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A Piece of My Mind
September 3, 2008

One Hundred Thousand Cows

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2008;300(9):1005. doi:10.1001/jama.300.9.1005

Old Walleye was the witch doctor for the Umbuggy Dodos, a jungle tribe that lived at the foot of a snow-capped mountain. Young Slant was his apprentice. Although not wealthy, old Walleye never went hungry. There were always a few ears of corn, a sack of okra, and a cured ham in his hut. His fees were modest: four beads to hex a bad cold, two boar tusks to set a broken leg, and one elephant tusk to drain evil humors from the brain. The relative value scale there was simple and straightforward: ten beads to one boar tusk, ten boar tusks to one elephant tusk, and ten elephant tusks to one live cow. Cows being a symbol of wealth, old Walleye never had more than one cow and quite often none at all. Wealth or lack of same aside, he was held in high esteem by his tribe.