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This is called Kwí-wĭ-sĕns´
Sikas´sigĕ’s explanation of the Mille Lacs chart (Pl.
IV) is substantially as follows:
Then Ni´gĭk asked Mi´nabō´zho, “Why do you come to this place?” When the latter said, “I have pity on the Ani´shinâ´beg and wish to give them life; Ki´tshi Man´idō gave me the power to confer upon them the means of protecting themselves against sickness and death, and through you I will give them the Midē´wiwin, and teach them the sacred rites.”
Then Mi´nabō´zho built a Midē´wigân in which he instructed the Otter in all the mysteries of the Midē´wiwin. The Otter sat before the door of the Midē´wigân four days (Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 10), sunning himself, after which time he approached the entrance (No. 14), where his progress was arrested (No. 11) by seeing two bad spirits (Nos. 12 and 13) guarding it. Through the powers possessed by Mi´nabō´zho he was enabled to pass these; when he entered the sacred lodge (No. 15), the first object he beheld being the sacred stone (No. 16) against which those who were sick were to be seated, or laid, when undergoing the ceremonial of restoring them to health. He next saw a post (No. 17) painted red with a green band around the top. A sick man would also have to pray to the stone and to the post, when he is within the Midē´wigân, because within them would be the Midē´ spirits whose help he invoked. The Otter was then taken to the middle of the Midē´wigân where he picked up the mī´gis (No. 18) from among a heap of sacred objects which form part of the gifts given by Ki´tshi Man´idō. The eight Man´idōs around the Midē´wigân (Nos. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26) were also sent by Ki´tshi Man´idō to guard the lodge against the entrance of bad spirits.
is represented by the line No. 27, the signification of the
short lines (Nos. 28, 29, 30, and 31) denoting that the
course of human progress is beset by temptations and trials
which may be the cause of one’s departure from such course
of conduct as is deemed proper, and the beliefs taught by
the Midē´. When one arrives at middle age (No. 32) his
course for the remaining period of life is usually without
any special events, as indicated by the plain line No. 27,
extending from middle age (No. 32) to the end of one’s
existence (No. 33). The short lines at Nos. 28, 29, 30, and
31, indicating departure from the path of propriety,
terminate in rounded spots and signify, literally, “lecture
places,” because when a Midē´ feels himself failing in duty
or vacillating in faith he must renew professions by giving
a feast and lecturing to his confreres, thus regaining his
strength to resist evil doing—such as making use of his
powers in harming his kinsmen, teaching that which was not
given him by Ki´tshi Man´idō through Mi´nabō´zho, etc. His
heart must be cleansed and his tongue guarded.
The Otter was taken to the entrance (No. 37) of the second degree structure (No. 38), which he saw was guarded by two evil Man´idōs (Nos. 39 and 40), who opposed his progress, but who were driven away by Mi´nabō´zho. When the Otter entered at the door he beheld the sacred stone (No. 41) and two posts (Nos. 42, 43), the one nearest to him being painted red with a green band around the top, and another at the middle, with a bunch of little feathers upon the top. The other post (No. 43) was painted red, with only a band of green at the top, similar to the first degree post. Nos. 44 and 45 are the places where sacred objects and gifts are placed. This degree of the Midē´wiwin is guarded at night by twelve Midē´ Man´idōs (Nos. 46 to 57) placed there by Ki´tshi Man´idō, and the degree is owned by the Thunder Bird as shown in Nos. 58, 59.
The circles (Nos. 60, 61, and 62)
at either end of the outline of the structure denoting the
degree and beneath it are connected by a line (No. 63) as in
the preceding degree, and are a mere repetition to denote
the course of conduct to be pursued by the Midē´. The points
(Nos. 64, 65, 66, and 67), at the termini of the shorter
lines, also refer to the feasts and lectures to be given in
case of need.
The third degree of the Midē´wiwin (No. 72) is guarded during the day by two Midē´ spirits (Nos. 73, 74) near the eastern entrance, and by the Makwa´ Man´idō within the inclosure (Nos. 75 and 76), and at night by eighteen Midē´ Man´idōs (Nos. 77 to 94), placed there by Ki´tshi Man´idō. When the Otter approached the entrance (No. 95) he was again arrested in his progress by two evil Man´idōs (Nos. 96 and 97), who opposed his admission, but Mi´nibo´zho overcame them and the Otter entered. Just inside of the door, and on each side, the Otter saw a post (Nos. 98 and 99), and at the western door or exit two corresponding posts (Nos. 100 and 101). These symbolized the four legs of the Makwa´ Man´idō, or Bear Spirit, who is the guardian by day and the owner of the third degree. The Otter then observed the sacred stone (No. 102) and the two heaps of sacred objects (Nos. 103 and 104) which Mi´nabō´zho had deposited, and three degree posts (Nos. 105, 106, and 107), the first of which (No. 105) was a plain cedar post with the bark upon it, but sharpened at the top; the second (No. 106), a red post with a green band round the top and one about the middle, as in the second degree; and the third a cross (No. 107) painted red, each of the tips painted green. [The vertical line No. 108 was said to have no relation to anything connected with the tradition.] After the Otter had observed the interior of the Midē´wigân he again made four circuits, after which he took his station in the west, where he seated himself, facing the sacred degree posts. Then Mi´nabō´zho, for the third time, shot into his body the mī´gis, thus adding to the powers which he already possessed, after which he was to prepare for the fourth degree of the Midē´wiwin.
Other objects appearing upon the
chart were subsequently explained as follows:
After the Otter had received the third degree he prepared himself for the fourth, and highest, by taking a steam bath once a day for four successive days (Nos. 121, 122, 123, and 124). Then, as he proceeded toward the Midē´wigân he came to a wig´iwam made of brush (No. 179), which was the nest of Makwa´ Man´idō, the Bear Spirit, who guarded the four doors of the sacred structure.
The four rows of spots have reference to the four entrances of the Midē´wigân of the fourth degree. The signification of the spots near the larger circle, just beneath the “Bear’s nest” could not be explained by Sikas´sigĕ, but the row of spots (No. 117) along the horizontal line leading to the entrance of the inclosure were denominated steps, or stages of progress, equal to as many days—one spot denoting one day—which must elapse before the Otter was permitted to view the entrance.
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The Midē Wiwin or Grand Medicine Society, 1891
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