The shaman was the most important person in each
tribe or group. Shamans were paid for their work in food, hides, and
other items of value.
The shaman was not a medicine man. He was a
mystical man. A shaman was credited with many magical powers. Through
the power of chant and dance and magical signs and behavior, the
people believed he could call up winds, interpret dreams, break up
marriages, and foretell the weather.
power to control magical beings: The early
people of the far north believed in many magical beings. Some were
good and some were evil. The shaman had the power to talk to these
magical beings and to direct their behavior.
power to predict the movement of the herds: Before
hunters left to follow the herds, they consulted their shaman. The
shaman used magical aids to find the best path. First, a shaman carved
animal images on a piece of caribou bone. He heated the bone over a
fire. When it cracked, hunters were told to follow the lines to find
the animals. Since animals were plentiful in olden times, this method
almost always worked. As in all far north tribes, the shaman was the
most powerful person.
power to kill: Some ancient people believed
shamans could kill someone by sending an evil spirit into their bodies
to make them sick or trick them into dying.
In the Kutchin world, people could hire a shaman
to kill someone. The shaman was never guilty of anything. He was just
doing the job for which he had been paid. Revenge was taken on the
people who hired him.
power to cure: The arctic people believed their
shaman had the power to rid a sick person of evil spirits. After that,
it was up to the person to get well. Shamans were paid for their work
whether the sick person lived or died.
Shaman is not the Medicine Man
belief in the power of the Shaman exists in many ancient cultures
Presentations in PowerPoint format
Return to the Far
or to Native
Americans for Kids