De Smet's "A woman dreamt she was a man," 1841

The Jesuit Father de Smet's "Personal Observations Made during Many Thousand Miles of Travel" among the "Wild Tribes of the North American Indians," in 1841, discusses the Natives' beliefs in regard to dreams.

Among the Crows I saw a warrior who, in consequence of a dream, had put on women's clothing and subjected himself to all the labors and duties of that condition, so humiliating to an Indian. On the other hand there is a woman among the Snakes who once dreamed that she was a man and killed animals in the chase.

Upon waking, she assumed her husband's garments, took his gun and went out to test the virtue of her dream; she killed a deer. Since that time she has not left off man's costume; she goes on the hunts and on the war-path; by some fearless actions she has obtained the title of "brave" and the privilege of admittance to the council of the chiefs. Nothing less than another dream could make her return to her gown.[1]


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 302-303.

  1. Pierre-Jean de Smet, Life, Letters and Travels of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, ed. Hiram M. Chittenden and Alfred T. Richardson, 4 vols. (N.Y.: Francis P. Harper, 1905), vol. 3, p. 1017-18. Duflot de Mofras's Travels on the Pacific Coast, ... first published in 1844, says of the East Coast tribes: "Vices found among the Indians are of a kind that usually are found only in the most corrupt circles. Every tribe has its joyas, men who dress like women, live with them, share in their work, and enjoy certain privileges, in return for participating in the most infamous debaucheries. These degenerates are the object of universal contempt, and are not allowed to carry weapons" (trans. and ed. Marguerite Eyer Wilbur [Santa Ana, Cal.: Fine Arts, 1937], p. 192-93; note omitted).