Ask the Elders: Naamiwan's Dream Helper

This is a story about a Medicine Man named Naamiwan (Fairwind) and his relationship to a bineshiishikaan, a carved image of a thunderbird. The thunderbird was Naamiwan's bawaagan (dream visitor), who bestowed the power to heal upon Naamiwan.

In 1933, the anthropologist A. Irving Hallowell interviewed and photographed Naamiwan, who was then in his 80's. In the photograph of Naamiwan and the thunderbird carving, Naamiwan's grandson, Charlie George Owen, is standing directly behind the carving.

Maureen Matthews, Curator of Ethnology at the Manitoba Museum, interviewed Charlie George Owen (Omishoosh) several times during the 1990s, often with Margaret Simmons and Roger Roulette translating. Omishoosh told remarkable stories of his grandfather bringing him back to life using his drum. Photos of the drum and further interviews with Omishoosh can be found in this archive.