Cheyenne Nation Tribal Report - Sweet Medicine - Cheyenne Prophet

topic posted Sun, May 24, 2009 - 11:59 AM by  Kalonaposses...
Cheyenne Nation Tribal Report - Sweet Medicine - Cheyenne Prophet


A Message From Our Elders: White Bull Tells of Sweet Medicine

A Message From Our Elders: White Bull (Ice) Talks to George Bird Grinnell in 1908 About the Warnings of Sweet Medicine

The Sweet Medicine oral tradition is still alive and spoken only during certain occasions and only after prayers are offered. However, there are numerous written accounts of Sweet Medicine’s warnings. We have found one of the oldest written accounts of the prophet’s warnings as told by Ice.

One man who sat in the circle in the lodge spoke to Sweet Medicine, who for a long time had been sitting in silence with his head hanging down, as if discouraged. He said, “Friend, what is your trouble? Why are you sorrowful?” Sweet Medicine answered, “Yes, it is true I am troubled. Listen to me carefully. Listen to me carefully.” He said this four times. “Our great-grandfather spoke thus to me, repeating it four times. He said to me that he had put people on this earth, all kinds of people. He made us, but also made others. There are all kinds of people on earth that you will meet some day, toward the sunrise, by a big river. Some are black, but some day you will meet a people who are white, --good-looking people, with light hair and white skins.” A man spoke up, and said, “Shall we know them when we meet them?”

“Yes,” said Sweet Medicine, “you will know them, for they will have long hair on their faces, and will look differently from you. They will wear things different from your things, --different clothing. It will be something like the green scum that grows on waters about springs (the thread of cloth). Those people will wander this way. You will talk with them. They will give you things like isinglass (things that flash or reflect the light, mirrors) and something that looks like sand that will taste very sweet. But do not take the things they give you. They will be looking for a certain stone. They will wear what I have spoken of, but it will be of all colors, pretty. Perhaps they will not listen to what you say to them, but you will listen to what they say to you. They will be people who do not get tired, but who will keep pushing forward, going, going, all the time. They will keep coming, coming. They will try always to give you things, but do not take them. At last I think that you will take the things that they offer you, and this will bring sickness to you. These people do not follow the way of our great-grandfather. They follow another way. They will travel everywhere, looking for this stone which our great-grandfather put on the earth in many places.”

“Buffalo and all animals were given you by our great-grandfather; but these people will come in, and will begin to kill off these animals. They will us a different thing to kill animals from what we use, --something that makes a noise and sends a little round stone to kill. Then after a while a different animal will come into the country. It will have a head like a buffalo, but it will have white horns and a long tail. These animals will smell differently from the buffalo, and at last you will come to eating them. When you skin them, the flesh will jerk, and at last you will get the same disease. At last something will be given to you, which, if you drink it, will make you crazy. These people will have something to give to animals to eat which will kill them.”

“There will be many of these people, so many that you cannot stand before them. On the rivers you will see things going up and down, and in these things will be these people, and there will be things moving over dry land in which these people will be.”

“Another animal will come, but it will not be like the buffalo. It will have long heavy hair on its neck, and a long heavy tail which drags on the ground. It will come from the south.”

“When these animals come, you will catch them, and you will get on their backs and they will carry you from place to place. You will become great travelers. If you see a place a long way off, you will want to go to it, so at last you will get on these animals with my arrows. From that time you will act very foolishly. You will never be quite. You will want to go everywhere. You will be very foolish. You will know nothing.”

He took some grass in his hand, and held it out before him, and said, “Here is something that the animals live on.” Then he put it down and he took other plants in his hand, and said, “You see that these are different-looking grasses and plants. These are to be used for your medicine”; and as he put each one down on the ground, he explained the uses of each.

“These people will not listen to what you say; what they are going to do they will do. You people will change: in the end of your life in those days you will not get up early in the morning; you will never know when day comes; you will lie in bed; you will have disease, and will die suddenly; you will all die off.”

“At last those people will ask you for your flesh (he repeated this four times), but you must say ‘No.’ They will try to teach you their way of living. If you give up to them your flesh (your children), those that they take away will never know anything. They will try to change you from your way of living to theirs, and they will keep at what they try to do. They will work with their hands. They will tear up the earth, and at last you will do it with them. When you do, you will become crazy, and forget all that I am teaching you.”

George Bird Grinnell, “Some Early Cheyenne Tales. II,” Journal of American Folk-Lore, Vol. XXI, NO. 80 (1908), pages 319-320.

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