Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians

By June Helm | Go to book overview

5
Aspects of ink'on

Getting and Becoming ink'on

I ask Vital how a medicine man gets his power.

Well, his dream. Some of them, they dream. But some of them, when they are young they just happen to see something. Like a boy might go behind the point over there and here is a big bunch of people sitting and they say, "Hey, hey, come eat with us." And this young kid thinks it is true and he eats with them. And after, he plays with them. And when he is played out, he goes to bed. And when he wakes up, there is not a soul. Maybe just a bunch of ptarmigan there, or wolves. The wolves or the ptarmigan had made like persons.

And that is what makes a medicine man start. He says, "I been eating with wolves and now I can eat all kinds of food and never fill up myself."

Medicine men tell about their medicine and one says: "When I was a kid, I was walking and somebody called me, a stranger. `Come on, little boy. We will show you how to make medicine'." Maybe there is a sick woman and the stranger sucks the sickness out and says, "When you grow up, you'll do same thing." And he tells the boy how to work medicine. Tells him everything. And when the boy gets old enough he does what the stranger tells him and starts to cure.

Like the Bear Lake Indians in the old days, if two, three guys visit them, they will feed them till they die, boil one whole moose, tell them to eat. They want to find out if the visitor is a good medicine man.

Like two men visit Bear Lake and shoot a moose before they get there. "Let's try to eat the moose so we won't have to pack anything tomorrow. If we clean up this moose tonight, we could do the same with what they cook for us [tomorrow]." And these fellows eat the entire moose in one night and one fellow says, "When I was a kid I used to eat and I would

-80-

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Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xii
  • Orthography xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Three Styles in the Practice of Prophecy 5
  • 1 - Prelude to Prophecy 7
  • 2 - Message, Performance, and Persona 27
  • 3 - The Foundations of Prophecy 52
  • Part Two - Ink'On 73
  • 4 - One Man's Ink'On 75
  • 5 - Aspects of Ink'On 80
  • 6 - The Highest Men for Ink'On"" 101
  • 7 - Ink'On in Play and Legend 121
  • 8 - Vital Thomas: A Brief Autobiography 146
  • Appendix 155
  • Notes 158
  • References 164
  • Personal Name Index 169
  • In Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians *
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