The Foundations of Prophecy
Dogrib society held no monolithic public opinion with respect to the three prophets or any one of them. Even among Dogribs of the same sex and age group who shared broadly similar life experiences, individuals' responses to the prophets were affected by distinctive casts of mind, biases, and perspectives. (For Vital, Barthelemy had long been a respected community leader and friend, yet Vital emphatically and overtly parted with Barthelemy on the question of Jack's legitimacy as a prophet.) Nonetheless, as news and gossip circulated, quasi-collective judgments formed and were reinforced as individuals "listened to" one another's opinions about the prophets. ( Roberts notes, "The normal gossip of any group is actually a slow scanning of the total informational resource of the group" [ 1964:441].) Some aspects of the relationships, reactions, and judgments of Dogribs in respect to the prophets have emerged in prior sections. As those aspects exemplify more broadly shared opinions, they bear on the salience of the prophets, singly and together, from 1967 to 1971, when they commanded the greatest attention from the Dogrib community.
The salience of the prophets was rooted in the contexture of authority. As used here, authority is the quality of rightly commanding assent and allegiance. Persons and groups, statuses and institutions have authority insofar as individuals and collectivities of individuals acknowledge them to be endued with that quality. The authority of the prophets flows from their authenticity: their visions and messages must be deemed true. In the case of each prophet, the truth of his prophecy is composed of a double strand--that the revelatory experience is real and that the source of the experience is valid. The speculation that "Jack's ink'on is fooling him"