Fragrant Water Lilly in bloom, S.D., photo by National Park Service.
The Council Of The Flowers
Lowliest Flower Becomes Loveliest
As told by Mrs. Kick The Corn, 1915. (Note: Text has undergone some minor editing such as traditional Lakȟkóta names for the flowers.)
FORT YATES, N.D. - A long time ago all the Wanáȟča (Flowers) lived anywhere they happened to be. The Uŋžíŋžiŋtka (Prairie Rose), the Čhuŋwíyapehe Iyúwi (Wild Grape), the Waȟčázi (Sunflower), the Waȟpé Tȟó (Violet) and all the rest, lived side by side. They could not keep their families together. They were not pleased about this, so it was decided to hold a great council of the Wanáȟča Oyáte (Flower Nation) and divide the land among them, so that each could have their own places to live in.
So they all gathered together in one place and each made a speech and ate of the feast which was prepared. After several days of speech-making and celebration, it was decided the Uŋžíŋžiŋtka should grow on the prairie in the sunshine; the Čhuŋwíyapehe Iyúwi should live among the trees in the shade; the Waȟpé Tȟó should grow in the shade of the cool, moist forest places; the Waȟčázi should grow along the hot, dusty trail and all the other Wanáȟča and Čháŋ (Trees) should have his own place.
Then the council broke up and everybody started home. But a poor, ill-favored Wanáȟča came limping into camp just as the Wanáȟča Oyáte were going away. It was tired, hungry and almost dead. It had had so far to come to the council that it had not arrived in time to present its claim to any ground to live in.
They decided to hold another council just for this poor Wanáȟča. But there was no other place for it to have, as all the ground was gone. But Iŋktómi (Spider) spoke with wisdom and said that there was some ground which had not been taken. This should be the poor Wanáȟča’s home, and on account of it having come so far and being so tired, he would call upon the Iŋktómi Oyáte to make it the most lovely Wanáȟča on Makȟóče’s (Grandmother’s) blanket.
So everyone was satisfied and the council broke up again and the Wanáȟča Oyáte went to their new homes. The Waȟpé Tȟó went into the cool, shady places; the Waȟčázi joyfully went to the dusty trails; the Čhuŋwíyapehe Iyúwi started to climb the great trees; the Uŋžíŋžiŋtka found a warm spot under the sun out on the prairie; and all the rest found their new places.
The ill-favored, stinking, little Wanáȟča which had come last to the council, then went to its new home in the ground beneath the waters of the ponds and slowly-moving waters of the small creeks, and grew to be the most beautiful of all flowers and, with the most pleasing breathe.
It is now called Mniȟčáȟča (Water Lily).
Uŋžíŋžiŋtka: Prairie Rose
Čhuŋwíyapehe Iyúwi: Wild Grape
Waȟpé Tȟó: Violet
Oyáte: People or Nation
Iŋktómi: Spider or Trickster
Makȟóče: Grandmother Earth
Mniȟčáȟča: Water Lily