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, N.D. & S.D. - The 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.