A Miraculously Cured Man Finds the Prophet

by Stella (Blowsnake) Stacey, a.k.a. Mountain Wolf Woman
transcribed and translated by Sheila Shigley

Hocąk Interlinear Text

Given that Stella is difficult to understand, the following translation is tentative, and may be modified over time.

The present story was preceded by an episode the tape of which was unintelligible.

(00:32) And so it was that those men whose nose[s] had been chopped, thus, they had killed him, they had stabbed him, and they had thrown his body into the water. (00:44) So there in the water, where he was hocarara, it was pouring on him. (00:49) Someone, a man, spoke there, "Heeeeei! What might be the matter with you? (00:53) Why are you fooling around? (00:56.6) Whyever you're doing what you're doing you've forgotten," the one said. (01:01) "And then when you were asleep they woke you up, that's what it seems. [?] (01:06) A-hoho, you have to give an oh-ho." [?] (1:11) This is what he planned to do (?). This is what he said. (1:14.5) There they talked together, they were saying that. (01:17) "Why haven't you healed yourself up? (01:19) Are you going to remain there submerged like that?" (01:21) He was telling him to scrub himself. (01:23) So that he did, he healed himself up. (01:26) His body was all slashed to pieces, fallen down, and his stomach had been ripped open. (01:33.8) And lying in the water there, his intestines and fat, became gožu’o in the water, and (01:39) he started trying to cough (?), he tried to cough there, and he consumed the fat in that way. And so his stomach, then, the fat he gathered together in the belly where it was really dark, and then, (01:54) then he had fixed himself up: wherever he had been injured, he healed himself. (02:01) They had killed him and again he renewed his life. (02:04) Behind him they told why. (02:06.6) There they woke him up, and ǧoe they were. (02:08.5) These [said], "Why weren't you healing yourself?" they said to him, and so he did that, but they had even knocked out one of his eyes. (02:20) "Well, I haven't forgotten, it's just that my eye isn't healed, in a little while I'll fix my eye, and then I will have made my eyes pure."

(02:35) "Those men are going to know me, whoever they are that did it, those wicked ones, it shall be said that they were killed." (02:44) Thus saying, if the other eye is not fixed up. (02:49) That he did, that wicked man. "The wicked one(s), why they have been bothering me, I have forgotten, so I will do something to the wicked one(s) like that [they did to me]." (03:04) The likes of which they have done to me I have never known before. And so they nearly killed me [...].1

Gerd Frankel says that the present story is followed by an episode in which the revived man "came to the [Shawnee] Prophet and was thankful that he had now found himself and could go on with the original purpose of his visit to the Prophet."


the Shawnee Prophet

Overview. This story is an episode situated between the first episode in which the waylaid man was seeking the Shawnee Prophet, and the conclusion of the story in which, after being set upon and killed, was revived and was able to complete his mission to the Prophet. An interesting aspect of the story is that the aspiring acolyte in many ways replicates the Prophet's own rebirth into a holy office. Tenskatawa had damaged one of his eyes when he was a reprobate, and later seemed to have died and was even prepared for burial when, after a sojourn in the Otherworld, his spirit returned and he was revived. The Hōcąk account of this incident adds the detail that his apparent death was effected by an ambush:

On one occasion (when he was drunk) quite a number of people jumped on him and nearly killed him. When he awoke the next morning he asked his wife who had done it and she told him. “Well, they will hear of me soon. However, I want to go and take a bath first and cool off and then take my revenge, when I get back.” When he was in bathing a man came to him and said, “They have told me to come after you, so let us go.” Then he went back with him and he took him to the place from which he had originally started. Then the Creator said, “How are you getting on with the work which you were to do?” Then he remembered what he had been doing. Then the Creator said, “Is it for this that I created you?” Then he took his mouth and showed it to him and he saw that it was crooked and sticking out in all directions. Then he took his understanding (and showing it to him), he said, “Did I create you thus?” Then he looked into his ears and they were crooked and ragged. Thus he made him see all his bad characteristics and his evil mind. Then he took out his heart and showed it to him. It was all furrowed up and bad to look upon. “Did I create you thus?" said the Creator. “Now, then, you will do better the next time,” and he sent him back.2

In this account we have several parallels including his being set upon by enemies and being immersed in water when discovered by mysterious agents who attend his deliverance. The idea of the purifying effects of water in connection to the pursuit of holiness appears to reflect the influence of white religion, specifically the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (see Comparative Material below). It is only after this act of rebirth that the acolyte is seen to be fit for the great task of following in the footsteps of the great prophets of the ages. In our story, the rebirth is more precisely a resurrection, as it seems clear that the acolyte was actually killed and later brought back to life. The intersection of these ideas recalls that in actual human birth, just before a new life enters the world, the mother's water breaks, suggesting the idea that the newborn is washed over by water as the last step to emerging into life as a full human being.

Just as in the story of the Shawnee Prophet's redemption, here we find a mysterious agent who appears, undescribed himself, on what is clearly a mission to revive the slain acolyte and return him to the mission of contacting the Shawnee Prophet. In the narrative, however, this transmutes into a group of agents, but they themselves become instrumental in the revival of the slain man, and at least at this point in the narrative, there is no ascension to the Creator in heaven before the would-be seer is restored to earth. In other variants of the Shawnee Prophet story, he is thought to be dead, and during this period he ascends to the Creator who recharges him with his destined mission on earth. Only then is he revived. So our present story combines both these elements, making the revitalization during a "bath" but during a period when the man is dead. There is no ascension to the Creator, but rather his implied agents effect the resurrection through powers no doubt granted by him for this mission. The acolyte simply is not of high enough status to have seen the Creator himself. It is enough that he should see the Shawnee Prophet.

The finale tells of the acolyte's fervent committment to avenge himself. This too has its parallel in the legend of the Shawnee Prophet: "On one occasion (when he was drunk)quite a number of people jumped on him and nerly killed him. When he awoke the next morning he asked his wife who had done it and she told him. 'Well, they will her of me soon. However, I want to go and take a bath first and cool off and then take my revenge, when I get back'." The next episode to this story will no doubt address this matter.3

"nose[s]" — The practice of chopping and biting the end off an opponent's nose was sufficiently common that there were men who bore the name "Cutnose". One was a Hōcąk chief who was close to Henry Gratiot. The notorious Pacan had a "son [who] in a quarrel with his sister's husband, a young chief, bit off his nose."4 Even the much respected elder Little Priest, "In a brawl ... had one side of his nose sliced off."5 Jipson says, "One side of his nose had been destroyed and he was frequently called "Old Cut Nose."6 The loss of the nose was considered perhaps the worst degree of effacement:

In one of the (434) drunken broils, which have not been unfrequent in the latter part of his life, a fight occurred between himself and another person, in which the nose of the chief was severely bitten. The Reverend Mr. Lowry, superintendent of the school, on hearing of the accident, paid the chief a visit of condolence, hoping that an opportunity might offer, which might enable him to give salutary advice to the sufferer. He was lying with his head covered, refusing to be seen. His wife, deeply affected by the misfortune, and terrified by the excited state of her husband's mind, sat near him, weeping bitterly. When she announced the name of his visitor, the chief, still concealing his mutilated features, exclaimed that he was a ruined man, and desired only to die. He continued to bewail his misfortune as one which it would be unworthy in a man and a warrior to survive, and as altogether intolerable. His only consolation was found in the declaration that his young men should kill the author of his disgrace; and accordingly the latter was soon after murdered, though it is not known by whom. Had not this injury been of a kind by which the vanity of Wakaun Haka was affected, and his self-love mortified, it might have been forgotten or passed over; we do not say forgiven, as this word, in our acceptance of it, expresses an idea to which the savage is a stranger. Regarding an unrevenged insult as a trader views an outstanding debt, which he may demand whenever he can find the delinquent party in a condition to pay it, he is satisfied by a suitable compensation, if the injury be of a character to admit of compromise. Had his wife, for instance, eloped with a lover, or his brother been slain, the offender might have purchased peace at the expense of a few horses; but what price could indemnify a great chief for the loss of his nose? Happily, the wound proved but slight, and Wakaun Haka lost neither his nose nor his reputation.7

So the cut-noses of this story represent to a Hōcąk audience a group of habitual drunkards and brawlers, the kinds of sinners who the Prophet wishes to either reform or remove from among the tribes.

"hocarara" — a hapaxlogomenon (an unknown word). The initial syllable, ho-, seems to be what the Helmbrecht-Lehmann team calls the "inessive applicative." "This is a grammatical element of the verb unknown in English. In most cases, it can be translated as 'in something' or 'into something'." So the elements of the word seem to be, ho-cara-ra. Cara remains a hapaxlogomenon. Words ending in -ra can often be translated as the present participle. The context would suggest that ho-cara should mean "sub-merged", cara then meaning something like "contained in."

"pouring" — in order for this to be the case, his body must have been cast either into a stream of running water, or underneath a waterfall. The association of pouring water with birth is found in the breaking of a pregnant woman's water just before labor starts the process of birth.

"a man" — the word here is wąk, which in most contexts means "man, male," but like the Old Norse word mann, it can not only mean, "male, man, person, human being," but also may refer to a supernatural being. The man, and his associates, referred to here, appears to be an agent of the Creator who is on a mission to create a new prophet. As seen in more detail above, this process replicates the events that led to the transformation of the Shawnee Prophet himself from a reprobate into a powerful seer.

"A-hoho, you have to give an 'oh-ho'" — the first exclamation is one of dismay. It's a compound of a, which is similar to the English "bah", being dismissive and derogatory; and hoho, an ambivalent expression of strong emotion, which in this case is negative. The second exclamation seems to be hoho, with the initial /h/ dropped from external sandhi. This second reference to hoho is an assertion that the rescued man should accept his recovered situation with a positive affirmation.

"gožu’o" — an unknown word.

"in that way" — if the effort to cough (hóǧuą́įcga) is what is actually taking place, perhaps the idea is that with the contraction of his lungs he is sucking the fat back in around his abdomen.

"where it was really dark" — this would seem to mean, "deep in his belly".

"they" — Stella suddenly switches from the singular referring to the aforementioned "man" (wąk), to what appears to be a small group of Spirit agents whose task it is to ensure that the acolyte employs the right procedure to achieve his own resurrection from the dead.

"ǧoe" — an unknown word.

"and so he did that" — this is an uncertain reading.

"eyes" — the Shawnee Prophet himself had an injured eye. 

"my eyes pure" — that is, he will have restored his vision.

"it shall be said that they were killed" — an uncertain reading. It may be, "It will be known that I killed them." In any case, it is clear that he is asserting that these bad men will themselves be killed in revenge.

"[...]" — the rest of this sentence, which seems to elaborate this final point, is incoherent.

Comparative Material. The rebirth of the acolyte in the flowing waters recalls the baptism of Jesus which, when performed on those who wish to be Christians, is seen as a kind of rebirth:

Mark 1:9 r In those days Jesus s came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10  And when he came up out of the water, immediately he t saw u the heavens being torn open v and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11  And w a voice came from heaven, x “You are my beloved Son;1 with you I am well pleased.”

The initiation into the holy life recounted in our story very likely owes something to the de facto initiation story of Jesus himself, as seen here in the first of the Synoptic Gospels.

Links: ...

Stories: about the Shawnee Prophet: The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Shawnee Prophet Predicts a Solar Eclipse, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, A Prophecy About the End Time.

Themes: someone returns from the dead: Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Sunset Point, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, White Fisher, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Shaggy Man, The Two Brothers, The Two Boys, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Waruǧábᵉra, The Lost Blanket, The Old Man and the Giants.


1 Reading by Sheila Shigley, from the audio tape in the American Philosophical Society. Fraenkel, Gerd. Stacy, Stella. "The man who had all been beaten up came alive again, fixed himself, came to the Prophet," Mss.Rec.29, recorded 7 July 1959, 1 .mp3; 00:00:32 - 00:03:22. 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 529.3. APS accession number 7227; APSdigrec_2192; Recording Number: 02; Program Number: 44.
2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 23 [1923 ed.: 71].
3 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 23 [1923 ed.: 71].
4 Augustin Grignon, "Seventy-two Years’ Recollections of Wisconsin," Wisconsin Historical Collections, III (1857): 197-295 [264].
5 Note by Lyman C. Draper in General Robert Anderson, "Reminiscences of the Black Hawk War," Wisconsin Historical Collections, X (1888): 167-212 [186].
6 Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923) 231; citing Charles Bent, History of Whiteside County, Illinois, from Its First Settlement to the Present Time (Morristown: L. P. Allen, 1877) 524-525.
7 Thomas Loraine McKenney (1785-1859) and James Hall (1793-1868), History of the Indian Tribes of North America: with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs. Embellished with One Hundred Portraits from the Indian Gallery in the War Department at Washington, Vol. I and Vol. II (Philadelphia: D. Rice & Co., 1872) (I:434).