Midewiwin Birchbark Scroll
Sequential counting on a birchbark scroll
The birchbark (wiigwaasabak) master scroll De-1 depicts the four lodges of the Midewiwin (Grand Medicine Society) in which the Ojibwe Native Americans conducted curing ceremonies. Sequences of dots appearing in the upper-left-hand corner of each lodge give the counting numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, which correspond to the principal shaman and his assistants. Various other sequences of dots, tally marks and diagonal T-shaped extensions depicted in the scroll represent other numerical aspects of Midewiwin ceremonies.
In addition to the sequences of 1, 2, 3, 4 dots in the upper-left corner of each lodge corresponding to the principal shaman and his assistants, the sequence 4, 9, 12, 21 of tally marks along the lower half of the processional path represents the Mide officials. Additionally, the sequence 2, 3, 4, 5 of dots in the central portion symbolized sacred fire and 1, 2, 3 or 4 sacred posts. Finally, the outer edges of the lodges contain T-shaped extensions that give the series 4, 6, 8, 10, representing the numbers of evil spirits trying to influence the candidate taking part in the curing ceremony.