A few weeks ago I met a very intelligent Indian chief. I had met him once before in Oshkosh, Wis., and remembering our meeting, the "old brave" became quite communicative. We talked of everything, from land tenure to transmigration of souls; but it is of the "medicine man" that I wish here to write.
"After all," said the chief, the pow-wow, as you call it, is the most effective remedy we have. Indian doctors rarely give medicine, and in olden times did not give any at all. We sometimes send for a white man physician; but the Indian generally gets worse under the drug treatment of the white man. When an Indian gets very sick and his friends get frightened, a powwow is held, and in most cases he gets well very soon. We are a much more healthy race than you are; and if the virtue of a thing is to be tested by its results, I think our medicine man with his pow-wow will out rank your doctor with his drug-store." I asked him what was the central idea of the pow-wow; what was done; how and why it cured. In reply, he said he could not explain it to me, because I did not understand the power of spirits.
"The pow-wow is essentially religious," he said, "and through his friendship with the Great Spirit the medicine man brings the power of the Great Spirit to crush the spirits of pain and disease that have gotten hold of the mind of the sufferer."