The Miwok Shaman
The shaman, or medicine man or woman, held a number of roles in the tribe. The shaman was a spiritual leader; able to perform rituals and communicate with the spirit world. The shaman was a physician; charged with healing the members of the tribe. The shaman was also a pharmacist, with an extensive knowledge of plants and their affects on the body.
A shaman would many times experience manifestations of spiritual power at an early age either through dreams or visions. Although all people had spiritual energy, the shaman had it to a higher degree, and would train his or her power through extended prayer, meditation, fasting and exposure, or by using plants to create trances and communicate with the spirit world.
Because the Miwok-Maidu depended a great deal on ritual shamans played a central role in the tribe. The shaman was believed to have the power to predict the future and start the rains. The shaman was also charged with curing the ills of the mind and body, and would pray chant and use healing spells to extract the sickness from tribal members.