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The Childhood of Ji-shiB Jl

and there the soft white moss under him and around
him did not make him half so hot as the furs.

At times the Squaw took Ji-shiB in her canoe
and paddled across the lake to the west village, and
sometimes when she was not in a hurry she let
the canoe turn around until it was almost in the
trough of the shallow waves, and there she held it
with her paddle while the waves sang breathless
little songs against its side, and gently rocked it to
and fro. And once Ji-shifr, the little rascal, said
"coo-coo" and "goo-goo" in Indian. The happy
mother caught him up and whispered half aloud
in his ear, "O, my little Blue Bird, mother feared
that you would grow up to be an old Squaw be-
cause you live so much in the wigwam, but I see
now that you are to be a great orator, for you hear
the voice of the Spirits as they speak to you in the
wind and in the water, and you answer them."

Late in the Autumn they all went far up Chip-
peway river and then through the forest, and built

32 The Childhood of Ji-shiB

their warm Winter wigwams at the edge of a small
prairie. In the Spring, back they came again with
their canoes piled high with pemmican and furs.

One day in the early Summer Ji-shib missed
his cradle and he cried, then he missed it the next
day and the next. It was years after that before
he learned where it had been. There leaning up
against a tree near the wigwam it had stood for
days and days, telling to every one who passed this
simple tale: "I used to be Ji-shib's cradle, but he
has outgrown me now, he is almost a warrior."

The second Summer and Winter, and the third
and fourth Summers and Winters passed as had the
first. During the warm Summers Ji-shib played
about the wigwam. He had a little bow and arrow,
and little pails made of birch bark; and every Sum-
mer there were a great many playful puppies with
tails to pull, and there were dozens of children like
himself. All the long Summer the smaller boys
ran around with nothing on except a string of
shells around their necks, and some of them had
not even that; but most of the little girls wore
buckskin shirts without sleeves.

Some days they all played "hide and seek"
among the wigwams and the maize and the forest
near the village. Some days they waded in the
lake and floated their tiny birch-bark canoes, and

The Childhood of Ji-shil)

sometimes they played war-party. Part of the
boys would be Sioux and part Ojibwa, and in some
way it always turned out that the Ojibwa warriors
were victorious even though a part of the Sioux
had to die, and get scalped, and then crawl off as
though not seen and later join the victorious Ojib-
was with a loud war-cry. Once when Ji-shiB led
his warriors against the Sioux, their war-cry made
the dogs bark and duck under the wigwams with
their tails between their legs and the hair bristling
straight up on their backs not knowing whether
they were the more frightened or angry.

The little girls built play wigwams of birch
bark, and played that they were Squaws with babies
of their own. One day when they were all playing
grown-ups, Ji-shifr came home to his play-Squaw
and wigwam dragging an innocent rebellious
puppy by the hind leg. He left it outside by the
door of the wigwam, and walked in with much
dignity, and sat down in his place. By and by he
said in lisping baby-Indian: "Squaw, I just killed
a great big bear, go skin him, I am hungry."

The obedient little Squaw
went out silently only to find
half a dozen bears, like the one
Ji-shift had killed, having a tug-
of- war over an old moccasin. INDI&K


The Childhood of Ji-shiB

Nearly every evening Ji-shifo's grandmother told
him stories. Neither he nor the beaver could re-
member half of them, but there was one which the
beaver never forgot because it was about beavers.

"Many, many Summers ago," the grandmother
said, "beavers climbed trees like squirrels and ran
swiftly on the ground like foxes, but they did not
eat ducks and birds, they ate nothing except wood
like willow and young poplar and birch. They
had large white teeth which Manido had given
them to eat the wood with, and they used to
gnaw down many more young trees than they
could eat. So Manido sent the wood-pecker to tell
them not to cut down more trees than they needed
for food, because very soon the wood-pecker would
have no trees in which to build her nest.

Still they kept on cutting down the trees, and
Manido sent the eagle to tell the beavers that they

must obey or he would fasten a
great load to them which they
could scarcely drag along, and
thus the Indians could easily
catch them and kill them; but
still they cut the trees down
Then Manido became angry, and
sent a disease into the beavers'
tails. Their tails swelled and



The Childhood of Ji-shifi

swelled and burned, and all of the fur dropped off.
In order to stop the painful swelling and burning
they dipped their tails in the water, and soon they
saw that the water helped to hold them up, so that
they were not so heavy to drag around.

Now, as may be imagined, the beavers and
ducks had always been good friends, because bea-
vers did not eat ducks and ducks did not eat either
beavers or wood, and, being good friends, the ducks
told the beavers how to grow hind feet like their
own, and before long the beavers became expert
swimmers. But still they gnawed down trees which
they rolled into the rivers and creeks to make
dams. They used their big flat tails to spank down
and smooth off the mud when they made the
dams. When Manido saw all this he said, "The
beaver is the wisest animal I have made. If I am
ever in trouble, I shall send for the beaver to help
me out."

After learning this story the
little beaver was very proud of his
ancestors, and Ji-shilS received his
first lesson in the wisdom of the
beaver a fact which he never
attempted to dispute. In time
he came to know that the bea-
ver was the wisest of all animals. *3r*jff' r f ' t^

OTV tt>* CUf f ._


In Which Ji-shib Becomes A Little Medicine



Summers after this, when Ji-shi5 was six
years old, his father was one day coming
home along the forest trail near the village, when
his keen eyes sighted the little fellow trudging
toward him with his bow and arrows. Ki-niw
stepped aside into the bushes, and, as Ji-shiB got
opposite him, purposely broke a dry stick with his
foot. As the stick cracked aloud the little fellow
stopped suddenly with his eyes toward the bush
behind which his father was hidden. When Ji-shiB
turned half way around, arid could see neither friend
nor wigwam, his fluttering hunter-heart gave way,
and he ran back in the direction of the village. The
father waited until he thought that the boy was out

of sight down the trail, when suddenly
he heard the "tang" of a tiny bow-
string. An arrow came gliding at him
through the bush, and he peeped out
to see the little hunter turn away
again and run home like a deer. That
night after the children were all asleep
in the village, Ki-niw walked among
the wigwams and told the story over



The Childhood of Ji-shib

and over again, although he added each time, laugh-
ing, that he had never seen a child run half so fast.

In the Autumn, after the maize and squashes
and beans were all gathered from
the gardens and hidden in holes,
like large pockets in the ground?
and after the Indians had gathered ^
their harvest of wild rice, some- ^
thing unusual happened in the
life of Ji-shib he joined the
Grand Medicine Society. This i -* 1T^
Society is one which all Ojibwa ^ \ /v ~ -
boys and Indians, and most of ^ 5
the girls and Squaws used to join p lcTTJR ^
before the white men came to
America. And this is the way Ji-shib became a
little Medicine-Man.

One night two old Indians came into the wig-
wam and sat down and smoked. They were famous
Medicine-Men. One of them was as tall and straight
as a spear handle. His hair was black, with scarcely
a streak of white in it, and yet he was very old, for
long deep creases were in his face. The other man
was small and wrinkled, and his hair was almost
white, but he was as agile as a squirrel. Ji-shib
looked with reverence on these men, for they
could do almost everything.

The Childhood of Ji-shiK

They could make it rain or make the wind
blow. They could prepare ff good medicine," so
that a hunter could shoot as many deer as he wanted,
or catch plenty of fish. If they desired, they could
prepare "bad medicine" to make a person's mouth
crooked; and if anyone was sick, they could cure
him. If an Indian fell in love with a young Squaw,
and wanted to marry her, these old men could make
ff love medicine," wrapped up in a small piece of
buckskin, and if the Indian-lover did with it exactly
what the old men told him to 'do, the young Squaw
would want to marry him.

They could also talk to the Spirits both the
Good Spirits and the Bad Spirits; and because these
Spirits knew them, they told the Medicine-Men
what to do and also how to do it.

The little boys and girls never played jokes on
Medicine-Men, for these wise old men could see
them, though they might be far away in the forest.

They could see them, though
they were in their wigwams with
their eyes shut and fast asleep;
an d if the little boys and girls
were caught at it, the Medicine-
Men would make their mouths
crooked, or make their fathers
and mothers die. So when an

The Childhood of Ji-shiff

old Medicine-Man came into another Indian's wig-
wam, every one was good to him and listened to
what he said.

By and by the tall old Medicine
Man, sitting there in the wigwam,
threw a little of his tobacco in the
fire, then he took a medicine drum
from under his deerskin blanket,
and began to drum on it with a
stick. Presently he stopped drum-
ming, and told Ji-shiB about the drum which he had.

"This drum," he said, "was given to us by
Manido, the Sacred Spirit. When it is used the
Sacred Spirits, who guard over the Medicine Society,
listen to what is said to them and do what is asked.
If any one is sick and this drum is used by his side,
it will help to drive out the Bad Spirits which make
the poor man sick. Ji-shib," he said, "after four
nights you will join the Medicine Society, and this
sacred drum will be used. You will then be a
little Medicine-Man, but there will be many more
things which you can learn about the Sacred Spirits
and their medicines. So when you join the Medi-
cine Society again, as you will in after years, and
become a bigger Medicine-Man, this same drum
must be used, for the Sacred Spirits will then listen
to what you say."

The Childhood of Ji-shiti

The old Indian stopped talking, and the other
old Medicine-Man held up a gourd with kernels of
corn inside of it, and rattled it. Soon he stopped
rattling, and told Ji-shib how Manido had given
them the rattle also. He said that it was even more
powerful than the drum to drive away Bad Spirits
from a sick man, and that in the Medicine Society
the rattle must be used with the drum when songs
were sung to the Sacred Spirits.

When the last old Medicine-Man stopped talk-
ing, there was an awful silence in the wigwam.
Certainly the Sacred Spirits must be there, because
it was so breathless and so still. Little Ji-shib felt
his heart thumping as though it were trying to get
out and run away. He never felt so lonely and
homesick in all his life. He began to fear that he

and every one else in the wigwam
was dead.

The beaver was just as much im-
pressed as Ji-shib was, and wondered
what made him feel so strange in
the great dreadful silence. Of course
it must be that the Sacred Spirits
were there, and that the Medicine-
Men and the father and mother of
Ji-shib, and even Ji-shib himself,
could see them. How sharp their


The Childhood of Ji-shiK 4 1

eyes were, and how acute their ears were, to hear the
voice of the Sacred Spirits, when all that he could
hear was just a terrible stillness that hurt his ears, and
he wished how he wished that
it would stop.

The fire snapped a burning
splinter into the lap of the good
Squaw, and she brushed it away
with her finger-tips. Only then
did Ji-shi5 have courage to look
up, and when the beaver saw his eyes he felt all right
again. Then the old Medicine-Men drummed and
rattled, and the drummer sang a song, to which the
drum and rattle Ibeat time, sometimes faster, some-
times slower, sometimes louder, and again almost
dying away. He sang to the Sacred Spirits about
medicines, and then he sang to Ji-shib what the
Sacred Spirits whispered back to him to say. He sang
each sentence over and over again until Ji-shilS
could think of nothing else. This is what he sang:

"Hee, ya, ho, ho, ho-ho, ho!
I hear the spirits speaking to us,
I hear the spirits speaking to us.

The Spirits say there is plenty of medicine

in the Medicine-Wigwam.
The Spirits say there is plenty of medicine

in the Medicine-Wigwam:

Hee, ya, ho-ho, ho-ho, ho, hoo, ho-ho 1"

The Childhood of Ji-shifi

As soon as he finished this song he kept silent,
and that strange dreadful stillness filled the wigwam.
After a short time, which seemed a thousand
moons to Ji-shilS, the Medicine-Men again sang to
the Sacred Spirits, and the drum and rattle sounded.
After they had finished singing for that night, and
had smoked, the Medicine-Men had something to
eat, and then they passed out into the darkness and
went home.

That night, as Ji-shilS lay asleep,
a beautiful young Indian seemed to
come down through the smoke-hole
in the top of the wigwam and look
at him and say: ff l bring you medi-
cine to make you live. You will
find it in a beaver skin."

The young Indian then raised
the buffalo-skin flap of the door, and
went out. Ji-shilS awoke and saw only the skin at
the doorway flapping, and above his head a thin
gray smoke weaving lazily from the fire and passing
out towards the stars.

For four nights those old Medicine-Men came
to the wigwam and sang Sacred Spirit songs. Each
night they sang ten of them; and each night, while
Ji-shilS slept, the young Indian seemed to come
and tell him that he would find medicine in the

The Childhood of Ji-shil)


beaver skin. Sometimes during those awful si-
lences between the songs, he could hear drums
and singing in other wigwams, for others besides
himself were going to join the Grand Medicine

On the morning after the fourth night that
great day when Ji-shilS was to become a little
Medicine-Man he went out to look at the medi-
cine wigwam, which the squaws had built the day
before. There it was, a long series of small poles
stuck in the ground, bent over and tied together in
the middle. They somewhat resembled the springs
of giant rabbit snares. The wigwam was all open to
the sky, but the sides near the ground were closed
in by tamarack boughs leaned against them. And
down the middle of the wigwam, from one end to
the other, as far as he could have shot his arrow,
were buffalo skins, and moose skins, and deer skins

T/ie Childhood of Ji-shiK

hanging up; and there were moccasins, and leggings
and shirts of buckskin, and there were two packs
of beaver furs, and skin bags full of wild rice and
others of maize. And there were other things, too,
hanging up, and they were all given by his father
and other fathers whose children were to join the
Society; but if grown-up Squaws and Indians join-
ed, they gave the things themselves. They were
all to be given to the old Medicine-Men who had
sung those four past nights, and who would help
on this greatest of all days. Down through the
middle of the wigwam there were four posts set in
the ground, and one of them was where Ji-shifr
was to stand and sit, and where all the Indians and
Squaws would dance around him.

By and by things were ready, and all at once
every wigwam in the village seemed to burst open
and let out a swarm of people. The Indians had
their faces painted. They had eagle feathers in
their hair, and buffalo-hoof rattles on their ankles,
and all of the Indians and Squaws had animal skins
in their hands or tucked under their belts. Some
had beaver skins, some fox skins, others skins of
hawks, and some few had black and tan skins of
baby bears. Some of the Indians had as many as
four of these skins. These were the sacred medi-
cine bags in which was the sacred medicine; Ji-shiB

The Childhood of Ji-shiK


also was to have one of them with medicine in it,
so that when he got sick he would not die.

After they had marched into the long medi-
cine wigwam, at the door toward the
rising sun, they marched around and
around inside, and then sat down.
Every one smoked, and ate wild rice
in dog soup, and the old Medicine-
Men spoke. They told the other In-
dians, who where listening, always to
live quietly, never to steal from their
friends, never to misuse their friends,
never to lie to their friends, and never to kill their
friends, but always to do right, and then they
would live long, even so that they would walk with
two sticks, and the snows would whiten their hair,
and if they did all of this, other people would
respect them. Little Ji-shilS resolved to do all of
these things, and so live to be very old and re-
spected, and perhaps then he could become a great
Medicine-Man and a War-Chief.

Ji-shilS could not begin to remember how
many times they marched around, and sang songs,
and danced, and smoked, and ate, but he could
not forget how funny the Squaws looked when
they danced. They danced as though their feet
where tied together, and jumped up and down


The Childhood of Ji-shiK

stiff legged. It made their bodies shake, and the
beads around their neck flopped like the ears of a
running dog, and their medicine bags dangled and
flopped, and they looked very funny, even to Ji-
shilS. But the Indians and Ji-shift was glad that
he was an Indian and not a Squaw they filled
him with pride. They stepped so lightly on the
ground, and held their heads so high, and pranced
along the way fine horses prance to-day; and now
and then they said, "Hee, ya, ho-ho-ho, ho-ho,
ho!" and looked this way and that, and Ji-shiB
could not take his eyes from them.

Soon he and his father and mother got up and
stood by his post, which had a band of red paint
around it, and the two old Medicine-Men came to
them, and drummed and rattled and sang songs.

Then he had to sit down by the post
with his face to the rising sun. Soon
four old Medicine-Men came prancing
up towards him, and one of them held
a medicine bag, a beaver skin, in both
his hands, and pointed it at Ji-shiB; and
as he came up closer, the Medicine-Man
said, "Ya, ho, ho, ho, ho-ho!" and thrust
the beaver skin at him. Two other
Medicine-Men stood behind Ji-shilS
with their hands on his shoulders, and

The Childhood of Ji-shil) 47

when the beaver-skin bag was thrust at him he felt
himself tremble.

The second old Medicine-Man came toward
him, and thrust the beaver skin at him and he
trembled again.

And the third Medicine-Man did the same,
and he trembled still more.

Then the fourth old Medicine-Man took the
beaver skin, and approached him saying, "Ya-ho,
ho, ho, hoo, hoo!" and making the beaver skin
move in and out as a snake runs. Then he went
backward, and came up and thrust the skin at Ji-
shil:), and then he went back and came up again,
and all of the time he said, ff Ya, ho, ho, ho!" and
all of the time he made the beaver skin look like a
snake wriggling. When the Medicine-Man came
toward him the fourth time the beaver skin actually
touched Ji-shib, and he trembled a very great deal,
and fell forward on his face. All of the Medicine-
Men gathered around him and said, "Ya, ho, ho,
ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, hoo!" many, many times.

Little Ji-shiB thought that the Sacred Spirits
must have come into him when the sacred bag
touched him, for he felt so strangely happy and
warm. The Medicine-Men raised him up, and put
in his hands the beaver skin with sacred shells and
sacred medicine in it. And thus it had come true,

48 The Childhood of Ji-shiB

what the beautiful young Indian who came into
the wigwam at night had told him, for now he had
sacred medicine in a beaver skin. He looked at the
beaver skin, and found that it was little A-mi-kons,
who had been with him ever since he was a babe.
That night as he lay asleep, the young Indian
again came to him in his wigwam and said:

"In the beaver skin you will find medicine for
everything you will need."

Then he motioned Ji-shib to look. And as he
looked he seemed to see a pathway leading from
the door of the wigwam out through the forest, a
path at first straight, then turning and winding,
becoming very crooked and broken and then lost
in the forest.

Ji-shib understood in his childish way that the
path was like what his life would be, first, straight and
easy, later, crooked and difficult to follow. But the
Sacred Spirits were with him, and his medicine bag
was in his hand with the medicines given to help

him out of all difficulties. The vision
vanished, and he awoke and found him-
self standing in the middle of the wig-
wam. The fire was out and he was cold,
so he lay down close to his good mother,
and wrapped her buffalo-skin blanket
around him and went to sleep again.


In Which Ji-shiK Uses His Medicines

ALWAYS after that Ji-shiB knew that the Sacred
Spirits watched over him and helped him,
and he always tried to do what the old Medicine-
Men told him.

One day when he was eight years old there
were several small boys playing in the lake. None
of them was yet large enough to wear clothes in
the Summer, so they swam and dived in the water,
like frogs, half of the time. The first thing Ji-shi6
knew, the Bad Spirit of the lake caught his leg, and
doubled it up in his giant hand, and it hurt. The
Bad Spirit pinched his leg, and pulled him down
under the water, and then let him come up again,
but he did not let go of his leg. Then he pulled
him down again. When Ji-shiB was being pulled
down the second time he thought of his medicine
bag which lay on the shore, and
that if he could only get his hand
in that bag, he would give the Bad
Spirit some medicine to make him
let him loose. When he came up
again, he made a great desperate
kick and struggle, and got away and
swam to the shore, but his leg was


The Childhood of Ji-shiB

lame and hurt him. He took some sacred tobacco
from his medicine bag, and threw it to the Bad Spirit
of the lake, and after that the Bad Spirit never caught
hold of him again. Of course, sometimes when he
was going to swim far in the lake, he threw tobacco
into the water for the Bad Spirit before he went in.
But nearly every Summer that Bad Spirit
caught some little Indian Boy, and dragged him
down into the lake, and sucked out all of his blood,
and, after days and days, laid him on the shore at
night dead and bloodless.

Once the Bad Spirit did not bring a boy back
at all, but ate him all up down in the deep water.

Late in the next Summer Ji-shiB was out in the
forest, and an unknown bird called at him from a
tree, and then flew away and called from another
tree. Ji-shiB followed it. It kept calling, and flying
away, and calling again. Soon the sky grew dark

with clouds, the Sun went out, and
it rained, and the great Thunder
Birds called and called in loud and
fearful voices. Ji-shiB saw a hol-
low tree, and he crept into it, and
sat down on the dry leaves. The
Thunder Birds screamed and called
all through the forest, so Ji-shiB
took his sacred tobacco from his

The Childhood of Ji-shiB 5/

medicine bag, and threw some of it out of the
hollow tree for the Thunder Birds, and by and by
they ceased calling.

It seemed as though it never would stop rain-
ing, so he crawled out of the tree, and started home.
He walked a long way, and got hungry and tired,
but he could not find the village. It began to get
dark, and little Ji-shiS was almost afraid, when
there, right by his side, was the hollow tree again.
He looked in and saw his bow and arrows which
he had forgotten when he started out before, so he
crept in, wet and tired, and soon fell asleep.

While he slept he dreamed again of the beau-
tiful young Indian, who came to him that night
saying, "Look!" When he looked, there were
many shadows moving swiftly over the ground, and
he raised his eyes and saw a great flock of ducks
flying over the trees. They all flew straight over,
and all in the same direction, and the Indian told

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