- Term for one of the many wise men some Indians believed came before everything
else and created the earth and the gods. In most tribes this belief
forms the basis of their mythology.
It would appear from the many legends that
this once powerful race of man-beings lived in a region above the sky.
They all existed in peace and harmony in the beginning. However,
these beings were not alike. Each one, as time ripened, became transformed
more and more into what he later was to become. He had his own magic
power by which he would perform his duties after the changing of all things.
Naturally these changing man-beings began
to think differently, and unrest and discord arose among them. Then
after commotion, collision, and strife the great change came about.
The transformed man-beings were banished from their sky home to the earth
where they assumed their proper forms. Some became trees, others
plants, fish, rocks, animals, mountains - in fact they took the shapes
of all things, even man.
The worlds were grouped into seven forms
- a magic number among Indians. There was the east, west, north,
south, upper world, lower world, and midworld. All these worlds were
inhabited by man-beings in the forms of wind, sun, stars, the moon, and
even storms. Winter, summer, fall, and spring - all were man-beings.
As all man-beings had magic powers, the
Indians believed that mere man could not exist without the aid of man-beings
around him. And, as some man-beings were good and others bad, the
Indian thought it wise not to offend the bad ones.
Without knowing the Indian's belief in
man-beings, the white man was at a loss to understand the Indian's religion.
For each Indian selected his own man-beings to aid him in overcoming difficulties,
after seeing them in dreams or visions, and often entire tribes would worship
one or more man-beings.
The Mandan, for instance, placed a piece
of cloth around one of the poles of his lodge as a gift to the God of Timber,
believing it would keep this god from being angry at him for cutting down
a tree to make a pole. The Navajo was always apologetic to the Earth
when he removed clay to make pottery. The Menominee would not cultivate
wild rice because in doing so he would have to disturb Mother Earth.
within this Site
][ Great Spirit ][ Manitou
][ Masks ][ Medicine
][ Orenda ][ Sacred
Bundles ][ Stars ]