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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Medicine People

Sacred Pipe

Sweatlodge

Sun Dance

Vision Quest

Medicine People

Hunting

Visual representation of nature's laws


"While the inkoze helin ["medicine man," "man of high degree"] learn in dreams, just as it is true with powerful stories, having inkoze always requires gaining practical knowledge and experience in the bush. No-one without considerable, firsthand, practical, waking-life experince in the bush ever develops major abilities with medicine power. Perhaps this is symbolized in the fact that an inkoze helin must complete himself or herself by ‘going to the roots.’ Going to the roots culminates in what begins as a long process of dreaming, starting in childhood and lasting until one is at least a young adult" (Smith Worlds as Event 79). (See long quote from Smith’s friend Francois pp.79 regarding his experience of the calling).


The Path of the Animals Helps Locate Medicines
Interviewer - Earle Waugh, PhD.

 

"In searching for his medicinal plants the [Cherokee] shaman goes provided with a number of white and red beads, and approaches the plant from a certain direction, going round it from right to left on or four times, reciting prayer the while. He then pulls up the plant by the roots and drops one of the beads into the hole and covers it up with the loose earth. Here obviously there can be no question of actual reseeding. But once again the cost to the gatherer is not inconsiderable" (qtd. Bierhorst 126). (he mentions that this kind of mock reseeding is rather uncommon, but does illustrate the theme of reciprocity).

"…among the Cherokee it used to be said that an herb gatherer had to pass up the first three plants he found. Then when he came to a fourth, he could pluck it and go back for the other three. Evidently this prevented the harvesting of three or fewer specimens" (Bierhorst 128).

"…medicine powers are shown gradually as people become teachers within their bands. The powers are real only as people discover them for themselves. Children first discover the powers of old people from the special quality of space around them. In the vision quest they apprehend power through overwhelmingly direct transformative experience. Later they dream back to that time and begin to release information for the people living closest to them. When a person begins to dream back, the child’s vision gradually emerges from his or her subjectivity to touch an inner circle of closest relatives, and then outward to more distantly connected people. As a person’s household grows, more people have an opportunity to observe the medicine bundle. In times of crisis, it may be used ritually in an attempt to restore well being. The bundle and the dreaming of its owner become important to the household’s sense of self sufficiency. Success in the food quest attest to an ability to see connections between the trails of people and animals. Dreaming back to the child’s vision is associated with dreaming ahead to the point of contact between hunter an game. The present moment is seen to be framed by visions of past and future with medicine power. Knowledge of the future must be balanced by knowledge of the past" (Ridington 217).

 

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