were also collected. Since this specific form of shamanism
had not been reported previously, and, since the docu-
mentation obtained is unusual, the author felt it desirable to
record these data.
The bundle came into the author's possession after the
death of Mr. A. Earl Buckman, who had had possession of
the bundle until the time of his death. Mr. Buckman was a
quarter-blood Ottawa Indian who had been adopted into the
Potawatomi tribe sometime around 1949. He was adopted as
the brother of the then chief, James Waumego Mexico, Jr.,
and Buckman had apparently obtained the bundle from his
adopted brother. The bundle had originally belonged to
William (Bill) Mexico (Kitchi-Keshick), who apparently was
a biological brother of James Mexico. Kitchi-Keshick is
alleged to have been a Bear-Walker, and is said to have been
born in 1844 and died in 1948.
The account of this particular bundle was related to the
author on several occasions by Mr. Buckman during the
period from 1954-56. Mr. Buckman had obtained his
knowledge of the bundle from James Mexico.
THE BEAR-WALKER BUNDLE AND ITS CONTENTS
The following descriptive inventory is intended to
identify each of the items in the bundle and to describe the
use of those items for which a use is known.
1. The BUNDLE itself is made of the untreated skin of
what has been tentatively identified as that of a badger. The
skin was sewn into a rough rectangle (31.2 x 18.2 x 10.5
centimeters) with heavy black thread in such a way as to
allow the animal's tail to form a covering flap. The flap may
have been attached to the main part of the bundle by means
of a wire loop. The bundle has a short tab of heavy harness
leather at each end and these may represent portions of a
shoulder strap which once was on the bundle (see drawings).
The inside of the bundle is lined with a white tailored cotton
insert which has been sewn to the skin by means of a heavy
white thread. (Figure 1)
2. -MAN'S BUNDLE." This separate bundle is not
necessarily a part of the Bear-Walker's equipment. Many
people, aside from Bear Walkers, apparently have such a
-man's bundle." It consists of a miniature bow and four
arrows which are wrapped in green cloth and tied together
Figure 1. The Bear-Walker bundle.
114 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 53, No. 3
by means of a green ribbon. The bow is a small (36.2 x
1.5 x 0.55 cm) version of a "medicine"-typebow, and has a
scalloped edge. It appears to be made of ash. The belly of
the bow is painted with green pigment, the straight edge
is painted red, and the scalloped edge is painted alternately
red and blue. The handle is left plain. There are two
"hunting" arrows (bunts) in the bundle. These are 21.4 and
21.7 cm long. The heads are enlarged and blunt and are
painted red and green. The shafts are unpainted and the area
around the nocks is painted green. There are also two "war"
arrows (22.8 and 22.8 cm long). The heads on these are
slightly enlarged and are quite pointed. The heads are painted
blue, the shaft is unpainted, and the nock area is also painted
Mr. Buckman said that the "man's bundle" is used to
inflict injury on an enemy. A doll or other representation
of the potential victim is constructed and is "shot" with
a hunting arrow if the intention is to cause injury to the
victim in a hunting "accident," or it is shot with the war
arrows if death or injury in battle is the desired objective.
(Figures 2 and 3)
3. "DOG DANCE BUNDLE." This bundle is part of the
Bear- Walker bundle proper and consists of a series of great
horned owl, barred owl, marsh hawk, and raven wing and
tail feathers which are strung on a string. One raven feather
has a purple ribbon inserted in the quill. Most of these
Figure 2. The "Man's Bundle," assembled.
Figure 3. The "Man's Bundle," unwrapped.
feathers have been stripped from their quills. A second unit
consists of a small bundle of 5 Cooper's hawk feathers which
are tied together. The Dog Dance bundle also includes
portions of what appear to be the tails of domestic cows.
The entire bundle is tied with a blue cloth strip to which a
deer dew claw has been attached by means of a buckskin
thong. The bundle '' is tied a second time with a smoke-
tanned buckskin thong.
I J have no information of the use of this bundle. (Figure 4)
4. "WISKA'S HAIR ORNAMENT." This is a long (ca.
34 cm) strip of smoke tanned buckskin which has a series
Figure 4. The "Dog Dance Bundle."
116 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53, No. 3
Figure 5. "Wiska's Hair Ornament."
of longitudinal slits along its edges (spaced about 3.4 cm
apart). Ten wing and tail feathers of what may be peregrine
(duck hawk) falcon are attached to the thong by means of the
slits at one end of the object. The other end has a long
(3.1 cm) slit in it and is devoid of feathers.
Mr. Buckman said that this is a hair ornament and is.
worn by attaching it to the hair by passing a lock of hair
through the long slit at one end. Wiska is the culture hero
of the Potawatomi. The hair ornament was worn by the"
Bear-Walker before and during the casting of spells.
5. Small bundle consisting of a lump of blue chalk wrapped
in a portion of a waxed bread wrapper (Schlafke's Bakery in
The chalk is simple plumber's chalk. Mr. Buckman
indicated that it was used as a source of blue pigment,
presumably for face paint. Blue paint among the Potawatomi
is a symbol of leadership - ordinary people wear red paint.
(Figure 6, A)
6. SUCKING TUBE. This is made of a short (8.4 cm long)
section of a domestic cow's horn. It is the tip of the horn and
Figure 6. Blue chalk bundle (A); Sucking tube (B); sinew (C).
it has been hollowed out and a hole was drilled at the tip
to join with the hollowed interior. There is a carved lip at
the small end. The tube is decorated with incised geometric
designs, although the incisions have been partially worn away
by use. The object has a moderately high polish.
Sucking tubes like this are found in all sorts of medicine
bundles. Mr. Buckman said that such tubes were used to
magically draw out evil spirits which may be causing minor
aches and pains. Under these conditions, the object can be
inferred to have been used for curing particular illnesses.
If so, apparently not all of the activities of the Bear-Walker
were evil or designed to inflict injury. (Figure 6, B)
7. SINEW. A small unfastened bundle of sinew was
included in the Bear-Walker bundle. The sinew appears to be
from a deer and has been shredded in preparation for use.
Presumably, this is not a magical item and it may simply
be carried for repairs of other objects when and if needed.
(Figure 6, C)
118 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53, No. 3
Figure 7. Red plume (A); Miniature war club (B); "Sky drum (C).
8. A dyed red fluff-type feather, possibly from an eagle.
I have no information on its use. (Figure 7, A)
' /".I" ''' '' i '. ". . '. *:-''
9. >WAR CLUB. One miniature (18.1 cm long) ball-type
war club was included in the 1 Bear-Walker bundle. The
ball is oval (3.2 x 2.6 cm). The handle portion has been
carved into what appears to be an eagle's head at the point
where the handle and ball portions junction. The entire object
has .been blackened by fire, making it difficult to determine
the sort of wood of which it is made.
- Mr, Buckman said that this artifact was carried into
battle in order to enhance the fighting capabilities of the
Bear- Walker. (Figure 7, B)
10. "SKY" DRUM. This is a miniature tambourine -type
drum with free-type (not snare-type) rattles inside. It
is made in the Potawatomi style with a single skin folded to
form both heads. The stitching of the heads is done with
sinew and the heads themselves appear to be made of deer
rawhide. The drum is embellished with a string-wrapped
rawhide loop handle along the edge. It is unpainted and
undecorated. Dimensions: 15.8 x 14.5 x 1.6 cm thick.
Mr. Buckman said that, when pursued by enemies, the
Bear-Walker would beat this small drum. The sound of the
drum would be magically amplified so that his enemies would
hear many loud drums and, hopefully, conclude that the
Bear-Walker had somehow been reinforced by many drum-
mers. (Figure 7, C)
11. HORSE. This finely-carved pine horse has a red
painted body and the head and tail portions are painted black.
A single strand of red yarn is tied tightly around the neck
immediately below the head. The wooden tail originally had
two or three strands of black horse hair loosely tied to it,
but these have been lost. There is a small perforated metal
(brass?) tab inserted into the wood immediately behind the
head and on the top of the neck, possibly for purposes of
suspension. In addition, there is a small shallow carved
hole in the front of the chest area, located about midway
from the feet to the head. The horse is 8.25 cm high, 13.8
cm long, and 3.45 cm wide.
Mr. Buckman said that this artifact was associated
with spells involving horses. If, for example, the
Bear-Walker's enemies were pursuing him on horseback,
the Bear- Walker would rub the legs of the sculpture and th^'s
would in turn cause the legs of his pursuers' horses to
become weak and the horses would stumble and fall. It is
interesting that the sculpture is made in such a way that the
horse has disproportionately short legs. There are scratches
on the bottom of the "feet" of the horse. (Figure 8, B)
12. SMALL HORSE. This is similar to the larger horse,
but is much less carefully made. It is carved of pine, it is
smaller, it has traces of red pigment on the body, and it
also has disproportionately short legs.
When I asked Mr. Buckman what function this artifact
might have served, he shrugged his shoulders and suggested
that it may have been a "spare," and used when the larger
horse no longer functioned well enough. This is not satis-
factory as an explanation and I believe that Mr. Buckman
was guessing. (Figure 8, A)
13. BEAR'S EARS. Two small bear's ears, which are
120 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53,^0. 3
Figure 8. Small horse (A); Horse (B).
tied together by means of a heavy black thread, were also
included in the bundle.
No information was available on the use or purpose.
14. DEW CLAW RATTLE. This is a fairly common sort
of rattle and is made of twenty deer hoof-tip and dew
claws which are attached to a weeden splinter handle by
means of smoke tanned buckskin thongs. There is one small
strand of -blue beads which is loosely attached to the handle,
and several fine threads are wrapped around the handle in
the area of the "dew claws" which may represent additional
beadwork which may at one time have been present. The top
of the rattle (the protruding portion of the wooden handle) has
been carved to represent some sort of design.
Mr. Buckman indicated that this rattle was used in a
very special manner and in conjunction with the deer call
described below. (Figure 10, A)
15. DEER CALL. This is a two-piece carved maple deer
call. Its two pieces are loosely held together by a length of
chalk line in such a way as to suggest that the chalk line
may have also functioned for purposes of suspension. The
two pieces, when joined, have a length of 12.5 cm. The
noise-maker consists of a thin metal reed.
Figure 9. Bear's ears.
According to Mr. Buckman, when a Bear-Walker wishes
to communicate with a person who is beyond shouting
distance, he does so by first using the deer call. This is
supposed to sound like a fawn in trouble, and it attracts
the attention of any does in the vicinity. Once attracted, the
Bear- Walker begins to shake the dew claw rattle and, at the
same time, he repeats the message. The does carry and
transmit the message to its ultimate recipient. Mr. Buckman
did not know the manner in which the message was received.
(Figure 10, B)
16. MODEL CANOE. This canoe model is 24.9 cm long
and 6.2cm. wide, and has whatappears to be a representation
of an otter on the right side of the prow. It is carved from
122 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53,. No. 3
Figure 10. Dew claw rattle (A); Deer call (B).
pine and has three large notches scraped into the sides of the
hull: one notch on the right side, the other two on the left.
Mr. Buckman said that, if the Bear-Walker was pursued
by enemies in canoes, he could magically cause their canoes
to sink by cutting holes in the canoe model. (Figure 11, A)
17. SMALLER CANOE MODEL. This artifact is carved
from what appears to be black walnut and it has a config-
uration which is similar to that of an aboriginal dugout,
rather than birchbark, type. It is 20. 9 cm long, 3.4 cm wide,
and has no prow design.
Mr. Buckman did not know what this item was used for,
but we jokingly suggested that it might be a "spare."
(Figure 11, B)
Figure 11. Model canoe (A); Smaller model canoe (B).
18. (a and b) BEAR TEETH. A pair of black bear canine
teeth are included in the bundle. The teeth have polished
roots and appear to have come from a rather large animal.
Mr. Buckman indicated that the Bear-Walker could call
on the aid of wild bears if he wanted to cause a person to be
attacked by a bear. These two teeth were used in casting
such a spell. (Figure 12, B)
19. BLACK BEAR'S EAR BUNDLE. This small pocket-
type bundle is made from a black bear's ear and it measures
7.3 x 6.2 x 2.6 cm. Inside is a rolled strip of (unborn?)
fawn skin. Inside the fawn skin is a rolled strip of green
paper. Inside the paper is a small seed pod (bur).
No known use. (Figure 12, A)
20. BLACK SQUIRREL BUNDLE. This skin was gathered
in the middle and tied with a smoke tanned buckskin thong.
Inside is what appears to be a mixture of red ochre and
No known use. (Figure 13, A)
124 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
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Figure 12. Black Bear's ear bundle, unwrapped (A); Bear teeth (B).
Figure 13. Black Squirrel bundle (A); Untied bundle (B); Skin bundle (C).
Figure 14. Weasel skin.
21. UNTIED BUNDLE. This (deer?) skin section is also
gathered in the middle and also appears to contain herbs. No
known use. (Figure 13, B)
22. SKIN BUNDLE. Like Nos. 20 and 21, this skin bundle
contains unidentified herbs, in this case in a brown (ochre?)
mixture. This bundle is tied with a thong of smoke tanned
buckskin. Its manner of use is unknown. (Figure 13, C)
23. WEASEL SKIN. This complete pelt of the short-tailed
Figure 15. Fawn skin bundle (A); Small bucKskin bundle (B); Small bucksin
126 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53, No. 3
weasel was prepared in a manner similar to that employed
in the construction of otter and mink skin Medicine Lodge
bags. The weasel was killed during the winter when it had
its white ("ermine") coat. The skull was left in the skin
although the posterior portion of the calvarium was removed
in order to extract the brains and other soft tissues. Inside is
a small rectangle of blue cloth. It is possible that the skin
was originally prepared for use as a Medicine Lodge bag.
Mr. Buckman told me that it is practically impossible
to shoot a weasel because they are so quick. With the proper
magical formulae, the Bear-Walker would insert the weasel
skin in his shirt and would take on the properties of the
weasel: quickness and practical invulnerability to bullets.
24. FAWN SKIN BUNDLE. This bundle contains a buff
colored herb mixture and was tied with a strip of blue
cloth. Its use is unknown. (Figure 15, A)
25. SMALL BUCKSKIN BUNDLE. This small smoke
Figure 16. Bear-Walker charm bundle, tied.
tanned buckskin bundle is tied with a buckskin thong and
contains a light turquoise-colored powder, presumably for
use as a pigment. (Figure 15, B)
26. SMALL BUCKSKIN BUNDLE. Very similar to No. 25,
but tied with string and containing a bright red ochre powder,
also presumed to have been used for pigment. (Figure 15, C)
27. BEAR-WALKER CHARM BUNDLE. This is a small
rawhide (squirrel or rabbit) bundle of the gathered type and
is tied with heavy black thread. It contains three black
bear claws (without the bone cores) and one small grey
chert corner-notched projectile point.
Mr. Buckman indicated that this little bundle was the
most significant of all in that it was the representation or
symbol ("badge of office") of the Bear-Walker. The
bundle's power would be significantly diminished without
this particular charm.
Figure 17. Bear-Walker charm bundle, unwrapped.
128 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 53, No. 3
The projectile point is of some considerable interest. It
conforms to the style of tool which was made and used by the
prehistoric occupants of northern Wisconsin during the
period from about A.D. 100-500. (Figures 16, 17).
It should be pointed out that several of the smaller
bundles containing herbs and/or pigment fall into a rather
standard category of personal charms. Such items are
frequently found in medicine bags and other kinds of bundles.
They are extremely personal in nature and had meaning
only to their makers. Some of the bundles with pigment in
them may have been "wish bundles." These usually
contain, in addition to the pigment, a particular item which
was desired in the hope that such treatment of the item
would result in obtaining large quantities of the item. I
have seen, for example, bundles containing red ochre and a
coin, or red ochre and a bead - reflecting the desire for
more money or for more beads.
The following drawings were prepared by a recently
deceased Potawatomi Medicine Lodge priest. They were
prepared as a result of motivation supplied by Mr. Buckman,
although the artist expressed an explicit desire to convey
Potawatomi ideas and concepts to white people in general:
"You take papers. White people looking."
The original drawings were executed in crayons and
pencil, but have been traced from the original by the present
author in order to improve the quality of their reproduction.
Original qualities of composition were preserved when the
tracings were made. To compensate in part for the pro-
hibitive costs of color reproduction, descriptive statements
on color are appended to each caption. The captions them-
selves were written in pencil by the artist's wife, since the
artist was not literate in English. The drawings were done
on simple white typing paper, and are part of a larger
collection of drawings and comments relating to various
aspects of Potawatomi religion, mythology, and magic.
Several of these drawings will be dealt with in future
Reference is made in several of the drawings to the
"Tree Creature." I have been able to gather some infor-
mation concerning this mythological animal.
The Tree Creature (Mi-Use Esh-Eh-Quot Ma-Toe
Ta-Coke-Ade) is believed to be a very powerful and very evil
spirit, and is thought to live in and around swampy lakes,
especially those with murky water, or among hills. It is,
of course, possession by the Tree Creature which results
in an Indian becoming a Bear-Walker. However, the Tree
Creature may also inhabit a tree, a house, or other objects.
He may also take the form of a cat, a horse, a chipmunk, or,
of course, an Indian. In three of these forms he can do
damage and evil. In the form of a chipmunk, however, his
ability to wreak havoc is limited and he takes this form in
order to spy. Under this guise he can live in villages, even
enter houses, without raising much suspicion. Under these
conditions, he can learn how he might best tempt any
particular Indian into becoming a Bear-Walker.
The primary counter-force in Potawatomi is the
Thunders, or Black Thunders. The Thunders are engaged
in a continuing war with the Tree Creature and have as
weapons the use of lightning. Thus, when lightning strikes
a house, a tree, a telephone pole, a horse, or even an
Indian (as in the case of Num-Key-Wan-Ess, below), this
is explained as a battle between the Tree Creature and the
Num-Key-Wan-Ess, Thunder Woman, Potawatomi Bear-Walker.
130 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol. 53, No. 3
Figure 18. "This tree monster someime look brown and black. This is
were the Black Magic comes from a case above."
(The tree creature is depicted in two forms: the representation in the
upper left is outlined in brown, has black mouth lines and a black nose and has
brown stripes on a plain background. The representation in the upper right is
outlined in pencil and is colored black. The case at the bottom is brown and
represents a Bear-Walker bundle. - ed.)
Figure 19. "The picture that are drew on the second page. This tree creature
turns into an Indian to give the case of Black Magic to the Indian that has the gun.
But it's bad to take it from him."
(The background is brown, as is the representation of the Bear- Walker bundle
in the center foreground. The tree on the left and the "Indian" are also colored
brown. The Indian on the right is outlined in pencil, has brown trousers and a
brown gunstock. The gun barrel, the hair, and the tip of the feather in his hat
The drawing depicts the Tree Creature in his guise as an Indian in the
process of recruting a Bear- Walker from an Indian who appears to be engaged
in hunting. The Tree Creature -Indian is depicted as being naked, -ed.)
Figure 20. "The picture drew of the black bear and Coffin. This Indian
that knows the black magic turns into a black bear and makes the dead person
come back to alive and gets hold of its tongue and pulls it out."
(The "coffin," or more accurately, the wooden structure placed on top of
graves - note the "spirit hole" at the top - is outlined in pencil with the aid of
a straightedge. The "coffin" is surrounded by erratic brown crayon lines,
possibly representing earth. The bear is outlined in pencil and is colored black,
with the exception of the area around the nose and eyes, which is colored
yellow. - ed.)
132 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol.53, No. 3
Figure 21. "The picture on 4. Is the black Magic bear, he goes round the
Coffin four times to do this on page 2 (Fig. 20). before he makes the dead to
talk and pull its tongue out, because he never forget what the dead person said
to him. The black Magic poison him for a little word like he quarrel with him
and the black Magic person never forgets him and kills him for it."
(The bear is outlined in pencil and colored black except for the face, which
is yellow. The bear is standing on a brown field which surrounds the "coffin."
Around this entire composition there are four brown circles representing the
four circuits made by the bear around the coffin. The coffin itself is partly
drawn with the aid of a straightedge, partially drawn free-hand, with a pencil.
Inside the coffin is a representation of the dead person which is outlined ir
pencil and colored brown, -ed.)
Figure 22. "This is the way it looks when it's in the night when it's round with
fire or light coming from it's mouth."
(The bear is outlined in black crayon and filled in with black crayon. The
face area is outlined in pencil and colored orange. Yellow crayon lines emanate
from the bear's mouth, -ed.)
134 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST
Vol.53, No. 3
Figure 23. "Pictures that are drew, it turns into them to travel faster
during the night and carries the Case with him, without clothing on him. This
is a bad person to do such a thing."
(The "fox" has a brown body and black ears, nose and tail. The "owl" is
colored brown. The "turkey" has a black head, a brown body, a green neck,
brown tail feathers with green tips. The "dog" is colored black. The "cat"
is outlined in pencil, has black feet and the body is striped with brown. The
"Indian" is colored brown with black hair. He is depicted naked except for
the Bear-Walker bundle, -ed.)
SUMMARY AND ADDITIONAL DATA
Bear- Walkers receive their "power" from the Tree
Creature. Apparently, particular individuals are studied by
this evil manifestation in the guise of a chipmunk in order to
discover the individual's weaknesses. Based on this study,
the Tree Creature tempts the individual and tries to persuade
him to take possession of the Bear-Walker bundle and its
power and to do the bidding of the Tree Creature.
The bundles are very bad and the person who accepts the
bundle is also considered to be "bad." Both males and