Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians

By June Helm | Go to book overview
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6
"The Highest Men for Ink'on"

Through the years Vital Thomas' expositions on ink'on ordinarily took the form of narrative stories about particular characters in which occasionally a generalizing remark was imbedded Once he offered a broad summation:

A real ink'on person knows all about the sky. They say there's a lake up there and he knows all the points of land and the water. He can tell you everything that you could think of. He knows about the roots underground and about what it is like under the water. He knows about the wind. He can sing and make wind blow. If you need help, maybe your kicker breaks and you got no way to get home, you say to one of those men, "Save our lives!" and he start to sing which way the wind should blow.

The attributes of ink'on--triune ink'on as a power, a human person, and an animal or other-than-human being--emerge in Vital's tales about "the highest men forink'on." These men are known as ink'ondeh (`big ink'on'), done ink'on elin, or ink'on elin. Lurie(field notes) recorded the same usages as Vital's among the Lac la Martre Dogribs. ( Scott Rushforth, p. c., reports that the Bearlake Dene also use the comparable phrase dene 'įk'ó+̨ hęlį `person is powerful'.) In the following tales we meet several of these ink'ondeh by name: One Foot in Heaven (alias One Foot in Hell), Slim Ekawi, Gaxieh, Alphonse W, Ts'ocia, Godeh, Got'ocia, Old Marrow, and Beaverhook.


One Foot in Heaven, Alias One Foot in Hell

A medicine man is called ink'on. The highest man for medicine is ink'ondeh.

Suppose men have gone from Rae to Resolution and are supposed to be back but aren't back. If we can find an ink'on, we pay him some chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco or shells and ask him to find out where those guys are. Are they safe? When will they be back? And then the

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