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29 The fame and influence of Henry Rupert, the shaman most often publicly associated with Cave Rock, cross cultural boundaries. He is the only Washoe doctor to be the subject of a published ethnology. The resonance of his healing abilities became a primary consideration when the Forest Service was making a final determination at Cave Rock.1 When Rupert was a young man, a dream revealed that water would be his primary source of power. Only Washoe doctors who had a relationship with water and water beings could use Cave Rock. The intrusion of Euro-American sightseers and fishermen at the site, later compounded by automobile traffic passing through the tunnels, altered what had once been a solitary activity. Rupert adapted to these changes and continued to use the cave throughout his lifetime, although he never publicly discussed his association with it. Anthropologist James Downs, who visited Rupert in the late 1950s, claimed that Rupert “did not deny his shamanistic practices but was less than willing to discuss them in detail.” Rupert spoke little of his healing prowess in general, explaining: “I am not allowed to brag about my work and tell people what I can do.” He said he did not use his power for “money-making or riches”; he used it exclusively “for helping people.” He concluded, “You don’t advertise this kind of work.”2 Rupert’s reluctance to divulge elements of his healing practices has not obscured his role as an innovator. He developed a cosmology and healing methods grounded in both Washoe and Western traditions, building a cultural bridge between his own indigenous healing practices and the Euro-American world. During his lifetime Rupert’s power as a curer spread beyond the small Washoe communities of the eastern Sierra, and he healed a substantial number of non-Native patients. People across the Sierra sought Rupert out when physicians or other healers had f o u r The Innovator 30 cave rock   failed. The farmers, businesspeople, and even a white Protestant minister whom he restored to health affirmed the efficacy of Rupert’s power. Rupert grew up with his mother, Susie John, in a small Washoe community . His father, Pete Duncan, left the family when Rupert was two or three years old. Susie John worked as a domestic servant for a nonWashoe family in Genoa, Nevada, the state’s first non-Native town. Because of its year-round water supply, hot springs, and rich hunting grounds, this area of the eastern Sierra had long been used by the Pawaltis, or valley-dwellers. Mormon colonists established a western supply post at Genoa in 1851 that became known as Mormon Station. By the time of Rupert’s birth in 1885, outsiders had appropriated nearly all Washoe lands, including the Genoa region. The men of Rupert’s community worked as ranch hands, and the women, like his mother, were servants for white families. During his childhood Rupert often met a bear in his dreams. When he gazed directly at the bear, it disappeared and young Rupert’s body shot toward the moon. Bears, which held an especially powerful place in Washoe tradition, possessed supernatural powers. Rupert’s older brother-in-law, Charlie Rube, explained: “If you talk about bear to anyone , the ground communicates your intentions to bear or the bear reads your mind. He concentrates on what you’re thinking and knows. People among the Washoe can do the same thing, mostly doctors.” Rupert’s dreams held a peculiar significance even in his early childhood . In 1892, for example, seven-year-old Rupert dreamed of his mother. At the time Susie John was mourning the death of a relative. In his dream Rupert saw his mother walk onto thin ice. Sometime after the dream, Susie John attempted suicide by walking onto an iced-over slough near the Carson River.3 Young Rupert spent most of his social time with his extended family. Charlie Rube and Rupert’s uncle, Welewkushkush, played pivotal roles in his development. Although both men were referred to as doctors, Rube was actually an “antelope doctor” who engaged in hunting rather than healing. By the late nineteenth century very few animal doctors, also referred to as “charmers” or “bosses,” remained. Some possessed the ability to attract deer and antelope. An early American observer, J. W. Hudson, encountered a charmer named “Old Tom” who in a trance “lay between two fires, into which he had caused certain herbs to charm the deer to him.” Subsequent anthropologists...


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