Redman

by Richard L. Dieterle


Redman is a spirit being whose body is completely red in color. He is almost certainly the same as the Chief of the Heroka. He lives inside the Red Hill (Necedah) near the Wisconsin River, and there he still exerts his powers for those who seek his blessings.

Redman's wife deliberately caused her husband to lose his ability to hunt, so he had to shoot her to save his children from starvation. Her brothers came to avenge her only to fall to Redman one at a time, except for her fourth brother. This last, whose body was inlaid with flint, decapitated Redman and kept his head in the fireplace of his lodge where he made sure that the fire was kept well stoked. Redman's body wandered about without a head on the road around Red Hill, gradually weakening as time dragged on. In the meantime, his (grand-)children married into the family of their mother without knowing it. The daughter of Redman's daughter was at her grandfather's lodge when she saw Redman's head in the fire. She and her husband, who was innocent of any knowledge of Redman's presence in the fire, pulled the head out. They had the body brought to them and rejoined Redman's head to it by a reviving sweat bath. The old man who killed him was smashed to pieces by Hare or turned into an owl by his paternal grandson, one of the clan of forked men. Redman revived those who had been killed, including his wife, and became Chief of the Heroka, a diminutive race of spirits who possess infallible powers with bows and arrows.1

In another waiką we encounter what must be a symbolic counterpart to Redman. An old man who is said to have the spirit nature of a hįča owl has a forked man for a grandson. Thus he would seem to be the same as the grandfather Owl Spirit whose body is made of flint and whose grandson is also a forked man. In the other story, they encountered a giant red man who stands in the sea. They kill him and eat his decapitated head.2

Since we learn elsewhere that the Chief of the Heroka is Redhorn, we must conclude that Redman and Redhorn are one and the same.3


Links: Heroka, The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map, The Forked Man, Hare, Owls, Flint.


Stories: in which Redman is a character: The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, cf. Wears White Feather on His Head; featuring the Heroka as characters: The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Little Human Head, Morning Star and His Friend, The Claw Shooter, Redhorn's Sons, The Origins of the Milky Way; in which the Forked Man is a character: The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, The Spirit of Gambling, Wears White Feather on His Head; in which owls are mentioned: Crane and His Brothers, The Spirit of Gambling, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Chief of the Heroka, Partridge's Older Brother, Waruǧápara, Wears White Feather on His Head, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Annihilation of the Hočągara, The Green Man; about bodiless heads: Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Little Human Head, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka.


Themes: a spirit is of a red color: Wears White Feather on His Head, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka.


Genealogy: Red Man.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, "The Red Man," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #6: 1-72; Paul Radin, "The Chief of the Heroka," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #33: 1-66.

2 Paul Radin, "Wears White Feather on His Head," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #4: 1-50.

3 Paul Radin, "Redhorn's Nephews," Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3860 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1908-1930) Winnebago IV, #7, Story 7a.