Texts by and about Natives: Texts

10. Melville Jacobs, "Santiam Kalapuya Ethnological Texts"

Melville Jacobs, "Santiam Kalapuya Ethnologic Texts," in Kalapuya Texts, University of Washington Publications in Anthropology, vol. 11
(Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1945), 55-58, 59-61.

51. After a bad dream blow ashes on your child

Long ago the people, a person who had a child, once in a while he would sing to his child, just alone he would sing to his child. They would say that such a man (did that) when he had a bad dream, when his dream was no good, then he would sing (one or more of his dream-power songs) to his child. And a woman would do the very same way too, she would (also) sing (her dream-power songs) once in a while (After a night of bad dreaming) to her child. When they sang (thus) to their children, they would take ashes, and they would slap the ashes

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together in their hands, and the ashes would go up in a puff, and they would blow the ash dust (on their child). It is said that that is the way they did. That is how they did if they had had a bad dream. Then they would scatter the ash dust about, and when they blew on the ashes, they would say in their hearts, “May it not become like that, like it was in my dream last night!” That is how they did it is said. . . .

53. Illness due to non-acceptance of new dream-power

The people used to say long ago that once in a while some one man who had not made good (had not carried out the instructions of) his dream-power, then

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that person would become ill. And he would continue to be ill all the time. Now then his relatives would say to that person who was sick, “It is better if we go fetch a shaman at once, (to see) what is making you like that. We will go get a shaman. What is your heart (your opinion)?” So then the sick person would say, “Your hearts (suit yourselves)!” Now then his relatives would fetch a shaman. Now when the shaman came to doctor him at nighttime, then the person who was ill, all his relatives came. And so the shaman doctored. Now then he said, “Oh but there is indeed nothing I can do. He himself knows what is doing that to him. It is his own spirit-power which is doing that. His dream told him, You are to do that! But then he did not do what his dream had told him. (To the patient:) Sing your (dream-power) song! Stand up at your dance! (dance!) Pay these people when they help you (by singing and dancing your dream-power song dance with you)!” That is what that shaman would tell the sick person. The shaman would say of that person, “If he will stand up to his dance maybe he will become well.” Then when the shaman went back home, now those people discussed it with one another. And then they said, “It may be better if we get (more) people together now” (to help in the dream-power song dance to be given). They said to the sick person, “It will be good now for you to sing.” So then the sick person said, “Done! I will sing!” And then sure enough they would assemble (more) people, and they went to fetch the shaman again (to have him present to assist at the dream-power dance). Now then when the sick person was to sing, once in a while the sick person would say, “I have no dream-power song of my own!” Then the shaman would say, “Oh you do have a dream-power song. Now I myself will sing your song!” So then the shaman would sing. And

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the sick person who had said that he had no song, he himself would sing. It was as if he (the shaman) were indeed not in his heart (as if he were out of his mind), when he sang the song, when the shaman sang it. Now then the shaman remained by the sick person. When the person stood dancing, the shaman stood right there (by him) too, he watched the sick person closely. And the rest of the people were all singing and standing dancing (his song, too). That is how they used to do. They stood at their dancing (they danced) for five nights. And now on the fifth night, when it was in the middle of the night during the night, the people took a rest, they ate, when they finished eating then they (again) stood up to their dancing. And now when it became morning, then that was the time that they ceased their dancing. Now they (the sick person and his relatives) paid all those people who had stood at the dancing, who had assisted the sick person (by singing and dancing his dream-power song dance with him). And sure enough that sick person would become well again. That is how they used to do. If that is what the shaman had said, and they did that, then he would get well again. And the people said, “It was his dream-power to be sure. That is what did it. It was his singing and his standing at his dance, and then he got well again.” They also paid that shaman. . . .

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55. Shamans and spirit-powers

Long ago when a shaman wanted to kill a person, he would hit (shoot) him with whatever spirit-power he possessed (that was fatal). If his spirit-power was rattlesnake he would strike (shoot) a person with it. And if his spirit-power was grizzly rather, he would send grizzly to kill that person. Those grizzly and rattlesnake (spirit-powers) were very bad spirit-powers of theirs. Some other people had dead persons for their spirit-power, (and) they would shoot with dead people, who were their spirit-power. The shamans, some of the shamans, were bad. They were always killing people with their (death-dealing) spirit-power. Them some other shamans would say, “It is the spirit-power of that (bad) shaman (whom they then named). That is what has caused it for this (sick and doomed) man.” Then they (people) would go fetch that (accused bad) shaman, they would say to him, “They say it is your own dream (your bad dream-power of spirit-power)

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which has been doing this in this manner.” And then that (accused) shaman sure enough would (judge it safer and wiser for himself to) go to doctor that person, (he would extract his own bad spirit-power from the sick person) and the person then would become well again. But on the other hand sometimes that (accused and guilty) shaman would say (denying complicity), “It is his own spirit-power that has done this (which is making him ill).” And so then when that shaman would not (go to) cure that (sick) person (remove the fatal spirit-power from his body), and when the person died, then they might kill that shaman. That is what long ago those people always used to do it is said. They would always kill shamans, when they said in their hearts (when the people believed) they were bad shamans (had fatal spirit-powers which were killing people). That is what they always did.

The shamans themselves would say, there was nothing indeed that they could do in their heart (they could not entirely control their own powerful spirit-powers), if their spirit-powers told them, “Kill a person! We want to eat blood. And well not if you do not kill a person, we will kill you. But then if you do kill a person now (so that we can feed on some blood), you will live long, if you do what we tell you. If you do that, you will live always (a very long time).” That is how the shamans spoke (explained about themselves) long ago.

The other people who were not shamans, those who just had (non-shamanistic) spirit-powers, they would sing (the songs of their dream-powers too). But a shaman’s spirit-power however was extremely strong (stronger than non-shamanistic dream-power). Some of these shamans whose spirit-power was dead people, they would sing (their dream-power songs) at night. Then they would go outside, they would address themselves to dead people. That is what they said. Whatever they wanted to learn, they would ask the dead people. If a man (a shaman) had a dead person for his spirit-power, he would address his words to

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the dead person. That is what they said. But as for an ordinary person (who had no powerful or shamanistic dream-power), he did not know very much (i.e., had no powerful dream-power guardian). He would merely sing his (ordinary, weak) spirit-power song, he would stand up to his dance (too). If he saw gambling in his (spirit-power) dream, then he might know (well) how to gamble. That is what they used to say.

Some of the shamans would address their spirit-powers, when they wanted to learn (something), at the place where they sent their dream-power off to a distance so they say. Then their dream-power would go (to there), and it would come back again, and it would tell the shaman what was the matter with the people at the place to where he had sent his dream-power. That is what they say. When his spirit-power came back, then it told the shaman what they were doing yonder where the spirit-power came from. . . .

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