When Subarctic Native Americans became sick, lost a valuable object, or otherwise needed help, they hired a religious leader called a shaman to perform the Shaking Tent Ceremony.
After nightfall, the shaman entered a special round tent and sang and played the drum to call his helpers from the spirit-world. Suddenly, the tent began to shake back and forth wildly, and the voices of the spirit-helpers start speaking out.
To onlookers, the spectacle was fun and exciting. They could call out questions for the helpers, who would shout back answers. Sometimes, the spirit-voices would even tell jokes or pose riddles to entertain the crowd.
Some groups, such as the Innu, used the shoulder bones of animals to tell the future. After charring a bone in a fire, they studied the cracks in it. The cracks’ shapes and lengths were thought to contain messages about a person’s fate.