Orders of the Dreamed



Northern Algonkin Religious and Mythic Themes



Other Manuscripts by George Nelson



Cosmogonic Myths from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan









Windigo Complex







Other Manuscripts by George Nelson


pp. 121-2 "Origin of the Beaver" myth (quoted from George Nelson's letter-journal of 1811)

p. 121

"Menabojou ["Ojibwa Menapoc^o"] ... had as yet left several things undone; and which he could not do or accomplish without sacrificing some of "his children," ... to certain rivers or creeks ... . The indian, ... fearing the powers of these waters ..., resolved ... to avoid the river by passing beyond {above} its source ... but he arrived at the river ... and by the perpetual solicitations of this wife who ... proposed crossing first ..., she attempted, having one of her children on her back in her arms!, but ... down she went [underwater] with her children!! Her husband raving

p. 122

mad, ... returned to the lodges. Here he made a dream : ... about sunset he perceived her and the Children; ... the woman prevailed upon her husband to come to the edge of the water, when he was suddenly drawn in; and all were immediately changed to what they are at this day. This is the reason ... why the beaver ... has as much sense as ...

anishenabe ... a human being".

[p. 122, fn. * : "Nelson's Salteaux companions used the noun anis^s^inape to refer to 'human being'".]

pp. 123-4 origin of beavers, according to the Montagnais of Quebec

p. 123

"the motifs of the proscribed watercourse, the broken bridge, ... and the eventual aquatic reunion of the family in beaver form all occur ...

p. 124

recorded from ... Montagnais in Quebec (Bell 1879; Steager 1976; ... Tanner [1830]; Bauer 1971).

In these stories, the wife is represented as initially a beaver and her fall into the waters effects a temporary ... separation from the human husband."

{cf., e.g., how the bride princess Joharah "from the bottom of the sea" (SFAN, p. 87) was temporarily separated (SFAN, pp. 88-103) from her destined husband king Beder}

Bell 1879 = R. Bell : "History of the Che-che-puy-ew-tis". J OF AMER FOLKLORE 10:1-8.

Steager 1976 = Peter Steager : "The Child Who Was Not Born Naturally". PAPERS OF THE 7TH ALGONQUIAN CONFERENCE, ed. by William Cowan. Ottawa : Carleton U.

Tanner 1830 = John Tanner : A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner ... among the Indians in the Interior of North America.

Bauer 1971 = George W. Bauer : "Cree Tales and Beliefs". NORTHEAST FOLKLORE 12:1-70.

SFAN = Michael Clarke (ed.) : Stories from the Arabian Nights. Amer Bk Co, 1897. http://books.google.com/books?id=xpsAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq= & http://archive.org/stream/storiesfromarabi00clarrich/storiesfromarabi00clarrich_djvu.txt



Cosmogonic Myths from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan


IIIA.0 p. 125 primordial era

"Nelson's stories pertained to the acadohkiwin category; that is, they were set in the remote past ..., and cosmological contrasts with the present world were clearly drawn. Cree say that such stories pertain to an ancient period

when humans and animals could converse

{Animals are able to speak to (and be understood by) humans in dreams by humans; so that the acadohkiwin era is that known to Australian aborigines as the 'Dream-Time'.}

and when animals shared social and cultural characteristics with humans (cf. Boas ["1914"] ..., 455)."

Boas 1914 = Franz Boas : Race, Language and Culture. http://monoskop.org/images/8/8f/Boas_Franz_Race_Language_and_Culture_1940.pdf

IIIA.1 p. 125 proto-Algonkin myth

"The name 'Wisahkecahk' is not, as has sometimes been supposed (Speck 1915, 1), a variant of the Cree wiskacanis, the gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis) ... . ... The name Wisahkecahk goes back to the Proto-Algonquian parent language (Goddard 1974:107)

{There is, howbeit, no reason why a proto-Algonkin antiquity for the myth should exclude the deities in the myth from a propensity to assume animal-guise; indeed, such antiquity would tend to guarantee assumption of an animal-guise (designated "proper form" on p. 35) by an otherwise-anthropoid deity. It is customary in Australian-aboriginal myths for anthropoid deities, at their time of departure from the Earth, to have left on earth an animal-species repraesentative of themselves.}

and was unanalyzable even three thousand years ago."

{It is quite ridiculous to declare any primitive name "unanalyzable" : all primitive and aboriginal names (whether personal, place-names, or whatever) have definite meanings. Only with the advent class-ruled societies do meaningless names begin to exist (due simply to the deceitful and secretive nature of ruling-classes).}

Speck 1915 = Frank G. Speck : "Myths and Folklore of the Timiskaming Algonquian and Timagami Ojibwa". CANADA DEPT OF MINES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, MEMOIR 71; ANTHROPOLOGICAL SER 9.

Goddard 1974 = Ives Goddard : "Outline of the Historical Phonology of Arapaho and Atsina". INTERNAT J OF AMER LINGUISTICS 40:102-16.

IIIA.1 p. 126 Wisahkecahk

"When discussing Wisahkecahk, Manitoba Crees remarked that he is ... sexually adventurous (cf. the Sandy Lake Ojibwa {read "Cree"} epithet, "sex maniac of the north," Stevens 1971, 11), ... and that he altered the biophysical environment to render it habitable by humans."

"For the Crees of the 1820s, Wisahkecahk was an active spiritual presence who interacted with the opeator and audience at shaking lodge performances; he also appeared in the 1930s performance that Stan Cuthand describes in this volume [infra p. 191]."

Stevens 1971 = James R. Stevens : Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree. Toronto : McClelland & Stewart.

IIIA.1 pp. 127-9 distinguishing between Cree Wisahkecahk and Ojibway Mis^s^apos^

p. 127

"influences raise questions regarding both the distribution and the differentiation of Wisahkecahk and Nenaposh/Nenapos^ as characters in the literature of ... Algonquians."

{The need, in accounts of mythologies, for a clear distinction between Cree Gray-Jay (Wisahkecahk) and Ojibway Big Rabbit (Mis^s^apos^), is as much a desideratum as is a clear distinction between Sioux Spider (I[n]ktomi) and Uto-Aztecan Coyote.}

p. 128

"As in Nelson's version, the two may occur as distinct characters in the same myth, an arrangement that occurs also in a Southwestern variant from Ontario (Radin and Reagan 1928, 63-67)."

p. 129

"the Wisahkecahk and Nenapos^ characters and their cycles remain distinguishable."

Radin & Reagan 1928 = Paul Radin & A. B. Reagan : "Ojibwa Myth and Tales". J OF AMER FOLKLORE 41:61-146.

IIIA.2 p. 129 elements of the Ojibway Mis^s^apos^ myth

There "are such characteristic Ojibwa elements as

the transformer's multiple brothers, ... his designation of one slain brother as lord of the afterworld (Coleman et al. 1962; Barnouw 1977; Jones 1917-19; Schoolcraft 1839),

the gift of the Grand Medicine Lodge or Midewiwin society to the hero in reompense for his brother's death (Hindley 1885; Jenness 1935; Kinietz 1947; Barnouw 1977), or

the occurrence of a preliminary flood which recedes after the water beings are wounded (Jones 1917-19; Radin & Reagan 1928; Jenness 1935)."

Coleman et al. 1962 = M. Bernard Coleman, Ellen Frogner, and Estelle Eich : Ojibwa Myths and Legends. Minneapolis : Ross & Haines.

Barnouw 1977 = Victor Barnouw : Wisconsin Chippewa Tales ... . Madison : U of WI Pr.

Jones 1917-19 = William Jones : Ojibwa Texts. PUBL OF THE AMER ETHNOLOGICAL SOC 7. 2 voll. Leyden : E. J. Brill.

Schoolcraft 1839 = Henry Rowe Schoolcraft : Algic Researches. 2 voll. NY.

Hindley 1885 = John I. Hindley : Indian Legends : Nanabush, the Ojibbeway Saviour.

Jenness 1935 = Diamond Jenness : The Ojibwa Indians of Parry Island. NAT MUSEUMS OF CANADA BULLETIN 78, ANTHROPOLOGICAL SER 17. Ottawa.

Kinietz 1947 = Vernon W. Kinietz : "Chippewa Village". BULLETIN OF THE CRANBROOK INST OF SCIENCE 25:1-259.

IIIA.2 pp. 129, 133 omissions from George Nelson's account of the Wisahkecahk myth

p. 129

"Those Cree versions that identify Wisahkecahk's parentage name him as the son of the ... principals of the rolling head story (Ahenakew 1929; Blo[o]mfield 1930; MacLean 1897; Russell 1898; VanderSteene 1969) or of the stars into which they were transformed (Dusenberry 1962).

Nelson's version omits the events leading to the pursuit of transformer by his mother's animated severed head : it omits also the typical Cree elements

p. 133

of Wisahkecahk's ... sorcerer father-in-law Wimisosiw and

the transformation of his abandoned younger brother into a wolf or wolflike creature. ... . ... Plains Cree ... (Skinner 1916) represents

Wisahkecahk as having been a wolverine

{This ought to have been his brother.}

prior to assuming a more human identity."

Bloomfield 1930 = Leonard Bloomfield : Sacred Stories of the Sweet Grass Cree. NAT MUS OF CANADA BULLETIN 60, ANTHROPOLOGICAL SER 11. Ottawa.

MacLean 1897 = John MacLean : Canadian Savage Folk. Toronto.

Russell 1898 = Frank Russell : Explorations in the Far North. Iowa City.

vanderSteene 1969 = Roger vanderSteene : "Some Woodland Cree Legends and Traditions". WESTERN CANADIAN J OF ANTHROPOLOGY. 1.1:40-64.

Dusenberry 1962 = Verne Dusenberry : The Montana Cree. Uppsala : Almqvist & Wiksells.

Skinner 1916 = Alanson Skinner : "Plains Cree Tales". J OF AMER FOLKLORE 29:341-67.

IIIA.2 pp. 130-1 other elements (mostly omitted by Nelson) in the Wisahkecahk myth

p. 130

"W and younger brother magically sired by North Wind"

{Mukat sent for North Wind (NFIE, p. 115).}

"W abducted by Wim[i]sosiw"

p. 131

"W wounds chief of water beings; later kills after killing/impersonating frog doctor"

{Frog is cause of death (by sorcery, however) of Mukat (NFIE, p. 115).}

"W retrieves wolf brother's hide from doorway"

NFIE = Ruby Modesto & Guy Mount : Not for Innocent Ears : Spiritual Traditions of a Desert Cahuilla Medicine Woman. 1980.

IIIA.2 p. 136 Ojibway divine snakes

"the theology of the Ojibwa Midewiwin ... appropriates the ... snakes as patrons of human beings (Jenness 1935, 39-40; ... Simms 1906, 334-35).

In some popular myths, the giant horned snakes figure also as protectors of orphaned children (Bloomfield 1930, 15-16; ... Stevens 1971, 114-15)."

Simms 1906 = S. C. Simms : "Myths of the Bungees or Swampy Indians of Lake Winnepeg". J OF AMER FOLKLORE 19:334-40.

IIIA.3 p. 137 Nehanimis

"The only other reference to a Cree hero named Nehanimis in existing sources is in Curtis's myth of "Niyanimis" collected from the Woods Cree of Alberta (1928, 18:129-31). This narrative parallels Nelson's account in describing the contest between Nehanimis and Misapew, a giant. A magically charged feather figures in both stories ..., but Curtis's version adds the cosmogonic motif ... into four beings of diminished power".

Curtis 1928 = Edward Curtis : The North American Indian, vol. 18. http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/curtis/viewPage.cgi?showp=1&size=2&id=nai.18.book.00000195&volume=18





IIIB.0 pp. 138-9 pawakan

p. 138

"Nelson used the word "Dreamed" ... as a noun to translate pawakan, the individual spirit guardian ... . ...

p. 139

The Cree noun pawakan and its Ojibwa cognate refer to any nonhuman agent who enters into an enduring relationship with a human being, bestowing information, technical and spiritual abilities, and sometimes physical aid. In return, the human being is required to respect the pawakan, carry out its wishes and instructions and offer it gifts".

IIIB.1 p. 141 idoneous site for vision-fast

"Platforms in trees on the shores of rivers and lakes were favored because they juxtaposed the faster simultaneously with ... the sky, the water, and, through the roots, with subterranean ... domains. Such intersections were thought to be conducive to a successful experience".

IIIB.2 p. 143 topics & symbols

"One ... would discourse only on topics "not forbidden by his Dreamed"".

"Nelson ... observed that the songs taught to a man by his spirit guardian were recorded with mnemonic symbols on birch-bark scrolls (cf. Dewdney 1975)".

Dewdney 1975 = Selwyn Dewdney : Sacred Scrolls of the Southern Ojibway. U of Toronto Pr.

IIIB.2 p. 145 independence of, and interference from, the pawakan

"as in Southwestern Ojibwa belief (Landes 1968, 52), some persons exerted such powers

without simultaneous assistance from the spirits who had granted them."

{without such assistance's being noticeable, or with assistance from spirits other than those who had initially granted them}

"Some individuals experienced their guardians as unpredictable, demanding, and dangerous (cf. Bauer 1973, 10-15)."

Landes 1968 = Ruth Landes : Ojibwa Religion. Madison : U of WI Pr.

Bauer 1973 = George W. Bauer : Tales from the Cree. Cobalt (ON) : Highway Bk St.


MANITOBA STUDIES IN NATIVE HISTORY, III = Jennifer S. H. Brown & Robert Brightman (edd.) : "The Orders of the Dreamed" : George Nelson on Cree and Northern Ojibway Religion and Myth, 1823. Minnesota Historical Society Pr, St. Paul, 1988.