© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As It Was: Modern Doctor and Indian Shaman Work Together

The Klamath Reservation tribes were very proud of their kiuks, known by outsiders as Indian doctors or shamans.  One of the most respected was David Chocktoot, or Big Hearted Indian.

Chocktoot was the son of an Indian shaman and a mother from an influential Yahooskin family.  He had the ability to connect the worlds of Indian and Western medicine, and accompanied his reservation’s people when they visited American doctors and hospitals.

Chocktoot developed a strong bond with Andrew Albert Soule, an American doctor from California who received his medical degree from Willamette University in 1911.  He began his work in Oregon as a doctor for the Crater Lake highway, and then became the doctor at the Klamath Reservation until 1954.

Soule gained respect for Chocktoot and his tribal patients and their beliefs. Toward the end of Chocktoot’s life and career, he gave Soule the shaman regalia that Chocktoot had worn at healing ceremonies.  The shirt had glass beads, bone-pipe beads and eagle feathers. 

Chocktoot was also a tribal policeman, which brought him respect that helped make him an effective intercultural mediator.

Source:  Dobkins, Rebecca. “The Living Art of Oregon Tribal Regalia.”  Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol 110, No. 3, p. 432.

Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.