Who, and what are the medicine-men (or medicine-women), of the American Indians? What powers do they possess in time of peace or war? How is this power obtained, how renewed, how exercised? What is the character of the remedies employed? Are they pharmaceutical, as we employ the term, or are they the superstitious efforts of empirics and charlatans, seeking to deceive and to misguide by pretended consultations with spiritual powers and by reliance upon mysterious and occult influences?
Such a discussion will be attempted in this book, which will be restricted to a description of the personality of the medicine-men, the regalia worn, and the powers possessed and claimed. To go farther, and enter into a treatment of the religious ideas, the superstitions, omens, and prayers of these spiritual leaders, would be to open a road without end.