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Hoffman records that according to the Mille Lacs Indians Chief Bayezhig ("Lone One"),
Midewiwin has its origin as:
"In the beginning, Midemanidoo (Gichimanidoo) made the midemanidoowag. He first created
two men, and two women; but they had no power of thought or reason. Then Midemanidoo
(Gichimanodoo) made them rational beings. He took them in his hands so that they should
multiply; he paired them, and from this sprung the Anishinaabe. When there were people he
placed them upon the earth, but he soon observed that they were subject to sickness, misery, and
death, and that unless he provided them with the Sacred Medicine they would soon become
"Between the position occupied by Gichi Manidoo and the earth were four lesser manidoog with
whom Gichi Manidoo decided to commune, and to impart to them the mysteries by which the
Anishinaabeg could be benefited. So he first spoke to a manidoo and told him all he had to say,
who in turn communicated the same information to the next, and he in turn to next, who also
communed with the next. They all met in council, and determined to call in the four wind
manidoog. After consulting as to what would be best for the comfort and welfare of the
Anishinaabeg, these manidoog agreed to ask Gichi Manidoo to communicate the Mystery of the
Sacred Medicine to the people.
"Gichi Manidoo then went to the Sun Spirit and asked him to go to the earth and instruct the
people as had been decided upon by the council. The Sun Spirit, in the form of a little boy, went
to the earth and lived with a woman who had a little boy of her own.
"This family went away in the autumn to hunt, and during the winter this woman’s son died. The
parents were so much distressed that they decided to return to the village and bury the body
there; so they made preparations to return, and as they traveled along, they would each evening
erect several poles upon which the body was placed to prevent the wild beasts from devouring it.
When the dead boy was thus hanging upon the poles, the adopted child—who was the Sun
Spirit—would play about the camp and amuse himself, and finally told his adopted father he
pitied him, and his mother, for their sorrow. The adopted son said he could bring his dead brother
to life, whereupon the parents expressed great surprise and desired to know how that could be
"The adopted boy then had the party hasten to the village, when he said, “Get the women to
make a wiigiwaam of bark, put the dead boy in a covering of wiigwaas and place the body on the
ground in the middle of the wiigiwaam.” On the next morning after this had been done, the
family and friends went into this lodge and seated themselves around the corpse.
"When they had all been sitting quietly for some time, they saw through the doorway the
approach of a bear, which gradually came towards the wiigiwaam, entered it, and placed itself
before the dead body and said, “ho, ho, ho, ho,” when he passed around it towards the left side,
with a trembling motion, and as he did so, the body began quivering, and the quivering increased
as the bear continued until he had passed around four times, when the body came to life again
and stood up. Then the bear called to the father, who was sitting in the distant right-hand corner
of the wiigiwaam, and addressed to him the following words:

ss Song"The little bear boy was the one who did this. He then remained among the Anishinaabeg and
taught them the mysteries of the Midewiwin; and, after he had finished, he told his adopted father
that as his mission had been fulfilled he was to return to his kindred manidoog, for the
Anishinaabeg would have no need to fear sickness as they now possessed the Midewiwin which
would enable them to live. He also said that his spirit could bring a body to life but once, and he
would now return to the sun from which they would feel his influence."
This event is called Gwiiwizens wedizhichigewinid—Deeds of a Little-boy.


1. Hoffman, Walter James. "The Midewiwin, or 'Grand Medicine Society', of the Ojibwa" in
Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Bureau of Ethnology Report, v. 7, pp. 149-299. (Washington, DC:
Government Printing Office, 1891).
2. Johnston, Basil. "The Society of Medicine\Midewewin" in Ojibway Ceremonies, pp. 93–112.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990). ISBN 0-8032-7573-0
3. Landes, Ruth. Ojibwa Religion and the Midéwiwin. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,

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