American Indians have a rich heritage of belief in powers beyond the five senses. This heritage of visions and prophecy is typified by a story told by Mathew King, a tradi-tionalist spokesman for the Lakota people. (“Don’t call us Sioux, that’s the White Man’s name for us.”) According to King, he once went up on a mountain and prayed to God for a cure for diabetes. He reported:
And while I was there, somebody said, “Turn
around!” So I turned around and there was the most
beautiful Indian woman I’d ever seen. She had long black hair and the most wonderful face. She was holding something out to me in her hand. It was those little berries of the cedar, the dark blue berries on cedar trees. She held them out but before I could reach out my hand she disappeared....Later on when I got diabetes, I forgot about the berries. They sent me to White Man’s doctors. They gave me pills. Every morning I had to take insulin. I spent a lot of time in the hospital.
Then I remembered White Buffalo Calf Woman and those little blue berries. I picked some, boiled them, strained the juice and drank it. It’s so bitter it took the sugar right out of my body. The doctors checked me and were amazed. They said the diabetes was gone. I didn’t have to take insulin anymore. They asked me how I did it, but I didn’t say. God gave us medicine to share with people, but if the White Man gets his hands on it he’ll charge you a great price and will let you die if you don’t have it. God’s medicine is free.