Monday, August 31, 2009

Winnebago Shaman Story

The Winnebago were known for their powerful shamans and had a strong belief in reincarnation. The ancestral lands of the Winnebago tribe are around Green Bay (Lake Michigan), Wisconsin, and the Lake Winnebago region. In the 1840s, the Winnebago were forced to give up their lands and subject to removal a number of times. Eventually they were allowed to settle on land in northeastern Nebraska, but a significant number resisted removal and remained in Wisconsin. The Nebraska reservation contains approximately 120,000 acres. In 1852, the Winnebago population was estimated to be 2,521. In 2007, it was 2,600.

The following is a story of human-to-human reincarnation as told by Thunder Cloud, a Winnebago shaman referred to as T. C. in the narrative. Here T. C. talks about his two previous lives and how he died and came back again to this his third lifetime. He describes his time between lives, when he was “blessed” by Earth Maker and all the abiding spirits and given special powers, including the ability to heal the sick.

T. C.’s Account of His Two Reincarnations

"I once lived in a party that numbered about twenty camps. When I had grown up to be a lad, although one not large enough to handle a gun, a war party attacked us and killed us all. I did not know, however, that I had been killed. I thought that I was running about as usual until I saw a heap of bodies on the ground and mine among them. No one was there to bury us, so there we lay and rotted.

"I (my ghost) was taken to the place where the sun sets (the west). There I lived with an old couple. This place (spirit land) is an excellent place, and the people have the best of times. If you desire to go anywhere, all that you have to do is to wish yourself there and you reach it. While at that place, I thought I would come back to earth again, and the old man with whom I was staying said to me, “My son, did you not speak about wanting to go to the earth again?” I had, as a matter of fact, only thought of it, yet he knew what I wanted. Then he said to me, “You can go, but you must ask the chief first.”

"Then I went and told the chief of the village of my desire, and he said to me, “You may go and obtain your revenge upon the people who killed your relatives and you.” Then I was brought down to earth. I did not enter a women’s womb, but I was taken into a room. There I remained conscious at all times. One day I heard the noise of little children outside and some other sounds, so I thought I would go outside. Then it seemed to me that I went through a door, but I was really being born again from a woman’s womb. As I walked out, I was struck with the sudden rush of cold air and I began to cry. At that place, I was brought up and I was taught to fast a great deal. Afterward, I did nothing but go to war, and I certainly took revenge for the death of my relatives and myself, that being the purpose for which I had come to earth.

"There I lived until I died of old age. All at once my bones became un-jointed, my ribs fell in, and I died the second time. I felt no more pain at death then than I had felt the first time.

"This time I was buried in the manner used at that time. I was wrapped in a blanket and then laid in the grave. Sticks were placed in the grave. I watched the people as they buried me. There in the grave I rotted.

"As I was laying there, someone said to me, “Come, let us go away.” So then we went toward the setting of the sun. There we came to a village where we met all the dead. I was told that I would have to stop there for four nights, but in reality I stayed there four years.

"The people enjoy themselves there. They have all sorts of dances of a lively kind all the time. From that place we went up to the place where Earth Maker lived, and there I saw him and talked to him, face to face, even as I am talking to you now. I saw the spirits too, and, indeed, I was like one of them.

"From that place I came to this earth again for the third time, and here I am." (Radin, 1923)

Buy the Book

No comments:

Post a Comment