Among various "mistaken correlations" are the notions:
· that inflation causes prosperity,
· that toads cause warts,
· that labor unions raise real wages,
· that snake dances bring rain.
In checking on snake dances, inquiry was made of the Reverend R. J. Rushdoony, who spent many years as a missionary among the American Indians. His response included the following "extraneous information."
I have had some experience with medicine men. In many respects, they were backward, superstitious, and irresponsible characters who hated progress. In other respects, they were shrewd, calculating psychologists who put our psychiatrists to shame with their diabolical knowledge of man’s nature and weaknesses.
An important point about the snake dance, and many similar ceremonies: We assume them to have been religious services. They were not. They were magical, prescientific attempts at controlling nature. The Indians had very little religion in our sense of the term, a concern with ultimate issues, and an attempt to order life and society in terms of ultimate truth. Rather, their concern was with health (hence the medicine man) and power, over nature and over men. A welfare order was thus their major interest. Some tribes, especially in the Southwest, were more or less communistic. Among those Plains Indians who were more nearly individualistic, the chief had the ascendency… until defeat and servile conditions made the medicine man, like Sitting Bull, able to seize power from the hands of the military leaders. It is a grimly ironic fact that we today remember Sitting Bull, and call him a "chief," which he was not, and forget the real leaders of the Sioux tribes.
I believe that an interesting and important point can be made by developing this facet of Indian life. Today, we find that historic Christianity is giving way to social gospel teachings (welfare economics, if you can call it economics), and to mental health programs as a substitute for religion. As an Indian told me in 1945, the white man today has "reservation fever."