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When Everybody Called Me Gabe-bines,

Teachings from Paul Buffalo

Timothy G. Roufs (Ed.)
University of Minnesota Duluth

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a note on tenses
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"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."

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"What's Behind the Sun?": An Indian Sermon

Emma Fisher's children, Nett Lake, 1955.

Emma Fisher's children, Nett Lake, 1955.

Emma Fisher's children, Nett Lake, 1955.

Photographer: Monroe P. Killy)

Photograph Collection, 1955
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Collection I.69.38 Negative No.

We live by lectures.(1)

Lectures are Indian sermons on how to live in this world. Stop, look, and listen to these lectures, and you'll go along a long way in this world. Sermons help you go along in life. Listen, and you'll live a long life. Listen, and you won't have problems journeying to the next world. And there is a next world.

When an old Indian gives you a sermon, he gives you part of his spirit, part of his soul. When he gives you his words, he gives you part of his life. That's the way these words were passed on to me, from the older generations. I'll tell you now a full lecture. It's a light to follow. It's a ripe fruit of my own life that I pass on from my old Indians that went before me. I'll tell it just the way they told me when we were camping along the Mississippi and Leech Rivers.(2) We always heard it in Indian. I'll tell you in English . . .

Do you stop and wonder about the Great Spirit, or God Spirit, or Spirit of God?

Do you wonder if there's something behind what we see?

What's behind the sun? Does anybody know what's behind the sun? Was anybody in there? Are there any instruments from the sun?(3) The earth is just a little ball going through the big sky. The sun gives light for many, many miles -- many, many miles. That sun is a big thing.

What is that?

And the moon?(4)

Can they get on the moon? Who put that there?

You can ask the same questions about the stars.

Where is the blue sky? How far does that reach? How far does that go? There must be something beyond there.

The Indian feels that too. They asked the Great Spirit once, "When is the last supper?"(5) They were using their Indian words and they were asking, "When is the end of the world?"

The Great Spirit didn't answer that very clearly, but He said, "within, within, two thousand years."

It must be getting rough now; it must be getting dangerous.

Should we stop and think about that?

There's a limit to anything you go by. There's a limit to your life. There's a limit to people. There's a limit to animals. There's a limit to the life of the inhabitants on earth. There's a limit to earth. There's a limit to wars. That limit is a big thing.

When it comes to the end of a limitation, that's it. You don't live forever! That's why a person has to think, "Why am I here? What am I here for? Am I here just to live, just to grow like a tree? Am I here to grow like animals?"

I'm here to serve the Great for a better world, for a better world.

How are you going to do that? You have to do it yourself, with the Spirit. Who put you here? Why did they put you here? You have to say to the Spirit, "Be with me. Spirit be with me. I carry something to remember You,(6) and I remember you by the other people's good words."

I look at the black gown anywhere.(7) What is this black gown for? It reminds you that there's something you have to stop for. The black gown means that the person wearing it is giving you something that you should stop and look at. Why does he wear that? It signifies that you have to listen to those very kind words that he has to say to you. I wear black stuff. Sure, I wear black clothes. When they look at me with black clothes, some people say, "You look like a minister."

"Oh, I'm not exactly a minister, but I think I could say a few words."

Well, that's all it takes, and that's a good thing. Listen to those words. You don't have to take all of them. If you don't believe what I'm saying, you have the privilege to try your own way. Even if you try your own way, I do think you'll fall for some words I'm saying. If you don't listen to anybody, if you go ahead on your own, I think that will sooner or later hit you pretty hard.

I don't preach for any money. I don't preach to people to get anything out of it. I preach those words because I love them. That's why I transfer my words and my mind,(8) and talk about the way I lived, to other people. I tell people, "Take is easy. Take it slow. Look as you go. Be good as you live and you'll feel good. If you take some other people's property, or some other things that don't belong to you, sooner or later you'll pay for that somehow. You shouldn't take it. Let it go and maybe you'll get a better deal. That don't belong to you. That belongs to that other person there."

Another thing: you'll learn to think of a lot of things. There's a lot of things to your life -- boy! -- and you have to dodge from one another. You'll find from your own experience that the only way you'll get to the end is by just going slow on the straight trail.(9) The Indian says, "Don't look sideways even though there may be somebody there calling you." If maybe somebody's calling you, sure you could stop, look, and listen to him. But if you don't like it, if you don't like his ways of life or his words, keep a-goin'. Just go right on a straight road. But if you like this person's words, you could stop and talk to him a while. Fine.

He'll want to go along with you if you're on a straight trail. You'll get to be pretty good pals, and pretty soon you'll have a big crew with you on that straight path. That's the road that takes you to heaven, or to wherever we go in the next world. There is something above that we'll be going to.

Anything could happen to this world, now-a-days. It's getting old. What happened to the earth years ago, many years ago? Why do they dig up this stuff in the big hills?(10) At one time, long ago, this earth bunched up into a big volcano or something and formed these hills. Where did the heat form? Where did that mineral grow from? Stop and think how deep and big and wide this earth is!

We're just little things here. We think we know it all, but there is still a lot that we have to study -- and study deep!



Just ask why. Just ask that question, and you'll get an answer anywhere. And in all these answers there should be one word in there that's good.

A lot of them ask me, "Why do you talk so much? Why do you talk to these well-posted people, like preachers?"

"Well, I just take a word or two from what they say and then I learn. Then I add it up with the words of my people. Those that lived before left me with their words. I put them, two and two, together, and, why it pairs up pretty good!

I feel good when I see things like that, and I feel good when I have something -- like a stone or a weasel hide -- to carry in my pocket.(11) And if there's a person who has something that he carried good, and if he leaves me that with a good word and tells me what to do with it, that's a big gift. Really, it's a big gift!

You stop for that -- whatever he gives you. You've got to go along with what he did, because he also gave you a good word. Maybe he gave you a good stone to carry in your pocket. Sure, you stop and look at it, put it in your pocket, and go along on your way. It's a big thing. You have to carry something on you.

And don't make fun of the medals people wear now-a-days. When you think -- stop and think -- about those medals, they'll straighten your mind up, and you'll wonder about things. If you hold them, put them back. Pretty soon, you'll see things better. That's what they're for. They're meditated. They're God's property. They're yours too, if you use them. But if you don't use them, there's nothing that will help you. If you don't want to use the meditation, nothing can help! Go on your own and just see how far you're going to go.

Always look back to the people that loved you and gave you the good words. They like you because you're coming into a world, and they're telling you that it is dangerous. The more it goes on, the longer it lasts. The older the world gets, the more dangerous it is. You don't know what's going to happen at any time, from now on.

I don't worry about what's happening; I'm ready. I'm ready -- I think I'm ready -- to move on to whatever's next.(12) There might be something that I did wrong, sure, but I still hope that instead of thinking about that the people of the earth remember that anything could happen to this world. I hope they remember to be ready when they're called. We're all going to be called. We might all be called at once; we might be called one by one. We don't know.

It's the world we live in. We should thank the Great. We should be thankful for the crop. We should be thankful for the weather. We should be thankful for the minerals and everything we use. We live with that. It helps us.

Who gave it to us? Who gave it to us? If you had a jacket, a little jacket, or a pair of gloves, and you gave it to a guy who is a friend of yours, you felt good about that.

"Here's a pair of new gloves. You need that. You need new shoes; that's a good will." You feel good when you give.

The Great Spirit felt good to give us what He gave us, and if we take it in good will, we'll feel good. But if we're not satisfied, then trouble begins. If we have troubles, we did it ourselves -- because we aren't satisfied. But if you take everything in good will -- in good ways -- and thresh it out good, you'll always get re‑paid(13) with the best. You'll be well paid, on earth . . . and after you've gone to the next world. Because you felt good on this earth, you'll feel good when you're gone.

You'll feel that when you live too. You'll feel good because you know you're going to go to a good place in the next world.

If you feel sickening, and weak, and nervous, and wrecked -- you're guilty. If you don't feel well, something's bothering you. Some ailment is getting in you. Maybe it's something that you shouldn't have done or shouldn't have said, or shouldn't have thought. Maybe you don't believe in anything. Maybe you only believe in your own power.

Uh huh.

If you have a power, it's with the Spirit, and because the Spirit's watching you.(14) If you believe in Him you'll feel good at all times. If you believe there's a Spirit, you're not afraid of anything. And when you talk, everybody'll listen to you because that Spirit is talking with you. That's life in you; the Spirit is life in you.

But if you go out into the world alone without a spirit helping you, and if you're not thinking about that spirit, you're going to be in danger. But if you have something in you, if you have your belief in you, the Spirit will take you and guide you for the best.

The Spirit's the one to believe in to figure the way you want to go in the next world. The next world's what we have to figure on. We have a next world. It's a great place.

Why do those stars have light? How did they get up there? Who put them up there? Who put the moon up there? How does it stay up there? What kind of air is up there? What is up above the darkness and the blue sky, behind the sun? What is up there? If you can find the answer, tell me.

We don't have to go up there to find the answers to preparing for the next world; they're right here. The answer is in reflection. That's where it's at, in the reflection.(15) We're just nothing but a reflection on earth. And when we wear ourselves out here we'll go to the next world.

We're limited in this world, and we're limited to a time apiece. Then, when we're done here, we'll find a better world.


It's good enough for me anyhow. That's what I believe in.

And I go along in this world to look honestly at a person, and I hope everybody's doing the same thing. If I was wrong, I'm glad to hear I'm wrong. I get stubborn, sure, but I admit I'm not perfect. I admit what wrong I do. I don't try to wiggle out of it. I admit when anybody tells me I'm wrong. I say, "Thank you. Good. Fine." And he feels good that I take it, take it according to the the Indian belief. And when anybody tells me that I'm wrong, even when they're wrong, I say, "Good. Thank you."

Boy that's good when that's the way life is. This other party's giving you something good to think about. Then your mind begins to work, and your blood begins to circulate, and that keeps you from becoming just an old nervous wreck. This life won't wreck you if you live like that. If you have something bothering your mind, seek an answering from the Great Spirit. He'll clear it up.

Christian Science can do it, and it's the same way with the Indian. The Indian can do it too. That Great Spirit is all over. If He wasn't here, what would happen to this world? What would happen? People don't make that healing for themselves. No, they make trouble for themselves. That's just the way they live. If the Spirit leaves, lookout!

If the Spirit leaves you, lookout!! If you're without the Spirit nobody wants to be near you. Why? Because you might say something or you might do something that you aren't supposed to do. But if you believe in the Great Spirit, you'll get along all right. People like others who follow a belief in the Great Spirit.

I'll tell you -- in my experience of life -- anywhere I go anybody I talk to likes to listen to me. They even ask me questions. I try to tell them the best I know how. That's what I do. I don't tell them I know it all. But I tell them my experience and what method I go by. I have that privilege to go by my own methods, the one's that I find results with in person. And I feel good about the results. I feel good. I could do a day's work yet. That proves I have power!! Why do I have power? Because I have the Spirit in me! I took Him in me! I believe in Him! I believe in the Great Spirit! And when you believe in the Great Spirit, It's in you! When you believe in Him you have the power to do what you want to do. He'll carry you. He'll carry you. When you have the Spirit, you're able to do what you want, and you're strength will be there when you need it. You'll feel good. You'll feel happy, because you know It's in you.

If you want to be downhearted, wreck yourself, wreck your mind, wreck your heart, wreck your circulation of the blood, just think only of the rough deals and of something that will make trouble. It's best not to think that way. Uh ah. Think for the good, and you'll feel good. You'll clear up if you believe in the Spirit, because you believe in the Spirit. Get Him in you; He'll show you the way. If people can do that -- like I have been taught and preached at by my old people -- their lives will be better.

There it is. Take it, and use it. The answer is there. That Spirit will do anything you ask Him. He'll even answer you, if you go to the right man.(16) You get an answer if you use it. The answer is there. He'll get the answer from messengers.(17)

There are messages in the air. Health is what you have to have to know these messages. First you get health, then you get power. Why? Because you have that Spirit in you and He gives you health. No evilness will endanger you when you have health and spirit, the Great Spirit. Nothing'll bust in when you have the Great Spirit. When you believe in Him and ask Him for something, He'll do it for you. I don't think anybody that doesn't believe in anything can do that. First you have to believe in Him. First you have to study what He's got you on earth for. First you have to look at the stars. Why, why does He make it dark? Why does the world go 'round and 'round? Why does it go around? What is it hanging on? Huh! Sure. You see darkness; you see daylight -- what makes that? There's power somewhere.

That's deep. We're only a handful here right on earth, on this little world. This little world is small when it comes to the Great Master-of-All.

Geeze that's a big thing.


Just think!

The Manidoo got here and went around on the earth. He spoke to people. He spoke to the people, the Indians.(18) He spoke to them. They heard him. When they want to hear Him, they hear Him -- but they can't see Him. He said, "I shall never be seen until a certain date. Then you'll see Me."

"Boy, that's true."

And there's a time coming that you're going to see Him. I don't care how long you're going to live, you're going to see Him. And when that day comes you're going to think worse than you're thinking now.

Your spirit is going to go, and your life is going to go just back into dust, dirt.

But even now there's something beside you, there's something back of you, there's something with you. That's why I say if something goes along with you -- a spirit -- you cannot be hurt -- if you use your guards.

You have a body guard. Who is he? You have a body guard. I have a bodyguard. I feel good with Him too. He's right in me, right in me. The last thing I say when I go to bed is, "Thanks." Always I say, "Remember me. In the morning again I hope You're with me. Thank you for a good clean life that lets me be happy. Take the evil away. If there's any danger, You take care of that. You take care of it, Great Spirit, I'm tired. I want a little sleep. If any danger comes before me, You handle that."

Use that as you go in this world. Use that as you go. You don't have to take it all, but think of it. That's going to help.

Don't be afraid of lectures. You're going to see a lot of lectures. You're going to see a lot of people that'll talk for their rights, for their experience in life, for how they live. You're going to find that you're going to feel good with it. If you hear bad talk from me, or bad talk from them, you're not going to feel good. You're going to be stirred up. You'll begin to think you're involved with that bad talk. But when you hear good talk, oh geeze, you feel good. And when they see you, they'll say, "Oh Gee, he looks good. He looks good, maybe there's somebody with him."

If you don't have that, don't have this, and don't have that, you're in bad shape. Yea. I'll take you to my Indian doctor anytime. You'll hear the same stuff I'm talking about.(19) I have two doctors, Indian doctors. Ask them any question and they'll tell you the answer. I'm not alone. He's getting around seventy-eight now; he's in his seventies or something. He said, "Paul, you and I have been here a long time -- I can't see very good, but I can tell a lot of stories about a lot of good things and about the way I lived. In my times, and when you were a little boy, I got the same preaching that you got."

I said, "I still remember the words my mother and your folks used to say. It still makes me feel good to think of that. It's too bad we have to lose that."

They didn't want any money for preaching. They didn't want anything for preaching. All they wanted was your life to be a clean life. They were happy if they knew you were a good boy or a good girl. They were happy if they knew that there were good people coming into this world as they went along.

Ojibway baby in cradle board, Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, ca. 1909.

Ojibway baby in cradle board, Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, ca. 1909.

Photograph Collection, Postcard, ca. 1909
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.33 r1 Negative No. 65233

And they'd tell you, "You should tell the next ones these words when you get ready. Tell your children, all the children. That good word is for the children. If we drop that good word what would become of the children? It hurts you if they lose these words."

Chippewa children, Mille Lacs Lake, ca. 1900.

Chippewa children, Mille Lacs Lake, ca. 1900.

Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1900
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.33 r40 Negative No. 73870

If you love children, you have to love them all. If you love your children, you have to tell them something good. They think of you, and about what you're saying. "You're right," they'll think, and they'll want to hear more -- even the little children. They know when you're right. It comes naturally. They respect you. They sit down. They want to be talked to. They want to hear good words. Tell them in the right way, and they'll know you mean it and they'll look at you. Then their minds will commence to build up, and when they go out into the world they'll think of you. That's what lectures do. And so that's why I like to talk to people.

When I'm going to see a person drunk I know it ten, eleven hours before. I feel it. I can feel it in me.

When I'm going to see a surprise, I know it.

When I'm going to be sick, I know it. When I'm not going to feel good, I feel it. I know it ahead of time, forty-eight hours ahead. Why? Because I believe in the Spirit and in my visions, and I prepare and get ready for it. Sometimes I catch it before it happens.(20)

You have warnings for everything.

Even the grass in the morning is a warning. When you look at the grass you know what that means; you know what the weather is going to be like. If you live long enough, and study that stuff, like I do, you'll see it.

In the morning you just look around at the weather. Look at the hot day, cold ground, dew, wet, fog. It gets so foggy sometimes you can't see the sun.

"Oh, it's cloudy. It's cloudy," you might hear someone say.

"That isn't clouds; that's fog." If it breaks up in nice rows it will be clear. If it doesn't break up and the earth hits the cold maybe it will rain or snow. The heat and the cold air change with the elevation. It's cold way up above. The reflection of the earth goes only so far and that's why it's warm only so far from the earth. I know that. We all know that. If you get way above, you'll freeze up there. The reflection of the heat only goes so far.

Gee, just think, that earth still turns around -- and the people are a heavy thing. Why don't they fall off of the earth when it's upside down and dark? Because there's a magnet there. The earth is so big that a person's just like a feather on a great big ball. The gravity holds people on. Where's the gravity? Who's got the gravity? If the gravity isn't there, if the air goes around wrong, if the sun goes wrong, anything could happen; that's what I say.

The moon must go around, but maybe someday something will happen to it. They're fooling with the moon all the time now.

If the pressure of the air of the earth goes wrong and cuts in somewhere, maybe something would happen to the cities on the earth. The pressure and the gravity are the ones that hold us there. That's what's holding us on this earth. If they fool around with the moon, and the sun, and everything, that will all crack up and bust. Maybe sometime the moon will leave where it's supposed to be and blow up. It could be. Anything could happen. It already did happen, years ago. We're due for another blow-up, maybe, somewhere, because the people are getting rough. They feel the pressure on them. If they could work and be satisfied with their work, and try to help themselves along, then it'll be right. But when they can't work, there's a stir-up. Then there's a stir-up somewhere in the air. It's that way all over, I hear.

"What's the trouble around here?" we hear in the Local Council meeting.

"It's that way all over," a well-read-up and experienced guy pointed out.

We tried to plant this spring. We tried to put in a garden but we couldn't because it was too wet and too cold. Nothing grows in this light soil anyway. So a lot of us went without a nice little vegetable garden this year. Late into the spring it was too cold at night, and by the time it warmed up it was too late to plant. It's still cold at night. That never happened before, and that's a warning that something else might happen. Be ready. Be ready. At any time now something might happen.

I'm afraid to ask that big question.(21) I think the Indian doctor knows the answer too. There has to be a change somewhere. That's why I say there's a limit to everything you see. There's a limit to everything. "Limit," that's a big word. You wonder what the limit is. And then when you're wondering you ask yourself, "Should I be ready for it?" Many people ask that question.

How are you going to be ready for it?

Work it out. Don't think of me, just work it out. Do your best. Work your mind. Work your heart. Eat. Earn your own living. Work hard and sweat it out, then you don't have to worry. If you're doing a good job for yourself, if you're doing a good job for your family, if you're doing a good job for the future, then you're ready. That's what I mean. If you don't do anything and just expect everything to come easy, then you'll be a-wondering, "What am I going to do if something's going to blow up?"

There's a limit. There is a limit. There'll always be a limit to things. The world will change somehow. It may change one by one, or the whole deal may change altogether. Something different is coming. That's the way it is all over the world. When it changes, it's going to be a big change. The old timers saw some of those big changes in the past. Things they never dreamt about they've seen. They've seen things they never even dreamt were going to happen. They've seen things that really happened. I heard them talk about that in the old times.

We've had a good time all this time, but look out. Even the summers don't hit their periods right all summer season. The different seasons are the same way. The winter season is falling back, or going ahead, or something. It isn't paced where it should be.

When you think of that, when you think of things far and near, and way-off and back, and when you're thinking ahead, probably it's time for you to get ready. If you're trying for the best, if you're on the right trail, you'll be all right. That's the way I feel.

Mother used to say, "At my age, son, I think I lived a life. I was starting off bad, and maybe that bad couldn't of taken me where I am now. Then I started for the good." She was about eighty some years old when she told me, "I lived a life. I'm satisfied, so I pass the words on to you." All those old people said that.

You're young and you look at the great road you're going to. Use your head as you go along. Listen and wonder why, and you'll see things. That's a big thing. But if you go along just talking, and if you don't care for anything, the first thing, somebody'll cross your road and run into you. They'll think, "Oh, he doesn't even excuse himself he's in so much of a hurry." And when you get to where you're headed there's nothing there. You'll want to turn around and go back, "Well, I'll go back," you'll think. But you can't go back. You have to keep on a-going the direction you're headed.

"Gee, I wish it'd get better," you'll think.

Find a good place where you can commence to wonder how beautiful it is to breathe in the good air. Find a good place to live in. You can think to yourself, "I'm stopping, for a vacation. How wonderful it is. Who put this earth there?"

"Who put it there? Who gave me that? Who gave me the opportunity to get this, to receive it? The earth is something wonderful. It's a great life. Geeze how I sleep good."

How I wonder when I go and look at things! "How did I get there? How did these things get there? Who's responsible for this pureness? There's lots in this world that's good. If we find it, we use it. Good things are all over this world.

Good words are all over too. Use them. You can't say there are no good words wherever the people are. The good words are there. It's just that sometimes the people don't use them. When they use the good words -- including the words of the Good Book -- if they respect that day they're living; they'll feel good.

That Good Book says you're supposed to rest and think about that one day of the week. That day you're supposed to rest and think of the words you've heard. Just that one day He asks; that's all.

Rest is one main thing of history. Everybody rests, and when you get your rest, you go along refreshing your life, your mind, your body and your strength. Rest helps as we go along in this world.

And oh, how good you feel if you go and hear a good sermon! When you come out of that sermon, oh, everybody's happy. You feel good if you listen to good words just one day out of a week. But if you hear that every day, every day after day, like the old Indians, pretty soon you really feel good. After a while all you want to hear are the good words.

And then, if you hear some bad words you won't even listen to them. When you hear some bad words you'll think to yourself, "Well, yes, you're talking about your problems. It is true. But I will not upset that problem until I hear your problem and the problem of the other person. There's another side to it. Any problem usually makes two and two. Maybe the other side's got a word to put in for his problem." You have to hear two sides. Then, probably, you can't blame one person. You can't blame one group.

You generally can't blame one party alone. You have to hear two sides, then you'll figure out where the drawback is, where the problem is. You can usually point at the problem if you hear the both sides: "There's the problem right there."

A lot of people don't think that way. That's the way it is all over. They hear one side and right away they're saying, "Oh geeze. . . ." Then they go along with the problem.(22) That's wrong!! You have to stop and think, "Well, I'll probably think about the other side of the problem first, and then maybe we'll find out what the answer is. Maybe, then we'll see it."

True or false?

Is that true?

If you hear one side, sure; that's one side of the problem. But you can't figure the problem out from one side. How about the other side? You have to pair it up.

That's true.

There's a lot of mistakes made when people grab problems too quick. They see things too quick, and if you don't hear the other side of the problem, that makes it a bigger problem. There's a weight to everything, and there's a scale that balances things out. If one side's heavy and the other side's light, well, then it's lopsided. When anything's lopsided why you have to find where the level is, where the weight is.

When I go to bed again I'll be sitting here in the dark saying, "I lay me down to sleep. Tomorrow is another day like this. I feel good. Thanks for what You give me. Thanks for what You give me. I can't live alone. Without You I can't live. I have to have You near. You have to be here. I shall stop for that; I shall stop for this here."

I have a medal with an Indian head on it here on my table. It reminds me of an underground mineral, an underground metal. This is from on high. And that animal horn next to it is a wicked thing here.(23) You're supposed to eat the animal it came from.

What's that for?

Look-it here. See the tobacco around there? Heh? I put that tobacco out there. For the Great. That's my belief: stop, look, listen; anywhere.


Everything, everything, is given to you to carry.


I think I have to give it, for you. Naturally I would, because I've had the experience of life. What experience I have I should deliver it unto you, to examine what part of the experience of my life would be sound for your future life. You just take from my life what is sound for you. It's just like taking fruit off a tree. The fruit of my branch is what I deliver unto you.

If it's worthwhile, take it. If it's not, leave it. Don't forget -- some fruit is forbidden!(24) It's forbidden. That fruit is forbidden. Don't take that forbidden fruit. You're supposed to keep that in mind.


It isn't for you.

If you take the fruit off from the tree, and it's for you, it's good that you took it. You are standing with it as it should be. But remember that there's some fruit that's downed by the wind, and by the sunlight it is made nice. That is good fruit too. Either way, remember where the tree was, you know, where the big tree was.(25)

It stood there.


That big tree cast this, the flavor, unto the life of others. It benefits your life. It adds to your strength, to your system. It helps build the requirement of what you're low on. You're maybe low on some -- what would I say now? . . . vitamin.(26) That vitamin may be built up. The younger generation needs a lot of vitamins, and through the experience of life that we went through maybe we'll help build vitamins. Vitamins is what helped me. A vitamin is a great thing.

If you go to any doctor, he'll say, "What's ailing?"

You tell him.

"You're low on resistance. The resistance isn't there."

There's a vitamin that will help build up your mind and body, but you have to find the vitamin which your mind and your body requires. Why did we talk about vitamins to the younger generation, to the younger class, at the campfires?(27) The vitamin is something good for you. The vitamin in you is a good remedy. It makes you build strength. It builds you up.

It's the same way in life.

How good that was! I wish I had more of that campfire talk at my age! Maybe it's good. Maybe I shall take it. It sounds good. I use it. I feel good. I want more of that. The old folks are done, but they pass it on to you.

And these are the words which I pass on to you. You got it. It's a long life.(28)

Now . . . when the sun shines, ask what's back of the sun. Who does that? Who regulates the water? There's very little land we got out of that four quarters of this earth.

Am I wrong or right?

Isn't that right? . . .

Yea; it's true.

It shows right there. You have three quarters water in this world and you should respect water, and the waves. It could do a lot of things. And that water gives life to the vegetation. It gives life to the timber that grows. Moisture -- without it we'll never live. We need moisture.

The great water is a meditation of your body too. It's the requirement. You have to have a certain amount of moisture in the growth of your mind. That's why three-quarters of this world is water and one-fourth is land. It's a big thing.


Should we understand that, or should we not?

Should we overlook this service we're getting from the Great Master?

The water given by the Great belongs to you. Use it. It's healthy. Everything's there for you to meditate your life, as you go along, for happiness. You meet friends, and you can see what they need. But nothing is better than water, as you're paddling your canoe.(29) And we need the land too. We have all the equipment we need for our health.

Study that. You'll see that a certain amount of these things is required in your body, a certain amount is required in your mind. A certain amount of fruit on land is required. A certain amount of food is required.

Without water we can't live. Without land we can't live.

Thanks to the Great we have plenty to play with. This is our life. This is true! And this brings strength, if you use it for your mind. You're happy. It cleans you as you go along in this life.

Water and land is a great thing. There's things under the water that's living. There's things up on the land that's living. Where'd they get life? From the land and water.

Land and water's a great thing. You feel good when you go to water and use the waters the way they should be used. It meditates your body. You're breathing that different air, different climates. That's why lots of people who get the same climate from one season to the next want to re‑freshen by going to a different climate of the country. They go for a vacation; they rest. How different! How refreshing! How the vegetation treats your body, your lungs, your sight, your hearing, your seen‑ery -- your vision.

Remember your appetite. You know it's there. And when you eat, eat according to your appetite. Eat slowly, and just enough to remedy the motor of your system. Keep it full, with plenty of gas. Give plenty to the motor, plenty of gas. I'm referring to motors; that's your life.(30)

Well, what throws the light on that? What throws the light on us? What's back of that light? Did anybody ever go back there and prove what that great sun is? What is it made of? Gold and silver?

That's what I'd like to hear. Everybody else does too. But nobody knows! We just have to stay put 'till that time comes when we can find out.

Your days are limited, each and every one.

You can't say no when your limit is up. You may have money, gold and silver, but when your time is called, you're going to go. When my time is called, I have to go! The most healthy people on earth have to go when they're called. They may think, "I got strength. I don't care. Why here, sure, I'm willing to go." How quick they go. No money stops them when they're called. That's what I mean.

That's why you can't ask too often, "What's behind the sun? Who is there? What's on earth?"

It cannot be seen. That's power.

I judge all these things. You should be glad you have them. You should be glad they throw you light. You should be glad they throw you darkness, to rest, and light to get up in the morning. You have no excuse. It's no excuse when you say you're tired out. You shouldn't abuse yourself by working full strength; you have to have time to rest. Everything's there for you to live for, and the next day is better. That's what a betterment is. You're going to get better yourself every day.

Why don't the other people better themselves? Why don't the other people better themselves like you're trying to do?

They have their own mind. You have yours. For better education they watch one another. And when they have a better understanding they see that betterment. They like that. They follow that.

So this is a happy life. We're preparing for betterment, on earth and after earth. There'll be another betterment when we're through with earth. . . .

There is a thing behind that sun.

There is a thing. If it isn't behind the sun, it's somewhere. One of these stars has it; one of these suns has it; maybe the moon's got it, behind it.

But watch that light. When that light shines, it serves you. You have no excuse. If you build a fire in the dark -- in the darkness -- when that light is there, when you're in the dark, it makes you feel good. Light a match in the dark, and you can see your way. You have no excuse. It's because of that light that you went around that stump, or that tree, in the dark. The light showed you. The sun is a great thing. It shows you the light of the way of your life. You're not going to miss if you follow the light of the sun.

And when you're done on this earth, when you get a judgement, you have no excuse. Maybe you get a judgement, maybe your body goes back to dust, but you can't lie to that Spirit. He's got the proof, the evidence. He's got everything evident‑ly true.

There's no excuse in life. You have no excuse when you live without these words. You just can't sit and say you didn't understand. The reading is there. The book(31) is there. The way of life is there. Look at it! Everything grows! You should work with your hands as much as you could stand in your own mind, and sweat. When you're tired you could drink water. When you're hungry you could eat. But for how long can you do that without believing in something?

You have to work for betterment. You have children -- maybe you have children -- and for them you work for betterment. That's what you're working for. As they come, you have to leave them something. You have to leave them something to eat on. And you have to leave them something to look upon! You have to leave them a light, as you go. Then they'll follow you.

Indian mother and child, ca. 1912.

Indian mother and child, ca. 1912.

Photograher: Ross A. Daniels

Photograph Collection, ca. 1912
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.33 p26 Negative No. 7880-A

This is a big world. We're forgetting how the Great Spirit takes care of us. We think we do that by our own. No. He's helping us with everything. We have the opportunity to see things, to understand things, and to understand one another. And we feel good with our health. We have doctors that have the power to help re-build any punishment. When you're lagging in health that's the punishment from where you have done wrong somewhere in the past. That's your punishment.(32) You're whipped. If it's too bad, if you're not worth living on this earth, He's going to take you! But usually He gives you a chance. He gives you a warning! "You have done wrong in the past." You have done something, or maybe somebody that loves you has done wrong and He's taking you to punish him.(33)

So it's a great thing, these words. You'll love children. And with these words they'll love you.

It was good for us to hear the old Indians' words them days. And it is good that I pass these words on to you. The old Indians that I heard these words from are done in this world, but still, they pass them on to you. I wish I had heard more of that. I use it. I feel good hearing them words. It's a long life for anyone that follows those words.(34)

Remember to look back to the people that loved you and gave you these good words. And tell the ones coming behind you.

When you're ready.


1. Cf. also Ch. 11, "Campfire Talks," and Ch. 41, "Talking with the Old Folks: Recollections and Predictions."

2. Cf. Ch. 16, "River Life and Fishing," Ch. 17, "Winter Wood and Wiigwaams," and Ch. 18, "Late-Autumn-Winter Camp."

3. Is there anything from the sun that is useful to you in life?

4. For more discussion of the moon see Ch. 13, "Manoominike-Giizis, 'Wild Ricing Moon.'"

5. "The last supper" referred to here is the last meal of anyone on earth, not the Last Supper of Thursday of the Christian Holy Week.

6. People often carry a little hide, like a weasel hide, or something else that once was alive, to help them remember the Great Spirit. These items are also carried as sort of a very serious good luck charm. Paul Buffalo carried a weasel hide, a bear claw, and sea shells. See also discussion in Ch. 22, "Drums."

7. The black cassock often worn by priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and clergy of other Christian religions.

8. Paul is talking about transferring his thoughts in his mind to the minds of the listeners. He says ". . . I transfer my words and my mind . . . , and he means exactly that. Along with the words goes part of himself, part of his mind, part of his life. Paul says at the very beginning of this sermon/lecture, "When an old Indian gives you a sermon, he gives you part of his spirit, part of his soul." This is very much like when an elder gives someone his name he transfers to his namesake part of his life spirt -- his soul -- along with the name. (Presumably women, and especially medicine women, can do that also, although I did not have an opportunity to see that happen, or discuss that with them.) Cf., for e.g., Ch. 32, "Medicine Men / Medicine Women."

9. Paul is talking about the "Road of Life," a central feature when talking about how one is going through life or will be going through life. Especially prominent on the Road of Life are the various "Ys" one faces in their life's journey. Children hear much about that growing up, and everyone is reminded frequently to stay on the straight road and not be tempted to go off on another not-so-straight path. For details of the discussion, especially with children, see Ch. 11, "Campfire Talks."

10. Paul is talking about iron ore, from the Mesabe Range and other Minnesota iron ore ranges. Iron ore mining was an important feature of life in Ball Club, MN, with some residents from there and Deer River commuting to work in the Iron Mines of the western Mesabi Iron Range in Bovey, MN.

11. As indicated above, carrying something in your pocket, or wearing something around your neck, shows that you believe in something. What people carry and/or wear is usually something natural, like a small-animal hide or a small piece of hide, or a small medicine pouch (about 3/4 X 1-1/2 inches), or a small rock, or even a medal (because metal was part of being in the ground and part of the earth). It is like a sacred and honored good-luck piece. Carrying a part of something that once lived, that once had life -- or was part of the earth itself -- is an especially good and powerful thing to do to express one's belief. Paul Buffalo carried a weasel hide, and wore a single bear claw around his neck, and sometimes a medal, accompanied by sea shells -- all generally considered very powerful items by traditional Anishinabe peoples. See also discussion in Ch. 22, "Drums."

12. Paul is ready -- or more accurately, he says he thinks he's ready -- to be called to the next world, or for the world to end, whichever comes first. He is saying this light-heartedly, but he is, in fact, at the time, seriously ready for whatever might be coming.

13. You will always get rewarded or repaid for the good deeds you do. And, furthermore, you will be rewarded both in this world and in the next.

14. Cf. Ch. 28, "Power."

15. The answers to the big questions in life -- including "the answers to preparing for the next world" -- come down to "reflection" -- thinking about and contemplating that in this great world and universe we really are rather insignificant shadow-y figures on this earth ("nothing but a reflection on earth") that are limited in time and space (among other things) and eventually "wear out"; but at the same time, we look forward to the next world, which is "a great place." That, Paul allows, is "good enough for me," and he looks forward to finding a better world "when we're done here." And, Paul repeatedly emphasizes, the Spirit is one's guide on the Road of Life to help navigate through all of this, and without a spirit guide one is simply lost (and, may wander around forever trying to find the proper road to get back on).

16. A jessokid, a highly-ranked medicine doctor, will often speak directly to the spirits, and they will speak directly to him and he will translate their message(s). Sometimes the jessokid is known as a "tipi-shaker" because when he is communicating directly with the spirits he goes into a small, tall, enclosure often referred to as a "tipi". Cf., Ch. 31, "Spiritual Doctoring, Tipi-Shaking, and Bone-Swallowing Specialists."

17. See Ch. 32, "Spiritual Doctoring," Ch. 34, "Messengers and Unusual Events," and Ch. 27, "Dreams and Visions."

18. The term Chippewa/Ojibwa peoples often use to identify themselves in a broad sense, Anishinabe, is generally translated as something like "the people," or "the real people," or "spontaneous people." Sometimes the term is used to contrast "Indian" with non-Indian, or, on other occasions, to contrast human with non-human. Whenever Paul talks about "the people" he is talking about Anishinabe, which would be his personal first choice of a term to identify his group. When he says "the people" in English he is most likely simply translating the term from his primary language; Paul spoke English -- or, as he often like to say, "Finglish -- as a second language. Cf., Ch. 37, "Finns, 'The Sweatbath-Men.'"

19. See Ch. 30, "An Indian Curing Ceremony," Ch. 31, "Spiritual Doctoring, Tipi-Shaking, and Bone-Swallowing Specialists," and Ch. 32, "Medicine Men / Medicine Women."

20. Cf., Ch. 26, "Dreams and Visions."

21. The "big question" relates to when the blow-up of the earth -- or whatever it is -- will be; the "big question" is, basically, "When will the end of the earth be?" or, at the very minimum, "When will the earth have a big blow-up that changes it from what we know now?"

22. Paul is saying that by judging before hearing the other side of a problem one becomes part of the problem.

23. The animal horn has a lot of spiritual power, as well as power to heal one's body. See discussion of animal horn use in Ch. 25, "'Self-Houses,' Sweat Houses, and Bloodletting."

24. Some things are still supposed to be kept secret. By prior agreement with Paul and others, some of these things appear in this series of books and some do not. As Nicholas Nassim Taleb often correctly points out, and Paul Buffalo would strongly agree, "Do not confuse the absence of evidence with evidence of absence."

25. Don't forget about the old person that gave you these words, the old tree that gave you this fruit.

26. Vitamins were first identified in 1912 by Casimir Funk, a Polish biochemist who coined the term "vitamine" using the Latin vita, meaning "life." Vitamins became an increasingly popular topic in nutritional discussions throughout the first part of the twentieth century, including with Indian populations as they interacted with whites and with government extension agents. Cf., Vol. 3, Living Amongst the Whites . . . the Best We Can.

27. Cf. Ch. 11, "Campfire Talks."

28. If you use these words properly you will have a long life.

29. Here he is talking about paddling your canoe in the water, and also your body as canoe, and also "paddling" along in life.

30. Here Paul is talking about your body as motor, and the life in it as the motor running. Motors were a big thing when Paul Buffalo was a boy -- any kind of motor.

31. "Book" means anything in this world that you can learn from. It can be a book book, a messenger, the words of an elder, an intuition that "proves" itself. . . .

32. The basic principle is that if you (or a relative) do wrong, eventually you (or a relative) will be punished for it, and you (or a relative) can be punished a long time after you did the wrong. (See also below.)

33. It is a frequent warning that you should listen to good words and lead a good life, if not for yourself, then for the benefit of your children and kin, and vice versa. Your relations can always be held accountable for your shortcomings, and you for theirs. So, for example, if your brother -- even dodaim "brother" -- has done some wrong, you might be punished for that wrong with a physical ailment of some kind -- or even with a death in the family. Thus your relatives have a vested interest in your leading a good life and following a good path, and vice versa. It is a useful social control mechanism employed frequently in the context of healing and illness and bad luck.

34. Living a long life was a sign that one was living a good life.

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