Nos. 59 and 60 are two of the four Panther Spirits who are the
special guardians of the third degree lodge.
To enter the fourth and highest degree of the society
requires a greater number of feasts than before, and the candidate,
who continues to personate the Bear Spirit, again uses his sacred
drum, as he is shown sitting before it in No. 78, and chants more
prayers to Dzhe Man´idō for his favor. This degree is guarded by the
greatest number and the most powerful of malevolent spirits, who
make a last effort to prevent a candidate’s entrance at the door
(No. 79) of the fourth degree structure (No. 80). The chief
opponents to be overcome, through the assistance of Dzhe Man´idō,
are two Panther Spirits (Nos. 81 and 82) at the eastern entrance,
and two Bear Spirits (Nos. 83 and 84) at the western exit. Other bad
spirits are about the structure, who frequently gain possession and
are then enabled to make strong and prolonged resistance to the
candidate’s entrance. The chiefs of this group of malevolent beings
are Bears (Nos. 88 and 96), the Panther (No. 91), the Lynx (No. 97),
and many others whose names they have forgotten, their positions
being indicated at Nos. 85, 86, 87, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94, and 95, all
but the last resembling characters ordinarily employed to designate
The power with which it is possible to become endowed after
passing through the fourth degree is expressed by the outline of a
human figure (No. 98), upon which are a number of spots indicating
that the body is covered with the mī´gis or sacred shells,
symbolical of the Midē´wiwin. These spots designate the places where
the Midē´ priests, during the initiation, shot into his body the
mī´gis and the lines connecting them in order that all the functions
of the several corresponding parts or organs of the body may be
The ideal fourth degree Midē´ is presumed to be in a
position to accomplish the greatest feats in necromancy and magic.
He is not only endowed with the power of reading the thoughts and
intentions of others, as is pictorially indicated by the mī´gis spot
upon the top of the head, but to call forth the shadow (soul) and
retain it within his grasp at pleasure. At this stage of his
pretensions, he is encroaching upon the prerogatives of the
Jes´sakkid´, and is then recognized as one, as he usually performs
within the Jes´sakkân or Jes´sakkid´ lodge, commonly designated “the
The ten small circular objects upon the upper part of the
record may have been some personal marks of the original owner;
their import was not known to my informants and they do not refer to
any portion of the history or ceremonies or the Midē´wiwin.
Extending toward the left from the end of the fourth degree
inclosure is an angular pathway (No. 99), which represents the
course to be followed by the Midē´ after he has attained this high
distinction. On account of his position his path is often beset with
dangers, as indicated by the right angles, and temptations which may
lead him astray; the points at which he may possibly deviate from
the true course of propriety are designated by projections branching
off obliquely toward the right and left (No. 100). The ovoid figure
(No. 101) at the end of this path is termed Wai-ek´-ma-yok´—End of
the road—and is alluded to in the ritual, as will be observed
hereafter, as the end of the world, i.e., the end of the
individual’s existence. The number of vertical strokes (No. 102)
within the ovoid figure signify the original owner to have been a
fourth degree Midē´ for a period of 14 years.
The outline of the Midē´wigân (No. 103) not only denotes
that the same individual was a member of the Midē´wiwin, but the
thirteen vertical strokes shown in Nos. 104 and 105 indicate that he
was chief Midē´ priest of the society for that number of years.
The outline of a Midē´wigân as shown at No. 106, with the
place upon the interior designating the location of the sacred post
(No. 107) and the stone (No. 108) against which the sick are placed
during the time of treatment, signifies the owner to have practiced
his calling of the exorcism of demons. But that he also visited the
sick beyond the acknowledged jurisdiction of the society in which he
resided, is indicated by the path (No. 109) leading around the
Upon that portion of the chart immediately above the fourth
degree lodge is shown the outline of a Midē´wiwin (No. 110), with a
path (No. 114), leading toward the west to a circle (No. 111),
within which is another similar structure (No. 112) whose longest
diameter is at right angles to the path, signifying that it is built
so that its entrance is at the north. This is the Dzhibai´
Midē´wigân or Ghost Lodge.
Around the interior of the circle are small V-shaped
characters denoting the places occupied by the spirits of the
departed, who are presided over by the Dzhibai´ Midē´, literally
No. 113 represents the Ko´-kó-ko-o´ (Owl) passing from the
Midē´wigân to the Land of the Setting Sun, the place of the dead,
upon the road of the dead, indicated by the pathway at No. 114. This
Man´idō is personated by a candidate for the first degree of the
Midē´wiwin when giving a feast to the dead in honor of the shadow of
him who had been dedicated to the Midē´wiwin and whose place is now
to be taken by the giver of the feast.
Upon the back of the Midē´ record, above described, is the
personal record of the original owner, as shown in Pl. III B. Nos.
1, 2, 3, and 4 represent the four degrees of the society into which
he has been initiated, or, to use the phraseology of an Ojibwa,
“through which he has gone.” This “passing through” is further
illustrated by the bear tracks, he having personated the Makwa´
Man´idō or Bear Spirit, considered to be the highest and most
powerful of the guardian spirits of the fourth degree wigwam.
The illustration presented in Pl. III C represents the
outlines of a birch-bark record (reduced to one-third) found among
the effects of a lately deceased Midē´ from Leech Lake, Minnesota.
This record, together with a number of other curious articles,
composed the outfit of the Midē´, but the Rev. James A. Gilfillan of
White Earth, through whose courtesy I was permitted to examine the
objects, could give me no information concerning their use. Since
that time, however, I have had an opportunity of consulting with one
of the chief priests of the Leech Lake Society, through whom I have
obtained some interesting data concerning them.
The chart represents the owner to have been a Midē´ of the
second degree, as indicated by the two outlines of the respective
structures at Nos. 1 and 2, the place of the sacred posts being
marked at Nos. 3 and 4. Nos. 5, 6, 7, and 8 are Midē´ priests
holding their Midē´ bags as in the ceremony of initiation. The disks
represented at Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 denote the sacred drum,
which may be used by him during his initiation, while Nos. 14, 15,
16, and 17 denote that he was one of the four officiating priests of
the Midē´wigân at his place of residence. Each of these figures is
represented as holding their sacred bags as during the ceremonies.
No. 18 denotes the path he has been pursuing since he became a Midē´,
while at Nos. 19 and 20 diverging lines signify that his course is
beset with temptations and enemies, as referred to in the
description of the Red Lake chart, Pl. III A.
The remaining objects found among the effects of the Midē´
referred to will be described and figured hereafter.
Plate IV. Sikas´sigĕ’s Record.
|The diagram represented on Pl. IV is a reduced copy of a
record made by Sikas´sigĕ, a Mille Lacs Ojibwa Midē´ of the
second degree, now resident at White Earth.
The chart illustrating pictorially the general plan of the
several degrees is a copy of a record in the possession of
the chief Midē´ at Mille Lacs in 1830, at which time
Sikas´sigĕ, at the age of 10 years, received his first
degree. For a number of years thereafter Sikas´sigĕ received
continued instruction from his father Baie´dzhek, and
although he never publicly received advancement beyond the
second degree of the society, his wife became a fourth
degree priestess, at whose initiation he was permitted to be
Plate V. Origin of Âni´shinâ´beg.
Since his residence at White Earth Sikas´sigĕ has become one
of the officiating priests of the society at that place. One
version given by him of the origin of the Indians is
presented in the following tradition, a pictorial
representation having also been prepared of which Pl. V is a
||In the beginning, Dzhe Man´idō (No. 1), made the Midē´
Man´idōs. He first created two men (Nos. 2 and 3), and two
women (Nos. 4 and 5); but they had no power of thought or
reason. Then Dzhe Man´idō (No. 1) made them rational beings.
He took them in his hands so that they should multiply; he
paired them, and from this sprung the Indians. When there
were people he placed them upon the earth, but he soon
observed that they were subject to sickness, misery, and
death, and that unless he provided them with the Sacred
Medicine they would soon become extinct.
position occupied by Dzhe Man´idō and the earth were four
lesser spirits (Nos. 6, 7, 8, and 9) with whom Dzhe Man´idō
decided to commune, and to impart to them the mysteries by
which the Indians could be benefited. So he first spoke to a
spirit at No. 6, and told him all he had to say, who in turn
communicated the same information to No. 7, and he in turn
to No. 8, who also communed with No. 9. They all met in
council, and determined to call in the four wind gods at
Nos. 10, 11, 12, and 13. After consulting as to what would
be best for the comfort and welfare of the Indians, these
spirits agreed to ask Dzhe Man´idō to communicate the
Mystery of the Sacred Medicine to the people.
then went to the Sun Spirit (No. 14) and asked him to go to
the earth and instruct the people as had been decided upon
by the council. The Sun Spirit, in the form of a little boy,
went to the earth and lived with a woman (No. 15) who had a
little boy of her own.
This family went away in the autum to
hunt, and during the winter this woman’s son died. The
parents were so much distressed that they decided to return
to the village and bury the body there; so they made
preparations to return, and as they traveled along, they
would each evening erect several poles upon which the body
was placed to prevent the wild beasts from devouring it.
When the dead boy was thus hanging upon the poles, the
adopted child—who was the Sun Spirit—would play about the
camp and amuse himself, and finally told his adopted father
he pitied him, and his mother, for their sorrow. The adopted
son said he could bring his dead brother to life, whereupon
the parents expressed great surprise and desired to know how
that could be accomplished.
The adopted boy then had the
party hasten to the village, when he said, “Get the women to
make a wig´iwam of bark (No. 16), put the dead boy in a
covering of birch bark and place the body on the ground in
the middle of the wig´iwam.” On the next morning after this
had been done, the family and friends went into this lodge
and seated themselves around the corpse.
When they had all
been sitting quietly for some time, they saw through the
doorway the approach of a bear (No. 17) which gradually came
towards the wig´iwam, entered it, and placed itself before
the dead body and said hu, hu, hu, hu, when he passed around
it towards the left side, with a trembling motion, and as he
did so, the body began quivering, and the quivering
increased as the bear continued until he had passed around
four times, when the body came to life again and stood up.
Then the bear called to the father, who was sitting in the
distant right-hand corner of the wig´iwam, and addressed to
him the following words:
||as you are.
||you shall put.
||He speaks of
||to be able to do it
||why he shall live here
||that he scarcely lives;
|now I shall go
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The Midē Wiwin or Grand Medicine Society, 1891
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