Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alfred Irving Hallowell, "Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and World View"

Hallowell’s own summary of this article says.
In this paper I have assembled evidence, chiefly from my own field work on a branch of the Northern Ojibwa, which supports the inference that in the metaphysics of being found among these Indians, the action of persons provides the major key to their world view.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of this article. It is exemplary in paying careful attention to the worldviews and knowledges of the researcher’s hosts. It led the way in challenging the stress on the ‘supernatural’ character of Native American (and all other) religions.1 Hallowell’s coining of the term ‘other-than-human persons’ has not only been central to both previous points, but also enriched discussion of indigenous environmentalism, and of notions of respect, sacrality, and power. It is important to the work of, among others, Kenneth Morrison (1992 and 2000) and Terri Smith (1995). Again, these writers stress the Western (largely Christian) reference of words like ‘spirit’, and note that a study of religion rooted in this language-world will be misdirected. In fact, of course, much of the study of religions has continued to operate with the assumption that beliefs are central to, or definitive of, religion - particularly beliefs about transcendent (non- or super-human) beings. A more recent trend has arisen in the study of ritual and reinstated what should have been obvious all along: religions are complexes of actions in which people engage. Some powerful examples of this kind are included later in this volume (e.g. Turner and Drewal).
Hallowed also provides important material for a reconsideration of the term ‘animism”. This is taken up by Nurit Bird-David (reprinted in this volume) and discussed there more fully.
Rather than extract shorter portions of Hallowell’s work that make points relevant to these issues. I have chosen to include his entire article so that readers can appreciate the way issues are raised and discussed. In fact, there are plenty of connections to be made between Hallowell’s work and other material in this volume.

Morrison, Kenneth M.   1992. ‘Beyond the Supernatural: Language and Religious Action’, Religion 22: 201-5.
Morrison, Kenneth M. 2000. The Cosmos as Intersubjective: Native American Other-than-Human Persons’, in Graham Harvey (ed.). Indigenous Religions: A Companion. London and New York: Cassell, pp. 23-36.
Saler, Benson. 1977. “Supernatural as a Western Category’, Ethnos 5: 31 -53.
Smith, Theresa S. 1995. The Island of the Anishinaabeg: Thunderers and Water Monsters in the Traditional Ojibwe Ufe-World. Moscow: University of Idaho Press.

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Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior and World View
Alfred Irving Hallowell

It is, I believe, a fact that future investigations will thoroughly confirm, that the Indian does not make the separation into personal as contrasted with impersonal, corporeal with impersonal, in our sense at all. What he seems to be interested in is the question of existence, of reality; and everything that is perceived by the sense, thought of, felt and dreamt of, exists.
Paul Radin

It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that the potential significance of the data collected by cultural anthropologists far transcends in interest the level of simple, objective, ethnographic description of the peoples they have studied. New perspectives have arisen; fresh interpretations of old data have been offered; investigation and analysis have been pointed in novel directions. The study of culture and personality, national character and the special attention now being paid to values are illustrations that come to mind. Robert Redfield’s concept of world view, ‘that outlook upon the universe that is characteristic of a people,’ which emphasizes a perspective that is not equivalent to the study of religion in the conventional sense, is a further example.
World view’ [he says] differs from culture, ethos, mode of thought, and national character. It is the picture the members of a society have of the properties and characters upon their stage of action. While ‘national character’ refers to the way these people look to the outsider looking in on them, ‘world view’ refers to the way the world looks to that people looking out. Of all that is connoted by ‘culture,’ ‘world view’ attends especially to the way a man, in a particular society, sees himself in relation to all else. It is the properties of existence as distinguished from and related to the self. It is, in short, a man’s idea of the universe. It is that organization of ideas which answers to a man the questions: Where am I? Among what do I move? What are my relations to these things?... Self is the axis of ‘world view.’1
In an essay entitled ‘The Self and Its Behavioral Environment,’ I have pointed out that self-identification and culturally constituted notions of the nature of the self are essential to the operation of all human societies and that a functional corollary is the cognitive orientation of the self to a world of objects other than self. Since the nature of these objects is likewise culturally constituted, a unified phenomenal field of thought, values, and action which is integral with the kind of world view that characterizes a society is provided for its members. The behavioral environment of the self thus becomes structured in terms of a diversified world of objects other than self, ‘discriminated, classified, and conceptualized with respect to attributes which are culturally constituted and symbolically mediated through language. Object orientation likewise provides the ground for an intelligible interpretation of events in the behavioral environment on the basis of traditional assumptions regarding the nature and attributes of the objects involved and implicit or explicit dogmas regarding the “causes” of events.’2 Human beings in whatever culture are provided with cognitive orientation in a cosmos; there is ‘order’ and ‘reason’ rather than chaos.
There are basic premises and principles implied, even if these do not happen to be consciously formulated and articulated by the people themselves. We are confronted with the philosophical implications of their thought, the nature of the world of being as they conceive it. If we pursue the problem deeply enough we soon come face to face with a relatively unexplored territory - ethno-metaphysics. Can we penetrate this realm in other cultures? What kind of evidence is at our disposal? The forms of speech as Benjamin Whorf and the neo-Humboldtians have thought?1 The manifest content of myth? Observed behavior and attitudes? And what order of reliability can our inferences have? The problem is a complex and difficult one, but this should not preclude its exploration.
In this paper I have assembled evidence, chiefly from my own field work on a branch of the Northern Ojibwa,4 which supports the inference that in the metaphysics of being found among these Indians, the action of persons provides the major key to their world view.
While in all cultures ‘persons’ comprise one of the major classes of objects to which the self must become oriented, this category of being is by no means limited to human beings. In Western culture, as in others, ‘supernatural’ beings are recognized as ‘persons,’ although belonging, at the same time, to an other than human category.5 But in the social sciences and psychology, ‘persons’ and human beings are categorically identified. This identification is inherent in the concept of ‘society’ and ‘social relations.’ In Warren’s Dictionary of Psychology ‘person’ is defined as ‘a human organism regarded as having distinctive characteristics and social relations.’ The same identification is implicit in the conceptualization and investigation of social organization by anthropologists. Yet this obviously involves a radical abstraction if, from the standpoint of the people being studied, the concept of ‘person’ is not, in fact, synonymous with human being but transcends it. The significance of the abstraction only becomes apparent when we stop to consider the perspective adopted. The study of social organization, defined as human relations of a certain kind, is perfectly intelligible as an objective approach to the study of this subject in any culture. But if, in the world view of a people, ‘persons’ as a class include entities other than human beings, then our objective approach is not adequate for presenting an accurate description of ‘the way a man, in a particular society, sees himself in relation to all else.’ A different perspective is required for this purpose. It may be argued, in fact, that a thoroughgoing ‘objective’ approach to the study of cultures cannot be achieved solely by projecting upon those cultures categorical abstractions derived from Western thought. For, in a broad sense, the latter are a reflection of our cultural subjectivity. A higher order of objectivity may be sought by adopting a perspective which includes an analysis of the outlook of the people themselves as a complementary procedure. It is in a world view perspective, too, that we can likewise obtain the best insight into how cultures function as wholes.
The significance of these differences in perspective may be illustrated in the case of the Ojibwa by the manner in which the kinship term ‘grandfather’ is used. It is not only applied to human persons but to spiritual beings who are persons of a category other than human. In fact, when the collective plural ‘our grandfathers’ is used, the reference is primarily to persons of this latter class. Thus if we study Ojibwa social organization in the usual manner, we take account of only one set of ‘grandfathers.’ When we study their religion we discover other ‘grandfathers.’ But if we adopt a world view perspective no dichotomization appears. In this perspective ‘grandfather’ is a term applicable to certain ‘person objects,’ without any distinction between human persons and those of an other-than-human class. Furthermore, both sets of grandfathers can be said to be functionally as well as terminologically equivalent in certain respects. The other-than-human grandfathers are sources of power to human beings through the ‘blessings’ they bestow, i.e., a sharing of their power which enhances the ‘power’ of human beings. A child is always given a name by an old man, i.e., a terminological grandfather. It is a matter of indifference whether he is a blood relative or not. This name carries with it a special blessing because it has reference to a dream of the human grandfather in which he obtained power from one or more of the other-than-human grandfathers. In other words, the relation between a human child and a human grandfather is functionally patterned in the same way as the relation between human beings and grandfathers of an other-than-human class. And, just as the latter type of grandfather may impose personal taboos as a condition of a blessing, in the same way a human grandfather may impose a taboo on a ‘grandchild’ he has named.
Another direct linguistic clue to the inclusiveness of the ‘person’ category in Ojibwa thinking is the term windigo. Baraga defines it in his Dictionary as ‘fabulous giant that lives on human flesh; a man that eats human flesh, cannibal.’ From the Ojibwa standpoint all windigowak are conceptually unified as terrifying, anthropomorphic beings who, since they threaten one’s very existence, must be killed. The central theme of a rich body of anecdotal material shows how this threat was met in particular instances. It ranges from cases in which it was necessary to kill the closest of kin because it was thought an individual was becoming a windigo^ through accounts of heroic fights between human beings and these fabulous giant monsters, to a first-hand report of a personal encounter with one of them.6 The more deeply we penetrate the world view of the Ojibwa the more apparent it is that ‘social relations’ between human beings (dnicindbek) and other-than-human ‘persons’ are of cardinal significance. These relations are correlative with their more comprehensive categorization of ‘persons.’ Recognition must be given to the culturally constituted meaning of ‘social’ and ‘social relations’ if we are to understand the nature of the Ojibwa world and the living entities in it.7

Linguistic categories and cognitive orientation
Any discussion of ‘persons’ in the world view of the Ojibwa must take cognizance of the well known fact that the grammatical structure of the language of these people, like all their Algonkian relatives, formally expresses a distinction between ‘animate’ and ‘inanimate’ nouns. These particular labels, of course, were imposed upon Algonkian languages by Europeans;8 it appeared to outsiders that the Algonkian differentiation of objects approximated the animate-inanimate dichotomy of Western thought. Superficially this seems to be the case. Yet a closer examination indicates that, as in the gender categories of other languages, the distinction in some cases appears to be arbitrary, if not extremely puzzling, from the standpoint of common sense or in a naturalistic frame of reference. Thus substantives for some, but not all - trees, sun-moon (gizis), thunder, stones, and objects of material culture like kettle and pipe - are classified as ‘animate.’
If we wish to understand the cognitive orientation of the Ojibwa, there is an ethno-linguistic problem to be considered: What is the meaning of animate in Ojibwa thinking? Are such generic properties of objects as responsiveness to outer stimulation - sentience, mobility, self-movement, or even reproduction - primary characteristics attributed to all objects of the animate class irrespective of their categories as physical objects in our thinking? Is there evidence to substantiate such properties of objects independent of their formal linguistic classification? It must not be forgotten that no Ojibwa is consciously aware of, or can abstractly articulate the animate-inanimate category of his language, despite the fact that this dichotomy is implicit in his speech. Consequently, the grammatical distinction as such does not emerge as a subject for reflective thought or bear the kind of relation to individual thinking that would be present if there were some formulated dogma about the generic properties of these two classes of objects.
Commenting on the analogous grammatical categories of the Central Algonkian languages with reference to linguistic and nonlinguistic orders of meaning, Greenberg writes: ‘Since all persons and animals are in Class I (animate), we have at least one ethnoseme, but most of the other meanings can be defined only by a linguiseme.’ In Greenberg’s opinion, ‘unless the actual behavior of Algonquian speakers shows some mode of conduct common to all these instances such that, given this information, we could predict the membership of Class I, we must resort to purely linguistic characterization.’9
In the case of the Ojibwa, I believe that when evidence from beliefs, attitudes, conduct, and linguistic characterization are all considered together the psychological basis for their unified cognitive outlook can be appreciated, even when there is a radical departure from the framework of our thinking. In certain instances, behavioral predictions can be made. Behavior, however, is a function of a complex set of factors - including actual experience. More important than the linguistic classification of objects is the kind of vital functions attributed to them in the belief system and the conditions under which these functions are observed or tested in experience. This accounts, I think, for the fact that what we view as material, inanimate objects - such as shells and stones - are placed in an ‘animate’ category along with ‘persons’ which have no physical existence in our world view. The shells, for example, called wigis on account of the manner in which they function in the Midewiwin, could not be linguistically categorized as ‘inanimate.’ ‘Thunder,’ as we shall see, is not only reified as an ‘animate’ entity, but has the attributes of a ‘person’ and may be referred to as such. An ‘inanimate’ categorization would be unthinkable from the Ojibwa point of view. When Greenberg refers to ‘persons’ as clearly members of the animate grammatical category he is, by implication, identifying person and human being. Since in the Ojibwa universe there are many kinds of reified person-objects which are other than human but have the same ontological status, these, of course, fall into the same ethnoseme as human beings and into the ‘animate’ linguistic class.
Since stones are grammatically animate, I once asked an old man: Are all the stones we see about us here alive? He reflected a long while and then replied, ‘No! But some are.’ This qualified answer made a lasting impression on me. And it is thoroughly consistent with other data that indicate that the Ojibwa are not animists in the sense that they dogmatically attribute living souls to inanimate objects such as stones. The hypothesis which suggests itself to me is that the allocation of stones to an animate grammatical category is part of a culturally constituted cognitive ‘set.’ It does not involve a consciously formulated theory about the nature of stones. It leaves a door open that our orientation on dogmatic grounds keeps shut tight. Whereas we should never expect a stone to manifest animate properties of any kind under any circumstances, the Ojibwa recognize, a priori, potentialities for animation in certain classes of objects under certain circumstances.10 The Ojibwa do not perceive stones, in general, as animate, any more than we do. The crucial test is experience. Is there any personal testimony available? In answer to this question we can say that it is asserted by informants that stones have been seen to move, that some stones manifest other animate properties, and, as we shall see, Flint is represented as a living personage in their mythology.
The old man to whom I addressed the general question about the animate character of stones was the same informant who told me that during a Midewiwin ceremony, when his father was the leader of it, he had seen a ‘big round stone move.’ He said his father got up and walked around the path once or twice. Coming back to his place he began to sing. The stone began to move ‘following the trail of the old man around the tent, rolling over and over, I saw it happen several times and others saw it also.’11 The animate behavior of a stone under these circumstances was considered to be a demonstration of magic power on the part of the Mide. It was not a voluntary act initiated by the stone considered as a living entity. Associated with the Midewiwin in the past there were other types of large boulders with animate properties. My friend Chief Berens had one of these, but it no longer possessed these attributes. It had contours that suggested eyes and mouth. When Yellow Legs, Chief Berens’s great-grandfather, was a leader of the Midewiwin he used to tap this stone with a new knife. It would then open its mouth, Yellow Legs would insert his fingers and take out a small leather sack with medicine in it. Mixing some of this medicine with water, he would pass the decoction around. A small sip was taken by those present.12
If, then, stones are not only grammatically animate, but, in particular cases, have been observed to manifest animate properties, such as movement in space and opening of a mouth, why should they not on occasion be conceived as possessing animate properties of a ‘higher’ order? The actualization of this possibility is illustrated by the following anecdote:
A white trader, digging in his potato patch, unearthed a large stone similar to the one just referred to. He sent for John Duck, an Indian who was the leader of the wdbano, a contemporary’ ceremony that is held in a structure something like that used for the Midewiwin. The trader called his attention to the stone, saying that it must belong to his pavilion. John Duck did not seem pleased at this. He bent down and spoke to the boulder in a low voice, inquiring whether it had ever been in his pavilion. According to John, the stone replied in the negative.
It is obvious that John Duck spontaneously structured the situation in terms that are intelligible within the context of Ojibwa language and culture. Speaking to a stone dramatizes the depth of the categorical difference in cognitive orientation between the Ojibwa and ourselves. I regret that my field notes contain no information about the use of direct verbal address in the other cases mentioned. But it may well have taken place. In the anecdote describing John Duck’s behavior, however, his use of speech as a mode of communication raises the animate status of the boulder to the level of social interaction common to human beings. Simply as a matter of observation we can say that the stone was treated as if it were a ‘person,’ not a ‘thing,’ without inferring that objects of this class are, for the Ojibwa, necessarily conceptualized as persons.
Further exploration might be made of the relations between Ojibwa thinking, observation, and behavior and their grammatical classification of objects but enough has been said, I hope, to indicate that not only animate properties but even ‘person’ attributes may be projected upon objects which to us clearly belong to a physical inanimate category.

The ‘persons’ of Ojibwa mythology
The Ojibwa distinguish two general types of traditional oral narratives. 1. ‘News or tidings’ (tdbdtcamowin), i.e., anecdotes, or stories, referring to events in the lives of human beings (anicindbek). In content, narratives of this class range from everyday occurrences, through more exceptional experiences, to those which verge on the legendary. (The anecdotes already referred to, although informal, may be said to belong to this general class.) 2. Myths (dtiso’kanak), i.e., sacred stories, which are not only traditional and formalized; their narration is seasonally restricted and is somewhat ritualized. The significant thing about these stories is that the characters in them are regarded as living entities who have existed from time immemorial. While there is genesis through birth and temporary or permanent form-shifting through transformation, there is no outright creation. Whether human or animal in form or name, the major characters in the myths behave like people, though many of their activities are depicted in a spatio-temporal framework of cosmic, rather than mundane, dimensions. There is ‘social interaction’ among them and between them and anicindbek.
A striking fact furnishes a direct linguistic cue to the attitude of the Ojibwa towards these personages. When they use the term dtiso’kanak, they are not referring to what I have called a ‘body of narratives.’ The term refers to what we would call the characters in these stories; to the Ojibwa they are living ‘persons’ of an other-than-human class. As William Jones said many years ago, ‘Myths are thought of as conscious beings, with powers of thought and action.’14 A synonym for this class of persons is ‘our grandfathers.’
The dtiso’kanak, or ‘our grandfathers,’ are never ‘talked about1 casually by the Ojibwa. But when the myths are narrated on long winter nights, the occasion is a kind of invocation: ‘Our grandfathers’ like it and often come to listen to what is being said. In ancient times one of these entities (Wisekedjak) is reputed to have said to the others: ‘We’ll try to make everything to suit the anicindbek as long as any of them exist, so that they will never forget us and will always talk about us.’
It is clear, therefore, that to the Ojibwa, their ‘talk’ about these entities, although expressed in formal narrative, is not about fictitious characters. On the contrary, what we call myth is accepted by them as a true account of events in the past lives of living ‘persons.’15 It is for this reason that narratives of this class are significant for an understanding of the manner in which their phenomenal field is culturally structured and cognitively apprehended. As David Bidney has pointed out, ‘The concept of “myth” is relative to one’s accepted beliefs and convictions, so that what is gospel truth for the believer is sheer “myth” and “fiction” for the non-believer or skeptic ... Myths and magical tales and practices are accepted precisely because pre-scientific folk do not consider them as merely “myths” or “magic”, since once the distinction between myth and science is consciously accepted, the acquired critical insight precludes the belief in and acceptance of magic and myth.’16 When taken at their face value, myths provide a reliable source of prime value for making inferences about Ojibwa world outlook. They offer basic data about unarticulated, unfor-malized, and unanalyzed concepts regarding which informants cannot be expected to generalize. From this point of view, myths are broadly analogous to the concrete material of the texts on which the linguist depends for his derivation, by analysis and abstraction, of the grammatical categories and principles of a language.
In formal definitions of myth (e.g., Concise Oxford Dictionary and Warren’s Dictionary of Psychology) the subject matter of such narrative often has been said to involve not only fictitious characters but ‘supernatural persons.’ This latter appellation, if applied to the Ojibwa characters, is completely misleading, if for no other reason than the fact that the concept of ‘supernatural’ presupposes a concept of the ‘natural.’ The latter is not present in Ojibwa thought. It is unfortunate that the natural-supernatural dichotomy has been so persistently invoked by many anthropologists in describing the outlook of peoples in cultures other than our own. Linguists learned long ago that it was impossible to write grammars of the languages of nonliterate peoples by using as a framework Indo-European speech forms. Lovejoy has pointed out that ‘The sacred word “nature” is probably the most equivocal in the vocabulary of the European peoples ... ‘17 and the natural-supernatural antithesis has had its own complex history in Western thought.18
To the Ojibwa, for example, gizis (day luminary, the sun) is not a natural object in our sense at all. Not only does their conception differ; the sun is a ‘person’ of the other-than-human class. But more important still is the absence of the notion of the ordered regularity in movement that is inherent in our scientific outlook. The Ojibwa entertain no reasonable certainty that, in accordance with natural law, the sun will ‘rise’ day after day. In fact, Tcakabec, a mythical personage, once set a snare in the trail of the sun and caught it. Darkness continued until a mouse was sent by human beings to release the sun and provide daylight again. And in another story (not a myth) it is recounted how two old men at dawn vied with each other in influencing the sun’s movements.
The first old man said to his companion: ‘It is about sunrise now and there is a clear sky. You tell the sun to rise at once.’ So the other old man said to the sun: ‘My grandfather, come up quickly/ As soon as he had said this the sun came up into the sky like a shot. ‘Now you try something,’ he said to his companion. ‘See if you can send it down/ So the other man said to the sun: ‘My grandfather, put your face down again/ When he said this the sun went down again. ‘I have more power than you,’ he said to the other old man, ‘The sun never goes down once it comes up/
We may infer that, to the Ojibwa, any regularity in the movements of the sun is of the same order as the habitual activities of human beings. There are certain expectations, of course, but, on occasion, there may be temporary deviations in behavior ‘caused’ by other persons. Above all, any concept of impersonal ‘natural’ forces is totally foreign to Ojibwa thought.
Since their cognitive orientation is culturally constituted and thus given a psychological ‘set,’ we cannot assume that objects, like the sun, are perceived as natural objects in our sense. If this were so, the anecdote about the old men could not be accepted as an actual event involving a case of ‘social interaction’ between human beings and an other-than-human person. Consequently, it would be an error to say that the Ojibwa ‘personify’ natural objects. This would imply that, at some point, the sun was first perceived as an inanimate, material thing. There is, of course, no evidence for this. The same conclusion applies over the whole area of their cognitive orientation towards the objects of their world.
The Four Winds and Flint, for instance, are quintuplets. They were born of a mother (unnamed) who, while given human characteristics, lived in the very distant past. As will be more apparent later, this character, like others in the myths, may have anthropomorphic characteristics without being conceived as a human being. In the context she, like the others, is an dtisd’kan. The Winds were born first, then Flint ‘jumped out,’ tearing her to pieces. This, of course, is a direct allusion to his inanimate, stony properties. Later he was penalized for his hurried exit. He fought with Misdbos (Great Hare) and pieces were chipped off his body and his size reduced. ‘Those pieces broken from your body may be of some use to human beings some day,’ Misdbos said to him. ‘But you will not be any larger so long as the earth shall last. You’ll never harm anyone again.’
Against the background of this ‘historic’ event, it would be strange indeed if flint were allocated to an inanimate grammatical category. There is a special term for each of the four winds that are differentiated, but no plural for ‘winds.’ They are all animate beings, whose ‘homes’ define the four directions.
The conceptual reification of Flint, the Winds and the Sun as other-than-human persons exemplifies a world view in which a natural-supernatural dichotomy has no place. And the representation of these beings as characters in ‘true’ stories reinforces their reality by means of a cultural device which at the same time depicts their vital roles in interaction with other persons as integral forces in the functioning of a unified cosmos.

Anthropomorphic traits and other-than-human persons
In action and motivations the characters in the myths are indistinguishable from human persons. In this respect, human and other-than-human persons may be set off, in life as well as in myth, from animate beings such as ordinary animals (awesiak, pi.) and objects belonging to the inanimate grammatical category. But, at the same time, it must be noted that ‘persons’ of the other-than-human class do not always present a human appearance in the myths. Consequently, we may ask: What constant attributes do unify the concept of ‘person’?, What is the essential meaningful core of the concept of person in Ojibwa thinking? It can be stated at once that anthropomorphic traits in outward appearance are not the crucial attributes.
It is true that some extremely prominent characters in the myths are given explicit human form. Wisekedjak and Tcakdbec are examples. Besides this they have distinctive characteristics of their own. The former has an exceptionally long penis and the latter is very small in size, yet extremely powerful. There are no equivalent female figures. By comparison, Flint and the Winds have human attributes by implication; they were born of a ‘woman’ as human beings are born; they speak, and so on. On the other hand, the High God of the Ojibwa, a very remote figure who does not appear in the mythology at all, but is spoken of as a ‘person,’ is not even given sexual characteristics. This is possible because there is no sex gender in Ojibwa speech. Consequently an animate being of the person category may function in their thinking without having explicitly sexual or other anthropomorphic characteristics. Entities ‘seen’ in dreams (pawdganak) are ‘persons’; whether they have anthropomorphic attributes or not is incidental. Other entities of the person category, whose anthropomorphic character is undefined or ambiguous, are what have been called the ‘masters’ or ‘owners’ of animals or plant species. Besides these, certain curing procedures and conjuring are said to have other-than-human personal entities as patrons.
If we now examine the cognitive orientation of the Ojibwa towards the Thunder Birds it will become apparent why anthropomorphism is not a constant feature of the Ojibwa concept of ‘person.’ These beings likewise demonstrate the autonomous nature of Ojibwa reification. For we find here a creative synthesis of objective ‘naturalistic’ observation integrated with the subjectivity of dream experiences and traditional mythical narrative which, assuming the character of a living image, is neither the personification of a natural phenomenon nor an altogether animal-like or human-like being. Yet it is impossible to deny that, in the universe of the Ojibwa, Thunder Birds are ‘persons.’
My Ojibwa friends, I discovered, were as puzzled by the white man’s conception of thunder and lightning as natural phenomena as they were by the idea that the earth is round and not flat. I was pressed on more than one occasion to explain thunder and lightning, but I doubt whether my somewhat feeble efforts made much sense to them. Of one thing I am sure: My explanations left their own beliefs completely unshaken. This is not strange when we consider that, even in our naturalistic frame of reference, thunder and lightning as perceived do not exhibit the lifeless properties of inanimate objects. On the contrary, it has been said that thunder and lightning are among the natural phenomena which exhibit some of the properties of ‘person objects.’19 Underlying the Ojibwa view there may be a level of naive perceptual experience that should be taken into account. But their actual construct departs from this level in a most explicit direction: Why is an avian image central in their conception of a being whose manifestations are thunder and lightning? Among the Ojibwa with whom I worked, the linguistic stem for bird is the same as that for Thunder Bird (pinesi; pi. pinesitvak). Besides this, the avian characteristics of Thunder Birds are still more explicit. Conceptually they are grouped with the hawks, of which there are several natural species in their habitat.
What is particularly interesting is that the avian nature of the Thunder Birds does not rest solely on an arbitrary image. Phenomenally, thunder does exhibit ‘behavioral’ characteristics that are analogous to avian phenomena in this region.20 According to meteorological observations, the average number of days with thunder begins with one in April, increases to a total of five in midsummer (July) and then declines to one in October. And if a bird calendar is consulted, the facts show that species wintering in the south begin to appear in April and disappear for the most part not later than October, being, of course, a familiar sight during the summer months. The avian character of the Thunder Birds can be rationalized to some degree with reference to natural facts and their observation.
But the evidence for the existence of Thunder Birds does not rest only on the association of the occurrence of thunder with the migration of the summer birds projected into an avian image. When I visited the Ojibwa an Indian was living who, when a boy of twelve or so, saw pinesi with his own eyes. During a severe thunderstorm he ran out of his tent and there on the rocks lay a strange bird. He ran back to call his parents, but when they arrived the bird had disappeared. He was sure it was a Thunder Bird, but his elders were skeptical because it is almost unheard of to see pinesi in such a fashion. But the matter was clinched and the boy’s account accepted when a man who had dreamed of pinesi verified the boy’s description. It will be apparent later why a dream experience was decisive. It should be added at this point, however, that many Indians say they have seen the nests of the Thunder Birds; these are usually described as collections of large stones in the form of shallow bowls located in high and inaccessible parts of the country.
If we now turn to the myths, we find that one of them deals in considerable detail with Thunder Birds. Ten unmarried brothers live together. The oldest is called Miitcikiwis. A mysterious housekeeper cuts wood and builds a fire for them which they find burning when they return from a long day’s hunt, but she never appears in person. One day the youngest brother discovers and marries her. Matcikiwis is jealous and kills her. She would have revived if her husband had not broken a taboo she imposed. It turns out, however, that she is not actually a human being but a Thunder Bird and, thus, one of the dtiso’kanak and immortal. She flies away to the land above this earth inhabited by the Thunder Birds. Her husband, after many difficulties, follows her there. He finds himself brother-in-law to beings who are the ‘masters’ of the duck hawks, sparrow hawks, and other species of this category of birds he has known on earth. He cannot relish the food eaten, since what the Thunder Birds call ‘beaver’ are to him like the frogs and snakes on this earth (a genuinely naturalistic touch since the sparrow hawk, for example, feeds on batrachians and reptiles). He goes hunting gigantic snakes with his male Thunder Bird relatives. Snakes of this class also exist on this earth, and the Thunder Birds are their inveterate enemies. (When there is lightning and thunder this is the prey the Thunder Birds are after.) One day the great Thunder Bird says to his son-in-law, ‘I know you are getting lonely; you must want to see your people. I’ll let you go back to earth now. You have nine brothers at home and I have nine girls left. You can take them with you as wives for your brothers. I’ll be related to the people on earth now and I’ll be merciful towards them. I’ll not hurt any of them if I can possibly help it.’ So he tells his daughters to get ready. There is a big dance that night and the next morning the whole party starts off. When they come to the edge of Thunder Bird land the lad’s wife said to him, ‘Sit on my back. Hang on tight to my neck and keep your eyes shut.’ Then the thunder crashes and the young man knows that they are off through the air. Having reached this earth they make their way to the brothers’ camp. The Thunder Bird women, who have become transformed into human form, are enthusiastically received. There is another celebration and the nine brothers marry the nine sisters of their youngest brother’s wife.
This is the end of the myth but a few comments are necessary. It is obvious that the Thunder Birds are conceived to act like human beings. They hunt and talk and dance. But the analogy can be pressed further. Their social organization and kinship terminology are precisely the same as the Ojihwa. The marriage of a series of female siblings (classificatory or otherwise) to a series of male siblings often occurs among the Ojibwa themselves. This is, in fact, considered a kind of ideal pattern. In one case that I know of six blood brothers were married to a sorority of six sisters. There is a conceptual continuity, therefore, between the social life of human beings and that of the Thunder Birds which is independent of the avian form given to the latter. But we must infer from the myth that this avian form is not constant. Appearance cannot then be taken as a permanent and distinguishable trait of the Thunder Birds. They are capable of metamorphosis, hence, the human attributes with which they are endowed transcend a human outward form. Their conceptualization as ‘persons’ is not associated with a permanent human form any more than it is associated with a birdlike form. And the fact that they belong to the category of dtiso’kanak is no barrier to their descending to earth and mating with human beings. I was told of a woman who claimed that North Wind was the father of one of her children. My informant said he did not believe this; nevertheless, he thought it would have been accepted as a possibility in the past.21 We can only infer that in the universe of the Ojibwa the conception of ‘person’ as a living, functioning social being is not only one which transcends the notion of person in the naturalistic sense; it likewise transcends a human appearance as a constant attribute of this category of being.
The relevance of such a concept to actual behavior may be illustrated by one simple anecdote. An informant told me that many years before he was sitting in a tent one summer afternoon during a storm together with an old man and his wife. There was one clap of thunder after another. Suddenly the old man turned to his wife and asked, ‘Did you hear what was said?’ ‘No,’ she replied, i didn’t catch it.’ My informant, an acculturated Indian, told me he did not at first know what the old man and his wife referred to. It was, of course, the thunder. The old man thought that one of the Thunder Birds had said something to him. He was reacting to this sound in the same way as he would respond to a human being, whose words he did not understand. The casualness of the remark and even the trivial character of the anecdote demonstrate the psychological depth of the ‘social relations’ with other-than-human beings that becomes explicit in the behavior of the Ojibwa as a consequence of the cognitive ‘set’ induced by their culture.

Metamorphosis as an attribute of persons
The conceptualization in myth and belief of Thunder Birds as animate beings who, while maintaining their identity, may change their outward appearance and exhibit either an avian or a human form exemplifies an attribute of ‘persons’ which, although unarticulated abstractly, is basic in the cognitive orientation of the Ojibwa.
Metamorphosis occurs with considerable frequency in the myths where other-than-human persons change their form. Wisekedjak, whose primary characteristics are anthropomorphic, becomes transformed and flies with the geese in one story, assumes the form of a snake in another, and once turns himself into a stump. Men marry ‘animal’ wives who are not ‘really’ animals. And Mikittak, the Great Turtle, marries a human being. It is only by breaking a taboo that his wife discovers she is married to a being who is able to assume the form of a handsome young man.
The senselessness and ambiguities which may puzzle the outsider when reading these myths are resolved when it is understood that, to the Ojibwa, ‘persons’ of this class are capable of metamorphosis by their very nature. Outward appearance is only an incidental attribute of being. And the names by which some of these entities are commonly known, even if they identify the character as an ‘animal,’ do not imply unchangeableness in form.
Stith Thompson has pointed out that the possibility of transformation is a ‘commonplace assumption in folk tales everywhere. Many of such motifs are frankly fictitious, but a large number represent persistent beliefs and living tradition.’22 The case of the Ojibwa is in the latter category. The world of myth is not categorically distinct from the world as experienced by human beings in everyday life. In the latter, as well as the former, no sharp lines can be drawn dividing living beings of the animate class because metamorphosis is possible. In outward manifestation neither animal nor human characteristics define categorical differences in the core of being. And, even aside from metamorphosis, we find that in everyday life interaction with nonhuman entities of the animate class are only intelligible on the assumption that they possess some of the attributes of ‘persons.’
So far as animals are concerned, when bears were sought out in their dens in the spring they were addressed, asked to come out so that they could be killed, and an apology was offered to them. 3 The following encounter with a bear, related to me by a pagan Ojibwa named Birchstick, shows what happened in this case when an animal was treated as a person:
One spring when I was out hunting I went up a little creek where I knew suckers were spawning. Before I came to the rapids I saw fresh bear tracks. I walked along the edge of the creek and when I reached the rapids 1 saw a bear coming towards me, along the same trail I was following. I stepped behind a tree and when the animal was about thirty yards from me I fired. I missed and before I could reload the bear made straight for me. He seemed mad, so I never moved. I just waited there by the tree. As soon as he came close to me and rose up on his hind feet, I put the butt end of my gun against his heart and held him there. I remembered what my father used to tell me when I was a boy. He said that a bear always understands what you tell him. The bear began to bite the stock of the gun. He even put his paws upon it something like a man would do if he were going to shoot. Still holding him off as well as I could I said to the bear, if you want to live, go away,’ and he let go the gun and walked off. I didn’t bother the bear anymore.24
These instances suffice to demonstrate that, at the level of individual behavior, the interaction of the Ojibwa with certain kinds of plants and animals in everyday life is so structured culturally that individuals act as if they were dealing with ‘persons’ who both understand what is being said to them and have volitional capacities as well. From the standpoint of perceptual experience if we only take account of autochthonous factors in Birchstick’s encounter with the bear his behavior appears idiosyncratic and is not fully explained. On the other hand, if we invoke Ojibwa concepts of the nature of animate beings, his behavior becomes intelligible to us. We can understand the determining factors in his definition of the situation, and the functional relations between perception and conduct are meaningful. This Indian was not confronted with an animal with ‘objective’ ursine properties, but rather with an animate being who had ursine attributes and also ‘person attributes.’ These, we may infer, were perceived as an integral whole. I am sure, however, that in narrating this episode to another Indian, he would not have referred to what his father had told him about bears. That was for my benefit!
Since bears, then, are assumed to possess ‘person attributes,’ it is not surprising to find that there is a very old, widespread, and persistent belief that sorcerers may become transformed into bears in order better to pursue their nefarious work.25 Consequently some of the best documentation of the metamorphosis of human beings into animals comes from anecdotal material referring to cases of this sort. Even contemporary, acculturated Ojibwa have a term for this. They all know what a ‘bearwalk’ is, and Dorson’s recent collection of folk traditions, including those of the Indian populations of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bears the title Blood-stoppers and Bearwalkers. One of Dorson’s informants gave him this account of what he had seen:
When I was a kid, ‘bout seventeen, before they build the highway, there was just an old tote road from Bark River to Harris. There was three of us, one a couple years older, coming back from Bark River at nighttime. We saw a flash coming from behind us. The older fellow said, it’s a bearwalk, let’s get it. I’ll stand on the other side of the road (it was just a wagon rut) and you stand on this side.’ We stood there and waited. I saw it ‘bout fifty feet away from us - close as your car is now. It looked like a bear, but every time he breathe you could see a fire gust. My chum he fall over in a faint. That brave feller on the other side, he faint. When the bear walk, all the ground wave, like when you walk on soft mud or on moss. He was goin’ where he was goin’. 26
It is clear from this example, and others that might be added, that the Indian and his companions did not perceive an ordinary bear. But in another anecdote given by Dorson, which is not told in the first person, it is said that an Indian “grabbed hold of the bear and it wasn’t there - it was the old woman. She had buckskin bags all over her, tied on to her body, and she had a bearskin hide on.’271 also have been told that the ‘bearwalk’ is dressed up in a bearskin. All such statements, of course, imply a skeptical attitude towards metamorphosis. They are rationalizations advanced by individuals who are attempting to reconcile Ojibwa beliefs and observation with the disbelief encountered in their relations with the whites.
An old-fashioned informant of mine told me how he had once fallen sick, and, although he took various kinds of medicine these did him no good. Because of this, and for other reasons, he believed he had been bewitched by a certain man. Then he noticed that a bear kept coming to his camp almost every night after dark. This is most unusual because wild animals do not ordinarily come anywhere near a human habitation. Once the bear would have entered his wigwam if he had not been warned in a dream. His anxiety increased because he knew, of course, that sorcerers often transformed themselves into bears. So when the bear appeared one night he got up, went outdoors, and shouted to the animal that he knew what it was trying to do. He threatened retaliation in kind if the bear ever returned. The animal ran off and never came back.
In this case there are psychological parallels to Birchstick’s encounter with a bear. In both cases the bear is directly addressed as a person might be, and it is only through a knowledge of the cultural background that it is possible fully to understand the behavior of the individuals involved. In the present case, however, we can definitely say, that the ‘animal1 was perceived as a human being in the form of a bear; the Indian was threatening a human person with retaliation, not an animal. A question that I have discussed in Culture and Experience in connection with another ‘bearwalk’ anecdote, also arises in this case.28 Briefly, the Ojibwa believe that a human being consists of a vital part, or soul, which, under certain circumstances may become detached from the body, so that it is not necessary to assume that the body part, in all cases, literally undergoes transformation into an animal form. The body of the sorcerer may remain in his wigwam while his soul journeys elsewhere and appears to another person in the form of an animal.
This interpretation is supported by an account which an informant gave me of a visit his deceased grandchild had paid him. One day he was traveling in a canoe across a lake. He had put up an improvised mast and used a blanket for a sail. A little bird alighted on the mast. This was a most unusual thing for a bird to do. He was convinced that it was not a bird but his dead grandchild. The child, of course, had left her body behind in a grave, nevertheless she visited him in animal form.
Thus, both living and dead human beings may assume the form of animals. So far as appearance is concerned, there is no hard and fast line that can be drawn between an animal form and a human form because metamorphosis is possible. In perceptual experience what looks like a bear may sometimes be an animal and, on other occasions, a human being. What persists and gives continuity to being is the vital part, or soul. Dorson goes to the heart of the matter when he stresses the fact that the whole socialization process in Ojibwa culture ‘impresses the young with the concepts of transformation and of power’, malign or benevolent, human or demonic. These concepts underlie the entire Indian mythology, and make sensible the otherwise childish stories of culture heroes, animal husbands, friendly thunders, and malicious serpents. The bearwalk idea fits at once into this dream world - literally a dream world, for Ojibwa go to school in dreams.’29
We must conclude, 1 believe, that the capacity for metamorphosis is one of the features which links human beings with the other-than-human persons in their behavioral environment. It is one of the generic properties manifested by beings of the person class. But is it a ubiquitous capacity of all members of this class equally? I do not think so. Metamorphosis to the Ojibwa mind is an earmark of ‘power’. Within the category of persons there is a graduation of power. Other-than-human persons occupy the top rank in the power hierarchy of animate being. Human beings do not differ from them in kind, but in power. Hence, it is taken for granted that all the dtiso’kanak can assume a variety of forms. In the case of human beings, while the potentiality for metamorphosis exists and may even be experienced, any outward manifestation is inextricably associated with unusual power, for good or evil. And power of this degree can only be acquired by human beings through the help of other-than-human persons. Sorcerers can transform themselves only because they have acquired a high order of power from this source.
Powerful men, in the Ojibwa sense, are also those who can make inanimate objects behave as if they were animate. The Midi who made a stone roll over and over has been mentioned earlier. Other examples, such as the animation of a string of wooden beads, or animal skins, could be cited.30 Such individuals also have been observed to transform one object into another, such as charcoal into bullets and ashes into gunpowder, or a handful of goose feathers into birds or insects.31 In these manifestations, too, they are elevated to the same level of power as that displayed by other-than-human persons. We can, in fact, find comparable episodes in the myths.
The notion of animate being itself does not presume a capacity for manifesting the highest level of power any more than it implies person-attributes in every case. Power manifestations vary within the animate class of being as does the possession of person-attributes. A human being may possess little, if any, more power than a mole. No one would have been more surprised than Birchstick if the bear he faced had suddenly become human in form. On the other hand, the spiritual ‘masters’ of the various species of animals are inherently powerful and, quite generally, they possess the power of metamorphosis. These entities, like the atiso’kanak, are among the sources from which human beings may seek to enhance their own power. My Ojibwa friends often cautioned me against judging by appearances. A poor forlorn Indian dressed in rags might have great power; a smiling, amiable woman, or a pleasant old man, might be a sorcerer.32 You never can tell until a situation arises in which their power for good or ill becomes manifest. 1 have since concluded that the advice given me in a common sense fashion provides one of the major clues to a generalized attitude towards the objects of their behavioral environment -particularly people. It makes them cautious and suspicious in interpersonal relations of all kinds. The possibility of metamorphosis must be one of the determining factors in this attitude; it is a concrete manifestation of the deceptiveness of appearances. What looks like an animal, without great power, may be a transformed person with evil intent. Even in dream experiences, where a human being comes into direct contact with other-than-human persons, it is possible to be deceived. Caution is necessary in ‘social’ relations with all classes of persons.

Dreams, metamorphosis, and the self
The Ojibwa are a dream-conscious people. For an understanding of their cognitive orientation it is as necessary to appreciate their attitude towards dreams as it is to understand their attitude towards the characters in the myths. For them, there is an inner connection which is as integral to their outlook as it is foreign to ours.
The basic assumption which links the dtisd’kanak with dreams is this: Self-related experience of the most personal and vital kind includes what is seen, heard, and felt in dreams. Although there is no lack of discrimination between the experiences of the self when awake and when dreaming, both sets of experiences are equally self-related. Dream experiences function integrally with other recalled memory images in so far as these, too, enter the field of self-awareness. When we think autobiographically we only include events that happened to us when awake; the Ojibwa include remembered events that have occurred in dreams. And, far from being of subordinate importance, such experiences are for them often of more vital importance than the events of daily waking life. Why is this so? Because it is in dreams that the individual comes into direct communication with the atisoikanak, the powerful ‘persons’ of the other-than-human class.
In the long winter evenings, as I have said, the atiso’kanak are talked about; the past events in their lives are recalled again and again by anicindbek. When a conjuring performance occurs, the voices of some of the same beings are heard issuing from within the conjuring lodge. Here is actual perceptual experience of the ‘grandfathers’ during a waking state. In dreams, the same other-than-human persons are both ‘seen’ and ‘heard.’ They address human beings as ‘grand-child.’ These ‘dream visitors’ (i.e., pawdganak) interact with the dreamer much as human persons do. But, on account of the nature of these beings there are differences, too. It is in the context of this face-to-face personal interaction of the self with the ‘grandfathers’ (i.e., synonymously dtiso’kanak, pawdganak) that human beings receive important revelations that are the source of assistance to them in the daily round of life, and, besides this, of ‘blessings’ that enable them to exercise exceptional powers of various kinds.
But dream experiences are not ordinarily recounted save under special circumstances. There is a taboo against this, just as there is a taboo against myth narration except in the proper seasonal context. The consequence is that we know relatively little about the manifest content of dreams. All our data come from acculturated Ojibwa. We do know enough to say, however, that the Ojibwa recognize quite as much as we do that dream experiences are often qualitatively different from our waking experiences. This fact, moreover, is turned to positive account. Since their dream visitors are other-than-human ‘persons’ possessing great power, it is to be expected that the experiences of the self in interaction with them will differ from those with human beings in daily life. Besides this, another assumption must be taken into account: When a human being is asleep and dreaming his otcatcdkwin (vital part, soul), which is the core of the self, may become detached from the body (miyo). Viewed by another human being, a person’s body may be easily located and observed in space. But his vital part may be somewhere else. Thus, the self has greater mobility in space and even in time while sleeping. This is another illustration of the deceptiveness of appearances. The body of a sorcerer may be within sight in a wigwam, while ‘he’ may be bearwalking. Yet the space in which the self is mobile is continuous with the earthly and cosmic space of waking life. A dream of one of my informants documents this specifically. After having a dream in which he met some (mythical) anthropomorphic beings (memengweciwak) who live in rocky escarpments and are famous for their medicine, he told me that he had later identified precisely the rocky place he had visited and entered in his dream. Thus the behavioral environment of the self is all of a piece. This is why experiences undergone when awake or asleep can be interpreted as experiences of self. Memory images, as recalled, become integrated with a sense of self-continuity in time and space.
Metamorphosis may be experienced by the self in dreams. One example will suffice to illustrate this. The dreamer in this case had been paddled out to an island by his father to undergo his puberty fast. For several nights he dreamed of an anthropomorphic figure. Finally, this being said, ‘Grandchild, I think you are strong enough now to go with me.’ Then the pawdgan began dancing and as he danced he turned into what looked like a golden eagle. (This being must be understood as the ‘master’ of this species.) Glancing down at his own body as he sat there on a rock, the boy noticed it was covered with feathers. The ‘eagle’ spread its wings and flew off to the south. The boy then spread his wings and followed.
Here we find the instability of outward form in both human and other-than-human persons succinctly dramatized. Individuals of both categories undergo metamorphosis. In later life the boy will recall how he first saw the ‘master’ of the golden eagles in his anthropomorphic guise, followed by his transformation into avian form; at the same time he will recall his own metamorphosis into a bird. But this experience, considered in context, does not imply that subsequently the boy can transform himself into a golden eagle at will. He might or might not be sufficiently ‘blessed.’ The dream itself does not inform us about this.
This example, besides showing how dream experiences may reinforce the belief in metamorphosis, illustrates an additional point: the pawdganak, whenever ‘seen,’ are always experienced as appearing in specific form. They have a ‘bodily’ aspect, whether human-like, animal-like, or ambiguous. But this is not their most persistent, during and vital attribute any more than in the case of human beings. We must conclude that all animate beings of the person class are unified conceptually in Ojibwa thinking because they have a similar structure - an inner vital part that is enduring and an outward form which can change. Vital personal attributes such as sentience, volition, memory, speech are not dependent upon outward appearance but upon the inner vital essence of being. If this be true, human beings and other-than-human persons are alike in another way. The human self does not die; it continues its existence in another place, after the body is buried in the grave. In this way dnicindbek are as immortal as atiso’kanak. This may be why we find human beings associated with the latter in the myths where it is sometimes difficult for an outsider to distinguish between them.
Thus the world of personal relations in which the Ojibwa live is a world in which vital social relations transcend those which are maintained with human beings. Their culturally constituted cognitive orientation prepares the individual for life in this world and for a life after death. The self-image that he acquires makes intelligible the nature of other selves. Speaking as an Ojibwa, one might say: all other ‘persons’ - human or other than human - are structured the same as I am. There is a vital part which is enduring and an outward appearance that may be transformed under certain conditions. All other ‘persons,’ too, have such attributes as self- awareness and understanding. I can talk with them. Like myself, they have personal identity, autonomy, and volition. I cannot always predict exactly how they will act, although most of the time their behavior meets my expectations. In relation to myself, other ‘persons’ vary in power. Many of them have more power than I have, but some have less. They may be friendly and help me when I need them but, at the same time, I have to be prepared for hostile acts, too. I must be cautious in my relations with other ‘persons’ because appearances may be deceptive.

The psychological unity of the Ojibwa world
Although not formally abstracted and articulated philosophically, the nature of ‘persons’ is the focal point of Ojibwa ontology and the key to the psychological unity and dynamics of their world outlook. This aspect of their metaphysics of being permeates the content of their cognitive processes: perceiving, remembering, imagining, conceiving, judging, and reasoning. Nor can the motivation of much of their conduct be thoroughly understood without taking into account the relation of their central values and goals to the awareness they have of the existence of other-than-human, as well as human, persons in their world. ‘Persons,’ in fact, are so inextricably associated with notions of causality that, in order to understand their appraisal of events and the kind of behavior demanded in situations as they define them, we are confronted over and over again with the rolls of ‘persons’ as loci of causality in the dynamics of their universe. For the Ojibwa make no cardinal use of any concept of impersonal forces as major determinants of events. In the context of my exposition the meaning of the term manitu, which has become so generally known, may be considered as a synonym for a person of the other-than-human class (‘grandfather,’ atiso’kan, pawagan). Among the Ojibwa I worked with it is now quite generally confined to the God of Christianity, when combined with an augmentative prefix (k’tci manitu). There is no evidence to suggest, however, that the term ever did connote an impersonal, magical, or supernatural force.”
In an essay on the ‘Religion of the North American Indians’ published over forty years ago, Radin asserted ‘that from an examination of the data customarily relied upon as proof and from individual data obtained, there is nothing to justify the postulation of a belief in a universal force in North America. Magical power as an “essence” existing apart and separate from a definite spirit, is, we believe, an unjustified assumption, an abstraction created by investigators.’34 This opinion, at the time, was advanced in opposition to the one expressed by those who, stimulated by the writings of R. R. Marett in particular, interpreted the term manitu among the Algonkians (W. Jones), orenda among the Iroquois (Hewitt) and wakanda among the Siouan peoples (Fletcher) as having reference to a belief in a magical force of some kind. But Radin pointed out that in his own field work among both the Winnebago and the Ojibwa the terms in question ‘always referred to definite spirits, not necessarily definite in shape. If at a vapor-bath the steam is regarded as wakanda or manitu, it is because it is a spirit transformed into steam for the time being; if an arrow is possessed of specific virtues, it is because a spirit has either transformed himself into the arrow or because he is temporarily dwelling in it; and finally, if tobacco is offered to a peculiarly-shaped object it is because either this object belongs to a spirit, or a spirit is residing in it.’ Manitu, he said, in addition to its substantive usage may have such connotations as ‘sacred,’ ‘strange,’ ‘remarkable’ or ‘powerful’ without ‘having the slightest suggestion of “inherent power”, but having the ordinary sense of these adjectives.’35
With respect to the Ojibwa conception of causality, all my own observations suggest that a culturally constituted psychological set operates which inevitably directs the reasoning of individuals towards an explanation of events in personalistic terms. Who did it, who is responsible, is always the crucial question to be answered. Personalistic explanation of past events is found in the myths. It was Wisekedjak who, through the exercise of his personal power, expanded the tiny bit of mud retrieved by Muskrat from the depths of the inundating waters of the great deluge into the inhabitable island-earth of Ojibwa cosmography. Personalistic explanation is central in theories of disease causation. Illness may be due to sorcery; the victim, in turn, may be ‘responsible’ because he has offended the sorcerer - even unwittingly. Besides this, I may be responsible for my own illness, even without the intervention of a sorcerer. I may have committed some wrongful act in the past, which is the ‘cause’ of my sickness. My child’s illness, too, may be the consequence of my past transgressions or those of my wife.36 The personalistic theory of causation even emerges today among acculturated Ojibwa. In 1940, when a severe forest fire broke out at the mouth of the Berens River, no Indian would believe that lightning or any impersonal or accidental determinants were involved. Somebody must have been responsible. The German spy theory soon became popular. ‘Evidence’ began to accumulate; strangers had been seen in the bush, and so on. The personalistic type of explanation satisfies the Ojibwa because it is rooted in a basic metaphysical assumption; its terms are ultimate and incapable of further analysis within the framework of their cognitive orientation and experience.
Since the dynamics of events in the Ojibwa universe find their most ready explanation in a personalistic theory of causation, the qualitative aspects of interpersonal relations become affectively charged with a characteristic sensitivity.3 The psychological importance of the range and depth of this sensitive area may be overlooked if the inclusiveness of the concept of ‘person’ and ‘social relations’ that is inherent in their outlook is not borne in mind. The reason for this becomes apparent when we consider the pragmatic relations between behavior, values, and the role of ‘persons’ in their world view.
The central goal of life for the Ojibwa is expressed by the term pimadaziwin, life in the fullest sense, life in the sense of longevity, health and freedom from misfortune. This goal cannot be achieved without the effective help and cooperation of both human and other-than-human ‘persons’, as well as by one’s own personal efforts. The help of other-than-human ‘grandfathers’ is particularly important for men. This is why all Ojibwa boys, in aboriginal days, were motivated to undergo the so-called ‘puberty fast’ or ‘dreaming’ experience. This was the means by which it was possible to enter into direct ‘social interaction’ with ‘persons’ of the other-than-human class for the first time. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. Every special aptitude, all a man’s subsequent successes and the explanation of many of his failures, hinged upon the help of the ‘guardian spirits’ he obtained at this time, rather than upon his own native endowments or the help of his fellow anicinabek. If a boy received ‘blessings’ during his puberty fast and, as a man, could call upon the help of other-than-human persons when he needed them he was well prepared for meeting the vicissitudes of life. Among other things, he could defend himself against the hostile actions of human persons which might threaten him and thus interfere with the achievement of pimadaziwin. The grandfather of one of my informants said to him: ‘you will have a long and good life if you dream well.’ The help of human beings, however, was also vital, especially the services of those who had acquired the kind of power which permitted them to exercise effective curative functions in cases of illness. At the same time there were moral responsibilities which had to be assumed by an individual if he strove for pimadaziwin. It was as essential to maintain approved standards of personal and social conduct as it was to obtain power from the ‘grandfathers’ because, in the nature of things, one’s own conduct, as well as that of other ‘persons,’ was always a potential threat to the achievement of pimadaziwin. Thus we find that the same values are implied throughout the entire range of ‘social interaction’ that characterizes the Ojibwa world; the same standards which apply to mutual obligations between human beings are likewise implied in the reciprocal relations between human and other-than-human ‘persons.’ In his relations with ‘the grandfathers’ the individual does not expect to receive a ‘blessing’ for nothing. It is not a free gift; on his part there are obligations to be met. There is a principle of reciprocity implied. There is a general taboo imposed upon the human being which forbids him to recount his dream experiences in full detail, except under certain circumstances. Specific taboos may likewise be imposed upon the suppliant. If these taboos are violated he will lose his power, can no longer count on the help of his ‘grandfathers.’
The same principle of mutual obligations applies in other spheres of life. The Ojibwa are hunters and food gatherers. Since the various species of animals on which they depend for a living are believed to be under the control of ‘masters’ or ‘owners’ who belong to the category of other-than-human persons, the hunter must always be careful to treat the animals he kills for food or fur in the proper manner. It may be necessary, for example, to throw their bones in the water or to perform a ritual in the case of bears. Otherwise, he will offend the ‘masters’ and be threatened with starvation because no animals will be made available to him. Cruelty to animals is likewise an offense that will provoke the same kind of retaliation. And, according to one anecdote, a man suffered illness because he tortured a fabulous windigo after killing him. A moral distinction is drawn between the kind of conduct demanded by the primary necessities of securing a livelihood, or defending oneself against aggression, and unnecessary acts of cruelty. The moral values implied document the consistency of the principle of mutual obligations which is inherent in all interactions with ‘persons’ throughout the Ojibwa world.
One of the prime values of Ojibwa culture is exemplified by the great stress laid upon sharing what one has with others. A balance, a sense of proportion must be maintained in all interpersonal relations and activities. Hoarding, or any manifestation of greed, is discountenanced. The central importance of this moral value in their world outlook is illustrated by the fact that other-than-human persons share their power with human beings. This is only a particular instance of the obligations which human beings feel towards one another. A man’s catch of fish or meat is distributed among his kin. Human grandfathers share the power acquired in their dreams from other-than-human persons with their classificatory grandchildren. An informant whose wife had borrowed his pipe for the morning asked to borrow one of mine while we worked together. When my friend Chief Berens once fell ill he could not explain it. Then he recalled that he had overlooked one man when he had passed around a bottle of whiskey. He believed this man was offended and had bewitched him. Since there was no objective evidence of this, it illustrates the extreme sensitivity of an individual to the principle of sharing, operating through feelings of guilt. I was once told about the puberty fast of a boy who was not satisfied with his initial ‘blessing.’ He demanded that he dream of all the leaves of all the trees in the world so that absolutely nothing would be hidden from him. This was considered greedy and, while the pawagan who appeared in his dream granted his desire, the boy was told that ‘as soon as the leaves start to fall you’ll get sick and when all the leaves drop to the ground that is the end of your life.’ And this is what happened.38 ‘Overfasting’ is as greedy as hoarding. It violates a basic moral value and is subject to a punitive sanction. The unity of the Ojibwa outlook is likewise apparent here.
The entire psychological field in which they live and act is not only unified through their conception of the nature and role of ‘persons’ in their universe, but by the sanctioned moral values which guide the relations of ‘persons.’ It is within this web of ‘social relations’ that the individual strives for pimadaziwin.

Reprinted from Culture in History, ed. Stanley Diamond. © I960 Columbia University Press. By permission of the publisher. The courtesy of the Stanford University Press is acknowledged for permission to use portions of a paper by the author which appeared in Person Perception, cd. R. Tagiuri and L. Peteullo.
1. A similar point is powerfully made by Saler (1977) and extended in most articles in a special issue of Religion edited by Kenneth Morrison: 22 (1992), pp. 201-69.
1. Redfield 1952, p. 30; cf. African Worlds.
2. Hallowcll 1955, p. 91. For a more extended discussion of the culturally constituted behavioral environment of man see ibid., pp. 86-9 and note 33. The term ‘self is not used as a synonym for ego in the psychoanalytic sense. See ibid., p. 80.
3. See Basilius 1952; Carroll in Whorf 1956; Hoijcr 1954; Fcuer 1953.
4. Hallowell 1955, chap. 5.
5. Bruno de Jesus-Marie 1952, p. xvii: ‘The studies which make up this book fall into two main groups, of which the first deals with the theological Satan. Here the analysis of exegesis, of philosophy, of theology, treat of the devil under his aspect of a personal being whose history -his fall, his desire for vengeance - can be written as such.’ One of the most startling characteristics of the devil ‘ ... is his agelessness’ (p. 4). He is immune to ‘injury, to pain, to sickness, to death ... Like God, and unlike man, he has no body. There are in him, then no parts to be dismembered, no possibilities of corruption and decay, no threat of a separation of parts that will result in death. He is incorruptible, immune to the vagaries, the pains, the limitations of the flesh, immortal’ (p. 5). ‘Angels have no bodies, yet they have appeared to men in physical form, have talked with them, journeyed the roads with them fulfilling all the pleasant tasks of companionship’ (p. 6).
6. Hallowell 1934b, pp. 7-9; 1936, pp. 1308-9; 1951, pp. 182-3; 1955, pp. 256-8.
7. Kelsen 1943, chapter 2, discusses the Social’ or ‘personalistic interpretation of nature’ which he considers the nucleus of what has been called animism.
8. In a prefatory note to Ojibwa Texts, Part I, Jones (1919) says (p. xiii) that “Being” or “creature” would be a general rendering of the animate while “thing” would express the inanimate.’ Cf. Schoolcraft’s (1834) pioneer analysis of the animate and inanimate categories in Ojibwa speech, pp. 171-2.
9. Greenberg 1954, pp. 15-16.
10. I believe that Jenness (1935) grossly overgeneralizes when he says (p. 21): ‘To the Ojibwa ... all objects have life ... ‘ If this were true, their inanimate grammatical category would indeed be puzzling.
Within the more sophisticated framework of modern biological thought, the Ojibwa attitude is not altogether naive. N.W. Pine (1937) points out (pp. 184-5) that the words ‘life’ and ‘living’ have been borrowed by science from lay usage and are no longer serviceable. ‘Life is not a thing, a philosophical entity: it is an attitude of mind towards what is being observed.’
11. Field notes. From this same Indian I obtained a smoothly rounded pebble, about two inches long and one and a half inches broad, which his father had given him. He told me that 1 had better keep it enclosed in a tin box or it might ‘go.’ Another man, Ketegas, gave me an account of the circumstances under which he obtained a stone with animate properties and of great medicinal value. This stone was egg shaped. It had some dark amorphous markings on it which he interpreted as representing his three children and himself. ‘You may not think this stone is alive,’ he said, ‘but it is. I can make it move.’ (He did not demonstrate this to me.) He went on to say that on two occasions he had loaned the stone to sick people to keep during the night. Both times he found it in his pocket in the morning. Ketegas kept it in a little leather case he had made for it.
12. Yellow Legs had obtained information about this remarkable stone in a dream. Its precise location was revealed to him. He sent two other Indians to get it. These men, following directions, found the stone on Birch Island, located in the middle of Lake Winnipeg, some thirty miles south of the mouth of the Berens River.
13. Cognate forms are found in Chamberlain’s (1906) compilation of Cree and Ojibwa ‘literary’ terms.
14. Jones, 1919, Part II, p. 574n.
15. The attitude manifested is by no means peculiar to the Ojibwa. Almost half a century ago Swanton (1910) remarked that ‘one of the most widespread errors, and one of those most unfortunate for folklore and comparative mythology, is the off-hand classification of myth with fiction. ...’ On the contrary, as he says, ‘It is safe to say that most of the myths found spread over considerable areas were regarded by the tribes among which they were collected as narratives of real occurrences.’
16. Bidney 1953, p. 166.
17. Lovejoy and Boas 1935, p. 12; Lovejoy 1948, p. 69.
18. See, e.g., Collingwood 1945, also the remarks in Randall 1944, pp. 355-6. With respect to the applicability of the natural-supernatural dichotomy to primitive cultures sec Van Der l.ccuw
1938, pp. 544-5; Kelsen 1943, p. 44; Bidney 1953, p. 166.
19. Krech and Crutchfield 1948 write (p. 10): ‘clouds and storms and winds are excellent examples of objects in the psychological field that carry the perceived properties of mobility, capriciousness, causation, power of threat and reward.’
20. Cf. Hallowell 1934a.
21. Actually, this was probably a rationalization of mother-son incest. But the woman never was punished by sickness, nor did she confess. Since the violation of the incest prohibition is reputed to be followed by dire consequences, the absence of both may have operated to support the possibility of her claim when considered in the context of the Ojibwa world view.
22. Thompson 1946, p. 258.
23. Hallowell 1926.
24. Hallowell 1934a, p. 397.
25. Sorcerers may assume rhe form of other animals as well. Peter Jones, a converted Ojibwa, who became famous as a preacher and author says that ‘they can turn themselves into bears, wolves, foxes, owls, bats, and snakes ... Several of our people have informed me that they have seen and heard witches in the shape of these animals, especially the bear and the fox. They say that when a witch in the shape of a bear is being chased all at once she will run around a tree or hill, so as to be lost sight of for a time by her pursuers, and then, instead of seeing a bear they behold an old woman walking quietly along or digging up roots, and looking as innocent as a lamb’ (Jones 1861, pp. 145-6).
26. Dorson 1952. p. 30.
27. Ibid., p. 29. This rationalization dates back over a century. John Tanner, an Indianized white man who was captured as a boy in the late eighteenth century and lived with the Ottawa and Ojibwa many years, refers to it. So does Peter Jones.
28. Hallowell 1955, pp. 176-7.
29. Dorson 1952, p. 31.
30. Hoffman 1891, pp. 205-6.
31. Unpublished field notes.
32. See Hallowell 1955, chapter 15.
33. Cf. Skinner 1915. p. 261. Cooper (1933, p. 75) writes: ‘The Manitu was clearly personal in the minds of my informants, and not identified with impersonal supernatural force. In fact, nowhere among the Albany River Otchipwe, among the Eastern Cree, or among the Montagnais have I been able thus far to find the word Manitu used to denote such force in connection with the Supreme Being belief, with conjuring, or with any orher phase of magico-religious culture. Manitu, so far as I can discover, always denotes a supernatural personal being ... The word Manitu is, my informants say, not used to denote magical or conjuring power among the coastal Cree, nor so I was told in 1927, among the Fort Hops Otchipwe of the upper Albany River.’
34. Radin 1914a, p. 350.
35. Ibid., pp. 349-50.
36. ‘Because a person does bad things, chat is where sickness starts,’ is the way one of my informants phrased it. For a fuller discussion of the relations between unsanctioned sexual behavior and disease, see Hallowell 1955, pp. 294-5, 303-4. For case material, see Hallowell 1939.
37. Cf. Hallowell 1955, p. 305.
38. Radin (1927, p. 177), points out that “throughout the area inhabited by the woodland tribes of Canada and the United States, overfasting entails death.’ Jones (Part II, pp. 307-11) gives two cases of overfasting. In one of them the bones of the boy were later found by his father.

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