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The Supernatural Among the Omaha Tribe of Indians

To comprehend the ideas of a people concerning the preternatural and the manifestations of the supernatural among them, it is needful to know something of their beliefs relating to the origin and the future of mankind; their notions pertaining to the natural world and their religious ceremonies. A clearly defined cosmogony does not exist among the Omaha tribe of Indians. Myths tell of water animals being engaged in forming the earth, but how water was created, or how life began, is left in definite. The general belief of the Omaha Indians is, that in some way man has been developed from animals. How this came about no myth and no man give any explanation. No story exists where a man is born of an animal; yet, as the life of man depends upon the animal as food, so in some mysterious manner the two are bound together in the general continuity that pervades the universe. In the myth telling of the birth of woman a younger brother is made the medium; a strange thorn pierces his foot, he extracts it, and wraps it in coverings of skin. When the older brothers return home they are startled by hearing a crying, and upon examination of the bundle from which the sound proceeds, they find to their astonishment a baby in the place of the thorn. The infant rapidly becomes a woman; all the animals obey her call, and she enriches her brothers by her skill and industry. The myths seem to indicate a linking together of all forms of life throughout nature. The various animals are endowed with speech, and...

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