Friday, March 14, 2014

Origin Of The Father Of The Human Race

User "Chuck" at Paleoplanet constructed a birch bark típi in 2011. Interior shot of the smoke hole by Chuck. Check out his birch bark típi.
The Little Boy Man
Origin Of The Father Of The Human Race
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.

At the beginning of things, He-Who-Was-First-Created found himself living alone. Uŋčí Makȟá, Grandmother Earth, was here before him, clothed in green grass and thick forests, and populated with the animal nations. At that time, all these nations spoke one language, and the Lonely One was heralded by them everywhere as he roamed over the world, both upon dry land and in the depths of the sea.

One day, when he returned to his típi from a long wandering, he felt a pain in his left foot, and lo! A splinter in the great toe! Drawing out the splinter, he tossed it upward through the smoke-hole of the lodge. He could hear it roll and rattle down over the birch bark covering, and in the instant that it touched the ground, there arose the cry of a new-born child!

He-Who-Was-First-Created at once came forth and took up the infant, who was the Boy Man, the father of the human race here upon the earth.

Now the little Boy Man grew and flourished, and was perfectly happy under the wise guidance of his Čhiyé, Elder Brother, and friend. Although he had neither até nor iná (father nor mother), and only the animals for playmates, it is said that no child born of human parents has ever led so free and happy a life as he. In those days, there was peace between the animals and the Boy Man. Sometimes they challenged him to friendly contests, whereupon He-Who-Was-First-Created taught his misúŋkala, little brother, how to outwit them by clever tricks and devices. This he was often able to do, but not always, for sometimes the animals by their greater strength finally overcame him. 


Three birch bark tipis in Meadow, ND.

One morning the Boy Man went out from his lodge as usual to the day’s occupations, but did not return at night nor for many nights afterward. He-Who-Was-First-Created mourned and wailed long for the lost one. At last he became angry, and set out to look for the bones of his misúŋ.

He traveled from east to west across the world, but found no trace of the one he sought, and all of the land creatures whom he questioned declared that they had not seen him pass by.

Next he followed the rivers, and the shores of the Great Lakes, and there one day he heard an old woman singing as she cut down a tree at the edge of the water. The traveler came closer to hear the words of the song; and lo! It was a song of the scalp dance, and in it she spoke the name of the lost Boy Man. 


He-Who-Was-First-Created now turned himself into a hoyázela, a kingfisher, and so approached and spoke with Čhápa Winúȟčala, Old Beaver Woman. From her he learned that his misúŋkala and been enticed into the Great Water and destroyed by the monster of the deep, Uŋktéhi. Thereupon he went down to the shore and changed himself into a wazí, a tall pine, overlooking the lake.

For many moons He-Who-Was-First-Created remained thus, until at last he beheld two huge forms rising up in the midst of the waves. The mniwátu, water monsters, glided gradually toward the shore and lay basking in the sun at his feet, rocking gently with the motion of the quiet water. It was Uŋktéhi and his mate.

“Husband!” exclaimed the wife of Uŋktéhi, “for ages this has been our resting place, and yet I have never seen this tree before!”

“Woman, the tree has always been there!” returned the mniwátu.

“But I am sure it was not here before,” she insisted.

Then Uŋktéhi wound his immense scaly tail about the giant pine and tried to pull it out by the roots. The water foamed and boiled with his struggles, but He-Who-Was-First-Created stood firm, and at last the mniwátu gave up the attempt.

“There,” he declared,” I told you it had always been there!” His wife appeared satisfied, and presently the gentle waves rocked them both to sleep. 



He-Who-Was-Created-First stabs the Uŋktéhi with his long spear. Image by Edwin Willard Deming.

Then He-Who-Was-First-Created returned to his own shape, and with his long spear he stabbed each of the mniwátu, so that with groans of pain they dove down to their homes at the bottom of the great lake, and the waters boiled above them, and the foam was red with their blood.