Powers of the Medicine Men, cap. 1 "Dreams"

[N.B. – Unfortunately, the author is persistent (pp. xviii-xix, 39, et passim) in maintaining the utter fiction that shamans (medicine persons) of like powers as are recorded in historic writings do not exist now. Perhaps, inasmuch is it is a fact that current-day American shamans are typically forcibly confined to insane asyla, where they are forcibly given brain-destroying electroconvulsive "therapy" ("electrical shock treatment" – "BY"), the author is craftily contriving to excuse the United States government of its horrendous crimes against humanity by his calculatedly contriving to conceal such monstrous crimes. Not to conceal them would, of course, disclose the cowardliness of essentially all praesent-day American Indians in permitting their shamans to be so viciously abused; and it would especially reveal the folly of American Indians in enlisting in the U.S. Army to promote similar crimes against humanity throughout the world, a viciously criminality fully aequal to the worst episodes of witchburning (under falsified accusations) in human history.

The author’s basic dishonesty in this matter may stem from his being (p. xiv) a Lutheran theologian (!!) and (p. xiii) a politician (!); both these corrupt degeneracies being very far cries in a direction away from genuine anthropology.]

table of contents







Universe of Spirits












about Elks








Dangers of Day-dreaming








Shared Dreams




Sacred Intrusion




invulnerable antelope; skeleton




Buffalo Spirits




being blessed while in pit




Nature of the Medicine Man




assistance from spouse




becoming a spiritual leader




being chosen by the spirits




Men’s Vision-Quaest Experiences




Explaining the Vision-Quaest




Explaining; Experience








acquisition of shamanic powers




vision-quaest; dream of bird-folk




deliberations by spirits




visitation by Morning-Star god




taking a spirit’s name




antelope favoring pacifism




Women’s Vision Quaest Experiences



(New England?)

dream of being acupunctured




dream of emmets








catskin and glass



(Nor. Rockies)





Visions in Transition










[where (pp. 6-9) tribe is not specified, some variety of Sioux is usually intended]

[only 1:10:1-5 (pp. 31-9) & 1:11:2 (pp. 41-2) are dreams by females]

p. xix powers

"Our ancestors invoked the assistance of higher spiritual entities to solve pressing practical problems, such as

finding game,

making predictions of the future,

learning about medicines,

participating in healings,

conversing with other creatures,

finding lost objects, and

changing the course of physical events through a relationship with the higher spirits".

pp. xxiv-xxviii stones in dreams

p. xxiv

"the communications received in dreams ... led people to devise ways to open themselves to the high powers."

p. xxv

"Often in dreams, a bird, animal, or stone would speak to them, offer its friendship and advice, or reveal the future ... . ... If a plant told them how to harvest it and prepare it for food or use as a medicine, they followed the pant’s directions, and they always found the message to be true."

p. xxvi

[Teton (TSM&C, pp. 207-8)] "I had a dream, and in my dream one of these small stones appeared to me and told me that the maker of all was Wakan tanka ... . The stone said ... that if I were curing a sick person I might ask its assistance, and that all the forces of nature would help me to work a cure."

p. xxviii

[Teton (TSM&C, pp. 72-3)] "When a medicine man says that he talks with the sacred stones, it is because ... these ... most often appear in dreams and are able to communicate with men."

p. 2 herb is given by badger (TSM&C, p. 266)

"A man appeared to me in a dream, showed me a plant, and said, "My friend, remember this plant well. ..." It was badger who appeared to me in the form of a man and said this. It was the first time that the badger came to me. but afterwards he brought me other herbs."

pp. 3-4 lodge of elks (TSM&C, p. 177)

p. 3

"The dream came to me when I was asleep in a tent. Some one came to the door of the tent. He said he had come for me, and I arose and followed him. ... he led me to a beautiful lodge. ... The lodge was painted yellow outside, and the door faced southeast. On entering the lodge I saw drawings on the walls. At the right of the entrance was a drawing of a crane holding a pipe with the stem upward, and at the left was a drawing of a crow holding a pipe with the stem downward. ... The elks in the lodge ...

p. 4

said that they had heard that I was a great friend of the buffalo, and that they wanted me to be their friend also. ... They then said that they were going to sing a song and wished me to learn it."

p. 4 "elk herb" {cf. Old English rune "elk sedge"}

pp. 6-7 day-dream of dark cloud; subsequent being stricken by lightning

p. 6

"Once I napped the daytime, I had a dream, and it was like this :

p. 7

A dark cloud appeared across the west, and it was drawing near. And out of that cloud, I heard the shouts of a scout. ... it was someone painted up in fantastic designs, who was walking away from me, entirely nude.


... and then one day the thunders did strike me, and burned me in odd designs, but I recovered."

pp. 10-11 invulnerable antelope; skeleton with buffalo-horn (TSM&C, p. 251)

p. 10

"I heard a voice speaking three times, then a fourth time, and the voice said it was going to sing something, and I must listen. 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. In the air, in front of the sun, was a booth made of boughs. In front of the booth was a very bright object and between this and the booth was a man, painted and wearing an eagle-down feather, while around him flew all kinds of birds. The bright object was a sacred stone, and it was heated red hot. After seeing this I heard another voice telling me to look and receive what would be given me. Something in the form of a bird came down, and where it touched the ground an herb sprang up. This occurred three times. The voice above me said that I was to use these three herbs in the cure of the sick. The fourth time the descending object started in the voice of a bird, but a human skeleton {cf. [Aztec bird-god appearing as a human skeleton] Huitzil-opochtli} came to the ground. ... I then saw blood run into the skeleton, and a buffalo horn appeared ... and drew the blood out of the skeleton. The voice above

p. 11

me said that this was a sign that I would have power ... to cure disease of the blood. The voice came from the sacred stone".

pp. 11-12 buffalo-skulls on line become vivified and float (GI, pp. 25-26)

p. 11

"on the Knife River a man ... sought a vision from the buffalo spirits; and he thought to make himself suffer so that the spirits might pity him. He tied four buffalo skulls in

p. 12

a train, one behind another, and ... he came to the Little Missouri ... . He stood on the bank and cried : "O gods, I am poor and I suffer! ..." ... he had to swim; he struck out. ... The four buffalo skulls were swimming about him, buoying him up; but they were no longer skulls! Flesh and woolly hair covered them; they had big blue eyes; they had tongues. They were alive!" {cf. [Norse god] To`rr angling with a fishing-line baited with an ox-head}

pp. 14-15 assistance to doctor from spouse (ChI, vol. 2, pp. 128-129)

p. 14

"A man cannot become a doctor by himself; when he receives the power, his wife – who afterward is his assistant – must also be taught and receive certain secrets. ... If the wife of the man who is receiving the power does not wish to become a doctor, the man must find another woman to act with him. A man may become a doctor through a

p. 15

dream, thus receiving spiritual power directly from above, but even in this case he must have a woman to help him."

p. 15 variety of possible communications from spirits (LB&R, p. 79)

"Hanble (a vision) is / may be __"

"or __."

a communication from Wakantanka

a spirit

relative to the one that receives it

to another

communicated in Lakota

handloglak (language of the spirits)

come directly from the one giving it

sent by an akicita (messenger)

come unsought

come by seeking it

p. 23 acquisition of shamanic powers during vision-quaest ("NMSh", p. 63)

"the novice must keep his object secret while camping alone in the woods with an outfit for two, the other, an invisible companion. A being will finally appear ... who will give him ...

the power to assume animal shapes,

to walk through fire unharmed,

through water without being drowned,

to translate himself through the air with the quickness of thought,

to control the elements,

to walk on water and the like."

pp. 23-25 vision-quaest; dream of bird-folk (TSM&C, pp. 184-185)

p. 23

"a medicine man ... painted my face white, and ... he told me of his own dream ...,

p. 24

and after leaving him I went to this hilltop to follow his instructions. ...

p. 25

Just before daybreak I saw a bright light coming toward me from the east. It was a man. ... He said, "Follow me," and in an instant he changed into a crow. In my dream I followed the crow to a village. He entered the largest tent. When he entered the tent he changed into a man again. Opposite the entrance sat a young man, painted red, who welcomed me. ... He told me to lift my head. I did this and saw dragonflies, butterflies, and all kinds of small insect, while above them flex all kinds of birds. As soon as I cast down my eyes again ..., I saw that the young man had become transformed into an owl, and that my escort had changed again into a crow."

pp. 26-27 deliberations by spirits as concerning which powers to impart to humans (TL, pp. 146-147)

p. 26

"Early the fifth morning a person rose above the horizon until I saw his entire body. As he walked toward me, fires burst out where he stepped. At last he stood next to me and delivered the message that Bird Going Up was coming to me. He was wearing strange moccasins, the left upper made from a silver fox’s head, the right from a coyote’s head. The ears had been left ... . The right heel was painted black and the left red. ... A little rain woke me {is this a dream of false awakening?} and my dream became a real vision. My dream person was standing next to me {as typical of Homeric and of Sumerian-Akkadian dreams of apparently false awakenings} when I heard the little coyote head on his moccasin bark, flames blew from his mouth. ... He carried a coup stick with a raven sitting on it. This raven tried to teach me in the language of the birds ... . Suddenly I heard a thunderclap. I seemed to be picked up and dropped ... . ... Landing unhurt on the mountain slope with my head downward, I saw a bird’s big tail and large claws, but could not see the body. Red streaks of lightning shot from each claw, leaving trails on the rocks. I noticed hailstones on the bird’s spread-out tail. ... My dream person told me that this bird was great, that the noise from its throat sounded like thunder. ... Then the raven disappeared and I looked again at my dream person. A large red circle was painted on his face,

p. 27

broken by two other circles scratched into the red paint. The raven returned to its perch on the coup stick and my dream person told me that Bird Going Up had told him not to let the ravens teach me the language of the birds. Instead, he said, he would teach me some of his medicine songs and sang ... . After the first song he blew several times on an eagle-bone whistle. ... His last song went : "My child, I am living among the clouds and there is nothing impossible for me.""

pp. 28-29 visitation by Morning-Star god (CIMB, pp. 44-45)

p. 28

"Just before dawn he awoke. {a dream of false awakening?} He was wide awake and was gazing toward the east ... . Then suddenly, in the clouds overhanging the sky, a man appeared. He came nearer and nearer. Finally he appeared to step out of a cloud upon the toes [of the dreamer]. ... The man then stepped down beside his couch. As his feet touched the ground a blaze of fire issued from the points of contact. The earth seemed to be aflame and a column of smoke ascended skyward. {"Then the angel ... touched ...; and there rose up fire out of the rock" (S^pat.i^m 6:21).} Then the man spoke. "My child, arise from your bed of torture. I have come to adopt you as my son. ... On you I will bestow my power." Then, apparently from nowhere he produced a hoop. Holding it in front of [the dreamer] he told him to look through it. When [the dreamer] did so he saw all the ... tribes just as if they were close to him. The spirit man then told [the dreamer] that he was the Morning Star .., and ... to make a hoop medicine for himself. ...

p. 29

He told [the dreamer] that whenever any ... party approached the camp in which he was staying, this medicine would [indicate] of their coming before their arrival."

p. 29 visitation by Smoking-Star god (NAIL, pp. 51-52)

A medicine man "left me alone on a high hill to fast, dance, and pray. Each evening and morning he came and ... exhorted me to greater efforts. ... By the third ... night ... I saw Smoking-Star. Then I heard a voice, "My son, why do you cry here?" Then I saw a fine warrior sitting on the ground before me, smoking my pipe. {cf. Maya pipe-smoking god} At last he said, "I will give you power. You are to take my name. ... Always pray to me and I will help you.""

pp. 30-31 dream of antelope’s speaking of peace (OT, pp. 138-139)

p. 30

"He painted his face black; then seeking out a cavern in a sequestered part of the Black Hills, he lay for several days, fasting and praying to the spirits. In the dreams ... he saw supernatural revelations. Again and again the form of an antelope appeared before him. The antelope is the graceful peace spirit of the Ogillallah ... . ... At length the antelope spoke. It told the young dreamer ... that thenceforward he was to guide the people by his counsels, and protect them from the evils of their own feuds and dissentions. ...

p. 31

From that time [he] ... devoted himself to the labors of peace."

pp. 33-34 dream of being acupunctured (ITUS, vol. 1, pp. 391-393)

p. 33

"The night of the sixth day ... I obeyed the summons, and, going to the spot from which the voice came, found a thin shining path {cf. Peruvian "Shining Path"}, like a silver cord, which I followed. ...

After going a short distance, I ... saw on my right hand the new moon, with a flame rising from the top like a candle ... .

I went on, and beheld on my right the face of Kau-ge-gay-be-qua, or the everlasting standing woman, who told me her name, and said to me, "... I give you long life on the earth, and skill in saving others. ..."

I went on, and saw a man standing, with a large circular body, and rays from his head, like horns. He said, "... my name is Monido-Wininees, or Little Man-spirit. ..."

I followed the path till I could see that it led up to an opening in the sky, when I heard a voice, and ... saw the figures of a man standing near the path, whose head was surrounded with a brilliant halo, and his breast was covered with squares. He said to me, "Look at me; my name is O-Shau-wau-e-geeghick, or the Bright Blue Sky. I am the veil that covers the opening in the sky. ... I am going to endow you with ... array that you may ... endure." Immediately I saw myself encircled with bright points, which rested against me like needles, but they gave me no pain, and they fell at my feet. This was repeated several times, and at each time they fell to the ground. ...

p. 34

I then felt different instruments, first like awls, then like nails, stuck into my flesh, but neither did they give me any pain, but like the needles, fell at my feet as often as they appeared. He then said, "... There is a conveyance for you. Do not be afraid to get on its back ... ." I turned, and saw a kind of fish swimming in the air, and getting upon it as directed, was carried by with celerity; my hair floating behind me in the air.

As soon as I got back, ... I ... went to my lodge and lay down. I again saw the vision, and each person who had before spoken to me, and heard the promises of different kinds made to me, and the songs. I went the same path which I had pursued before, and met with the same reception."

p. 35 dream of emmets (P-Sh, p. 166)

"One morning I saw a woman ahead of me. She was walking fast but suddenly she stopped and stood still, looking at the ground. ... "Rake up the side of this anthill and ask for the things you wish, daughter," the Person said, and then she was gone. Now in this medicine-dream, I entered a beautiful white lodge, with a war eagle at the head. ...

And even more the ants help me. I listen to them always."

p. 36 dream of bear-god (CP, p. 319)

"I had a vision. I saw Bear-Chief wearing the bear robe over his shoulders and the bear claw neckpiece around his neck. He was painted with yellow earthen clay and had black streaks from each eye down the face. He said, ‘My sister, Father (Bear) and Mother (Cedar Tree) ... are watching for our people to have the ceremony. ... I ask that you tell the people so that they can have the ceremony, for it is time.’ I woke up".

pp. 36-37 dream of catskin and glass (CP, p. 156)

p. 36

"One night the woman dreamed of a man with a bundle on his back. He placed the bundle on the ground and walked around it ... . Then he sat behind the bundle, which he opened, and took a cat skin from it. The skin had hooves of ponies and buffalo painted on it. ... Then he took out of the bag ... something clear like glass ... . ...

p. 37

He held the transparent object over the bowl of the pipe and smoked it. ... Then he addressed the woman as follows : "... You will get the glass and the pipe. ... If the clear thing lights the pipe, it will be a sign of success ... . ..." The woman awoke. ...

She dreamed of the man again. He told she was his sister".

pp. 38-39 grizzlybear-goddess (ILNR, pp. 119-121)

p. 38

[dream by a little girl] "A woman and two children were coming. ... The mother was a middle-aged woman, well dressed in buckskin. Around her shoulders the buckskin was painted red, and she wore trinkets. ...

p. 39

Then the mother said, "... When you grow up, you will be a good medicine woman. ... These two are you little brother and little sister. I am your mother." I glanced away and when I looked back, ... a grizzly bear sat there beside me, with two little cubs. The mother bear stood up and said, "Now get on my back." I did."

bibliography :-

"BY" = Gary Holy Bull : "Becoming a Yuwipi". In :- CULTURAL SURVIVAL, vol. 32 (2008). http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/gary-holy-bull/becoming-yuwipi

TSM&C = Frances Densmore : Teton Sioux Music and Culture. Lincoln : U of NE Pr, 1992.

BES = John Neihardt : Black Elk Speaks. U of NE Pr, 1979.

LSE = Standing Bear : Land of the Spotted Eagle. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1933.

GI = Edward Goodbird : Goodbird the Indian. St. Paul : MN Historical Soc Pr, 1985.

ChI = George Bird Grinnel : The Cheyenne Indians. Lincoln : U of NE Pr, 1961.

LB&R = James R. Walker : Lakota Belief and Ritual. Lincoln : U of NE Pr, 1991.

"NMSh" = Frederick Johnson : "Notes on Micmac Shamanism". In :- PRIMITIVE MAN, vol. xvi, nos. 3-4 (Jul-Oct 1943).

TL = Peter Nabokov : Two Leggings. U of OK Pr, 1967.

CIMB = William Wildschut : Crow Indian Medicine Bundles. New York : Museum of the American Indian, publ xvii, 1960.

NAIL = Elsie Clews Parsons : North American Indian Life.

OT = Francis Parkman : The Oregon Trail. Boston : Little, Brown & Co, 1925.

ITUS = Henry R. Schoolcraft : Indian Tribes of the United States.

P-Sh = Frank Linderman : Pretty-Shield. Lincoln : U of NE Pr, 1972.

CP = James R. Murie (ed. by Douglas Parks) : Ceremonies of the Pawnee. Washington (DC) : Smithsonian Pr, 1981.

ILNR = Ella E. Clark : Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies. Norman : U of OK Pr, 1966.

Vine Deloria : The World We Used to Live in : Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Fulcrum Publishing, Golden (CO), 2006.