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Native American Legends

Great Walker's Medicine

A Winnebago (Hotcâk) Legend

There was once a man named "Great Walker" who began to fast for a blessing. One day he finally had a dream in which a Loon Spirit blessed him, and afterwards said to him, "Great Walker, I also bless you with this other thing. When I worked for our chief in Spirit land and swept out his lodge, I removed bad things and swept them outside -- so too will this medicine sweep bad things from your body. No matter what bad thing you swallow, it shall not kill you, for this medicine will sweep it out." Then Great Walker looked at the Loon Spirit and saw something growing out of his back. That was the medicine plant. The Loon Spirit continued: "When you want to use this plant, don't just dig it up, but first make offerings of a white feather, a white deerskin, and red feathers. Pour me tobacco and I shall smoke it. Then you may dig it up -- and when you use it you will not fail in anything. I bless you alone with this herb." Great Walker performed many cures with this purgative medicine and passed the knowledge of it on to his descendants.

In recent times an old man named "Dog Head" followed the war leader Smoke Walker to Tippecanoe. In that battle Smoke Walker was killed, but before he died, Dog Head told him that he would give his son Small Snake a blessing. As they made their escape from the battlefield, Dog Head told Small Snake, "My son, I promised your father that I would give you a blessing. It is not a thing like the Medicine Lodge, for that would not go on after your death. I shall give you a medicine of great value that first came to a man named 'Great Walker'." Then he told Small Snake the story of how Great Walker acquired the medicine from the spirits.

The owner of the medicine kept it hidden in a small hole in the side of a cliff. When he went to get it, it was gone. He said, "We should have been more careful where we kept it."

Dog Head spoke the truth, for even to this day the descendant of Small Snake have benefited people with this medicine.

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