As described by First Boy - James Larpenteur Long,
Fort Peck Assiniboine-Sioux, in The Assiniboine: From
Accounts of the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenteur
Long), edited by Michael Stephen Kennedy , University
of Oklahoma Press, 1961, p 168-170 (originally published
as Land of the Nakoda by the Montana Writer Program in
Assiniboines believed that the spirits of the dead journeyed
towards the east. There were medicine men who claimed!
they had power to bring them back. So when a sick person
was in a coma, a medicine man was called in and a sacrifice
made, after which he made medicine.
medicine man painted his whole body with white clay to
resemble a ghost and wore only his clout and moccasins.
In each hand, he carried a rattle. He sang several songs;
then, while the drummers kept time, he ran towards the
east for some distance. He returned and, if successful,
explained that he had headed off the spirit. If the patient
came out of the coma, the spirit was surely brought back.
grandfather of Pointing Down, himself now an old man,
told him of his experience in the spirit world. He had
smallpox when he was young. Whole families died in their
lodges. Other people came and folded up the smoke flaps
and barricaded the entrances. That served as their burial.
the lodge where my grandfather lay ill with the disease,
two other members of the family were dead and their bodies
were left where they died. Many families fled to other
parts of the country.
was so near death that the surroundings did not matter
a great deal. He said, "I was very ill, but I noticed
that a person looked in and perhaps thought the three
of us were
dead. He secured the doorway, piled objects against it,
and closed up the smoke hole.
time after that, I seemed to fall asleep, and the next
thing I knew, I was outside, walking toward where the
sun rises. I traveled along a narrow path that seemed
to be on an up-grade. After going in that direction for
some time, I came to where a man sat with his back to
me. When he turned around, I recognized him as a person
who had died some time before.
man said: `Perhaps you want to know where your folks live.
I will tell you. There is a large encampment over that
hill; and the lodge painted blue belongs to your parents.'
When I entered the lodge, I saw my father and mother there.
My father was busy with some wood he was shaving. My mother,
too, was busy at some task.
a smile, I said to them: `I had no trouble to find your
lodge.' My mother did not seem to hear me, but my father
looked up and stared at me without any sign that he recognized
me. I became uneasy, and hesitated to take my usual place
in their lodge. After a time I went out and looked around
for some-one to whom I could talk. I recognized several
persons and attempted to talk to them, but each time I
was not answered.
finally retraced my steps and knew I was on the right
path, because I came back to the place where the man sat.
He spoke: `You did not stay long, my friend; perhaps someone
has come to take you back.' I do not remember if I made
hurried back along the trail and arrived at our lodge.
The entrance was barred and I said to myself: `How can
I go in through the smoke hole, the poles are too close
together there.' Then a voice awakened me; it was my sister's.
She said: `My brother, you are alive, your eyes are open.
She told me how they decided to flee to some other part,
as did the others, and she had said to them: `For the
last time I want to see the body of my brother.'
was how she found me, and through her help I recovered."