prophecy among the Dogrib [earlier called "Slave" (p. 138)]

prophets’ dicta on sexual matters


sexual attitude


The blind Bear Lake Prophet "likes to joke about women."


The blind Bear Lake Prophet repeatedly "made some sort of risque’ or flirtatious comment to young unmarried women, including prepubescent girls."


A prophet "was announcing that it was all right to ... trade wives because that is what women are for."

dreaming by prophets et al.




[autobiographical account of dream] "Right at the end of the road ... there is a building. ... When I reached that house it was made of glass. The floor itself was so shiny it was like a mirror, and it was so pretty, walls of glass, roof of glass ..." Every time I dreamed I dreamed about this same place."


[dream by the blind Bear Lake Prophet] "So he walked around and when he got behind me the first time he put his hand just above my head. Then he gave me a little slap on my head and something like ice dipped down me as far as my waist. Then he circled a second time and when he got behind me he gave me another little slap, but harder than the first time, and I felt ice to my knees. ... And he circled around me again and when he got behind me and he gave my head a little heavier slap ... . Then he got a sack ... three times he put air into this sack and each time the air came out with a rush". {cf. bag of wind given by Aiolos to Odusseus}


"Everything shown to them through dreams is considered as true. It is often through dream that they make what they call medicine, a ... practice to which they attach the cure of diseases, the success of undertakings".


"the term nate ‘dreamer’, specifies a prophet".


"about not eating the meat of an animal that has talked to you" : "somebody dreams about caribou. The caribou says, "If you want to be lucky for caribou, you are not supposed to eat my head.""


[told by the Rae medicine-man, these must be dreams :] "I make me into an eagle one time. I flew over the land everywhere and my wings made a big noise.

One time ..., I walked around at night. And I heart crying, a kind of moaning. ... Finally it sounded like it was coming from a tree. It was the tree crying. ‘hello, stranger. I am dying. Can you help me?’ "

medical cures




[cult] "Both men and women dance in a single circle to the accompaniment of a beaten drum before which each of the dancers bows in passing. The cult ... originated with a man of supernatural power who ... When one of the Indians was ill with an epileptic fit, ... thereupon immediately hit the ground with his stick and told the man to rise, which he immediately did, completely cured."


"the man fell and broke his lower leg. ... And he [Mountain medicine-man] put that [moose] bone right on top of the broken bone and starts to clap his hands. And the moose bone disappeared. ... And the man started to walk. He [medicine man had] placed that [moose] bone in the other one."


" "wrong" behavior that in the "olden days" might bring about sickness : thinking bad thoughts about or saying something "wrong" about a dead person. "The ghost will follow you and you get sick. So you find a medicine man and if you confess ... you chase the ghost away with ink>on and get cured." {cf. " "excantation of a disease, cure by confession"" based on Ptolemaios : Apolotelematika 3:15:5:9 (DG, p. 150, fn. 29)}


[example of encouragement to confession] "After a while he got sick and the medicine man came there and started to make medicine. "You done something you shouldn’t do, that why you’re like this. If you confess I can cure you." ... The medicine man says, "If you don’t confess, you’re gonna die." ... "You gotta mention it," he says."


in order to cure a sick woman who "was lying there naked to the waist", the Rae medicine-man "took the drum and he laid it all over her breasts and chest. Then ... he sucked through the drum ... . [He then said to her :] "At the north end of the world there is a big mouth with big teeth ... the mouth and teeth open and close. I have been there. I have seen that.""

DG = Richard J. Bautch : Developments in Genre. Brill, 2003.

aspects of ink>on




"attaining (‘medicine power’)" : "The experience that brings ink>on ... is called dreaming ... . The empowering being tells the initiate when he or she may indicate that he or she has ink>on."


[autobiographical instance of ink>on] "I been eating with wolves and now I can eat all kinds of food and never fill up myself."


"They say that a woman’s ink>on is stronger than a man’s. ...

Ink>on will tell him when to tell that he has ink>on. Maybe it is when he is grown up and is married and has two sons, or one son. Maybe then he can speak."


"A man that dreams of spider ink>on is the strongest man for medicine because he could travel on the air and he could set nets anywhere. The spider talks to you and ... will tell you everything, what you should and shouldn’t do." {cf. [Lakota] talking "giant spider" who imparted healing power to "medicine" candidate during thunderstorm (APh, p. 229a); this spider-god Inktomi taught the use of the dream-catcher web (LDS)}


"the curer held glowing coals in his mouth without being burnt. Only those who have raven ink>on can do that."


"The loche (burdot, Lota lota) ... commonly lives under stones ... and has come ... to be sometimes named Coney-fish. [because coneys hide amidst rocks] ...


rabbit snares [are rendered effectual by ink>on imparted by] ... a loche". {[in myth,] Manaboz^o stole blue fire, the color of petroleum-gas flame : /petr-oleum/ literally ‘ROCK-oil’/}


[autobiography by "the biggest medicine man in Rae. When he cured he had to tell how he became a medicine man."] "At the beginning I came from heaven. I was in heaven and I was made into a feather. And then through a tube I was blown to earth. On earth I began to search for a mother. When I found her I began to grow in her womb. When I was born, ... the wolves and the animals were teaching me everything. I came down from heaven like the moon". {cf. H^attic myth of moon’s coming down from the sky}


"the blind medicine man, died ... . His spirit goes with the north pole. And he could read your mind".


"One time I saw a man shake a hide ... and on the first shake all the hair fell out. And on the sexond shake the hide was tanned. And on the third shake the hide was smoked."


[Dzekwin] "Some kind of animal, like a human, shows itself in the bush. And if you know that fellow ..., you will be a good hunter, the luckiest man." The dzekwin hath "heavy eyebrows, red cheeks, and ... chin whiskers about four inches long ... so it is like a hunchback". {cf. hunchbacked Hopi god}


[Tsinco] "It’s got like ... what a bishop carries? [crozier {= lituus, named for Lituerses}] ... A man’s got one like it, a big long pole, and that man, ... iron, he’ll find it. ...


Even that stick, ... they dream about it. ... Anything they dream about, they go by. ...


the "staff" or "pole" ... can locate iron in the ground that no one knows is there." {with this magical metal-detector, cf. Daphnis’s detecting "his beloved Pimplea, carried off by pirates, ... among the slave-girls of Lityerses." (GM 136.e) This Pimplea was Mousa of comedy (CDCM, s.v. "Thalia").}


In order to split ice (covering a body of water) for fishing in the winter, "the thunderbird "a small bird we have here," [is] the actual ink>on".


[quaeries in another "version of ... the trip to the land of the icebergs"] "Do you think you know about ink>on? ... You know spider? ... You know about ants? ... You know about shrew?"

APh = Harris; Pratt; Waters (eds.) : American Philosophies. Blackwell Publ, 2001.


GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

CDCM = Pierre Grimal : A Concise Dictionary of Classical Mythology. 1990.

mythic eras of animal-people, of yambati, and of beings dwelling in interior of mountains




"About a thousand years ago the animals were talking like us, that’s the time they make these songs. ... And each kind of animal had its own song. ...


And when the animals finished there were no leaves, it was late in September. So some of those songs come from the animals." ["A medicine man uses the drum at the beginning, when he starts to sing. ... The medicine man sings all through but uses the drum just at the beginning." (p. 102)] ["And he starts to sing and ... can ... pinch hair from the caribou" (p. 103).]


"Yambati were around over a thousand years ago. ... There were two yambati ... .


So just hose two tried to kill each other with clubs. But they couldn’t do it. Their clubs would just meet each other. Then they tried spears two, but the same thing, the spears just hit each other. Then they tried bows and arrows but their arrows just meet each other. ...


The name of one yambati was Gatco (‘Big Rabbit’) and the other was Etsontih – caribou guts ... . Yambati means like ‘edge of the ocean’."


["nde oye ndih ... ... live in mountains. ... It’s a big animal, but no hair." (p. 135)] one version of the story about it : "they put a string around the mountain and they tied all kinds of feathers to it – ptarmigan, prairie chicken, duck, eagle, hawk. And one man starts to make medicine to the string of feathers and the birds come alive, all kinds, to make noises to wake [the big animal]. And the mountain start[s] to shake, it’s the [big animal] getting up. ... So he shot right at the rock and breaks it open and shoots the [big animal] right in the head."


another version of the story about it : "a dragon ... lived under the big rock. Then one of the men ... got an otter. And then he got all kinds of ducks. He got the ... titso [‘loon’]. And he hooked a mink ... . Then he took each of these animals and tied each body on a string so that they hung all around the mountain [the three-part rock.] ... All those animal bodies started to shake ... and cry. ... And he sings and a big dragon came out because he heard the noise. ... That lake is called dek>woti [‘Yellow Lake’]."


[how the Barrens came to be, and Went-Inside Mountain got its name] "There was a great medicine man. He went hunting and he left his wife behind, alone in the camp. And a young man was out hunting and he find[s] that woman alone. ... So the young fellow took the woman with him. ... So at last the husband, looking for them, got so mad that he started a fire to burn the bush so he could find them. ... And they get to Marian Lake and climbed up on that mountain. The young man lifted a rock ... And he told that woman to go inside. So the woman and then the man go inside and he clawed the rock back again."

legendary culture-heroes [Akaitcho is ascribed to "1812-1830" (p. 138)]




At Great Bear Lake, "Gaxieh ... pick up the youngest wife, grab her, and take her out ... to the bush alongside the camp ... and they make a fire and everybody help themselves [to her, sexually]. ... When the wind hits the canoe he [Gaxieh] just gives one whack on the water with the willow and the wind drops dead. ...


The old man was still after Gaxieh and he turn into a big jackfish. Gaxieh was shooting black ducks, ... and all of the sudden ... a black fish upset the canoe and ... the young fellow turns himself into a loon and he was just calling "ow, ow, ow, ow" back and forth in front of the camp. ... So his brother-in-law just throws his coat to that loon and Gaxieh ... turns into a man again. ... Gaxieh travels, sort of flies ... to the old man’s camp ..., and so Gaxieh set a snare for him there. ... That old man came up and went right into that snare, he had that snare on his throat. Gaxieh went right home that same night. His body was there sleeping all night but his ink>on went away and when his ink>on come back he wakes up. ...


Next time they hear that the old man came back from his nets and just drop dead. ... Gaxieh means ‘Packing Rabbits’. ... Gaxieh’s father was Edzagwo [a Dogrib culture hero] ... . Edzagwo’s number one wife was Loche Tail and Edzagwo’s oldest son was Edzo. ... Edzagwo had twelve wives".


["The story of the Dogrib Edzo’s confrontation of the enemy Yellowknife Akaitcho (ekeco ‘Big Foot’) is the Dogrib national epic."] "Edzo called on his brother Satl>iweta [Sun Ray’s Father] to think about what he knows of ink>on. Satl>iweta stated to sing and at the same time he thrust his hands and forearms into the earth about


one foot deep. And he pulled out a ... spirit [inin]. ... And Satl>iweta tore the spirit in half and sat down on half of it. The other half he let go. ... Edzo ... spoke so loud that when his voice hit the two trees at this place, it was so strong that the trees’ branches leaped up in the air. ...

Then Edzo tells another brother to make medicine. So that brother starts to sing, ... to take the spirit of Akaitcho’s bunch. And he holds it up, it’s just like half of the moon. ...


Edzo sings and he claps his hands and grabs ... the full moon ..., and his finger is sticking right through the middle of it".


[another version of the Edzo saga] "Edzo and the three men with him started to make ink>on.

The first man’s ink>on was a black raven. ... So this man turned himself into a black raven and he flew around Akaitcho’s camp. ...

The second man said, "... I could go around with the moon. When I die the moon will be half black." So he went around Akaitcho’s camp with the moon ..., the moon was just round and bright.

The third man, who was Edzo’s brother-in-law, said, "Since I was born, no knife ... can hurt me. ...""


[aftermath of the Mbes^oti massacre on Marian River :] "a medicine man ... calls his dream and ... thunder cracked and upsets all the canoes".



end of the world


"At the end of the world you’ll hear all this thunder and ... with a flute [detcin-ci ‘peeled willow whistle’] and that whistle will sound so loud that the ... flute ...


... is going to shake all the earth, it’s so loud."

June Helm : Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians. U of NE Pr, Lincoln, 1994.