standing but looking like an owl, and lots of small owls of common size flying over its head. ... His body felt as if it was being turned inside out ... leaving it clean like."



vision by shamaness : "her Medicine eagle look like eagles ... seen in the wild except it is much large. She can feel her



eagle’s presence before she sees it. ... When the eagle came to her, everything around her disappeared with the resultant image of an eagle against a murky gray background. ... While the eagle was present, [the shamaness] trembled violently and ... her heart beat very rapidly and she felt as if she was going to faint."



vision : "The whole earth looked transparent and he went to the rock island, going over ice. When he got there he discovered a sacred kettle which was bright as fire. It was a bear kettle from the underneath god to feed from when a sacrifice was given."


Sioux [of Canada]

"After he [the visionary] was born he had received instructions in dreams ... The spirit had instructed the man before he was born but he had forgotten."



"Katasha, the place where the visions dwell, is near the dwelling place of the lesser powers, so they can summon any vision they wish to send us. When a visionj is sent by the powers, it descends and goes to the person designated who sees the vision and hears what it has to say; then, as day approaches, the vision ascended to its dwelling place, Katasha, and there it lies at rest until it is called again.

A holy man who lived long ago, had a dream. He was taken up to the place where all visions dwell, those that belong to Kawas, the brown [female] eagle, and those that belong to the white eagle, the male."



"If a person dreamt of an animal, he was not supposed to kill it or eat its flesh. ...

The ... woman who abstained from bear-meat also dreamt of a bear. She requested her husband to bring her a cub. She nursed it together with her own child, one at each breast."



visionary origin of pipe-caerimony : "As I prayed, someone seemed to be coming, making loud growling noises. ... All of the sudden I saw it was a spirit. ... There were two doves talking to me."


Plains Cree

"would tell his dream or vision as a way of explaining his participation in a curing or his leading of a ceremony, but this might be many years after the vision experience. Before that, no one knew of the visionary’s experience."



"the visionary was forbidden to speak of the experience before the passing of four days : "... After that period he might go to an old and worthy man who was known to have a similar vision. ... Should he speak of his vision before the expiration of four days, it would be the same as lost to him." "



"visionaries were prohibited from speaking about the nature of their power unless commanded to do so by their dream-spirits."

"if a bad dream was not told during the four days following the dream, no bad luck would occur."



"The secret societies dealt with mysteries and membership was generally attained by virtue of a dream or vision. Some of these secret societies had knowledge of medicines, roots and plants used in healing; others were noted for their occult and shamanistic proceedings".



"the practice of the Wae`chonsa, who for a price would engage to bring disease or death upon the enemy of him who sought their service. This power was obtained through dreams, which must be kept secret, and who commands it was essential to obey implicitly."

272, n. 8:24


"shaman dreamers were obliged to dream the primal myth of origins as a sign of shamanistic calling. ... however, dream narratives of the mythic events of creation differed with each shaman, even among those who dreamed of the same medicine powers ...

More significantly, new techniques for healing and ceremonial behavior were dreamed as a hitherto unrevealed portion of the creation narrative".



"A man cannot become a doctor my himself; when he receives the power, his wife – who afterwards is his assistant – must also be taught and receive certain secrets. ... A man may become a doctor through a dream, thus receiving spiritual power directly from above, but even in this case he must have a woman to help him." [and similarly among the Comanche, Blackfoot, and Gros Ventre (p. 273, n. 8:28) -- {also commonplace in Siberia}]



"bad dreams must be told immediately. This is particularly true of dream of vision experiences involving the dead or ghosts. After the dreamer tells about such an experience, members of the ghost society are called and the visionary is subjected to ritual purification."



"dreams and visions about various ceremonies must be related because they indicate the dreamer should assume sponsorship for the appropriate ceremony. This telling of the dream or vision was done in the context of the relevant society meeting".


Teton Sioux

"I sent for a medicine-man to cure treat me ... Beating the drum rapidly with the rattle, he said, "... You shall see the power from which I have the right to cure sicknesses, and the power shall be used on you this day." Then he told the dream by which he received his power as medicine-man. He was still telling his dream and singing, but when he paused for an instant I could hear the sound of a red hawk; some who were there even said they could see the head of a red hawk coming out of his mouth."

275, n. 8:49

Plains Cree

"The prime blessing which could be granted in a vision was the ability to cure. ... The shaman repeated the circumstances of the dream, told when and where it was received, and notified the powers that he was about to demonstrate the procedure revealed to him. Thus the doctor publicly asserted his right to undertake the cure by reminding the spirit powers that he was fulfilling his part of the pact and it was incumbent upon them to fulfill their promises."



mythic origin of fire-making : "In one of the seven bands there was a chief named Moves Walking. He claimed that he had a vision of the sun, which is heat. He told them that he could make fire from the sun, somehow. Moves Walking took soap weed, the bottom part of which is like cotton. ... The stick coming from the soapweed ... at the point he made it sharp. Then he put the cotton on a piece of wood; he put the sharp stick down to the wood through the cotton. Then he spun the stick; he got it hot and made fire. Moves Walking ... taught the people."



mythic origin of flint knives : "One night, Rain Cloud had a vision, in which his sacred helper appeared to him and told him to ... put a piece of flint into the fire, where it soon split into small slivers ... Taking one of these, ... he made of the flint a very good one-edged knife."

277, n. 9:12


myth : "flint arrows had their origins in the death of the first woman, Red Woman, whose bones were made of flint and burst in the fire when she was burned".


Plains Cree

myth : "the arrowheads were made by the powerful little people, memkwe`ciwak, who lived in the sand hills and riverbanks".



visionary source of the name "Blackfoot" : "Then, in accordance with a vision that the old father had, he made a black-colored medicine, rubbed some of it upon his eldest son’s feet, and it enabled him to run so swiftly that he easily overtook and killed some of the strange animals. Whereupon the old father said that Blackfeet should thereafter be his name."



"visionaries saw Mother Cedar, as well as representations of the sun."



vision of the sun-god : "His entire body was painted red and he wore an eagle feather on his head and garters around his legs. When he came near to me, he said, "... If you think of me when you are in any difficulty, you will pass through it safely. ... I am the Sun, ... I am keeping life for you ..." "



by shaman : "I dreamed that an old man and an old woman came into my tipi. ...



Each of them offered me their whistles ... The old man said ... "I live in the sky and as long as you live you will be protected by me. ..." This old man was the morningstar."



legend of the founding of a secret society : "This society (tce`>unwaci) was founded by a man who blackened his face ... The white wolf took pity on him, and appearing in a dream spoke as follows : "... I myself am a sort of wakanda and I shall help you." The wolf then proceeded to give him the ritual of the society."



Watichaghe (‘Make a Home’) caerimony : "the symbolic construction of the thunder bird nest is undertaken by who[m]ever first dreamed of the ceremony and gave public notice of the fact."


Gros Ventre

a "man who had a dream of the Flat Pipe is requested to participate in a special ... ceremony, during which he paints the pipe and the faces of the children as directed in the dream."



"the tobacco society was developed ... through dreams for the performance of the various ceremonies involved."



"the Okipa ceremony was sponsored as a result of a vision experience. The visionary would call the members of the Okipa ceremony to a feast in his lodge, after which he would relate the content of his vision."


Skiri (Skidi) [northern Pawnee]

"The corn-planting ceremony ... was held annually by a woman who had received the appropriate dream or vision. She gave a special feast for the keepers of the skull bundle, who were in charge of the ceremony. She told her dream during the feast".



Hako caerimony : "On making four circuits, the visions enter the lodge under the guidance of Kawas, the great female eagle : ...

As we walk, the visions walk; they fill the space within the lodge; they are everywhere all about us.

We go around the second time. The visions which attend the Hako are now touching the Children, ... and by their touch, giving them dreams ...

We go around for the third time. As we sing, the visions are walking away; ... they are now leaving the lodge. We pause and we think of the visions going away ... to ascend to their dwelling place.

Once more, for the fourth time, we go around the lodge singing. The visions ascend to their dwelling place; they have returned from where they came, to their home in the sky. ... Kawas rests in her nest."



rite : "Movement is structured around the central rainbow tipi, representing the flaming tipi of the vision. Four young women dressed in red, with red faces and with sage wreaths on their heads, enter the tipi ... Inside are six old men representing the grandfathers. An altar is made in the center of the tipi to represent the red and black roads ..."



healing : medicine-woman "while singing buffalo songs, would kneel by the patient’s couch and imitate the actions of her dream buffalo, "pawing the ground, hooking with her head, and making sounds like a buffalo ..." "



healing : shaman "would spray yellow paint through the hollow wing-bone of an eagle onto the afflicted area of the sick person, all the while imitating a flying eagle and rocking his body in time to chants sung by his helpers."



vision : "As he stood there holding his pipe, the Thunder Voice sang ... Whereupon a bolt of lightning struck the butte upon which he stood and shook it ... Ahead was a long straight trail as far as his eye could see. ... Four bolts of lightning shook the butte and the Thunder Voice sang."

281, n. 10:4


"he set out to kill an animal like that seen in his vision, and its dried skin, or part of it, he kept as his sacred object ..., for in this sacred object dwelt his god."



"The objects within a medicine bundle are the actual dwelling places of the members of the dreamer’s medicine clan".


Ponca & Omaha

"the right to paint or wear a mystery image must originate in a dream or vision."


[Absarokee : p. 281, n. 10:9]

"The flute was another such visionary implement believed to have a variety of powers associated with elk, such as the ability to seduce young women."



"skill in crafts is a power given dreaming of Double Woman, a mythic being who is credited with the discovery of quill working".


Gros Ventre

by shaman : "a vision of the power of the Feathered Pipe."



"painting could ... give sun power to women"


Plain Cree

"tattooing was closely associated with dream or vision experience."



dream authorizing painted lodge for shaman : "In his dream a male and female bear appeared. They took pity on him. The female bear gave him her home, a handsome lodge with three red bears painted on each side. ... Then the male bear spoke. "My son, I give you my lodge too." Two black bears standing on their hind legs were painted on this lodge, one on each side of the entrance. The father bear also gave him a pipe and a drum."



dream authorizing painted lodge for shaman : "I dreamt of several men who told me I was wanted in a certain tent. I walked to the lodge indicated. It was painted red all over. Right over the door was a picture of a man with outspread arms. ... An old man was sitting inside. He said, "My son, I am the one who has summoned you. I shall give you the painted lodge (wio`>ha) and teach you how to use it." To the right of the entrance was the figure of a woman. I was told to copy it in my painted lodge. ... About four feet from the ground there was painted a snake heading east; it was faced by another snake from the opposite side. ... Their tails encircled the entire circumference of the [exterior] tent-cover. ... The inmate of the lodge showed me his heart, and I saw it looked like a bell. Then he told me I was to get wakan power to aid the sick."



a shaman "had a painted lodge, which he was advised to make by the buffalo, in a dream. A great snake-like animal was painted all around the lodge ... about 45 buffalo cow heads, a night owl ... a crescent moon over the door, a sun and on the back of the lodge ... the constellation known as the "seven stars" {Ursa Major?} was painted."



"The ... turtle tipi ... originated in vision experience ... The tipi has a turtle and thunderbird fused into a single image ... The whole is unified by the drawing of a rainbow".



buffalo-stone sacred bundle : "The Buffalo Stone was owned by women, and to them alone was the power given to call the buffaloes."


Chawi Pawnee

source of the meteorite sacred bundle : "He looked up at the stars in the sky and saw a meteor. ... The meteor appeared to make a circuit and fell where the eagle had alighted. ... He dreamed that standing near him was a man who wore a buffalo robe. ... On his back he wore a bald eagle from under which seemed to come sparks of fire, just like the sparks he had seen when the meteor had fallen. ... The man said, "My son, I am the meteor you saw shooting through the skies. I am the child of the heavens. I control the flock of eagles. My favorite bird is the bald eagle. ... I like your spirit and will be with you always. I will come to you in dreams. ..." After the vision, in the morning, the young man follows the eagle, who circles a spot where the man finds a sacred meteorite, which he keeps. Then the eagle leads him back to the village. Later the man asks his mother for a piece of tanned buffalo hide (for the bundle wrapping), and he kills a bald eagle that he has



[had] consecrated by a shaman. He learns how ... to pray to Father Meteor ... After this he has a series of dreams that give him further instructions in the use and contents of the bundle. ... he dresses and paints in the manner of the visionary man who had appeared to him".



"In the vision encounter ..., a sacred stone might take on the appearance of a human being ... [Sacred stones] were generally fossil ammonites or baculites." {cf. fossil ammonites as sacred stones in India}



"To dream of the sacred stones was considered highly significant because these stones granted many different powers : to cure illness, to predict the future, to find lost objects, and to obtain information by extrasensory means. ...

The outline of the stone is round ... The stone is perfect of its kind and is the work of nature, no artificial means being used in shaping it. {This is likewise true of the "black stone" in the ka<abah at Mecca.} ...

These special stones, called tunkan in Lakota, could be of different types. The small, perfectly spherical stones found on the tops of high buttes and believed to be related to the thunderbird were packed with eagle down into small animal-skin pouches ... and kept in the medicine bundle."


Hidatsa & Absarokee

"a man would purchase a hereditary bundle only if he dreamed of the appropriate powers; otherwise he followed his own dreams, from which he constructed a personal medicine bundle."


Gros Ventre

vision : "As he gazed up at the sky, an object appeared, very small, but he could see that it was moving. ... It got closer and closer, ... until it came within arm’s length. It was a shield, with a string or fine cord attached to it leading up into the sky. ... The surface presented to him was painted half red and half dark blue. A painted rainbow went all around the edge. In the center a black bird was painted, and from each side of the bird’s head, green streaks of lightning, ending at the rainbow’s inside rim."



vision : "a buffalo raised its head above the water and sang a song, directing ... to make a shield and describing how it should be made. ...

... disks on the outer rim represent the four directions;

the disk below the horns is the moon;

the red disk between the horns, the sun;

the dots are stars.

The horns represent the animal that took pity ... and taught ... how to make this shield. ...

The spirit which controls the south wind is supposed to have the greatest power when prayed to for help."

CIVILIZATION OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN SERIES, Vol. 213 = Lee Irwin : The Dream Seekers : Native American Visionary Traditions of the Great Plains. U of OK Pr, Norman, 1994.