Medicine Man, in popular writings on the North American Indians, an Indian who treats illness or is reputed to have supernatural powers. His role varies in different tribes, ranging from magician, fortune-teller, or herb doctor to combined physician-and-priest. Some tribes have medicine women. The term medicine man was used by scholars until the 20th century, when it was gradually replaced by more specific terms, such as priest, shaman, herb doctor, or magician.