Story 5: Origin of the Medicine Men
In days of old people knew the animals and were on friendly terms with them. All of the animals possessed wonderful powers and they sometimes appeared to people in dreams or visions and gave them their power. Often when men were out hunting and were left alone in the forest or on the plains at night, the animals came to them and spoke to them in dreams and revealed their secrets to them. One man who had had a dream of this kind woke up and went home. There he remained several days in silence, refusing to talk to any one, thinking only of the things that had been revealed to him. After a time he called some of his friends and the old men of the tribe to his lodge and told them of his powers. He asked if they wanted to learn his secrets. If they agreed the man would teach them his songs and dances. They agreed, so he taught them all the necessary things. Then they held a medicine men's dance and gave themselves the title of medicine men. Then if any one was sick in the village and sought the aid of the medicine men, they prepared to hold the dance on behalf of that person and built a large grass lodge where the dance was held for six days and nights.
There are two kinds of medicine men. One kind has power to doctor and heal the sick; another has the power to prevent any one from being hurt or harmed, and can charm away all danger. The latter are supposed to be more powerful than the first kind of medicine-men, for they can perform their magic without medicine and have power to bewitch people who are afar off, and thus make them lose their minds and not know what they are doing. They have a song of death that can scare death away from a dying person. There are few people who ever receive this power, which is generally given by the sun, moon, stars, earth, or storm, but some very wild and ferocious animals can also give the power to people.
Next is a very important story, involving two brothers, that appears in variations among many Southeastern and Southern Plains tribes. The key themes are the continuity of life in alternative realms of existence, relations between the visible and invisible realms of the world, and role of special individuals in mediating relationships between the visible and invisible, and the living and the dead.