Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Dakȟóta Story Of Transformation And Resurrection

The tree swallow, photo taken in North Dakota, July 2007. Why We Love Birds.
Dakȟóta Story: Transformation & Resurrection
The Return Of The Little Boy Man

By Ohíyesa (The Winner), Dr. Charles A. Eastman
GREAT PLAINS, N.D. & S.D. - The following story comes from Dr. Charles Eastman's "Wigwam Evenings: Sioux Folktales Retold." Minor edits include spellings of Dakȟóta words using the Lakȟóta Language Consortium's standard orthography.

He-Who-Was-First-Created, the Lonely One, now took the form of an ičápšiŋpšiŋčala, a swallow, and flew down from the high cliffs, skimming over the surface of water. Within a sheltered cove among the pines, the water birds were holding a feast. Some were singing, some dancing, and that great medicine-man Huŋtka, the Loon, was among them, blowing his sacred whistle.

The Lonely One-as-ičápšiŋpšiŋčala dipped down to the water’s edge and respectfully addressed Huŋtka, asking for some of the secrets of his medicine. Huŋtka was very kind. He taught him several mystery songs, and showed him how to treat the sick.

“Now,” said the Lonely One, “If you will permit me to take your form for a short time, I will go down to the deep and try to cure Uŋktéhi and his wife of their dreadful wounds.”


The common loon, Adventure Publications.

Huŋtka made no objection, so the Lonely One transformed himself into the form of Huŋtka, balanced himself upon the crest of a wave and gave his loudest call before he dove down into the blue water. There in the deep the water nations saw him as if he were sailing down from the sky. His path led now through a great forest of sea weeds, now upon the broad plains, and finally he came into a deep valley of the underworld, where he found everybody anxiously awaiting him. The Lonely One was met by Khéya, Turtle, who begged the Lonely One to make haste, for the chief and his wife were in great agony.

“Let all the people retire, for I must be alone in order to work a cure,” demanded the Lonely One-as-Huŋtka as he entered the típi of the mniwátu, the water monster.

All went away unwillingly, Khéya last of all. He told the others that he had heard the Huŋtka whisper as his hand touched the door flap, “Ah, my poor Misúŋkala! My poor Little Brother!” The door flap was made from the skin of the little Boy Man. Feeling suspicious, Khéya sent a little water snake to spy on the Huŋ’tká.

He-Who-Was-First-Created ignored the dreadful groans of Uŋktéhi and his wife, and at once took down the skin of his misúŋ, but as he did so, he saw the little water snake spying on him from behind the típi flap.

A smooth green snake.

He called the little water snake inside, and compelled him to tell where he should find the bones of Boy Man. The snake revealed the location, and as a reward, He-Who-Was-First-Created painted the little water snake green and declared that as the snake had served both sides, he should crawl upon his belly forever.

He-Who-Was-First-Created gathered together all the bones of his misúŋ and removed them with him to dry land. There he immediately built a fire and heated stones for the first Iníkağapi, Sweat Lodge Ceremony. He also picked pȟežíȟota, which is sage, and gathered water in a large shell.

He then wrapped the bones with the dry skin and built a low shelter of willow switches over the heated stones and bundle; he covered the lodge tightly with green boughs, then picked up his shell of water, and thrust his right arm through the cover and sprinkled water and sage upon the heated stones.

The frame of an iníthipi, sweatlodge.

The steam arose and filled the lodge, and with the steam there came a faint sigh.

He sprinkled water over the stones a second time and from within there came rustlings as if the bones were gathering themselves together.

He sprinkled water a third time, and this time he could hear singing as if from a distance. Immediately after the signing, the little Boy Man then spoke in his own voice, begging to be let out of the iníthipi, the sweat lodge.