Monday, December 11, 2017


In the Ojibway language, Kitchi-Gami means Lake Superior.  Johann Georg Kohl (1808-1878) was a German travel writer, geographer, and ethnologist.  In 1855, he spent six months visiting trading posts and missions in Ojibway country near Kitchi-Gami, mostly at the Apostle Islands off the north coast of Wisconsin, and at the settlements at the base of Keweenaw Bay, in northern Michigan.

Kohl’s book, Kitchi-Gami, was published in 1860.  It presents a different perspective from John Tanner’s 1830 book, The Falcon.  Tanner was a white man, kidnapped as a boy, who spent 30 years among the Ojibway, had a hard life, and described his many struggles.  Kohl was a visitor from outer space who was fascinated by the Ojibway.  He interviewed many, learned a lot about their culture, and discussed numerous subjects not mentioned by Tanner.

Kohl was eager to record as much as possible about the Ojibway, because it looked like Native Americans were rapidly dying off, and would soon be gone.  At the same time, the brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm were working to preserve remnants of the traditional culture of Germany, because the rustic folks who still remembered bits of it were also dying off.

Both the Ojibway and wild Germans were cultures that inhabited vast ancient forests, sacred places of magic, mystery, hungry wolves, and mystical little people (fairies).  Kohl noted that the folktales of both had similar themes and lessons.  Ojibway birch bark wigwams were of comparable quality to the huts of poor peasants in Lithuania, Ireland, or Polish Jews.  Like Scandinavians, the Ojibway fished at night using torches.  Germany had witches or sorcerers who could cause others harm by curses, charms, or spells.  The Ojibway had Windigos, men or women possessed by evil spirits who were terribly common.

Kohl’s gift to us is a remembrance of the closing days of the wild frontier, when Ojibway country was relatively unmolested, except for its furbearing animals.  The St. Mary’s River was the eastern outlet for Kitchi-Gami.  Bears crossed it during seasonal migrations.  In 1811, the migration lasted all summer, and 6,000 bears were killed, as many as 100 per night.  Before Kohl arrived, the greedy fur mining industry in the region had peaked, sharply declined, and moved westward.

Near the St. Mary’s River was a settlement named Rivière au Désert, because it was a ghastly, hideous eyesore in the wilderness — scruffy patches of oats or barley planted amidst stumps.  “Nature is here, at the outset, a pleasing wild forest garden; but when civilized man breaks into it, his axe and his fire produce a desert of half-carbonized tree stumps and skeletons.”  French Canadians call these patches of cultivation “un désert.”

Kohl was fascinated by the spiritual life of the Ojibway.  In Germany, the black robes commonly taught that the world is a hellish nightmare of demons, wickedness, and abominations.  The Ojibway, on the other hand, loved their sacred land, and cared for it.  Their culture was not fixated on the soul’s path in the afterlife.  They had a vibrant spiritual connection to life in the here and now.

Unfortunately, the here and now was sharply different from the good old days.  Kohl chatted with an old woman whose name meant “dawn.”  He called her Aurora.  The blitzkrieg of civilization had pushed the Sioux out of their forest homeland, and westward onto the prairie.  Tribal warfare intensified.  People no longer felt safe.  Aurora had lost three brothers, and ten other close relatives.  She said that the Ojibway were far weaker since the Long-knives arrived.  They used to be healthier and stronger, able to go ten days without food and not complain.  Their traditional culture was withering.

He was amazed to learn about the Ojibway vision quests, which were part of their rites of passage into adulthood.  Nowhere in Europe did young boys or girls courageously “fast for days on behalf of a higher motive, retire to the most remote forests, defy all the claims of nature, and fix their minds so exclusively on celestial matters, that they fell into convulsions, and attained an increased power of perception, which they did not possess in ordinary life.”  Sometimes it took ten days of fasting to have important dreams.

In Germany, Christian preachers taught their flocks to give away their wealth, and live a life of unconditional love.  Native Americans were perplexed to observe that the teachings of the black robes often had no association with their behaviors.  The aliens seemed to be possessed with a frantic desire to seize and hoard as much wealth as possible.  They were arrogant, domineering, and impressively dishonest — the opposite of loving.

The Ojibway actually practiced what the Christians preached.  “As a universal rule, next to the liar, no one is so despised by the Indians as the narrow-hearted egotist and greedy miser.”  Voyageurs and traders regularly travelled through Indian country with valuable goods and full purses.  There were no police or soldiers in the wilderness, but it was very rare for a trader to be attacked for the sole purpose of robbery.  But the two big fur trading companies “often plundered each other’s posts, and employed the Indians for that purpose.”

Kohl was impressed by the charity of the Ojibway.  “There are no rich men among them.”  An Indian will not hesitate to share his last meal with a hungry stranger.  The principle is “that a man must first share with others and then think of himself.”  He was also impressed by their egalitarian society.  No man, not even a cripple, considered another Indian to be his superior.

Kohl was not a hunter-gatherer in Germany, and he was not raised in an egalitarian society.  He did not understand that hunting abilities varied greatly.  In The Art of Tracking, Louis Liebenberg noted that among the San hunters aged 15 to 38, “70 percent of all the kudu kills were made by only 17 percent of the hunters, while almost half the hunters made no kudu kills at all.”

The “communist” Ojibway annoyed him with their absolute commitment to generosity.  The poor hunter “is forced to give all his spoil away, industry is never rewarded, and the hard-working man toils for the lazy.  A man often has to support others, without complaining.  So, all are fed, and none ever get prosperous.”  The heathens were more Christian than the Christians.

Liebenberg wrote a lot about persistence hunting — running after game until they collapsed from exhaustion (a practice that led to our ancestors becoming bipedal).  Kohl noted that the Ojibway also did this.  Horses were not ideal for hunting in a forest.  Running down elk was easiest in the deep snows of winter, when the hunter travelled on snowshoes.  Sometimes bears were chased down.

One day, when Kohl was in the Apostle Islands, “A warlike maiden suddenly appeared, who boasted of having taken a Sioux scalp, and she was led in triumph from lodge to lodge.  I was told that a supernatural female had appeared to this girl, who was now nineteen, during the period of her great fasts and dreams of life, who prophesied to her that she would become the greatest runner of her tribe, and thus gain the mightiest warrior for husband.”

Women were healers, prophets, and enchanters.  “It may be easily supposed that these squaws, owing to their performing all the work of joiners, carpenters, and masons, have corned and blistered hands. In fact, their hands are much harder to the touch than those of the men; and, indeed, their entire muscular system is far more developed, and they are proportionately stronger in the arm, for the men do not do much to bring out the muscle.”

Raised in rigidly strict Germany, Kohl was amazed by how loving Ojibway parents were.  “Indians have an ape-like affection for their children.  Even fathers are very kind to their sons, and never treat them with severity.”  Europeans often exposed (abandoned) unwanted children, but the Ojibway never did.  But when the elderly could no longer keep up with the band, they were left behind.

In Kitchi-Gami country, there were numerous locations named Lac du Flambeau (Torch Lake).  In summer, when vast clouds of mosquitoes made life miserable, the deer waded into lakes and ponds, just keeping their heads above water.  Hunters in canoes quietly moved toward them from downwind, with birch bark torches burning.  The deer calmly stared at the light, and were easily killed.

So, dearest reader, there’s a sampler.  Kohl also described their wigwams, canoes, diet, food preservation, sugar making, fishing, clothing, revenge killing, warfare, spells and magic, medicine, vision quests, dreams, ceremonies, stories, reverence for copper, symbolic drawings on birch bark paper, and on and on.

Kohl, Johann Georg, Kitchi-Gami: Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway, 1860, Reprint, Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, 1985.

NOTE: Early editions of this book refer to the Ojibway as Ojibbeway.  These people are also known as the Chippewa and Anishinabe, in a variety of spellings.


Jan Lundberg said...

A wonderful story. Thank you for passing along important history.

What Is Sustainable said...

Thanks Jan!

roman catholic 4 dummies said...

Interesting. And because you have such an extensive research knowledge of alternative life styles . why not write a fictional story. that uses these traits?

What Is Sustainable said...

RC: I don't write fiction.

Voidisyinyang said...

Being a Minnesotan - I appreciated this greatly. I studied shamanism to finish my master's degree in radical ecology (University of MInnesota, 2000). So I fasted for 8 days on just half a glass of water the whole time. I did it from a Chinese spiritual yogi healer who trained at Shaolin and his "external qi" healing was corroborated by "randomized controlled" research led by a Mayo Clinic Dr. Ann Vincent. His assistant also initiated into the Ojibwe secret society shamanic training - Jim Nance and so this man can leave his body at will. He healed my mom while he talked to me on the phone and she was asleep upstairs. It was easier to healer her when her mind would not get in the way. I had read John Tanner's book and I was aware of the term "democratic shamanism" from an anthropologist based on the Ojibwe fasting vision training. I wonder if it was this same German writer. Thanks.

What Is Sustainable said...


<< I had read John Tanner's book and I was aware of the term "democratic shamanism" from an anthropologist based on the Ojibwe fasting vision training. I wonder if it was this same German writer. Thanks. >>

I have no idea. Maybe consult with the anthropologist.

Voidisyinyang said...

Have you seen this "Earthing" documentary "The Grounded"?

So John Tanner could not live in a white man's house! He had to move out back into Nature. I think he was too "grounded" to Earth energy.

What Is Sustainable said...

I’ll have time to look at The Grounded tomorrow.

The other possibility for Tanner was that white society considered him to be a despicable pariah. The white invasion of the Midwest was brutal, resulting in natives fighting hard to preserve the American way of life. People appearing to be Indians were intensely hated. If you follow the links at the end of my review of Tanner, there are some historical commentaries on him. I don’t think he was a warm and fuzzy lad by the end of his journey.

What Is Sustainable said...

Below are some links to my reviews of San books. I also like Turnbull’s book on Pygmies, The Forest People.

The Art of Tracking by Louis Liebenberg

The Origin of Science by Louis Liebenberg

The Harmless People by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

The Heart of the Hunter by Laurens van der Post

Nature Connection an intro to Jon Young

Voidisyinyang said...

Thanks! I read Tom Brown's books back in the 90s - and knew a University student who went to his school. And so what intrigued me - was the training to stay warm by relaxing - and you mention the "deer slapping" by standing still. I actually did this today when I went to cut wood. I use a hand saw. I didn't notice the deer until one ran away so I immediately froze. The three left also froze, staring back at me. So we hung out for a while. Anyway once I did this and sure enough the deer walked to me and got about 5 feet away. or maybe more like 15 feet. haha. But I trained with a man who initiated into the Ojibwe secret society and so he had to sit in Nature until he encountered his spirit animal. And so then he had deer come up to him as well but he was supposed to kill them I guess. He could not do it. Anyway he also traveled in Africa for 2 years studying shamanism but he did not go to the Bushmen.

I corresponded with Elizabeth Marshall Thomas about her San Bushmen books. I have read many books on the Bushmen - by anthropologists. You did not mention their trance dancing training yet this is the central focus of their traditional culture. Anyway you did mention they can communicate with telepathy. There is actually a female who trained in tracking as telepathy - she is on youtube with vids about her speaking with animals. The person I trained with also has done this - speaking with animals. Also we trained with a Chinese healer who trained at Shaolin - so he does this also - even he does healing of trees based on their aura.

So I would say - when you say the origins of science is from Bushmen tracking in your review - actually the science of the Bushmen is way more advanced than our current science. Quantum biology, for example, is a new discipline - i was promoting it back in 2006 but it was dismissed as woo-woo by Professor PZ Myers. haha. A lot of the "magic" of the Bushmen is explained by quantum biology. I have researched this and I trained in it to finish my master's degree at University of Minnesota in 2000.

So for example if a bird is killed the Bushmen wait to eat the bird until the next day. Why? So that the spirit of the bird does not tell the other birds that humans are killing the birds. Now actually this is explained based on quantum holographic consciousness. I know that ghosts are real since I did the training. haha. But it requires purification - no salt, no sugar, and what the Bushmen called Tshoma training.

So you mention how the Bushmen would go without sex for long times to keep population down. Yes but also this is for the spiritual training. Also the males need to build up their N/om energy to attract the animals they are tracking! This is explained in Megan Biesele's book, "Women Like Meat" - she is a Bushmen anthropologist. She supports the work of Dr. Bradford Keeney who has written many Bushmen books and interviews Bushmen healers on his youtube channel.

So anyway thanks for your reviews - and so another thing that I emailed Elizabeth Marshall Thomas about is her quotes - how there is no evidence of homosexuality in the Bushmen culture. This is also true for the Baka pygmy culture. So this is quite amazing since even Western science being "progressive" assumes that homosexuality is "natural." haha. Actually the whole Bushmen culture was based on the males training in "staying power" as celibacy and to increase the N/om energy - it is what is called Kundalini in India - but Jing in Chinese Daoist alchemy training. This stuff is very real - as I trained in it.

So Westerners have no idea about the truth of reality - which is pretty amazing. Oh yeah the man I mentioned at first - his name is Jim Nance and he healed my mom while he talked to me on the phone. She could barely walk - and the next day she had so much energy then she walked a quarter mile just cuz she wanted to. haha. is his website and we trained with thanks.

What Is Sustainable said...

I spent nine years on the Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan. A lot of “coldness” is in your head, having been conditioned to living in climate controlled compartments. I used to spend many hours wandering around old copper mines, gazing at rocks. My thinker would shut down, and the deer would know that I was not hunting, and was not dangerous. They would graze quite close. In standard contacts, the deer flee at the sight of a human — except in the winter, when they foraged in the cedar groves by the shore, and carloads of people would regularly bring them food.

I had a few brief but powerful meetings with Walter Bresette, from the Red Cliff reservation. It was good to meet someone who had a powerful spiritual connection to life. At his funeral, I experienced being in a functional Earth-centered community for the first time in my life. I talked a bit about Walt in my first book, What Is Sustainable.

I did a review of Lightning Bird, a biography of Adrian Boshier (1939-1978), an Englishman who arrived in southern Africa at the age of 16, who would venture into the bush alone, taking just a knife and a bag of salt, in search of old Africa. He slept in caves and dined on bats and lizards. He was better at bush craft than others of his generation — all whites, and most blacks. He could live in the wild for as long as he liked.

In the books I’ve read, I don’t recall hearing about the trance dancing, so the subject is not in my reviews. One day I did watch a few of the trance dancing videos. Yes, our society is highly deranged, being so severly disconnected from the family of life.

The Bushmen had a healthy form of science. It wasn’t about dominating and controlling reality to the highest possible degree — this is what our universities seem to be focused on. They hasten our journey to the cliff, so we can reap our just rewards.

I’ve seen several accounts of Native Americans commonly having men who acted like women. In The Falcon: “Some time in the course of this winter, there came to our lodge one of the sons of the celebrated Ojibbeway chief, called Wesh-kobug, (the sweet,) who lived at Leech Lake. This man was one of those who make themselves women, and are called women by the Indians. There are several of this sort among most, if not all the Indian tribes. They are commonly called A-go-kwa, a word which is expressive of their condition. This creature, called Ozaw-wen-dib, (the yellow head,) was now near fifty years old, and had lived with many husbands.”

It sounds like you’ve had a number of interesting experiences in your journey. There are so many who have come to the end of their trail without ever having lived at all. The oncoming collapse of civilization will sharply reduce the human herd. The survivors, if any, will have an opportunity realize the power and beauty of nature. Maybe some of them will have a healing homecoming. It is to them that I focus my work. There are other paths!

All the best!

Voidisyinyang said...

yes just today - the deer did not run when they saw me and so I froze again. And they tried pounding their hoofs to feel the echo back - this is what I've read - they sense the echo in the earth. But in the snow and ice they knew that was not going to work. So then they kept licking their noses. I was talking to them and I waved hi. haha. But I wondered why they were licking their faces - and so I looked it up. It is so "odor particles" stick to their nose more easily. haha.

Actually the main thing I remember Walt Bresette saying, when he gave a talk at UW-Madison - I worked as a student part-time for the UW-Greens in the early 90s - and so Walt Bresette said how the most important issue was going to be equal rights for homosexuality. I was surprised to hear him say this, as the overall focus of the talk was environmental issues, as we worked to stop the Exxon mine at Crandon, WI.

Yeah - and so an African-American man I studied with - he initiated into the Ojibwe secret society - that I mentioned before - anyway he also initiated with a Mayan healer, Martin Pretchel. I had read his book, "Secrets of the Talking Jaguar" on traditional Mayan shamanism. So the healer who befriended me, Jim Nance, he almost even married a Mayan lady - and he is part Native as well.

But anyway so my sister married a Mayan man - only he does not identify with his Mayan origins. Except that he was "changed" as a youth - in Central America - he was raped - and said was the worst thing that happened to him - over and over in the military he joined at a young age. Now at first I thought - well this is from the U.S. funding the war, etc. but then I researched it more. Amazingly there are academic books on Mayan pederasty as a culture - it is not the original Mayan culture. It is "Late Mayan civilization." But actually the Mayans got this pederasty culture from the Aztecs, as the Nathual - and sure enough the tribe he was part of, originated from the Nathual. So it is the Mayan God Chin that was introduced by the Aztecs. There is an academic debate about this - as one academic who studied this said - this is a terrible thing. These young men are victims and are turned into abusers when they get older.

So then I kept researching - and discovered this account of a medical doctor who discovered how the Nathual tribe still practiced pederasty and it was based on horse riding introduced by the Spanish - and so he compared it to "gender benders" as you call it - among horse riding of the Scythians. anyway I'll spare you the details.

Voidisyinyang said...

But the point is that - Elizabeth Marshall Thomas notes how the San Bushmen did not even know what homosexuality was - much less practice it. Also they did not have masturbation. Even more so - traditionally if the man wanted to get married - he moved in with the female's family and he had to provide meat for the female's family for 3 years - before the marriage was "consummated." So yes they did have very strict training - all males had to do this training.

There is a secret - I discovered this doing cross-cultural analysis to corroborate the psycho-physiology of the training. So even to talk about these issues is a problem - as I said the San Bushmen did not even KNOW what homosexuality was! haha. But then Western anthropologists try to project. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas was lucky to live with a non-contacted tribe in the 1950s - and I think it was mentioned how even their tire tracks were followed and that tribe was targeted for slave raiding by the Bantus. But - in contrast - later anthropologists claimed the Bushmen practiced homosexuality. But the tribes they studied were living amongst the Bantu and working for the Bantu who did practice homosexuality. Even still the San Bushmen never actually practiced male "penetration" or to put it crudely "cheek busting" as it's called in prison.

So for example in the Late Mayan civilization - the older male who targets the younger male is not considered to be homosexual - the same is true in prison. It is the victim who is made into the "bitch." And this is why the academic who studied Mayan pederasty was so pissed off - because he said then homosexuals were promoting this - as if it was not based on victims.

Voidisyinyang said...

So I do idealize the original human culture - the San Bushmen - and I see no problem in idealizing their culture for that is 90% of our modern biological history - from 100,000 years ago. For example the Eland Bull Dance, as Elizabeth Marshall Thomas notes, is the same from different tribes that have different dialects of San Bushmen - or Khoisan language. So this Eland Bull Dance is older than their diffusion of different dialects and also the Bushmen language is the most sophisticated language of any human culture. And so the original healers were females - and based on the lunar synchronization of females with the pineal gland.

Only really Dr. Bradford Keeney understands this training - as he also studied shamanism around the world - he was a professor in Minnesota but now he focuses on the Bushmen culture - he visits them once a year. So he is accepted as a master healer in their culture but he had a kundalini spiritual experience as a young college student. Anyway - Robert Sapolsky also studies this a bit - as he is a primatologist in Africa - going once a year to study baboons. But he promotes meditation and he notes that ejaculate spikes the stress cortisol hormone. So essentially the N/om energy of the San Bushmen is based on the vagus nerve - that converts dopamine to serotonin - instead of to cortisol.

In Daoist alchemy training - the females are "yang" internally - and so as with the San Bushmen - the original healers. Dr. Victor Grauer wrote a fascinating book, "Sounding the Depths" that, as a musicologist, exposes the very similar music structures of the Baka Pygmies and San Bushmen - and then Dr. Grauer traces the diffusion of the San Bushmen music around the world. It is quite amazing that early music cultures - traditional music still alive today - can be traced back to our original human culture.

And so there is actually a secret to music theory - I did my master's thesis on "sound-current nondualism" - and so I figured out how Taoist alchemy is based on music theory that is nonwestern. We assume this is "woo-woo" stuff but actually it is based on noncommutative math - the most sophisticated mathematics and also as I mentioned on quantum biology and quantum holography. So I did intensive meditation training to finish the master's degree - and then I read one scholarly book a day for 10 years - just to try to translate my experiences back into science. haha.

But my focus was also on sustainability. I did an International Relations undergrad degree with a new "environmental option" in 1994 - so a third of my courses were in economics, biology and ecology, and then political science. The idea was to integrate these three disciplines. But I discovered each discipline lied about the other disciplines in order to prop up their own lies. So I didn't get the best grades when I argued the "supply and demand model" was "incorrect" in my "environmental economics" course, etc. I worked for Citizens for a Better Environment, Greenpeace, UW-Greens, Clean Water Action and several other nonprofits - doing volunteer organizing, etc. civil disobedience, publishing op-eds, and lots of reading and analysis.

So I follow and agree with Guy McPherson's analysis - considering the methane bomb in the ESAS - that Dr. natalia Shakhova has discovered - along with Global Dimming. I think we have 5 years left of civilization. I bought land up north in Minnesota. I plan to live as you did for 9 years - only I have no house. I will be officially a "tent dwelling" resident on my own land. Which means it can not be my permanent residence. haha.