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When Everybody Called
"This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.""This publication was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee."
Dreams and Visions
I'm one that believes in dreams. Generally the Indian believes -- most of the Indians believe -- in dreams and in something unusual.(1)
Some of them do.
When I'm dreaming it's a warning.
In Indian, a "dream" is a vision -- bawaadan.
I don't dream very much, but when anything arises that makes a hardship in my area, that makes changes, you might as well say that I dream about it. The dreams advise me to look for something that's coming.
|In my dreams I travel around from
place to place. That's called p^-pa-màa-di-zíi. That
means that you use your ability to travel
around to see things . . . in your dream. When I travel in a dream my spirit -- tzii-chaag --
is wandering about, when I'm sleeping, to see what's next -- to see if I'm in danger,
or to see if it's danger that's coming.
Your spirit leaves your body when you're dreaming. It travels around. It goes someplace else, during a dream, but it's bound to get back. Nobody can capture it. He's a spirit of God. You can't get ahold of him. You can't do it with power or with medicine or with anything else. The spirit is what wakes you up. That happened to quite a few of my people. And they dream about stuff that they're thinking about. That's how they know what the answer is. The answer is there when you're dreaming. When we dream, we know. But sometimes we wish that we could clarify a little better what we dream about.
$i-naa-b^n-dahn is what you dream the night before. And then baa-wàa-dahn is again what you dreamed last night. Like, if I say, "I dreamt that," it's gii-nàa-b^n-d^m -- In-gíi-po-wàa-nàa, it's I "dreamt." Then you tell a group, gii-nàab-^n-d^m. See? . . . It's the same thing. The dream is the same thing as traveling around in your sleep.
Traveling around when you're awake is i-sa-bàa-maa-dIs, sa-bàa-maa-dIs gaa- wíin. . . . ngKi-waa-b^n-sàhn, I see what happened. It's my awake-vision . . . awake-vision.
Some dreams are a warning. If there's a warning before you, you'll dream something. Maybe they're having a meeting or some gathering that you're going to see in the near future. The near future doesn't take long to arrive. And when it does arrive then the dream comes out. You could see it as you look. You'll realize you dreamt about something before that you are seeing now.
If you're thinking about something that you want to know -- you want to understand it and you're thinking about it -- the more you think about it, the more it's in your head. And when you sleep, then the dream comes, and it's what you're thinking about during the day. You're thinking about the creatures; you're thinking about wild rice. You think about everything that you'd like to know a little better, and the dream comes. And in your dream you could see it. In a dream you see what you were talking about in that earlier part of the day. When you're thinking about something that you want to know, or you want to dream something, the dream comes after you think about it so much. Then the dream is there. The dream is in you.
My last dream -- the one before last night(2) -- was about fish on the lake, and about the fish that's in the water, and about the wild life of this country. Now before that dream I was thinking that if it keeps a-going like it is things might be OK. The people are interested in game and fish and wild life. And I dream of rice and the Indian way of life. I dream about it. And after I dream, and then see the outcome when I'm awake, I realize I dreamt about it. You could say I dreamt about it. I dreampt about things with my body asleep. Dreams come when I'm asleep. They come silently -- silently -- and they're almost a secret to you, but it comes out. You could see a flash(3) in your dream. And when that flash comes you're dreaming about what you're thinking about that day.
I'm very superstitious.(4) I'm very superstitious in the Indian way, and I believe in some of these dreams.
This is the fact of my life I'm telling you because of the special questions you ask me. I would normally not tell anybody that, except that you know me. Ya. I would never, I would never! spread it out, because people wouldn't believe it anyhow. They might say, "But it's only a dream."(5)
I had a lot of dreams, ya, but I just keep them to myself. You have to save enough for yourself and not pass them on, because it's hard for the people of this generation to understand. They're too busy with education. And it's hard for me to convince them to understand what I leave.(6)
Sometimes, sometimes, I don't spill the beans about my dreams. That's for me. If you had to have that certain dream, they'd come to you too. But if you don't have power enough that you believe in dreams, they won't come.
You're not supposed to say anything about bad dreams because you want to hold it down as much as you can. Hold it down. You're not supposed to say anything about a bad dream or something that you don't like. Don't say much about it. Let the outcome come itself -- if it's going to come.
You hold a bad dream down so you don't scatter it. You don't spread it out. It might become a fact if you talk about it. If you talk about it, it'll come soon. But if you don't talk about it, and just forget it, and think, "It's all a dream," OK, then the dream goes back. "It's all a dream," means that it hasn't happened yet. It can still be changed. . . . If you talk about a dream it puts a life in the dream, with your spirit! I shouldn't tell a bad dream because maybe I can avoid it if I do not tell it.
Some of them other dreams you aren't supposed to say anything about either. But you're bound to tell a good dream.(7) Sure! If you have a good dream, you really talk about it! Well, you couldn't help talking about it. You can't help it because you're thinking about it all the time. So the outcome is there.(8)
Sometimes you're supposed to tell people your dream. If it's a good dream, I'll tell it. And sometimes I'm wishing that everyone will clarify that good dream of mine in their mind too. Sometimes you tell a dream to compare a dream of his and yours together. You're told. Someone might come to you and tell you his dream because he can tell you have a voice.(9) And then you compare your dreams. And then, generally, you can tell him about his dream -- about what it could mean, about what the message of his dream might be.
Sometimes too, you're supposed to tell the other guy because maybe there's something going to happen to him. On a dream like I had -- a warning of a bad to come to someone else -- traditionals almost always tell.(10) Everybody tells so that all can see it. And if they see it -- if they know it -- maybe somebody can do something about it.
If you had a dream and didn't feel very good about it, you could mourn in order to avoid what you dreamt about. See, in Indian, when they have a bad dream and they're afraid something is going to happen to somebody in their family, or that something's going to happen to their friends and neighbors, they avoid that bad thing by mourning. I've seen it in my days. They put a big black mark right across their forehead. That's one way of avoiding the bad of your dream. But they have to do that before this person begins to pass away -- if it's a death they're concerned about. They know that stuff, you know. They take that charcoal and just mark a mark here and there on their faces.
I asked them one time, I said, "Why does that woman have a mark on her head?"
"Well, she had a bad dream. That black marking will avoid the accident or death."
Somebody's talking to you in those dreams. The Indian believes in dreams. That's where we get it -- the message and the power to work with that message.(11) If you don't believe in dreams, oh!!, you don't believe in nothing, and you're lost!
Be aware. That's what a dream's telling you.
I've seen it.
I want it.
Your guardian spirit -- pah-wah-jii-gan -- warns you in a dream. That's your dream spirit. bah-waa-ga-n^'n is the one that comes to see you in your dream. . . . baa-waa-zji-gaa-n^g . . . ba-waa-zj-ga-n^g means someone you dream about regular. It's someone who comes to you in your sleep.
You see, a lot of us Indians believe in our dreams. If that same person comes to you in that dream, that's ba-waa-zj-ga-n^n.
It comes before you. It comes a-warning you. It could be anybody. Bah-wah-zji-ga-g^n could be anybody. You dream about certain spirits. That's what you dream about. This soul could be anything. It's a soul bringing news for you. If you're in danger, it's news about the danger. Maybe it's good news; maybe it's bad news. When you get the news you commence to think about it. And then you wonder why it came. In a day or so you'll feel the answer. If it's going to be good, you'll feel good. If it's bad, then somebody's got a message against you.(12) See, that's the way of our religious belief.
It can be an animal. It can be a bear. It can be anybody, so be aware, and think of it. Generally it's a message to "slow down." That's what it is. The young fellows study about that lots as we grow old. After you study that for fifteen . . . or twenty . . . twenty-one years, then it'll work on your mind pretty strong.
Yea. . . .
The dream is true. He comes to you and he tells you what to be aware of. He tells you the truth of life. Ba-waa-zj-ga-n^n will show you something. He will tell you something about what's going to happen. He will tell you whether you're going to see it. And he will tell you what this means. Ba-waa-zji-ga-n^g tells you what to do to avoid that. He tells you what to do.
He might say, "Go by yourself and ask me. I'm the messenger." Ba-waa-ji-ga-n^g is the same as the messenger. He comes before you individually in your dream. He talks to you individually in your dream.
Maybe you might have power in speaking. When you have dreams, and if you ask Him to do anything for you, He will. But you have to talk to the Creator of your body. When you pray to Him you should thank Him -- at all times, every day -- for what you eat, for what you live on. When you talk to the Creator call in the soil, the trees, and the birds to hear the meditation. Call them all in to hear what you say. Maybe you could say, "I'm glad you came to see me last night. You asked me to do this and that. You told me where I'm lacking. I should correct that. What I've done wrong, you show me. If I'm doing right, you tell me. You have helped me. I'm glad that you come in my sleep, in my dreams. I'm still dreaming when I'm wide awake. I'm dreaming about the country and about what's coming forward. I'm still dreaming that in my sleep."
You hear the talking, "I see you."
That's a dream of an Indian, ya. The Indian answers that dream with the life he carries.
Bah-waa-ji-g^n is bah-waa-ji-g^'n. Ba-waa-ji-g^n is the dream that you receive anytime, or at night. This spirit, whoever you think of all the time, will come back. The spirit you have is the one that'll come back and visit you -- at any time -- in ba-waa-ji-g^n.
The spirit can come at any time, and if he's got anything to say he'll advise you. He'll tell you what he's there for. If you're in any danger he'll point out a few things telling you where to be careful and to watch, look, listen. And when you watch, look, and listen, you'll know that you didn't dream about the dream and this dream spirit for nothing. He's coming back for you. He's coming back to help you.
See, that's ba-waa-ji-g^'n. He comes and visits you when you're
asleep. He comes into your spirit. We couldn't tell what your spirit and
what his spirit -- the two spirits -- are talking about when you are dreaming,
but you know they're
Well . . . you don't actually talk much in your dreams. They haven't anything much to say, and you know very well that you're going to get the right answer. . . . You don't have much to say either, and, anyway, you don't know what you are going to say. In fact, you're dreaming. But there are a lot of things that you could talk about. Once in a while I talk to people in my dreams. But I don't know what I'm saying to them. I forget. But sometimes you keep a memory of your dream. It will stay with you a long time -- if it's serious. I don't talk much though in my dreams. And you can't talk to your spirit when you're awake because, you see, he's done on earth. Well, you can talk to him, but he won't talk back. When a person's done on earth, he won't talk. But you're a spirit that's still living and when he comes and sees your spirit, then maybe they can talk -- the spirits can talk -- while you're sleeping. When you're awake he won't talk to your spirit. Your spirit is your spirit -- ba-waa-ji-g^'n.
It's the same thing as your guardian spirit.
It might even be the Great creator of this heaven and earth, dressed in a different form.(14) That's your dream. That's your dream in life -- if you're dreaming in life and believing in the spirit of life.
I've seen Him.
I've seen Him.
I've seen the Manidoo Himself!!(15) Well, I figure it's the Manidoo because it gave me the spirit of life. That's my answer. See, I'm seventy-four years old(16) and I think He's taken good care of me. The Great Spirit is a creator of me. That's what I believe in.
I had a dream in Ball Club, just before I came up here.
I was sleeping.
I was sound asleep.
And in my dream my little house was standing there, but I didn't sleep inside. In the dream I slept outside.(17) I dreampt I heard a silk rattling -- sa-teen(18) silk. Somebody was there. I opened my eyes and I saw Him standing there, the Master of the earth. And He wanted to come over to me. He wanted to talk to me, but I was half-dazed of sleep.
I looked at Him.
He was standing with His hands out, to remind me that He suffered in this earth, made the earth, and created the people. And I looked at his clothes. They were beautiful clothes! And He had a beautiful face! Before I could say a word He disappeared. I just nodded my head and I got up, and that quick -- in the blink of an eye -- He disappeared.
I woke up.
It's true! Two or three times I dreampt that. This is the third time I had that dream in my life.
I dreamt about heaven. I'm trying to live the best I could through the best truth I have. I dream about God standing before me and opening his hands. He motioned to me. That means He wants to help me. He reminded me that I have a little ways to correct myself in drifting away from the belief of the Creator of heaven and earth. Heaven and earth all meet me. He was a messenger.
He's a Creator. He's a Creator who has very light color and wears beautiful clothes. His clothes were sa-teen silk. And he wore a red-colored scarf.(19)
Where did He get those clothes?
He created them.
He was like all these masters above. There's St. Peter and all of them who are above. They're the same people for any religion.
He was white.
At least He looked like a white man because he came from above. He wore whiskers. He had whiskers like a white man's. Yes, He did. But the Indian says He could look different too.(20) He says, "You shall see something." I figured He was white because He looked like He was there to put an education before me that I have to learn.
He came to remind me that I'm drifting away from the Indian way of life. I think it was a dream that was given to me to remember to pass on what you see. "You're the oldest," is the way they tell me. I'm the oldest . . . one of the oldest, working in history. And I could repeat it. I could repeat my dreams. I could repeat it, telling what it's for. In my dreams I'm told, "Be aware. Something may arise someday, somewhere." So when I'm in a car, when I'm on a journey, I think of all these dreams. I think of all of what was handed to me in my dreams in life.
I tell about the fireballs too.(21) I've seen them. One of them came right up to me, one time. And when it got up it flashed the woods. A lot of them have seen that.
The Creator came to me twice before, that I know.(22) That's the regular amount of times for that kind of dream, those two or three times. I had dreams like that before. Once when I was eighteen, where we lived, I saw that. And then again I saw it a couple of years ago.(23) I saw that both in 1918 and later on, about two years ago.
I was laying there sleeping, and when you have unusual dreams there's something up. I think a horse dream is a good dream. They're a blessing because they work for you. They're out in that fence all the time. They'll even die for you. But if you take care of them they won't have to die.
A horse labors with you. He's smart. He's next to you.
I don't know how the dream came, but anyway . . .
When I woke up I sat there and thought, "How I love horses!" Those little horses, they were all black and brown. Wasn't their kicking, wasn't their looks, jolly? They were full of life. That was given to me, to the Indian, to believe in. It made me feel good.
I talked to several of them old timers. They laughed. "Yea, that's love." I talked to Joe Fairbanks and all them about it. Oh yea, they could all tell you about that. They get that way too. They have dreams. And they believe in their dreams.
A horse is a great thing in your dream. Horses work and labor for the people. And the horse is saved, now that we don't have to torture a horse. We used to have to make him work with a whip. The horse is a good animal. The horse is a big thing. A horse is good luck. A horse shoe is good luck too. The body of a horse is good luck. But it can't be abused. Horses are loved. Everybody loves a horse. They are beautiful. They can't talk, but he's your friend. Once a horse likes you, he's your friend.
So all the friends of mine were there in that dream. That's all I could answer.
"Why did I see horses?" I asked one party. "I dreamt about horses."
"Oh, well that could happen. You have lots of friends."
"Yea, I heard that before," I said.
"Horses are friends. Also, a dog is a friend. When they're once a friend, they're always a friend. I found that out with a horse."
When I heard that I felt better. I must have a lot of friends since these were all horses in my dream. When I got through talking and looking around I said to myself, "Where's the people?" The people must have left and the horses were right behind.
Oh geeze! That was an awful dream, but it was a boost.(25) The horses were so jolly and happy. They were free to the world. They were going to the next world, you might as well say. I know that because the big gate opened. Anyhow, I don't really know where they were going, but it seemed that they were heading to the next world.
I thought about that dream for a week. I finally figured it out. A horse is a friend. They were so glad to hear me talk; the people were glad to hear me and meet me and everything. Afterwards the horses loved me too, because I drove horses all of my life in the woods.
I even had horses. I had a nice team. I had a nice horse. I had a nice riding horse. Nobody could do anything with that horse.(26) I took it over and the horse understood me. The one that sold him to me said, "We've expected that the horse would kill you by this time. What did you do to it?"
"Nothing. I just talked to him."
A horse knows, a dog knows, just how you feel towards him. They know if you hate them. They can't talk, but they can figure out if you like them or not.
Be good to animals and they'll be good to you.
Last summer I had another horse dream. I think I told you about it:
I was still alone when I woke up.
This is something proven that I dreamed before. When they die they're going to take animals too, I thought.
Black horses, just think! That's an awful thing. But I felt good too. So I got up. "I thank You for all this," I told the Manidoo.
A lot of them dreams are the answer to something. Yea. But when the dreams have unusual animals, especially crawlers, that's not so good. Four legged and two legged animals are alright. They're a blessing.
I had a lot of short-based dreams -- short dreams. I always see somebody dressed like a man. . . . A short-based dream is just a short dream. It's dreaming on a short basis. It's not a long dream. So when I commence to see that short-based dream, I wake up.
A short dream is a warning. Maybe I'm going to run into something. Maybe I'm going to see something. Maybe I'm going to see death for somebody. Maybe I'm going to see a wake. Maybe I'm going to see a friend die.
My next dream was thinking of how good and how nice a fellow -- a certain friend -- was, how he was good to us, and how he lived with us as a white man. He was married to a native girl, and they were both good. And the outcome of why I dreamt about him is my answer now. I dreamt about him because there was something coming before that couple -- death!
Not too long before I had that dream I was talking with my friend. He was a very close neighbor of mine. He and I would talk often, and sometime it wouldn't take very long before we were arguing about something. It seems like he always wants to argue. He knew quite a bit alright. He was well-posted, but he was outspoken. He was alright, generally. He was a nice fellow, but there were some things that he makes remarks about which he shouldn't. While we were told to be careful what you say,(27) this white friend would say something about anything, and this time I thought of that when he was talking.
He always told things to people to make me mad. He always dug into me, telling people, "I suppose you're natural like that Indian." I was use to that kind of talk from him, and it didn't bother me. But this time he said to me, "If you don't shut your mouth, I'll shut it for you."
I looked at him.
"You ain't no medicine man," he told me, right in public.(28)
He said he wanted to fight, but bought me a drink instead. I sat alongside of him, and I was thinking, "You've been pegging me; you've been saying words you shouldn't say. I'm sorry for you." I thought about telling him about my dream. But if I tell him anything, if I tell him not to do anything, he wouldn't believe it anyhow. "Be careful what you say to others. Be careful what you say about your pal." That's what I believe. And that's what I was thinking . . . and thinking about telling him.
He was a good friend of mine, really, but I didn't tell him about that dream of the woman and the warnings.
I wouldn't commence to go to hook him(30) in any way because of what he said, because he was a good friend. I liked him. I liked to tease him too. He'd get mad quick; that's just the way he was. . . . He really never did get me mad. I know him, because everybody here knows him and I talked to him all the time. He'd raise the roof with me and then turn around and offer me a ride home.
With all the things he went through with me, it looked like we could have been enemies, but we weren't. He was going to lick me a lot of times. He even pulled my glasses off one time. I always said we were like brothers. We were too close-a neighbors to be enemies.
One time he told Orson Weekley, another neighbor, "I'm gonna take my god-damn buckshot and shoot Buffalo's drum."(31) Well, he didn't like my drum when he heard it, so he was going to take his buckshot and shoot holes in it.
One day I was sitting there, talking with Orson and my friend, and I looked at my friend thinking about what he told Orson about my drum. But I didn't say anything about it.
A few days afterwards my friend was killed in an awful wreck up there in Deer River. He and an Indian friend offered me a ride home that day he was killed, but I didn't want to go with them. That time I didn't go. . . . I had been warned by that dream . . .
"He won't be able to shoot your drum no more," Orson told me after the accident.
See, that's what happens when you talk without thinking about what you're saying. That's what happens when you don't believe in warnings . . . when you don't pay attention to them.
I walked in another place there in Deer River and the first thing I knew somebody asked me, "Did you see the wreck?"
I didn't want to look at that wreck. I couldn't.
"Go see it," my other neighbor said.
"Why?" I said. "I don't think I will look at it. It's bad enough to hear our neighbor got killed. That's enough. I don't want to see any more or hear any more about it, because he was a good neighbor of ours. That's too bad!"
"There was one Indian boy(32) with him, but he got out of it alive. . . . The guy that made it through the wreck was an Indian. He believes in the Indian medicine -- Midewe.(33) He used it, sure. . . . He just went to the hospital for a checkup and in a day or so he came home. He went to the hospital just to show that he was in the wreck, for insurance.(34) Those two might have been quarreling too. You never know; no.
I think about that too. It might be I think too much about that because he was a good neighbor of mine, a good friend of mine. The other guy was a friend too, but he didn't get hurt much.
I figure that if he was careful when he was saying something, or about what he was doing, for his health, I think he could have gone further. Boy he was well known. He was well known.
But listen! Because I'm Indian I should have known better. The Indians says if you have a dream and you want to avoid that dream, get up in the morning and make a big black mark on your head. That signifies that you're in mourning. If you blacken your face before what you dreamt happens, that'll stop it.
For avoiding things in a bad dream we say . . . nii-aa-gwash-kaan, nii-aa-tahsh-kaan nii-n^-$k-kway-t-aan, nii-payn-dahn I-naa-gii i-ni-maa-ni-do$-kay, m^-nii-do-kay . . . m^-ni-do-nii-k^-no-naa jiss-I-way-bI-sin. That's how we say it.
I'm glad you know that.
I forgot -- I didn't forget it, I knew it -- but I didn't act on that dream. It isn't the idea that the one that got killed didn't believe in nothing, maybe, but he didn't believe in the Indian belief. It could happen anywhere. But he had an Indian with him. Indians should know that. I figured that the Indian he was with would know that. But the Indian got out of it alright.
I didn't have a chance to say anything back. I just woke up.
Well, we believe in those dreams. Times and times again I said that. You may think the Indian is superstitious for believing in dreams. But they're not. You're made that way, especially an Indian.(37) It's part of our historical belief. We're not educated the same way whites are. We're educated by our own language, our own language. We're educated enough. We're educated for our way of life. We're educated in our own way of life, and without anything destroying our minds.
That beverage, alcohol, will destroy your mind. But dreams helps your mind. I said that many-a time.
It wasn't long after that accident when another neighbor of ours, a friend who shared his life with me in a good way, told me, "Ah-wah-nIn. There's a medicine man." Then he said, "I have more power than you have."(38)
I just looked at him.
It wasn't very long and he was gone.(40) Maybe he didn't feel good. People don't feel good when they talk like that. Did you notice that? If anybody talks wrong, if they say anything destructive, they don't feel good. You can figure that out. Yep, they don't go very far. And that's why I always told everybody, "Be careful."
I make mistakes too. I shoot off a little bit. When I do, I apologize and say I didn't mean to. I tell them I didn't mean it. That's the way things go.
Well, it hurts me yet today to think of these two friends. Good boys and best neighbors, gone. Why do they have to go? Maybe they said things behind my back. I don't know. I feel bad for them. It could be that they said something wrong. It could be that they didn't pay attention to the signs and warnings.
That's an unusual dream. And I had that dream after my friend's accident. After I had that dream of the pig, I thought to myself, "You're going to see something about something." That kind of dream is unusual. It's unusual to dream about a white pig in the water. A pig is ku-kúsh. That pig -- ku-kúsh -- is a "hog-it-all." He just eats anything. That means I'm going to see something that's going to be a very big surprise to me. See? That kind of dream meant a surprise was coming, and I was surprised.
These two dreams are separate. They are not related. They are a warning for two different things. This pig dream was just another warning. It could be a warning for anything. If you see something unusual that's a warning too. If you see a cow suffering, or something suffering, that's a warning.(41) Or you may see a guy suffer. When you see something you don't like, that's a warning. That's the same with them unusual dreams.
Sooner or later you'll see something that's an answer to your dream or to a warning sign. That's the way it is. Maybe some of my people are sick. Maybe someone's pretty sick. Something unusual answers you. If you see unusual things, or dream of something unusual, you'll feel uneasy. See?
There's no time limit, no time on that. The answer will be there sooner or later! It's natural. That Great takes care of that.
I told her once about my dream when I got home, because she didn't die for a long while after my dream. I said, "Ma, I dreamt about you. I dreamt that I was looking at you in a coffin. They were taking you to the grave."
"Oh yes!" she said. "You're going to see me that way?"
Well, I did. I saw her like that years later when they were taking her to the grave.
I asked her, "Why did I dream like that?"
"Well, you're going to see me at my funeral."
After I told her my story she asked, "Were there a lot of people?"
"Yes. There were a lot people there, on both sides of the room."
There were a lot of people in my dream, and that meant she's going to live a long life. My mother also told me that she was going to live a long life because it was a long dream. "It's going to be a long life," she answered me; "It's a long life; that's your dream."
I thought of that all the time too. That's a long time ago that I had that dream. It was 1914, '16, somewhere in there. See, I went to school then at Red Lake. She died somewhere in the thirties, about '32. I wouldn't know just exactly, because everything's got to be a fact about death. . . . Let's see, that dream was in 1914 or '16. It was '16, and I think she died around '32.(43) That was about forty years ago.(44)
I saw it. I saw her in the coffin. I saw her in the coffin. I saw her taken to the graveyard. And that's what she said would happen: "Oh, you're going to see me when I'm past away." I saw her in her deathbed. She just died when her heart stopped beating. She died an easy death. She just went to sleep and never woke up.(45)
And that's what she told me how it would be: "Oh, you're going to see me when I'm past away."
That's a fact. Dreams are true.
And that's a true story about my dream.
I was thinking about that dream all morning, and I woke up early too. I was thinking about that all the time. I think a lot about my dreams, especially those funny dreams.(48) That's a crying dream I had. It's a heartbreaking dream. I hope it isn't me that's going to have the heartbreak. That's what I'm thinking about. A dream like that makes you think all the day long. When you have a dream like that you begin to re-collect your own life, and you re-collect your old friend's life.
When you dream about a black bird or something like that, that's unusual. It's the Indian belief, you know, that those kind of unusual things are not a very good warning. When you dream about something black, a bird -- like some crow or something -- it isn't very good. Dreams for m^k-k^-dày m^'k-w^'h, black bear, or a black bull are bad too. Black bull in Indian is m^k-kU-dày du-nó; do-nóo bI-zíi-kay, that's a bull. do-nó is a bull that's very touchy in his temper, and he bulls around. He's a bull. . . . He shoves the cows, he shoves the calves around where they're supposed to be. bI-zíi-kay is what we say because that's why he's got horns. bI-zíi-kay means a cow, a bull or anything; and the bull is do-nó. That black bull is bad for sickness. When you dream about bulls, that means there's going to be sickness too, in Indian. They know what it is. Sickness is coming. An ailment is coming.
That was the first time I ever dreamt about a black bird, like that. Now I'm just wondering what the outcome will be to it.
So anyhow, after my dream I had the feeling that something was going to happen. Those two guys that were in my house look like Indians. They looked dark, like red men, like the Indians! Maybe that means they maybe are going to have an uprise or something. It made me feel bad. It could be a dream of something going to happen. I'm not sure who the other guys were, but they were Indian. I didn't want to turn in these guys who took my pocketbook neither -- so that cured that right there -- and I lost that money in my pocket -- in a dream.
Well, I thought about that dream all morning. I woke up early and started thinking about it. I was confused and began to wonder what would happen next. You can't see the black crows and the men in the dark. You can't see who they are. That's unusual -- for me anyhow. Generally I know the guys when I dream of some guys. But I did notice that the one of them I was walking with later on was my friend.
It was Sandy Morrell of Bena. Sandy Morrell believes in the Indian way. And over the many years he told me a lot of stuff that he believes in. And what he said struck me 'most every time I talked to any Indian. Sandy and his folks have an Indian way of life and history. I think he's in a leisure home(49) now. He may be suffering. He may be ill. The last time I saw Morrell was about twenty years ago -- fifteen years ago, maybe. But I think about him now and then. The last time I thought about him was about two weeks ago.
After my dream about the black birds and fish I got to thinking about him and wondering if maybe something was wrong with him now.
Anyhow it was a long day -- thinking about my neighbors, my friends at home. I was afraid that maybe something was wrong with them, so I called up(50) -- we called up -- this morning. Everything with my friends in Ball Club was OK. Fine. I felt it was OK then.
Next to be seen is what the final outcome of the dream will be. That remains for me to see it, or maybe to hear something very surprisingly. That remains to be heard or seen.
I think the outcome will be sickness, or maybe somebody will be hurt pretty bad. There may be sickness, and ailment, or death. I might hear that somebody who was closely attached to me has died. I'm worried about that guy that joined me in the walk.(51) Maybe he doesn't feel good. Maybe he's already dead. If he IS dead, I'm dreaming about dead people again. So there must be something that I'm going to hear or see later on. I'm just wondering about that. I don't know.
Until I make a move of some kind to overcome that dream, it will keep working on me. Maybe I'll take charcoal and mark my face with it. That's what they do to overcome the effects of some dreams. That's what they do, sometimes, to avoid that. So, I have a chance to make a charcoal mark on my lip or face and avoid having that dream work on me. I could also talk to the Great -- talk outside -- and ask Him to let us avoid, please avoid, anything that will happen. I could talk to the spirit -- my spirit, sIn-dah-mag -- too, and ask that we avoid what's coming, so that nothing will happen. wIn-dah-mag -- "he will tell me," the personal spirit of my dream -- will tell me.
Well, I've already done that. I asked the Great this morning, "Please avoid anything that's dangerous for me. Let me avoid anything that's dangerous for my ear, or dangerous for my seen-ery."
So if I'm approved by the Spirit, then I did well. Gizay-Manidoo(52) -- tender and love, spirit of God Creator -- might approve. gi-zjày-m^'-ni-doo means the love of the people, the spirit, the love of the spirit. . . . My spirit -- In-daa-win-d^'-maag -- might also help . . . that is if he could tell me.
See, by asking Him, maybe I can avoid what's coming. Maybe the dream was sent just as a reminder of something that I lack. But it may be for sickness too, or maybe it means very bad weather's coming. It could be a warning for any of those things.
And maybe those Indian guys that were in my dream were trying to tell me something. Maybe what they were trying to tell me was that I was going to get my pocketbook back.
I'm in that age that I see those things, and I see it because I believe in all that stuff. They say if you believe in it, it will happen. But I hope I don't see this one happen.
But anyhow, after a while, I got amongst people and I was alright. I was thinking about it all day, but well, still I don't know why I dreamed this.
What's that dream for? Was it that I was thinking about the old man the day before? Or was it that I was thinking about my friends at home? I don't know what the outcome will be. Maybe it's too early to tell.
I went for a walk to get fresh air and to do some thinking about that dream I had last night. . . . I don't know what the outcome will be. Maybe there won't be anything to it. Maybe it has already happened. See, the answer is -- from what I see now -- that the guy was worrying about his money. But it was really my money, you know. So when I got down to see him -- in the dream -- he handed me my pocketbook.
"Oh," I said to myself, "when you dream about a fish, that's money." When you dream about a fish that means money, but you don't know whether you're losing it or whether you're going to get it.
In the dream I lost that ten dollars I had. But now, later on, that ten dollars was back. When I woke up that ten dollars was in my pocketbook, and when I got to the UMD campus your friend Dave Smith handed me another ten dollars. See? So that may be it. That might be the meaning of that fish right there. So that might-a been it. The warning was that you lost ten dollars, or maybe you were going to get ten dollars. I'm wondering whether I'm going to get money or whether I'm going to lose.
I was thinking about that ten dollars in my pocketbook before I went to bed. When I did go to sleep that ten dollars in the dream was gone. But when I woke up I still had it in my pocketbook. Then I began to think that these two guys didn't take it.
And when I saw that fish I thought there was money again. See? When you dream about fish, that means money. I asked myself, "What were these two crows eating that fish for?" There was something else to that too, you know. There was something else.
I forgot this dream I had last night when I receive that ten dollars this morning. That's the fish. What were those crows eating that fish for? The fish should have been alone there. I should have touched that fish, but I didn't touch it. I knew when I dreamt about fish that I was going to get or lose some money somewhere.
In the dream, I should have touched that fish so that it would be mine. I didn't touch the fish. I didn't touch the guys. I didn't touch anything; that way I might hear something. I didn't touch it because I might destroy the good will of the fish that's bringing it to me. The scales on them is money. If I touch him, he leaves me alone. In my dream I didn't get my money back.
I don't know what the final outcome of my dream will be. . . .
That's a bad dream. . . .
But anyhow I got the ten dollars back on the money.
Today I kept thinking about this black crow and those two Indians that I saw in my dream. And I kept thinking about meeting that other guy, Sandy Morrell. I think maybe he's sick or dead. I heard he was dead, but I dreamt about him anyway. I didn't talk to him -- in my dream. I said to him though without actually saying anything -- "Move in hard."(53) He wouldn't come. That's a good thing, because if he'd a come, why maybe something would have happened with me. He didn't come near me. After the car with the two Indians went by I walked out there to the opening where he was standing, but I didn't see him any more. He didn't come in the bushes with me, but I saw him walk alongside of me on the road before I went for the brush. He walked just for a while, then stopped.
When I saw those two black crows trying to destruct, I knew that's no good neither. If it was a sea gull it would have been alright. A sea gull's a light color. So when the crows ate that fish then I knew the dream was for money.
But something, something else, could be figured from that too. I may hear news when I get back down to Ball Club. I may hear something about somebody that I know. It could be my people -- some of my people, some of my folks. They're not very well neither. I was thinking up and down like that. It may be friends. I'm still going to be surprised when I see what it is. One passed away, and there's another death coming later. They say there's always three in death. They might be Indians; they might be close friends. They might be very friend-ly. I wouldn't know why there are three, why there aren't two or four. There's always three in death. When one leaves, they always say there's two more coming.
I hope one isn't me. . . .
If it was going to be me I would have had nerves -- twitters -- acting up, on my back. I wouldn't feel just right. I don't feel just right, but I know by the way I feel that it isn't me. It's somebody else that I know very well. I think that way. When I get nervous, scared, and everything, well, then I might be affected. Then I might get hurt, or sick, or attacked or something. But even though it's not me this time I have to do something about it when I get back home. That can be avoided, you know, if you do something about it in time. I was thinking about that, part of the day. That's what I thought about.
Maybe I'm thinking about my area too much because I'm far away from there.(54) I think I'll be glad to go back and see what the outcome of my dream will be. I'd say that dream of that fish and those two guys was unusual. I've never dreamt this before. They were in the dark there. I saw them in the dark. There's no light in the house,(55) but I saw them in the dark. But I know they were Indian. They laid down in the bed alongside of me.
I don't know what that means. That remains to be seen or heard. I think it means that somebody that I know is going to get bad news or good news, but I don't know.
I believe in dreams, and that dream bothers me. I think about that, naturally. It's natural to think about that when you dream you lose money like that there. But then it's only a dream anyhow.(56)
So I began to think, "It's only a dream anyhow."
It might be that I was so confused about my neighbors. Maybe I dreamt those things because I ate a big meal Sunday that didn't agree with my stomach. It could be that too. I thought too that maybe that dream was just caused by an overloaded stomach by a big dinner. That could be it too, you know. At my age it isn't good to eat too heavy. Before my mother's death we had a big picnic. That big dinner we had could have offset my sleep. There's all kinds of ways to figure that.
In a move to overcome that dream I'll go to the Great. The sooner I learn about the meaning of the dream, the sooner I'll forget about it, because if I keep a-thinking about the dream -- those certain dreams -- then I commence to not believe I can do anything about it. A dream like that is a dream that may come before you in your life.(57) Sooner or later a dream like that will almost always come before you.(58) A good dream is good. A bad dream is coming before you someday. See, that's why I made signs.
Sooner or later you begin to see that what you dreampt about is true. You also begin to see people who are puzzled about dreams. When they're puzzled about a dream they bring it before you and they ask you what it means. They will ask you. I've been asked, sure. And you'll know the dream. Like the Indian says, "My dream was good. My dream was bad." And another one will say, "A bad dream is a warning. Something will come against you."
We study all of that. We study nature . . . animals, trees, plants, stars that shine, the sun and moon, waters, the air we breathe. . . And in our dreams answers come. Warnings come.(59)
Bawaadan . . . bawaadan. . . .
In Indian, a "dream" is a vision. . . .
We believe in dreams . . . in visions . . . in warnings. . . .
Our spirit we believe in -- chii-chaag -- helps us through our dreams, and helps us with our visions. Power from our spirit -- m^sh-kà-wi-zíi, the strong
spirit of the Indian -- helps us find our way. And power from the Manidoo -- the Great Manidoo -- will never let you down . . . if you believe in that, and grip your own will power to help yourself.
1. Unusual things that happen, particularly unusual things in nature, are generally considered "signs." These "signs" are extremely important to traditional peoples, and are frequently interpreted by someone with appropriate power/experience/inclination to do so. Dreams are often considered "signs." See also discussion of "signs" in Ch. 33, "Messengers and Unusual Events," and Ch. 34, "Fireballs, and The Shadow Man."
2. This segment was recorded in October 1976.
3. A "flash" is a prominent thing or exaggerated thing or action that you quickly recognize as being prominent. It's something you recognize as being important. It's a realization of the importance of what's going on. It is sort of an "Aha!" experience, or a "Eureka moment."
4. Paul Buffalo explained that the word "superstitious" in Ojibwa means, essentially, "one who believes in everything he sees."
5. "It's only a dream," means to a non-believer speaker that it isn't real; but for Paul Buffalo "only a dream" means that it hasn't happened in time yet. "It's all a dream," means that it hasn't happened yet in awake time, and something that hasn't happened yet can still be changed through ritual or whatever it takes.
6. It's hard to convince the younger generation to understand the history, customs, the ways of looking at the world, etc., that Paul Buffalo is trying to leave for them.
7. You are most likely to tell about a good dream. You're not obligated to tell it, you are just really inclined to tell it, because, in part, talking about a dream encourages it to happen in non-dream time, and you want a good dream to happen. For the same reason, you do not want to mention or talk about a bad dream.
8. Eventually you'll see that what you dreamed about actually occurs in non-dream time.
9. He can tell that you are a person of influence in these matters, and what you say about them counts a lot. So he might come to you and tell you his dream and ask you to interpret it. It is alright to tell a dream, even a bad dream, under those circumstances, because, in part, the person who is powerful enough to interpret dreams is also generally powerful enough to perform a ceremony to help keep the bad dream from happening.
10. Later on (see below) Paul does not tell a friend about a bad dream. But that is because he feels the friend, a white person, would not believe him. Those Anishinabe in the traditional belief would likely tell their friends.
11. "It" here refers to their power, and a warning of things to come. See Ch. 27, "Power." That's where they get a warning of things to come, so that if it is a bad warning they can do something to try to avoid it. In a dream they can get power to prevent a bad dream from happening.
14. Wenabozho, animals, spirits, medicine people and so forth have the power to change external forms. Thus the Great Spirit and other spirits . . . can appear to you in many forms.
15. Paul could have been seeing Wenabozho in his dream as Wenabozho can take on appearances of almost anything, although it is more likely that he was dreaming of Christ as pictured on the cards that were brought in by the missionaries to Ball Club and Bena Catholic missions. Paul specifically mentions those pictures elsewhere in his discussions of other early events (cf., Ch. 25, "'Self-Houses,' Sweat Houses, and Blood-taking"). It has been suggested (AIH) that it could not be the Gitchi Manidoo that Paul saw in his dream.
17. Paul Buffalo said that in the old days they generally didn't sleep inside the wiigwaam in the summer time. They slept outside, often next to a smudge fire to ward off the mosquitos and other bugs.
18. He heard a satin silk rattling.
19. This was likely a Roman Catholic stole, a liturgical vestment used by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, including, at that time, the priests of the local Ball Club St. Joseph Indian Mission Church [St. Joseph's in Ball Club and St. Ann's in Bena have been closed and merged into St. Mary's in Deer River].
20. Men, spirits, animals, messengers -- as well as Wenabozho -- can all change their outward appearance if they have enough spiritual power.
22. One doesn't always remember dreams, in general and in Paul's way of believing in dreams, hence the ". . . twice before, that I know."
23. This segment was taped April 1974.
24. Tim Roufs.
25. It really made him feel good and perped him up.
26. No one could break or train the horse.
27. Paul's Indian people were told often, while they were growing up, to be very careful what they say. They were also told often to whisper when they said anything and to do that because someone else might be listening.
28. This was an attempted insult.
29. This was Paul's way of just brushing off the attempted insult.
30. To attempt to harm him magically, for example by putting the hex (or "hook," or using jibik) on him.
32. It's often common for men to refer to their male colleagues as "boys." This is true even if the "boys" are in their sixties and seventies. Within the group this is more a term of endearment than anything else. Old men frequently talk of each other as "boys," without disrespect.
34. Some traditional Indians avoided going to the hospital as that was a place where they thought people died, and, more importantly, at least some considered the X-rays that they knew to be used there to be like the "throwing" of a bad hex -- bad medicine -- in traditional belief. Here Paul Buffalo clearifies that this individual, a very traditional Indian, went to the hospital because of the insurance and not to seek a cure or healing or anything else. In a sense Paul is saying that it's OK for him to go there for insurance reasons, in the sense that this does not reflect anything that indicates that the individual might be losing his Indian beliefs. Cf., Ch. 48, "White Medicine."
35. Cliff Sjolund, Sr., married to a very well-liked and respected Indian leader of the community.
37. A traditional Indian "is made that way."
38. Not only an attempted insult, but also a taboo subject for discussion -- especially for whites.
39. This is a brushing off of the insult, and maintenance of taboo not to talk about power, especially how much of it you or someone else has.
40. He died.
43. Paul Buffalo usually did not remember the exact year his mother died. Paul did not think in terms of the years or dates things happened; he thought in terms of events, or, occasionally, approximately how long ago something happened (in terms of seasons of the year), and then he would "convert" that to a date. In short, Paul would think of an event and try to attach a date to it. Sometimes he would try to think of the year in terms of where he was living at the time. For e.g., he knew that the day of the year he was born (the second time) was the Fourth of July, perhaps the fifth of July, because that was the time near the mid-summer solstice when the white people in Deer River, the village very close to where he was born, really celebrated their own festivities, and later on in life he was able to figure out that the celebration was for the Fourth of July. It was unusual for people of Paul's age to know what day they were born. More often they thought of their birthdate in terms of a season or a general time of the year. See, for e.g., the discussions of "summer-born" vs., "winter-born" people. For more details on Paul's birthdates (both of them) see the "Introduction," Ch. 1, "Early Life at Leech Lake," and Ch. 2, "Bena Childhood."
In the case of trying to figure out the year of his mother's death he first tries to figure out how long it was from the time he had the dream until she died, and he tries to figure out how long ago it was that she died, from the present time (late 1970s). To Paul, the events surrounding his mother's death were much more important than the year she died. Cf. Ch. 50, "Dying." If you pay close attention throughout Paul's story, you will note quite often that he is, in effect, "calculating" the (approximate) year something happened. Sometimes, of course, the year of an event "sticks out" historically, as, for e.g., when they gave a returning soldier a "brave dance" at a special powwow held upon his return home at the end of WW I in 1918.
46. Paul Buffalo relates the dream, and then for a long time reflects on various parts of it, and what they might mean. When he recorded this he had just had the dream and was in the process of trying to interpret its meaning. It was puzzling to him as it was an unusual composite dream with first the two guys in bed with him, and stealing his money, then the crows eating the dead fish.
47. Regional Anishinabe Indian people.
48. Those unusual dreams.
49. A senior living home; a "rest home."
50. Paul called from Duluth to Ball Club by telephone to check on the friends he was thinking of and concerned about.
51. Sandy Morrell.
52. Gitchi Manidoo, the Great Spirit.
53. Move in quickly and deep into the brush. Notice that Paul, in his dream, was talking to his friend, but "without actually saying anything." That is, in dreams, one can say something to someone without actually talking -- a type of mental tele-communication, mental telepathy. Notice elsewhere that when two persons spirits talk that they also most often "talk" but "without saying anything."
54. He's talking about being in Duluth, Minnesota, 100 miles from Ball Club.
55. There was no electricity connected in the house Paul lived in, and had the dreams about. After Paul moved into his mother's house, in Ball Club, when his brother "Freddy" Nason and his family moved from there to a house in the housing project in Ball Club, Paul had electricity for a while. At the time he was encouraged by the VISTA workers to keep the electric power connected, and he initially paid the minimum monthly charge for his electricity use. Over the winter, when he ran out of firewood, he started leaving his electric hot plate on, the burners on his electric stove turned on, and his electric oven turned on, with the oven door open, to warm the house up a little bit. That, of course, given the extremely cold Minnesota winters, put his electricity use well over the minimum, and he began getting notices that his electricity payments were overdo -- because he continued to pay only the minimum rate, which he though was the agreement. Eventually the electric company threatened to "yank the meter." "Go ahead," he told the representative from the electric company, "I've lived without electricity for seventy years, I can go without it again." They pulled the meter.
His other brother, Joe "Sky" Nason, also moved to a project house at about the same time. Joe "Sky" had a thermostat to regulate the furnace in his new house, but rarely used it. He put his "easy chair" right under the thermostat, and when it got cold in the house he simply reached up and turned the furnace on (much like he would have thrown a log into his wood stove in his old house), and when it got too hot he reached up and turned the furnace off (much like he would have opened the door of his old house when it got too hot). It is interesting here that these features also appear in dreams.
57. The dream may actually come to be in your non-dream life. And every dream has the possibility of "coming before you" in your non-dream life.
58. Sooner or later what you dream will occur in non-dream life, sometimes regardless of what rituals you have done to avoid it.
59. Paul and other traditional Indians generally pay close attention to nature and natural events, that is, they "study" them and are conscientious about studying both the natural world and its signs. But in the end, they do not get all of their knowledge from that conscious "studying" of nature. They also get information and insights from dreams and visions. That is what is meant by, "We study all of that. We study nature . . . And in our dreams answers come"; that is, by studying nature hard you will come to understand how to do things when you get signs and messages in your sleep and dreams and visions. Another way to look at it is that by carefully studying and paying attention to nature on a regular basis, you will be able to meaningfully interpret the information that comes to you in dreams. As in many things in life some people are better at interpreting dreams than others. Those individuals who excel at dream interpretation get a reputation for knowing about dreams and what they portend, and tend to become power-ful individuals, spiritually and otherwise. Cf. also Ch. 32, "Medicine Men / Medicine Women," Ch. 33, "Messengers and Unusual Events," and Ch. 34, "Fireballs, and 'The Shadow Man.'"
Still another way to look at it might be to wonder if Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for formulating what traditionals knew all along, and what Sigmund Freud became famous for illuminating in the 19th century. Cf., Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, and Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Leipzig & Vienna: Franz Deuticke, 1899.
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