Follow by Email

Photos by Tonweya Tokaheya

thefirstscout's Web Photos album on Photobucket

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bird Brings Spotted Black Horse To The People

Light and shadow fall on a horse made of light and shadow. A spotted black horse grazes on fresh spring grass along the Long Soldier Creek, near Fort Yates, N.D. Photo by Dakota Wind.
Little Prairie Bird Brings Prosperity
The Gift Of The Horse
By Ella Deloria
The Gift Of The Horse appears in Ella Deloria’s “Dakota Texts.” Deloria refers to this story as Ohúŋkakaŋ, as something that is regarded to be true, and that it happened to our people in comparatively recent times, perhaps in the lifetime of the aged narrator’s grandfather or great-grandfather. Ohúŋkakaŋ are only to be told after sunset. 

One winter the people lived without want, on the Powder River[1] where buffaloes were abundant, and everyone was happy; and then, now that spring was here, about the time of the Sore Eyes Moon[2] (March), the cry went forth from the council-tipi[3] that the people were to move about, visiting other parts. So everyone broke camp, and soon they were gone.

Only one man and his wife were left behind. The reason was that they owned one horse, a mare that was not much good, and with it they could not hope to keep up to the pace of the tribe, and hence, they stayed behind.

They went from campsite to campsite, picking up what they found, of discarded bone[4], or bits of meat; and to the south, there was a lake, so they walked around it, gathering wood.

A spotted black horse along Long Soldier Creek, on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Photo by Dakota Wind.

Then the man ascended a hill, and sat down to rest and view the surrounding country, when he saw something come up over the horizon, in the spot where the sun rises, and advanced towards his direction. When it was near enough to be observed, it proved to be a beautiful black spotted horse which was coming to drink at the lake.

After drinking, he stopped under a tree, and stood rubbing against it, and then he lay down and rolled, and then he rose and went back the way he came. Then, a tiny grey bird[5] flew to the man and sitting down next to him said, “I’ll bring you a horse.[6] Go home and make a bridle and apply this medicine to it, and hang it, in the form of a noose, from that tree where he rubs himself. When his head becomes caught in the rope, chew this root, and apply it on yourself, and catch him. Rub some of this medicine on the mare which you already have.”

So the man went home and carried out the orders in detail.

Now the black spotted horse was again coming, so he caught him and blew some of the medicine on his nose, which made the horse stand still and permitted himself to be held. He stared at the man every second and yet he did not try to get away, so the man stroked him and took him home.

A brown-grey hermit thrush. Photo by Tom Grey.

Again the little grey bird talked to him, “The days of your hardship in the tribe are now over. By and by this black spotted horse is going to sire many horses; he will thus multiply himself, but on both sides.”[7] So he allowed the horse to stay with the mare he already owned, and the following summer, there was a colt, as beautiful as, and marked exactly like, the black spotted horse. It was a male. Another year and then a female colt was born. Again the following summer a male was born. So from that horse which the bird had brought him, the man owned three horses, exactly alike, possessing inconceivable speed.

In the tribe they became famous, and the man who owned them was now far different from that poor man he used to be; now his name was held high in the tribe.

During the night he used to picket these horses in front of his door; and one night, someone crept up to them, planning evil against them; but the first black spotted horse spoke, “Wake up, and come out. Someone approaches with the intention of causing our death.” He said this while neighing[8] and his master heard it and came outside.

This is what he [the master] said, “I do not keep these horses in order that you shall insult me through them. I keep them for the sole purpose of bringing good to the tribe, and in that spirit, I lend them to you to hunt meat for your children, as you know; you have used them freely in war and, as a result, have achieved glory. These horses are here to serve. Yet when I tied them for the night and then came in to rest, someone sneaked up on them causing them to run home. You see then it is useless to anything  to them secretly.”

A spotted black horse grazes in an open area between thick brush. Photo by Dakota Wind.

That man understood the speech of the horses, they say. Then the first horse spoke this way; so his master announced it, “In order that you in this tribe might be fortunate in all things, I and my young have multiplied; and from that, you have benefited in the past; yet now, because an evil thing has entered the tribe, this source of good shall stop. You must go back to your former state when things were hard for you, all because that one who tried to kill us has by his act brought it upon the entire tribe.”

In that way he spoke, so his owner told the people. The horses now lost their power to run as of old, and no more colts were born, until at last that entire breed became extinct. In that way, this tribe which was so fortunate, took a backward step to their former state of hardships. That man who owned them and permitted the tribe to rely on them was named Táya Máni U (He always Walks Guardedly, as in free of pitfalls).

He was pitied and caused to have good fortune himself; had he so wished, he might have enjoyed it all alone; but that was not what he wanted. He caused all the tribe to share in it; and then, regretful fact, one, through jealousy perhaps, brought ill fortune on them all.

Keúŋkeyapi. (They Said.)

[1] Čȟaȟlí Wakpá translates as “Charcoal River” or “Gun Powder River.”

[2] Ištáwičhayazaŋ Wí translates as, “Sore Eyes Moon.” Deloria says: “In that part of the country, the sun shining very brightly while the snow is yet on the ground causes snowblindness. March is given its name for this reason.”

[3] Thípiyókhiheya translates as “Council Tipi.”

[4] Discarded bone, if still green, can be pounded and boiled, and the grease that rises to the top is skimmed off to be used later in pemmican, and other rich dishes.

[5] Waǧíyoǧi, the Hermit Thrush is possibly what Deloria mentions. She says: “A bird resembling the common prairie blackbird, and which the same habits of staying around buffaloes and cows, but with a grey instead of a black coat.”

[6] According to Deloria, the bird “uses the un-contracted term for horse, šúŋkawakȟáŋ, mysterious dog. In songs, and formal speech and religious language of the old days, this form was always used when the horse was spoken of with the respect due it.

[7] Deloria wrote, “…the black horse was destined to sire a breed through both a male and female line.”

[8] The Dakȟóta sometimes hear things in the utterances of animals. Once, a man heard a person wailing, far, far away; and stood listening intently, wondering who was dead, and what it was all about. He thought he understood the words, telling who was dead, when he had died, and the details of his death. Then he found that he was listening to a common fly, which, very near his ear, was trying to free itself. All the same, in due time, the message came that so and so had died, and that friend of the dead man had gone wailing, using the words he had heard. Old people used to say the wolves told the future, when they howled at night. Anyone, with or without supernatural power, can understand the meadowlark. Its song is not indicative of impending evil; only amusing, and a welcome note of spring. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Gift Of Horses Leads To Marriage

Horses in the River of Elk country (Little Missouri River country). The Lakhota call this river "Hehaka Tha Wakpa," as opposed to "Hehaka Wakpa," which is Elk River (Yellowstone River).
A Gift Of Horses Leads To Marriage
Standing Rock Legend
By Ella Deloria

Standing Rock Legend appears in Ella Deloria’s “Dakota Texts.” Deloria refers to this story as Ohúŋkakaŋ, as something that is regarded to be true, and that it happened to our people in comparatively recent times, perhaps in the lifetime of the aged narrator’s grandfather or great-grandfather. Ohúŋkakaŋ are only to be told after sunset. 

The rock that stands upright became so in the following manner.

In the early beginnings of the people, a certain young man wanted a beautiful girl for his wife. But she did not care for him, and so she wept continually over the matter. After a time, the young man becoming discouraged, got together practically all the horses there were, and offered them for the girl. The young girl’s male relatives (brothers and cousins), wished very much to own the horses, and they all joined together in urging her to accept the man.

So, because of deference to towards her male relatives, the girl at last declared her willingness to marry the man. So everyone was very happy. But some days, shortly before the date of the marriage, the girl disappeared; so they all looked for her but she was absolutely gone. Her relatives and all the riders in the tribe joined together in looking for her.

The mother of the girl was especially diligent in her search and often would be gone days at a time, during which she roamed weeping over the land.

One day when she was again walking about, when the sun was low, she looked towards the west and saw, outlined against the sunset, a small hill on top of which sat a woman, in the correct sitting posture for a woman.[1] The light in her eyes was so bright that it was difficult for her to see. Yet for all that, she knew at once that that woman was her daughter.

And, sitting beside her, was the little puppy also facing the same direction. The woman wept and stroked her daughter’s head and shoulders in affection, and then she invited her to go home with her. But when the girl tried to stand, she could not move; so her mother felt of her legs, and already they were turned into rock.

There the woman sat, holding her daughter in her arms, and wept continually, and felt of her body from time to time. Each time she found that more and more it was turning into stone. At last both the girl and her little pet were turned into rock.

Keúŋkeyapi.[2] They say.

Inyan Woslata, Standing Rock, as she stands today outside the agency headquarters in Fort Yates, North Dakota. 

Note: This happened a very long time ago, in fact before anyone’s memory. It was only recently, yesterday you might say, that the stone was brought into the agency and set up at the fort[3] and the government disbursing station took its name from the image, and became Standing Rock. Even today, anyone who goes there may see the stone.

Ella Deloria, Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman) was born in Yankton, S.D. on January 31, 1889. Her father was an Episcopal priest whose ministry brought him to Wakpala, S.D. on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, where Deloria came to call St. Elizabeth’s home. Deloria attended All Saints’ School in Sioux Falls, S.D. then Oberlin College in Ohio, and Columbia University in New York. Her career included stints at the YWCA in New York, Haskell Indian School in Kansas, and as the director of St. Elizabeth’s school in Wakpala, S.D. Deloria had a lifelong passion for her peoples’ heritage and tradition and published many works about the subject; she also left many unpublished works behind. She took her journey on February 12, 1971.

[1] Delora notes that the correct sitting posture is to sit with both legs flexed to the right. No woman ever sits cross-legged. Even little girls are corrected, if they do.
[2] Ohúŋkakaŋ stories that that are held to be true, and that are said to have happened to the D/Lakȟóta people in the times of the grandfathers or great-grandfathers, end with Keúŋkeyapi (They say), rather than with Heha’yela owi’hake (That is all).
[3] Fort Yates, North Dakota.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pointing Is Impolite And Can Cause Death

The Crazy Horse monument has taken some criticisms, one of which is that Crazy Horse is extending his finger and pointing, something which the traditional Lakhota never did. 
Pointing Is Impolite And Can Cause Death
The Hero Overcomes The Cold

By Ella Deloria

The Hero Overcomes The Cold appears in Ella Deloria’s “Dakota Texts.” Deloria refers to this story as “Ohu’kaka,” as a story that is intended to amuse and entertain, but not to be believed. These types of stories are only to be told after sunset. 

There was a great tribal camp, and in the centre lived a man with many children. Whenever the people had a killing, he would go there with his children, and the people would leave their meat and run away in fear. And his children would take it all home. This practice had continued so long that the entire tribe was now starving. But even the important men of the camp feared to object, so the tribe was in a sad state.

Now, there was a little orphan boy who with his grandmother lived in an old smoke-tanned tipi, back of the circle [at the edge of the camp]. He said, “Grandmother, go to the tipi within the circle where that man lives and say, ‘My grandchild is hungry and bids me come here.’”

So the old woman answered, “What! Why, that’s out of the question, grandchild! Even the finest people get no results when they appeal to him for food. What am I, that he should not kick me out!”

There was another hunt and a great killing; and the boy said, “Well, then, grandmother, I shall go to him myself!”

The old woman did not place any hope in him, evidently, for she laughed and said, “Really?”[1] But he went to the butchering ground, and there he saw the mean man and his children frightening away the people. 

"Sioux Tipi" by Karl Bodmer.

But the boy stood his ground, so the tyrant frowned on him and said, “Get out of here!”

The boy replied, “Do you think that you alone can cause destruction of so large a tribe?”

So the people said, “Look! He-who-lives-with-his-grandmother is standing his ground!”

But the mean man said, “Keep still and get away. If you don’t, I shall point my finger at you!” (The people said whenever he pointed his finger at anyone, that person died at once.)

But the boy replied, “All right. Point your finger at me. And then I will point mine at you in turn. It’s no trick to point a finger!”

So the man pointed first one of his fingers and then another, at the boy, but he did not die. Then the boy said, “Now it is my turn to point my finger at you!” And the instant he pointed a finger, the man died on the spot.

On seeing this, his wife and his many children ran in fear in all directions. Then the people ran to the drying racks thus abandoned, and scrambled for meat.

“Now, grandmother, ask that a crier be sent around to tell the people to heat water.” This was done by all the people who used every single vessel available; so meantime the tyrant’s wife and children ran for refuge into all the holes in the ground that they could find. Vapor issued from the various holes where they hid.

The people ran with the hot water and poured it down all their hiding places, killing them where they lay. Only one hole remained untouched when the hot water ran out, just as they were going to pour it there; thus, that one child was not killed. And they say that is how it happens that we occasionally have cold weather.[2]

Heha’yela owi’hake.[3] That is all.

Ella Deloria, Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman) was born in Yankton, S.D. on January 31, 1889. Her father was an Episcopal priest whose ministry brought him to Wakpala, S.D. on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, where Deloria came to call St. Elizabeth’s home. Deloria attended All Saints’ School in Sioux Falls, S.D. then Oberlin College in Ohio, and Columbia University in New York. Her career included stints at the YWCA in New York, Haskell Indian School in Kansas, and as the director of St. Elizabeth’s school in Wakpala, S.D. Deloria had a lifelong passion for her peoples’ heritage and tradition and published many works about the subject; she also left many unpublished works behind. She took her journey on February 12, 1971.

[1] “Really?” is a rather flat translation of an idiomatic phrase, showing lack of confidence in another’s undertaking, or statement. According to Deloria’s introduction, the interjection that the Lakȟóta people use to express incredulity, and the phrase that the grandmother most likely would have uttered, was Išé’he’ȟuká’kȟahe lo/le (lo for male speakers; le for female speakers), which is used when someone is talking nonsense , bragging, or making wild promises.

[2] Deloria’s synopsis says, “The boy who lived with his grandmother defies the Cold Tyrant, and overcomes both him and his wife and children; all but one, who escapes by hiding in a hole made by a tent-pole. He it is that produces the cold we now have." This boy who survived is not to be confused with the giant of the north, Waziya, who brings the winter and great snows.

[3] According to Deloria, all Ohu’kaka stories end with this conventional phrase meaning, “That is all.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Tragic Love Of Flying Shadow Woman And Track Maker

"The Falls Of Saint Anthony" by Henry Lewis.
Love And Death Between Enemies
Flying Shadow Woman And Track Maker

Edited by Dakota Wind
The story of the love between the Dakȟóta warrior Track Maker and the young Anishinaabe woman Flying Shadow has appeared in print twice, once in Charles Skinner’s Myths And Legends Of Our Own Lands, 1896, and again in Terri Hardin’s Legends And Lore Of The American Indians, 1993. Both books are out of print. This story is retold here with edits. It has not been verified by living oral tradition, but it bears similarities (i.e tragic deaths of lovers, conflict) to living stories such as Painted Woods and Spirit Wood.

BDÓTE, M.N. - The Anishinaabe and Dakȟóta had come together at Bdóte (“Where Two Waters Converge*”) to cement friendships and celebrate. A young Anishinaabe, Flying Shadow Woman, was sad when the time came for the tribes to part, for a Dakȟóta man, Track Maker, had won her heart.

In those days, inter-tribal marriages were not unknown. If she married him and went to live with his people, it might well be possible that every Dakȟóta would be against her should the tribes wage war. War between the Anishinaabe and the Dakȟóta was closer than neither Flying Shadow Woman nor Track Maker anticipated.

The Anishinaabe left with feelings of good will. Flying Shadow Woman had received a token of love from Track Maker and kept it close.

"The Falls Of Saint Anthony" by George Catlin.

Two Anishinaabe warriors lingered behind their band, and for reasons of their own, killed a Dakȟóta man after this congenial gathering. News of the murder reached the Dakȟóta village which provoked an immediate retaliation, and a war party of 300 was swiftly formed. Track Maker counted himself first among the war party as it was his brother who was shot and killed, and though he loved Flying Shadow Woman, he could not remain behind. The war party descended upon the unsuspecting Anishinaabe who had made camp between Owámni (“Whirlpool,” aka St. Anthony Falls) and Wakpá Wakáŋ (“Spirit River,” aka Rum River).

The Anishinaabe camp was unaware of the murder of the Dakȟóta man. 

"Ojibwe Encampment" by Paul Kane.

The Dakȟóta fell upon them and exacted furious revenge. In the midst of the violence Track Maker beheld Flying Shadow Woman who rushed into his arms with a cry of relief, but serenity was denied her. Track Maker embraced her but for a moment until he bowed his head and fortified his will to annihilate her people for the murder of his brother. Track Maker abandoned Flying Shadow Woman to claim retribution. He never looked back. He did not kill her, but he refused to save her.

The Dakȟótas' thirst for vengeance was slaked only when the last Anishinaabe lay dead.

The war party took a hundred scalps that day, and upon their return celebrated their victory.

Track Maker returned with more scalps than any other warrior, and the Dakȟóta welcomed him home as a hero, but he kept a solemn distance from all, and refused to share in the celebration. The memory of Flying Shadow Woman’s face haunted him thereafter. He saw her in the river, in the leaves, in the clouds, and even in the faces of deer when he went hunting.

At last, one day, a war party was mustered. Track Maker was the first to join, and on the field of battle he was the first to engage the enemy by running directly into them. He laid his axe about the enemy until he fell, pierced by a several arrows.

He smiled as he died.

Though this is a very short story retold with edits, two people graciously offered guidance:

Lise Erdrich, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, lives and works in Wahpeton, ND, and has worked in American Indian health and education for over twenty years. She is the author of the children’s picture books Sacagawea, Bear Makes Rock Soup, and many other acclaimed works.

Dawí, Huhá Máza, is a lineal descendant of the Kap'óža Bdewákhaŋthuŋwaŋ Oyáte. A traditional bow and arrow maker, and Dakȟóta language student, Dawí lives in occupied Bde Óta Othúŋwe (aka Minneapolis).


* Where the Wakpá Mní Šóta (Smoking Water River, aka “Minnesota River”) converges with the Ȟaȟá Wakpá (Falling Water River, aka “Mississippi River”).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

She Lived And Died Two Times

It was the custom of the Plains Indian peoples to place their deceased loved ones upon scaffolds like this. 
She Lived And Died Two Times
The Resuscitation of The Only Daughter
Collected by Marie L. McLaughlin
Edited by Dakota Wind

The following story comes from Marie L. McLaughlin’s “Myths And Legends Of The Sioux.” The story of “The Resuscitation of The Only Daughter” is retold here with minor edits. 

There once lived an old couple who had only one daughter. She was a beautiful maiden and was much courted by the young men of the tribe but she preferred single life. She always had one answer to her courtiers’ romantic overtures to win her affection. “No.”

One day the maiden fell ill, and her illness grew worse with each passing day. All the Waphíye (Healers) were called in, but no one could heal her, and she died two weeks after taking ill. 

Relatives and friends wrapped their deceased loved one in robes, and later blankets, then raised them onto a burial scaffold. 

There was great mourning in the wičhóthi (camp). They wrapped her body in fine robes and blankets and took her far away from the wičhóthi, then they laid her upon a burial scaffold. After the funeral her parents conducted a Wíȟpeyapi (a Give-Away) in which they gave away all of their horses, fine robes, blankets, and all the belongings of the dead young woman. Then they cut their hair off close to their heads, and attired themselves in the poorest apparel they could secure.

A year later the friends and relatives of the old couple asked them set aside their mourning. “You have mourned long enough,” they would say. “Put aside your mourning and try and enjoy a few more pleasures of this life while you live. You are both growing old and can’t live very many more years, so make the best of your time.”

The old couple listened to their advice but would shake their heads and reply, “We have nothing to live for. Nothing would bring us pleasure since we have lost the light of our lives.”

So the old couple continued mourning the loss of their daughter. 

"Funeral Scaffold Of A Sioux Chief Near Fort Pierre," by Karl Bodmer, 

Two years had passed since the death of the beautiful young woman, when one evening a wóle wičháša (a hunter) and his wife passed by her burial scaffold. They were returning from a hunt and were heavily loaded down with game, and so could not travel very fast. Somewhat near the burial scaffold a small clear stream trickled forth from a spring, which caused the plants and grass to grow especially green and sweet.

Here Wóle Wičháša tethered his horses and established wičhóthi, though to make camp on one’s return is aglíthi. He set about helping his wife to erect the small thípi which they brought along for convenience of traveling.

When it became quite dark, Wóle Wičháša’s dogs wildly barked and growled. “Look and see what the dogs are barking at,” Wóle Wičháša said to his wife. She looked out through the lodge door, drew back and replied, “There is a figure of a woman advancing from the direction of the young woman’s scaffold.”

“It must be the dead young woman. Let her come, and don’t’ act as if you were afraid,” said Wóle Wičháša. They soon heard her approaching footsteps which ceased outside the door. Wóle Wičháša looked down and through the lodge door and saw a pair of small moccasins. He announced to their visitor, “Come in, whoever you are, and have something to eat.”

The film "Warm Bodies" explores the possibility of the undead returning to life through an act of love, but the story of "Resuscitation Of The Only Daughter" did it first.

At this invitation their visitor entered slowly and sat down by the door. The visitor’s head was covered; a fine robe was drawn tightly over her face. Wóle Wičháša’s wife dished up a fine supper, placed it before their visitor, and said, “Eat, my friend, you must be hungry.”

The visitor never moved, nor did she uncover to eat.

“Let us turn our backs towards the door and our visitor may eat,” Wóle Wičháša said. So his wife turned her back towards their visitor and cleaned some of their game. Wóle Wičháša filled his pipe, turned away and smoked in silence.

Finally the visitor pushed her empty dish back to the woman, who took it, washed it, and put it away.

The visitor remained at the door, not a sound came from her, and neither did she breathe. At last Wóle Wičháša said, “Are you the young woman that was placed upon that scaffold two years ago?”

She bowed her head in assent.

“Are you going to sleep here tonight?” asked Wóle Wičháša, “If you are, my wife will make a bed for you.”

The visitor shook her head in negation.

“Are you going to come again tomorrow night to us?”

She nodded affirmatively. 

Vermillion, or red ochre paint, can be acquired from a variety of sources such as red clay, or crushing hematite stone into a fine powder.

For three nights in succession she visited Wóle Wičháša’s camp. On the third night Wóle Wičháša noticed that she was breathing. He also saw one of her hands protruding from the robe. Her blackened skin stuck fast to the bones of her hand. On seeing this, Wóle Wičháša arose and retrieved his medicine bag which hung on a tripod in the lodge. He opened it and removed some roots, skunk oil, and vermillion, then mixed them all together.

Wóle Wičháša finished and offered, ““If you will let us rub your face and hands with this medicine it will put new life into your skin. It will put flesh on you and your complexion will return.” She assented and Wóle Wičháša rubbed medicine onto her hands and face. After he finished his application, she rose and returned to her scaffold. 

The next day Wóle Wičháša struck camp and moved towards the home wičhóthi. When night came, the dogs barked and growled in commotion. Wóle Wičháša’s wife looked out and saw the young woman approach.

The young woman entered their lodge and sat down. Wóle Wičháša noticed that the young woman did not keep her robe as tight over her face as on her first visit. When the wife gave her something to eat, the young woman reached out, took the dish which exposed her hands, which hey noticed were natural once more.

After she had finished her meal, Wóle Wičháša asked, “Did my medicines help you?”

She nodded affirmatively.

“Do you want my medicine applied over your entire body?”

She nodded again.

“I will make enough for you, then, I will go outside and let my wife rub it on you.”

A Santee Dakȟóta floral medicine bag. 

After making more of the medicine Wóle Wičháša removed himself and left his wife to care for the young woman. When his wife completed the task she called Wóle Wičháša to return. He entered, sat down, and said to the young woman, “Tomorrow we will reach the wičhóthi.. Do you want to go with us?”

She shook her head in negation.

“Will you come to our lodge tomorrow night after we have set up in the wičhóthi.?”

She nodded her head in assent.

“Then will you see your parents?”

She nodded once more, rose, and disappeared into the darkness.

Early the next morning they broke camp and traveled into the afternoon when they arrived at the wičhóthi. Wóle Wičháša’s wife immediately went to inform the old couple of what happened. At sunset the old couple came to the Wóle Wičháša’s tipi. They were invited in and were served a fine supper. 

George Catlin sketched a scene of a moving Lakȟóta camp. Catlin noted that horses and dogs alike were outfitted with travois, and the grand procession stretched for miles.

Soon after they had finished eating, the dogs barked and growled in commotion.

“She is returning now, so be brave and you will soon see your lost daughter,” Wóle Wičháša said. He had just finished speaking when she entered the lodge as natural as she was in life. Her parents met her with kisses and clung dearly to her.

They wanted her to return home with them, but she wanted to stay with Wóle Wičháša who had brought her back to life. So, she married him, and became his second wife. A short time after taking the young woman for his wife, Wóle Wičháša joined a war party and never returned. He was killed on the battlefield.

A year after her Wóle Wičháša’s death she remarried. Her second husband was killed in pursuit of some enemies who stole some of their horses. She married yet a third time and this husband also died on the battlefield.

She was still a beautiful woman at the time of her third husband’s death. She never again remarried, as the men feared her now. They remarked that she was holy, and that anyone who married her would be killed by the enemy.

She took to healing the sick and gained the reputation of being the most skilled healer among the people. She lived to a ripe old age and when she felt death approaching she had them take her to where she had rested once before. She crawled to the top of her burial scaffold, wrapped her blankets and robes about her, covered her face carefully, and fell into that sleep from which there is no more awakening.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Future Revealed In Pictogaphs

A panoramic view from atop a butte on Standing Rock overlooking Phalani Wakpa (Grand River). The pictographs that appear on the butte are said to change with each visit. 
The Future Revealed In Pictographs
The Mysterious Butte

Collected by Marie L. McLaughlin
Edited by Dakota Wind

The following story comes from Marie L. McLaughlin’s “Myths And Legends Of The Sioux.” This story of “The Mysterious Butte” is retold here with minor edits.

A young man was hunting and came to a steep hill. The east side of the hill suddenly dropped off to a very steep bank. He stood on this bank, and at the base he noticed a small opening. On going down to examine it more closely, he found it was large enough to admit a horse or buffalo. On either side of the door were figures of different animals engraved into the wall.

He entered the opening and there, scattered about on the floor, lay many bracelets, pipes and many other things of ornament, as though they had been offerings to some great spirit. He passed through this first room and on entering the second it was so dark that he could not see his hands before his face, so becoming scared, he hurriedly left the place, and returning home told what he had seen.

Upon hearing this the chief selected four of his most daring warriors to go with this young man and investigate and ascertain whether the young man was telling the truth or not. The five proceeded to the butte, and at the entrance the young man refused to go inside, as the figures on either side of the entrance had changed. 

"The Mysterious Butte," artist unknown. Pictograph accompanies the story, "The Mysterious Butte," in McLaughlin's "Myths And Legends Of The Sioux."

The four entered and seeing that all in the first chamber was as the young man had told, they went on to the next chamber and found it so dark that they could not see anything. They continued on, however, feeling their way along the walls. They finally found an entrance that was so narrow that they had to squeeze into it sideways. They felt their way around the walls and found another entrance, so low down that they had to crawl on their hands and knees to go through into the next chamber.

On entering the last chamber they found a very sweet smell coming from the opposite direction. Feeling around and crawling on their hands and knees, they discovered a hole in the floor leading downward. It was from this hole that the sweet smell wafted to them. They hurriedly held a council, and decided to go no further, but return to the camp and report what they had found.

On getting to the first chamber one of the young men said, “I am going to take these bracelets to show that we are telling the truth.”

“No,” said the other three, “This being the abode of some great spirit, you may have some accident befall you for taking what is not yours.”

“Ah! You fellows are like old women,” said the young man and took a fine bracelet and encircled his wrist with it.

When they reached the village they reported what they had seen. The young man exhibited the bracelet to prove that it was the truth they had told.

Shortly after this, these four young men were out setting traps for wolves. They raised one end of a heavy log and placed a stick under, which braced the log. A large piece of meat was place within five feet away of the log and covered with poles and willows which created a small space. Where the upright stick was placed, an opening was left, large enough to admit a wolf. The wolf, scenting the meat and unable to immediately get it through obstruction of poles and willows, would crowd into the hole and work his body forward in an attempt to get the meat, but would trip the brace and the trigger the log to fall, which would hold the wolf fast under its weight.

The young man with the bracelet placed his bait under the log when he somehow tripped the brace, causing the log to fall on his wrist on which he wore the bracelet. He could not release himself and called loud and long for assistance. His friends heard his call and came to his assistance. They lifted the log and the rescued young man’s discovered that his wrist was broken. “Now, they said, “you have been punished for taking the bracelet out of the chamber of the mysterious butte.”

Sometime after this a curious young man went to the butte and saw an engraving on the wall of a woman holding up the pole of a meat rack of which one side broke and collapsed from the weight of so much meat. Around this pictograph appeared many bison hooves, which indicated a large successful hunt.

A sun symbol appeared on my visit to the butte. A smaller stone upon the larger features pictography as well. 

He returned to the camp and reported what he had seen.

The next day an enormous herd of buffalo came near to his village and an adjacent village, and a great many were killed. The women butchered and dried the meat. One camp had butchered more than the other. In the camp with an abundance of meat there was a woman who hung meat upon a long tent pole which broke the pole broke in half. She was obliged to stand and hold the pole of drying meat, just as the young man saw on the mysterious butte.

Ever after that the Indians paid weekly visits to this butte, and there read the signs that governed their plans.

The tribe considered the mysterious butte to be their oracle.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Bashful Courtship: Offer To Draw Water Leads To Love

"A young man with the sloppy moccasins won the heart of the belle of the village," artist unknown. Pictograph accompanies the story "A Bashful Courtship," in McLaughlin's "Myths And Legends Of The Sioux."
Offer To Draw Water Leads To Love
A Bashful Courtship
Collected by Marie L. McLaughlin
Edited by Dakota Wind

The following story comes from Marie L. McLaughlin’s “Myths And Legends Of The Sioux.” This story of “A Bashful Courtship” is retold here with minor edits which include spellings of Lakȟóta words using the Lakȟóta Language Consortium's standard orthography.

A kȟoškálaka (young man) lived with his uŋčí (grandmother). He was a good hunter and wished to marry. He knew a wikȟóškalaka (young girl) who was a good moccasin maker, but she belonged to a great family. He wondered how he could win her.

One day, Wikȟóškalaka passed by the wakhéya (tipi or tent), where Kȟoškálaka dwelt, on her way to draw water from the river. Kȟoškálaka’s uŋčí was at work in the thipȟéstola (tipi). Uŋčí wore an old worn pair of haŋpíkčeka (moccasins). Kȟoškálaka sprang to his feet saying, “Quick, Uŋčí, let me have those old haŋpíkčeka!”

“My old haŋpíkčeka, what do you want of them?” Uŋčí cried out in astonishment.

“Quick! I can’t stop to explain,” answered Kȟoškálaka as he took the haŋpíkčeka from Uŋčí and immediately put them on. He threw a robe over his shoulders, slipped through the door, hastened to the watering place, and met Wikȟóškalaka just as she arrived with her bucket.

“Let me fill your bucket for you,” said Kȟoškálaka.

“Oh, no, I can do it.”

“Oh, let me. I can go in the mud. You surely don’t want to get your haŋpíkčeka dirty,” replied Kȟoškálaka as he took her bucket and stepped into the mud. He took exaggerated care in his steps so that 
Wikȟóškalaka could see his poor haŋpíkčeka. She giggled at the sight of them on his feet.

“My, what old haŋpíkčeka you wear!” Wikȟóškalaka announced.

“Yes. I have nobody to make me a new pair,” replied Kȟoškálaka.

“Why don’t you have Uŋčí make you a new pair?”

“She’s old and blind. And she can’t make them any longer. That’s why I want you!”

“Oh, you’re fooling me! You're not speaking the truth.”

“Yes, I am. If you don’t believe, come with me now!”

Wikȟóškalaka looked down, somewhat abashedly. So did Kȟoškálaka.

At last, Kȟoškálaka quietly asked, “Well, which is it? Shall I take up your bucket, or will you go with me?”

She answered still more softly, “I guess I’ll go with you.”

The girl’s tȟuŋwíŋ[i] (aunt) came down to the river, wondering what kept her niece so long. In the mud she found two pairs of tracks close together.

At the edge of the water stood an empty bucket.

[i] The term “tȟuŋwíŋ” applies to father’s sisters. Mother’s sisters were addressed the same as mother, “iná.” It is possible that the young woman’s aunt, a sister of her father’s, came down to the river. It is also possible that her mother’s sister came down, and when the story was translated, the term “aunt” was used instead of “mother.”