The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, Variant 1

by Stella Stacy
transcribed by Sheila Shigley

This story was handed down from a prototype first told by the Dakota in recent times (see Comparative Material).

Hōcąk - English Interlinear Text

(00:09) Once upon a time there had been this war in which they came after the Hócą́gᵋra. She dove into shallow water. And these made frequent war, doing so in order to kill everyone of them. Then this little girl was someone they went for, having killed all of them, her parents as well as her brothers and sisters. And so she hid in the water, laying there in the water. She was reposed in the water [where] big leaves were lying on the water. A white flower extended over her. Big leaves were extensively spread over the water in this way. And there she thought this way, "Also why am I alone alive, when they killed for me all my relatives, even my parents?" this is just the way she thought.

(01:36) Then something said, one said, "Do not think that way, little girl. Come here and go to my home. There you will eat. There we will tell you something." Then they arrived. "No, I will not do it, thus I will speak. So here I am," she told him. "I might not have lived. They killed all my relatives," she said it like that. "No, little girl, now come here, when they talk to you, you will like it," he said it like this, they say. So that's the way it was. They took her to their home, and so he went back to a lodge there, taking her to her destination.

(02:31) Then they prepared food, clothing ... [they gave her,] and then they said to the little girl, "You will go home, as the making of frequent wars will be made to cease. I will task myself to make one of the drums. This drum will be a Good Friend Drum. They will quit war. All men will be good friends. This drum, this one they dance to, they will do good, and they will all be good friends." For this reason she was called. And so she did it that way. She did just the way he told her. He gave her a drum to make, and there these are called Hirúšgá. And so that's the way it was.

(03:37) When the drum started off there, they say it made every mind happy, and they gave things of themselves, and with their good friends, they would always make their hearts up. They gave of themselves very good things, and went home. It is said that warfare, and associated practices, these were stopped. They say that the drum, the Hirušgá Drum, itself made warfare stop. This little girl, right here, she herself possessed Light and Life. That's the way it was, they said, and I mean that I have told it precisely. It is a good story (worak).

The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, Variant 2

by Stella Stacy

Here Stella Stacy retells her Hōcąk account in English.

(4:41) This girl was hiding in a lake. To the shore where is water shallow. She lay there, because war were kill all her relatives. (5:03) Parents and brother and sister, the war killed them all. She lay there for several days, and she covered her face with big leaves that growed in the water, that had white lily on. Great big leaves, she covered her face with that, and she lays there. And she thought, "Why should I going to try to live, because my relatives all were killed? (05:37) What's the use to live?" that's what she thought.

And something talked to her. And there's a something talked to her. He said, "No, girl, don't think that. You come with me. (05:57) You come with me to my home. Then you eat over there. And then I'm going to tell you something, you be glad, you be happy," something told her. So they got her going, took her to a home. (6:18) And they dressed her, and they fed her there. And they said to her, "After this, you told the other one, to help you make a drum, a great big drum, and you make this drum and this going to be end the war. This drum is going to be a friendship drum. (06:52) The people all friend each other, they give things to each other. When this drum going, then they be all happy to see each other, and they be all friends to each other. They give things, they give nice things, to each other." (07:14) Then that drum was the end of war, and this little girl was blessed something. And something that blessed her, and that's the time that this drum is the end of the people used to war against each other. That's what this drum ended. (07:42)1

Commentary to Variant 1

"shallow" — the Hōcąk word here is ho-cek, "the spatio-temporal (ho-) beginning (cek)," the shallow part of a body of water being generally the part that would be entered first (temporal beginning) and which is at the water's edge (spatial beginning). It should also be noted that the water lily, which is mentioned below, is confined to shallow waters.

"water" — the word for water is ni (or ). In the context of life and death, the body is essentially ni. In death, in connection with the shallow Hōcąk graves, the fluid of the body as it decays into nothing more than dry bones, escapes to the surface. In death, the ghost (wanąǧí) goes the way of water. When the wanąǧí lives independent of the flesh, it's favorite habitat is water. This is a way of expressing the notion that when the independent soul unites with the flesh in conception, it is targeting its natural fluid environment. The Twins exemplify much of this philosophy. Ghost is always trying to lure Flesh into its favorite element of water, but there Flesh will die. To make sure that Flesh does not disappear with the escaping ghost into the water(s of the grave), the father of the Twins takes his breath, and inflates two turkey bladders, then ties them to the heads of each, so that the breath keeps the two from disappearing into ghost's element. The linguistic paradox is that the word for breath, which also functions as a metaphor for life, is ni (or ), a homonym of water! So the antithesis of the ni of death is ni, "breath". It keeps the shadow or image of the person, his soul, attached to his flesh. The ni of the body, most commonly, is blood, symbolized by the red of the turkey bladder that contains the ni that is breath and life.

"leaves" — the word used is ną̄’áp (00:53). This literally means, "tree leaf." The word ’ap, "leaf," forms a strong assonance with the word ’ąp, "to be animated, alive; alive, living" (Marino). ’Ąp is a shortened form of nį̄’ą́p. It is interesting that in the story, water, ni, and ’ąp, "leaf" are combined, so their conjunction, ni’ąp is essentially identical to the word meaning "life." The water, combined with the leaf that floats upon it, forms an image that is isomorphic with what the word for life denotes. Both are nį’ą́p (water-leaf = life). She attempts to shun death, the warparty that is stalking her, by embracing water-leaves, nį’ą́p, which is to say, life (nį̄’ą́p).

It is said that she covered her face with the large leaf of a water lily. This means that she breathed into the leaf, and took in air underneath it. This leaf mediated her breath. It's interesting to note that a breath-leaf would be a ni-’ąp, ni or being the word for breath and to breathe. So here again, the situation evokes the image of Life (nį̄’ą́p).

The young girl, presumably blessed by the Waterspirits (Wakcexi), recalls the Greek naiads (ναϊάδα). Naiads were nymphs who inhabited springs, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Like the Waterspirits, they were mortal, and had the same propensity for luring people to a watery grave.2 The parallel, though interesting, appears to be weak, since our nymph is taking to the water not as a seductress, but as a refugee. Nevertheless, as the embodiment of the spirit of this drum, she is a seductress, luring people away from war and towards peace and friendship. The drum expresses the power of water to seduce and attract, just as do the water lilies that grace the surface of the little girl's refuge.

"something" — this myth is at least partly from the old religion. Stella was a member of the Native American Church, and is apparently reluctant to recognize the existence of Waxopį́nį, "Spirits." So she left the generic identity of this being as vague as possible. This "something" seems almost certainly to have been a Waterspirit (Wakcexi), since Waterspirits are the supernatural force underlying the substance of water itself. The scene is set at a lake, and every lake is viewed as having its resident Waterspirit. It is not known how the Hōcągara honored the Waterspirits, or  the Waterspirit Warbundle, but among the Potawatomi, the Underwater Panther bundle rite features the use of a water drum, as it would seem that logic should dictate.3*

"drums" — in the Hōcąk version, this is reǧorupórogᵋra, which means literally, "kettle made circular and built-over," from rex, "kettle", and harupórok, "to be rounded, built-over, dome-like" (Miner), which in turn comes from ruporók, "to make something round (like a fist), to be filled up" (Helmbrecht-Lehmann), from ru-, a prefix meaning "to perform using the hand," and porok, "round." The drum is a kettle that is covered over with the drum skin. It's sonic covering is therefore like the water-leaf, ni-’ap, which covered the little girls face as she lay in the shallow water. The sounding of this drum is against war, and extols life (nį̄’ą́p).

"Good Friend Drum"hicákóro pı̨́ réx haropórogį[a]. Hicákóro means "friend", pı̨́ means "good", réx haropórok means "drum", and -įa is the indefinite article.

"Hirúšgá" — Paul Radin observed this dance in 1908:

The Herucka is a social dance and is frequently given when visitors from other tribes are present, presents being given on this occasion. Men and women take part in it and are generally dressed in their best clothes. A few customs that were noticed at a performance in 1908 might be mentioned here. If a man drops anything during the dance he himself may not pick it up. Only a warrior who has been wounded has the right to do so. The object dropped is returned to the owner, who, however, must always give it to his sister or niece. It is at times customary for a man to dress himself in rags and beg for food, etc. He generally represents himself as an extremely poor man and pictures his destitution in a manner best calculated to amuse everyone. Wagers of horses are very commonly made at this dance. The dances indulged in are mainly victory dances and the songs known as Herucka songs are always victory songs. Many borrowed songs are sung at this dance.

  Zhaawano Giizhik at Zaawano's Art Blog
  The Gichi-dewe'igan or "Large Drum"
Used at the Ojibwe Dream Ceremony

A large drum is always used, around which sometimes as many as 10 drummers sit. The drum consists of an ordinary tub over which skin has been tightly drawn. It is supported by two carved sticks,4* to which it is firmly attached, so that the bottom is about a foot from the ground. It It is painted in the following manner: Two rather narrow lines of paint across the center of the drum, one blue and the other green. The portion of the drum next to the yellow line5* is painted blue, and that next to the blue line red. No meanings for the colors were obtained.6

The color scheme of the drum seems to reflect this when viewed in Hōcąk theological terms. It seems in reconstructing what Radin meant to say, especially in light of the Ojibwe model of this drum, that the drumhead was a blue field and the red field separated by three straight, thin lines crossing through the center of the drum, the yellow line flanked by a green and a blue line. In the Ojibwe version, it is a yellow line flanked by two narrower green lines, but "green" and "blue" in Hōcąk were denoted by the same term, co, so that a Hōcąk description of the paradigm represented by the Ojibwe drum would be a yellow line flanked by two co lines. These two flanking lines are apparently optional: "The decor on the sides and support legs of ceremonial Drums varies considerably; the design for their heads, however, is standard: a narrow yellow band across its diameter, dividing the remainder of the circle into solid fields of red and blue. Thus the rawhide is completely covered with design."7 The line and color scheme are meant to represent the four directions. In Hōcąk terms, the directionality of the color scheme is easily understood. In the Bear Clan scheme of the four directions, Blue Bear is in charge of the east where the sun rises; Red Bear is in charge of the west, where it sets. So the blue represent the eastern quadrant, and red that of the west. This means that the yellow line flanked by two narrower co colored lines creates a south - north axis. This narrow yellow line defines the meridian, an imaginary line starting due south at the horizon, and passing through the zenith to the point on the opposite horizon defining due north. When a star reaches the meridian, it attains its highest point in the sky, which is to say, metaphorically, its greatest power. That stars are on cursory examination yellow, it follows that the meridian line is represented in yellow. The sound of the drum resonates in all four directions, as well as the zenith, simultaneously. Furthermore, in Hōcąk thought, the blue aligns with the Waterspirits and the red with the Thunderbirds, who reside at the western horizon. The red lightning from the dark, anti-solar clouds define the Thunderbirds. The color of the Waterspirits (Wakcexi) is blue, and they are associated with the clear blue sky. Bluehorn is a Waterspirit associated with the blue of the sky, and is metaphorically "eaten" by the dark clouds of the Thunders. The Thunderbirds and Waterspirits are ever at war. The Friendship Drum, as a grand and thundering drum, yet inspired by the Waterspirits, combines the red thunder of the zenith with the blue lower world of water: it is the unity and peace between the supernatural world's waring factions.

This dance originated as a warrior dance to honor and reenact their exploits, as well as extending charity to people in need. It was widely known as the "Omaha Dance," and was thought to have originated with the old Omaha-Ponca tribe, although it seems likely that they adopted the ceremony from the Pawnee.8 Among the Pawnee, the dance is called the Iruska, which means “the fire is in me.”9 This makes reference to the Kettle Dance occurring within the rite during which meat was extracted by hand from the boiling kettle by or for the dancers.10* This was preserved in the Hōcąk Heruška: select warriors danced around the kettle as the cook reached in and extracted meat which he placed in their mouths.11 It seems likely that the Omaha-Ponca derived their version from the Pawnee, as among the former it is known by many variant names without any clear meaning: Hethuska, Hethushka, Hayoshka, Helushka, Heduska, Haethuska, Helocka, and Hecucka.12 The name came to the Hōcągara without any meaning attached, which gave rise to a folk etymology:

In those days, the hair was cut at the sides and allowed to grow long in center. This called ahó sĭtckelre [ahó sĭckere]. The hair was carried on top of head, not braided, wound around top of head. That's where name came from helrúska waci, the hair was untied and allowed to hang down back. This they did before dancing.13

Hi-rúš-gá would be translated as "when (-ga) one takes (down) (rúš) hair (hi)," which conforms nicely with McKern's etymology. At least it would were it not for the fact that both he and Radin render the term Herušga. This could be rationalized by the fact that the word he, "horn," also referred to braided hair that formed the scalp lock. Of special interest is the fact that the Pawnee version of the rite featured four men playing water drums. "When the Pawnee gave the right to form this warrior society to the Omaha/Ponca Nation (at that time a single tribe that also claimed to have originated the society), the four water drums were replaced by a single large drum, commonly referred to as the 'big drum'."14 The Hōcąk idea that the "great big drum" was created by Waterspirits could be an echo of the original replacement of water drums by this Siouan innovation, although this is unlikely (see below).

It is clear that the transformation of the original Heruška war dance is a case of "beating swords into plowshares." It is also said that a Dakota woman, on the basis of a dream, was responsible for giving the drum and its rite to the Ojibwe, who also adopted it as integral to a peace and friendship ceremony.15* More is said on this below.

"Light and Life" — the Hōcąk here is Hą́p, which means "light." In this context, as in the Medicine Rite, it is like the Christian metaphor, and means "life." Radin, in his work on the Medicine Right, translated it as "Light and Life," and we follow that practice here.

"worak" — a well known distinction is made between two kinds of stories: the waiką́ and the wōrák. The waiką́ is a holy story, usually only known by a restricted group of individuals (usually males) who have purchased it and made the appropriate offerings and personal sacrifices in order to obtain it. It can only be told during the winter months when the snakes (waką́) are hibernating underground. If a waiką́ were told when snakes are about, the teller would likely be bitten by one of them. The wōrák, on the other hand, is "just a story," and there are no strictures surrounding it governing how and when it may be told. In origin, this story was clearly a waiką́, as it pertained to the holy origin of a religious article from the divine intervention of the Waterspirits. By demoting it to a wōrák, Stella is trying to protect herself from the accusation that she is profaning a sacred story. Members of the Native American Church, obviously, do not view such stories as anything other than myths from a rejected religion.

Commentary to Variant 2

Anastasiya Romanova on Unsplash  

"white lily" — given the context, what is meant is some kind of water lily, or perhaps a lotus (cēráp). The young refugee lies under the bloom of this pond flower, and through this image acquires some identity with it. White is the color of supernatural power ("holiness"), and given the blessing that is about to come to her, it is appropriate to attach such a symbolic image to this little girl. However, it should also be clear that she represents the special water drum that she is about to create. The circular leaves of the water lily are analogous to the drum's skin, being round. The nį’ą́p, water-leaf, through its counterpart in the drum, radiates Life (nį̄’ą́p). The sacred sound that emanates beyond the drum's skin is like the flower whose white petals "radiate" above the leaves. The white of the flower, being the color of holiness, is expressive of the drum's sacred role.

"little girl" — it is made quite clear that the drum is very large, so it is not likely that the drum is to be identified with the little girl with respect to its size. In many ways, the drum is an artifact that stands in opposition to, not just drums used in connection with war, but to war generally, and therefore to the Warbundle. It empowers peace in contradistinction to the Warbundle's augmentation of the Warparty's powers. The relevant bundle here is the Waterspirit Warbundle, about whose contents nothing is known; but we do know that all Warbundle covers are made by maidens who have just experienced their first menses. The choice of a young girl to make the first peace drum may correspond to the young girl who makes the first Warbundle element, equal but opposite: the girl of the Friendship Drum does not initiate her artifact with the spilling of dangerous blood.

"this drum ended"a Potawatomi shaman referred to this period when inter-tribal warfare ceased as "the Great Peace." It was marked by the introduction, in the upper Midwest, of the Dream Dance or Drum Religion, which teaches inter-tribal amity.16 This makes it evident that this myth, the myth of the origins of the drum that makes the Great Peace, is about the eponymous drum of the Drum Religion. The theme of the Great Peace is seen among the Ojibwe where "it is customary for Drum societies to raise one or more American flags at the dance site for the duration of the ceremony, ... the flag is understood to symbolize peace between the Indians and the United States Government as well as among all tribes under American jurisdiction."17 The Dream Dance or Drum Religion,18 which emerged from this pax americana, arose among the Dakota in the 1870s, perhaps due in part to the stress that their culture endured during the Civil War years. The Drum Religion quickly spread to the Ojibwe in Minnesota (see note below). By 1879 it had spread to the neighboring friendship tribe of the Hōcągara, the Menominee.19 There can be little doubt that the Hōcągara learned of this new cult not long afterwards. Stella Stacy, who tells our story, was born around this time in 1884. Paradoxically, it is clear that among all the tribes thus far mentioned, the Drum Religion is in no way connected with the use of water drums. Yet in our story, the sacred drum that performs the central role in a cult of universal peace and amity, which is clearly the Drum Religion, finds its origins in a girl submerged in water and quite obviously rescued and rewarded by the Waterspirits (Wakcexi). Among the Central Algonquians, it is the water drum, as we should expect, that is devoted to the worship of the Underwater Panther (the Hōcąk Waterspirit).20 However, McKern says explicitly that the drum used in the Heruška ceremony was not a water drum.21 We could suppose that when the Hōcągara adopted this rite, they innovated by making the drum a water drum, which would better match its origin myth. And it is certainly true that the Native American Church regularly used the water drum for its peyote rituals. However, this myth is clearly an expression of the old religion, with Spirits taking pity on a suffering mortal and rewarding her with an artifact. So the myth does not belong to any form of the Christian religion, and is not the kind of foundation myth that would be developed in that context. Even the rite retained its name as the Hiruška. So why does this drum arise from the watery world if it is not itself a water drum?

We have seen that the big drum of the Heruška ceremony is very strictly tied to the four directions. When Earthmaker created the world, it expressed its holy origins by spinning. In order to bring it to rest, Earthmaker sent four Waterspirits to act as Island Weights. They were posted at opposite corners, and thereby defined the cardinal points. As the drum is so strongly governed by the cardinal points, among the Hōcągara it would necessarily be governed by the Waterspirits. As deities of the four directions, it is they who would create such a drum and initiate its use in the Heruška rite, itself borrowed in the not too distant past from the Omahas. It seems likely that the story of the little girl who brings the Heruška drum to the Hōcągara is really the story of the big drum of the Heruška rite, only now reinterpreted as a Friendship Drum. Its origin story simply shifts to what were the subsidiary features of the old warrior Heruška rite, to the new rite in which gift giving and charity are everything. The celebration of the Drum Religion is merely a redaction of the Heruška ceremony in which its massive drum, even so described in the revised myth, carries on unchanged.

Comparative Material. The original story, "The Vision of Tailfeather Woman," was told in relatively recent times by the Dakota. "Here is the story of the beginning of the ceremonial powwow Drum. It was the first time when the white soldiers massacred the Indians when this Sioux woman gave four sons of hers to fight for her people. But she lost her four sons in this massacre and ran away after she knew her people were losing the war. The soldiers were after her but she ran into a lake (the location of which is never mentioned in the "preaching" of the Drum's story). She went in the water and hid under the lily pads. While there, the Great Spirit came and spoke to her and told her, "There is only one thing for you to do." It took four days to tell her. It was windy and the wind flipped the lily pads so she could breathe and look to see if anyone was around. No—the sound is all that she made out, but from it she remembered all the Great Spirit told her. On the fourth day at noon she came out and went to her people to see what was left from the war. (The date of this event is unknown.) The Great Spirit told her what to do: "Tell your people, if there are any left (and he told her there was), you tell your people to make a drum and tell them what I told you." The Great Spirit taught her also the songs she knew and she told the men folks how to sing the songs. "It will be the only way you are going to stop the soldiers from killing your people." So her people did what she said, and when the soldiers who were massacring the Indians heard the sound of the drum, they put down their arms, stood still and stopped the killing, and to this day white people are always wanting to see a powwow. This powwow drum is called in English "Sioux drum," in Ojibwa bwaanidewe'igan. It was put here on earth before peace terms were made with the whites. After the whites saw what the Indians were doing and having a good time—the Indians had no time to fight—the white man didn't fight. After all this took place the whites made peace terms with the Indians. So the Indians kept on the powwow. It's because the Sioux woman lost her four sons in the war that the Great Spirit came upon her and told her to make the Drum to show that the Indians had power too, which they have but keep in secret."22 This story was always "preached" at the Dream Drum ceremony.23

John Clark (born 1880) of the Mille Lacs Ojibwe gives this version of the story: "It started while they were having a war. This one women was almost starving, and it seemed like she heard someone from above speak to her [and tell her] to go to this camp where the white people were, and she got a design from there how to draw picture on a drum, and this person spoke to her and told her that they [had] four days to live, that they were going to get all shot down or something like that, and told her to take this design [and] make a drum and have a dance. And they did this for four days, and the four days started in the morning and when the four days were over the soldiers came ... and saw these Indians having a dance and they were going to come and wipe them out. ... Because the Indians were not afraid, they were celebrating and dancing ... the soldiers didn't bother them at all."24

The Ojibwe also have a small water drum which they use in their Medicine Rite. This drum was said to have been created by Little Boy, which recalls the little girl of the Hōcąk story.25

For a Greek parallel, see above.

Links: Spirits (Waxopini).

Stories: mentioning drums: The Descent of the Drum, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Buffalo's Walk, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 5), Young Man Gambles Often, Trickster and the Dancers, Redhorn's Father, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Elk's Skull, Ghosts, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Great Walker's Medicine, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 1b), Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Trickster and the Geese, Turtle's Warparty, Snowshoe Strings, Ocean Duck, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Hog's Adventures, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts. about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧábᵉra, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured.

Themes: hiding under leaves: The Chief of the Heroka, Įcorúšika and His Brothers; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧábᵉra, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), Trickster Concludes His Mission; spirits bless someone with an artifact: Waruǧábᵉra (warbundle, warclub), The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (warbundle, flute), The Blessing of a Bear Clansman (warbundle), The Thunderbird (warclub), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds (warclub), The Rounded Wood Origin Myth (ceremonial object), Origin of the Decorah Family (drum), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (magical paint), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (flute and gourd), Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka (flute), Ancient Blessing (pot, ax, spoon), The Blessing of the Bow (bow and arrows), Heną́ga and Star Girl (Thunderbird Medicine, arrow); a spirit is quoted as he gives someone a blessing: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Great Walker's Medicine, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Completion Song Origin, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Difficult Blessing, The Blessing of Šokeboka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bow Meets Disease Giver, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Sunset Point, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, A Peyote Vision, The Healing Blessing.


1 Reading by Sheila Shigley, from the audio tape in the American Philosophical Society: 10-04. Fraenkel, Gerd. Stacy, Stella. "A war story about a young girl," recorded 1959-07-22, 1 .mp3; 00:07:42. Copy made by Gerd Fraenkel of an original tape held at the Archives of Languages of the World, Indiana University. This program comes from original tape 18. APS accession number 7309. Beginning at 04:41, Stella Stacy tells this story in English.

2 H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1959) 173-174.

3* "According to James Kagmega the Wisconsin Winnebago have a sacred bundle ritual honoring the Underwater Panther. In the winter of 1955-56 Kagmega traveled to Wisconsin to assist the Winnebago priests in conducting the rite. "They were sure interested to hear my Underwater Panther songs," he reported. He did not mention whether or not a British flag formed part of the Winnebago bundle. So far as is known there are no accounts of the Winnebago ritual in the anthropological literature. Radin fails to note it in his The Winnebago Tribe." James H. Howard, "When They Worship the Underwater Panther: A Prairie Potawatomi Bundle Ceremony," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 16, #2 (Summer, 1960): 217-224 [223].

4* Obviously, a drum cannot be supported by just two sticks. There are four vertical "sticks", as we see on examples of this drum from other nations. What Radin may be referencing is the two crossed boards at the base of the drum.

5* There has been no mention of a yellow line. The pattern seen on the Ojibwe drum seems to be what Radin has in mind, but instead of two green lines flanking a yellow line, it has a green and a blue line.

6 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 384 (1923 ed.).

7 Thomas Vennum Jr. The Ojibwa Dance Drum: Its History and Construction (Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press: 1982) 202.

8 Jonathan Holmes, "Ponca Hethuska Society," (Electronic Text, July 31, 2012 / November 26, 2015). Arguing for the Pawnee origins are: James R. Murie, Pawnee Indian Societies. Anthropological Papers, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY., Vol. 11, No. 7 (1914); Clark Wissler, Diffusion of Culture in the Plains of North America. Proceedings of the International Congress of Americanists, Quebec, Canada, Vol. 15 (1906); and Dr. James H. Howard, The Ponca Tribe. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 195 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1965); Tara Browner, Heartbeat of the People: Music and Dance of the Northern Pow-Wow (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002); Gloria Alese Young, Powwow Power: Perspectives on Historic and Contemporary Intertribalism. Ph.D. dissertation (Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, 1981); Josephine Paterek, Pow-wow, Native America in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, ed. Mary B. Davis, (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994); William K. Powers, "The Sioux Omaha Dance," American Indian Tradition Newsletter, 8, #3 (1962); Ann Axtmann, Dance: Celebration and Resistance, Native American Indian Intertribal Powwow Performance. Ph.D. dissertation (New York: New York University, 1999); and Nicholas I. Belle, Dancing Toward Pan-Indianism: The Development of the Grass Dance and Northern Traditional Dance in Native American Culture. MA thesis. Dept. of Anthropology (Tallahassee: Florida State University, FL, 2004).

9* Murie, Pawnee Indian Societies, 608.

10* "Dancers circle a kettle of cooked dog meat four times, then, on a certain musical cue, the leader dips into the pot with his bare hand and arm and seizes a piece of meat. Usually this is a dog’s head. Peter LeClaire said that this dance was originally a part of the full Hedu’ska performance, but later evolved into a separate dance. The dance is still performed by the Teton Dakota and the Winnebago." Howard, The Ponca Tribe, 106-108; as quoted in Holmes, "Ponca Hethuska Society".

11 The McKern Papers on Hocąk Ethnography, 311.

12 Holmes, "Ponca Hethuska Society."

13 The McKern Papers on Hocąk Ethnography, 310.

14 Holmes, "Ponca Hethuska Society."

15* "A strict ceremony was connected with friendship drums. The drum had to be carefully oriented, the drummer had to be exactly positioned, and an offering of tobacco had to be made when the drum was used." This according to the Neville Public Museum Green Bay, Wisconsin, as cited in Giles Clark, Historic Tales of the Fox River Valley (Appleton, Wisc: the Author, 1973) 39. Zhaawano Giizhik, gives us more detail: "Traditionally, small home meetings are being held throughout the year for a Dance, or Vision Drum, but the main ceremony is ideally a four-day event held twice a year. ... It is said that although our People know the drum within living memory, the gichi-dewe'igan or community dance drum, often called gimishoomisinaan (our Grandfather) in a ritual context, and the sacred drum presentation ceremony that comes with it, is not Anishinaabe in origin; it was our former, traditional enemies the Bwaanag (Dakota), neighbors to the west, who, after one of their women had received a vision, gave it to the Ojibweg of Minnesota in the form of a ceremony, called Dream or Vision Dance. Since that day, less than 150 summers ago (around the year of 1870), the Anishinaabeg attribute their community drums with special powers, and although a person would never hand over his or her drum during life, or even leave behind to another at death, occasionally a special community drum is presented as a gift to another Nation in an act of goodwill, as a symbol of peace and brotherhood. The Dakota woman whose Vision, in the form of the ceremony of presentation of the Big Drum, led to a peace offer to her People's most respected enemies the Ojibweg, has become a metaphor for seeking peace over war. That the story of the Drum Vision of the Dakota woman is still being passed on to next generations and that the mighty voice of the big dance drum can still be heard far and loud at many pow-wows all over Anishinaabe Aki, shows not only our People's ability to recognize spiritual power in other Nations, but it also demonstrates the spiritual power of women to guide their life. So this is why nowadays drumming and singing at pow-wows are not just about pride in our own Anishinaabe culture and history, but also about breaking down barriers and unifying with other Nations and about pride in the strength and spirit powers of Anishinaabe women and Native women in general. But above all, pow-wow is of dancing and singing and letting the spirit fly with the shaking of rattles and the beating of Our Grandfather, the Sacred Vision Drum..." Zhaawano Giizhik, "The Vision Drum," Zaawano's Art Blog.

16 Howard, "When They Worship the Underwater Panther," 219.

17 Thomas Vennum Jr. The Ojibwa Dance Drum: Its History and Construction (Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press: 1982) 125.

18* "About 1880, with the decline of intertribal warfare, the Hedu’ska society began to take on a religious flavor. Instead of the war speeches and coup countings of the earlier dance there were long prayers for the benefit of the group by designated officials. Gift giving, rather than war honors, was the basis of admission. It was also about this time that women were admitted as dancers. Students of American Ethnology will recognize the form of the dance as that which diffused from the Dakota tribe to the Central Algonquian groups as the ‘Dream dance’ or ‘Drum religion.’ The Hedu’ska persisted in this form, in both Oklahoma and Nebraska, until about 1925, and is still retained by the Osage ..." Howard, The Ponca Tribe, 106-108; as quoted in Holmes, "Ponca Hethuska Society".

19 Julia Agnes Kaczmarek, The Dream Dance: an Examination of its Music and Practice among Woodlands and Central Subarctic Indians. A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, in partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts (Ethnomusicology) (Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba, 1999) 3.

20 Howard, "When They Worship the Underwater Panther." 217–224.

21 The McKern Papers on Hocąk Ethnography, 311.

22 William Bineshi Baker Sr. in a letter to Thomas Vennum in 1970, cited in Vennum, The Ojibwa Dance Drum, 44-45.

23 Vennum, The Ojibwa Dance Drum, 45.

24 University of South Dakota American Indian Oral History Project, Part 2. New York Times Oral History Program; microfiches of typed transcripts (Sanford, N.C: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1979), tape 141, pp. 3-4. Cited in Vennom, The Ojibwa Dance Drum, 289-290.

25 Jewelry & fine art by ZhaawanArt > Stories > "Star Stories, part 18: The Boy Who Came From the Sun."