day long the young Indian boy had been standing on top of a high
mountain meadow looking at the sun. In back of him sat an old man who
watched the boy as carefully as the boy watched the sun.
the old one made passes over a round pottery vessel that contained a
combination of many herbs. These herbs were the old man's medicine for
the boy. The boy was his, so to speak; the boy had been given to the
old man when he was just a small baby and the old one had raised him
as a medicine man. He was now in the process of giving the boy the
final training that would allow the boy the full privileges and rank
of medicine man.
the young boy's life he had been in training for work he would soon be
doing. It had started long before he could recall. The woman he was
turned over to for the first years of his life had been given detailed
orders about the things he would be allowed to do and the things he
must not do. He was never allowed to play as ordinary children played.
He was taught from the first to lie still and not to cry, then to
listen and not talk, and last, when his mind began to work, he was
taught to remember and not to forget.
spend endless hours by the side of the old man listening to stories
about the past of the great Indians and about the things to come. He
tended the sacred fire for weeks at a time and sat without moving
until at times the bones of his body grew stiff and cold. Always after
listening to the stories of how the world came to be and how all
things were made and why these things were, the old man made the boy
repeat them until they were right in his mind.
training went on all the time, from the early morning until the
council fire was allowed to burn down to live ashes at night.
was the preparation of a boy's life who would one day be a Medicine
Making of a Medicine Man: The place and ritual differed in
different tribes and areas of the continent, but to most tribes the
gathering and preparation of herbs for medicines was entrusted to the
skills of the well-trained few.