"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 LoveA Bashful Courtship
Collected by Marie L. McLaughlin, edited by Dakota Wind
STANDING ROCK, N.D. & S.D. - 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.”