Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eclipse Is Time For Prayer And Reflection

A modern take on a historic pictograph representing the solar eclipse of Aug. 7, 1869. Metallic pencils (gold and silver) on black composition paper. 
Cloud On Fire
Eclipse Is Time For Prayer
By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) – The Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta call the solar eclipse Maȟpíya Yapȟéta, or “Cloud On Fire.” Other Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Seven Council Fires; Great Sioux Nation) tribes have different names for the eclipse, many calling it Wí’kte (Sun Killed). The New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd Edition, has a few entries for eclipse as well: Aháŋzi (Shadow) and Aóhanziya (To Cast Shadow Upon).

On August 7, 1869, North America experienced a solar eclipse. One group of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta, under the leadership of Matȟó Núŋpa (Two Bear), camped outside Psíŋ Oyáŋke (lit. “Rice Place;” Fort Rice) for the occasion. Throughout the summer, the officers and soldiers told and retold the Húŋkpapȟa and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna about the impending occlution. Dr. Washington Matthews, the post surgeon at Fort Rice, remarked about the palpable anticipation the month before the eclipse[1].

The day of the eclipse, however, found the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna not filled with excitement or anticipation, rather, they were filled with a quiet reverence. Some loaded their pipes for prayer, others lit sage, burned braids of sweetgrass, and others offered cedar as their incense. Some of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna discussed the eclipse with the soldiers at Psíŋ, the soldiers in turn explained the science of the eclipse. After the sun returned, the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna solemnly departed the fort.

The Swan Winter Count records the solar eclipse of 1869. 

It is worth observing that not one Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna winter count ever mentions the 1869 solar eclipse. The Chandler-Pohrt Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) details a black circle for 1867 but the accompanying text and interpretation relate that this entry refers to a death (the filled in black circle can represent death, night, moon, or winter, within context). They undoubtedly saw it, but chose not to record it.

That same day, Aug. 7, 1869, some of the Oglála at Fort Laramie viewed the solar eclipse alongside the soldiers there. Matȟó Sápa (Black Bear) and recorded the eclipse on his winter count as a black circle with a few stars. The Oglála contended that the solar eclipse was in fact a great uŋȟčéǧi (monster; i.e. “dragon”) that swallowed Aŋpétuwi (the Sun) [2].

Concurrently, at Iyóȟaȟa Ipákšaŋkšaŋ (lit. “Winding Waterfall”)[3], the present-day waterfalls at Sioux Falls, SD, astronomer Cleveland Abbé observed a large presence of Iháŋtȟuŋwaŋ (Yankton) were present for the observation. Abbé made no further note of visitation with the Iháŋtȟuŋwaŋ, but did record that their attention to the non-native reaction was equal to their observation of the eclipse itself[4].

When a rainbow appears in the clouds like this, the Lakȟóta call it Wíačhéič'ithi, which means, "The Sun makes a campfire for himself." This was taken on the day of the partial solar eclipse in 2014, as seen from North Dakota.

At the same time, at Whetstone Agency in Dakota Territory, DC Poole, an Indian agent and physician, thought to increase his standing among his charges (it was the era of paternalism) by telling them he would take away the sun on Aug. 7, 1869, until he chose to bring it back. The eclipse came as he predicted (he took his prediction from an almanac). The Sičáŋǧu (lit. “Burnt Thighs;” aka Brulé) and Oglála watched the eclipse impassively until the occlusion reached its climax, at which point they drew their guns and fired, dispelling Poole’s "medicine." The doctor might be able to predict the event, but the Lakȟóta could dispel it. Poole wasn’t a real medicine man after all[5].

According to Oyúȟpe Wiŋ (Drags Down Woman; sister of Chief John Grass) the Sihásapa Lakȟóta were hunting on Makȟóčhe Wašté (lit. “The Beautiful Country;” Great Plains), when the eclipse occurred, “It became very dark. The medicine man told them all to fire their guns at the sun or it would never awaken again and they would be lost in the darkness. So everyone fired their guns at the sun and yelled very loudly, and wailed and cried and prayed. Finally, the sun began to get brighter and finally came to life again.[6]” This narrative indicates that this band of Thítȟuŋwaŋ regarded the eclipse as though the sun had died. They called it Wí’kte (lit. “The Sun Died”).

A partial solar eclipse as seen from North Dakota in 2014. 

The Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ Dakhóta (lit. “Leaf Dwellers;” Wahpeton) at Portage la Prairie and Griswald in Manitoba informed anthropologist Wilson Wallis in 1923 that the solar eclipse served as a warning to prepare for disaster. The eclipse signified the end of the world; or that great conflict was soon to break out in the world. Also, a lunar eclipse signified the same warning. The luminaries, Aŋpétuwi and Haŋwí (the Moon) favor the Dakhóta and give them an early warning to prepare them[7].

Maǧáska (Swan), a Mnikȟówožu (lit. “Those Who Plant By The Water) Lakȟóta man and winter count keeper, seems to be the only one who outright recorded that they experienced fear when they witnessed the 1869 eclipse[8].

The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ have many words to describe the solar eclipse.

Aháŋzi[9]: Shadow

Aŋpétuwí Tókȟaȟ'aŋ[10]: Disappearing Sun

Aóhanziya[11]: To Cast A Shadow Upon

Maȟphíya Yapȟéta[12]: Fire Cloud

Wakhápheya[13]: Of A Singular Appearance

Wí’Atá[14]: Sun Entire

Wí’kte[15]: The Sun Died

Wí’te[16]: "New Moon"

Does the solar eclipse serve as a warning of calamity and war? Is a great dragon devouring the sun, or is it the false medicine of a white man? The eclipse is a call to remember the mystery of creation. I imagine that the Dakhóta in Sioux Falls were amazed at the non-native reaction to the sacred balance of light and darkness of the eclipse, wondering, perhaps, why such regard couldn’t be held for Makȟóčhe Wašté, for each other, and for their fellow human beings.

What do the Lakȟóta and Dakhóta do during an eclipse? Some fired guns. Others felt an inexplicable fear. Others, a need to prepare for war. The Húŋkpapȟa pray. The Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna pray. They pray for others in that sacred moment. The sky is visibly wakȟáŋ, it is with-energy. They burn incense to carry their prayers.

Lekší Cedric Good House (Húŋkpapȟa; Standing Rock) maintains the tradition that the solar eclipse is a time of prayer, and to reflect. 

Visit the Native American Mint for more information about this curious coin

The Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation and the Native American Mint have teamed up to produce a silver coin with a face value of $1.00 to mark the eclipse event. The coin is regarded as legal tender, but only on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation. The face side of the coin features a map of the western hemisphere with the path of the moon detailing the eclipse. The reverse features an image of the moon in front of the sun. There is absolutely nothing cultural about the coin in its imagery.

The next solar eclipse over North America will be on April 8, 2024[17].






[1] Powell, J. W. Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1882-'83. Washington, DC: Washington Government Printing Office, 1886.
Time: The Dakota Winter Counts, page 126.
[2] Ibid., page 125.
[3] Mr. Kevin Locke, August 2017.
[4] Ibid., page 125.
[5] Hollabaugh, Mark. The Spirit and The Sky: Lakota Visions of the Cosmos. Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indian Series. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.
Eclipses and the Aurora Borealis, page 112.
[6] Welch, A. "Life on The Plains in The 1800's." Welch Dakota Papers. November 1, 2011. Accessed August 11, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[7] Ibid., page 114.
[8] Greene, Candace S., and Russell Thornton. The year the stars fell: Lakota winter counts at the Smithsonian. 1st ed. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2007.
Page 265.
[9] New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd Edition. 2008.
[10] Mr. Warren Horse Looking, 2014.
[11] New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd Edition. 2008.
[12] Húŋkpapȟa word for solar eclipse.
[13] Ms. Leslie Mountain, 2014.
[14] Mr. John Eagle, 2014.
[15] Many Lakota Winter Counts.
[16] Anonymous Lakota man, 2014. Note: this can also be found on a few winter counts.
[17] McClure, Bruce. "When’s the next U.S. total solar eclipse?" http://earthsky.org. Accessed August 15, 2017. http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/whens-the-next-total-solar-eclipse-in-the-us.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Crying Hill, An Endangered Historic Site

"Crying Hill," or "Mandan Hill" can be seen in the middle of this photo, the Missouri River down below, city development behind in the distance. 
Crying Hill Endangered
Site Overlooks River, City, Interstate
By Dakota Wind
Mandan, N.D. (TFS) – A hill rolls above the floodplain where the Heart River converges with the Missouri River. It divides the city of Mandan from traffic of I-94. It loudly proclaims “MaNDan” on its east face in bright white concrete lettering; the south face of this same plateau says the same but with trees spelling the city's name.

It’s the home of the Mandan Braves, named after the indigenous people who lived there on the banks of the Heart River as traders, fishers, and farmers. The Nu’Eta, as they call themselves, could defend themselves when called for as well. They lived in fortified villages in the Heart River area from about 1450 to about 1781.

Each village had a civil chief and a war chief to advice and look after their interests. The Nu’Eta were productive and hard-working. They must have been doing something right; their villages possessed no jails.

Welch's notations on a 1911 US Geological survey map. Bismarck and Mandan have grown considerably in the hundred+ years since. 

The village along the banks of the Heart River in present-day Mandan, ND was large, with a population of perhaps as many as 3000. Its identified mainly as a Nu’Eta site, but the Hidatsa claim the populace as their own. The Hidatsa became neighbors of the Nu’Eta sometime around 1600 C.E., and inter-married with them over the centuries that today one isn’t Nu’Eta without having Hidatsa relatives.

This large village was known by many names. The Nu’Eta called it Large and Scattered Village. The Hidatsa called it the Two Faced Stone Village for the sacred stone feature atop the plateau overlooking their village. Crows Heart, a principle leader of the Nu’Eta, informed Colonel Alfred Welch that that they called the village there in present-day Mandan, “The Crying Hill Village.” Crows Heart also essayed to Welch that they called it so because their women went to the top of the hill to mourn for lost relatives.

Another village there, south of the Crying Hill Village, called Motsif today, was known by the Nu’Eta as Youngman’s Village. According to Welch’s informants, the Nu’Eta of both these two villages would gather together and inhabit a winter camp in the timber on the floodplain of the Missouri River[1].

According to the late Mr. Joe Packineau, the Crow separated from the Hidatsa at the Crying Hill Village, adding that the village was also called the Tattoo Face Village, and further, that it was Hidatsa, not Nu’Eta. In the time of Good Fur Robe, he had a brother whom they called Tattoo Face. A hunt concluded with a dead bison recovered from the middle of the river. Good Fur Robe divided the kill and took the paunch, which infuriated Tattoo Face and his people, who picked up and moved west. According to Packineau, the Hidatsa called them not Crow, but “The Paunch Jealousy People.” Where the Crow broke away from their Hidatsa relatives was at the Crying Hill Village[2].

Welch drew this diagram mapping the features of Crying Hill. Visit the Welch Dakota Papers site.

At the top of Crying Hill were stone features (including a stone turtle effigy measuring twelve feet across), sacred to the Nu’Eta, upon which were images or pictographs, which changed, and were said to be able to tell the future. One oracle stone in particular, was said known as the “Two Face Stone.” When diviners gathered ‘round to interpret the stone’s musing for the future, they would lift the stone, which seemed to them to be very light. Upon putting it down, they would lift again, and the stone mysteriously weighed more than one could lift. They called this stone Two Face because of its dual nature, and according to Welch’s informant, the village below was called “Two Face Village.” Enemy Heart, an Arikara man, estimated the side of the Two Face Stone to be a diameter of about 18 inches[3], it’s location, at least in 1912, was lay just east of the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan, ND[4]. Enemy Heart insisted that the Crying Hill Village’s proper name was Two Face Village.

In the 1870’s, as the city of Mandan developed on the remains of the Large and Scattered Village, or Crying Hill Village, or Tattoo Face Village, Two Face Village, homes and streets encroached on Crying Hill itself. One day, a prospective home owner, took dynamite to the sacred stone on the hillside of Crying Hill and blew it up[5]. Welch contends that the greater oracle stone was drilled and split by white settlers for building stone. One resident, Mr. G.W. Rendon built the basement of his house from fragments of this holy stone[6].

There used to be a burial ground at Crying Hill. In 1933, laborers of the city of Mandan were expanding development of the city for two new houses, and disturbed the graves of eleven Nu’Eta men and women, including a baby. Col. Alfred Welch was called on to offer his assessment of the findings, and he estimated that the size of the Crying Hill Village at about 3000 souls, and was occupied for about 300 years[7], from ~1500 C.E. to about ~1800 C.E. The bodies were hastily buried, possibly due to the haste in which the survivors departed the Heart River villages in 1781 following the smallpox epidemic which struck them.

This reconstruction of the 1863 Apple Creek Fight is overlaid on 1850's Warren survey map. 

Crying Hill overlooks one of the largest conflicts in Dakota Territory history. In 1863, General Sibley led ~2200 soldiers into Dakota Territory on a punitive campaign from Camp Pope in Minnesota. The campaign concluded at the mouth of Apple Creek, on Aug. 1, 1863, when Sibley withdrew from the field of conflict, unable to pursue the Lakȟóta across the Missouri River. The Húŋkpapȟa, led by Black Eyes, crossed the Missouri River where the Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge spans the river, and thence up the Heart River to escape pursuit.

A week after the Apple Creek conflict, Black Eyes brought the Húŋkpapȟa back across the Missouri River and re-crossed the Missouri at the northern most mouth of the Heart River (which had three mouths at that time), and camped above the floodplain opposite Crying Hill. During the night, miners from Fort Benton, MT came down and camped on a sandbar. The next morning the miners tried forced themselves on a Lakȟóta woman who had gone down to the river to refresh herself. She died at the miners’ hands; Black Eyes retaliated and the Húŋkpapȟa warriors awoke and hurried to the river’s edge and exchanged gunfire with the hostiles. During the fight, the boat’s swivel gun misfired into the boat itself causing a fire to break out. The miners were killed to the last man, and there precious gold was scattered about the sandbar[8].

The Mandan Historical Society features this photo of the "Mandan Hill" in the summer of 1959. Visit the Mandan Historical Society today.

In 1934, a local Boy Scouts troop arranged forty-seven truckloads of local stone into giant letters which spelled out “MaNDan,” on what became renamed “Mandan Hill.” It was maintained by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Mandan Jaycees over the years, then in 1968, after Interstate 94 (I-94) was complete, the “MaNDan” sign was reconstructed in concrete. In the late 1990’s, pine trees were planted on the south face of Crying Hill arranged to spell “MANDAN[9].”

Sometime in 2003, Mr. Patrick Atkinson, acquired 4.7 acres of what remained of Crying Hill, to save it from development. Atkinson heard that the property was going to be put on the market, and he dashed up to Crying Hill after hearing a little about the lore, and provoked by his own winter memories of sledding down the face of Crying Hill. He took his son to the site to talk about what it meant to them. They concluded to save what they could. Atkinson maintains that the Crying Hill preservation effort is ecumenical and non-political, preserving the site for the sake of the sacredness and inspiration found there by native and non-native alike[10]. Visit Atkinson's site about Crying Hill.

In 2008, Preservation North Dakota declared that Crying Hill was endangered. To be declared endangered, a site must be of historical, cultural, or architectural significance and in danger of demolition, deterioration, or substantial alteration due to neglect or vandalism. Preservation North Dakota acknowledged the preservation efforts of Atkinson and the Crying Hill preservation coalition for saving Crying Hill for the edification and gratification of future citizens.



[1] Welch, Alfred, Col. "Good Fur Blanket Was Mayor Of Mandan In 1738 - Proof Is Found Of Ancient City On Present Site." Mandan Daily Pioneer (Mandan), April 14, 1924.
[2] Welch, Alfred, Col. "Joe Packineau's Verson of The Split and Formation of Crows." Welch Dakota Papers. November 15, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[3] Welch, Alfred, Col. "Arikara Hide Their Sacred Stone From The Sioux." Welch Dakota Papers. November 15, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[4] Welch, Alfred, Col. "More About The Two Face Stone." Welch Dakota Papers. November 15, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[5] Welch, Alfred, Col. "The Minnitari Stone." Welch Dakota Papers. November 15, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[6] Welch, Alfred, Col. "Stone Idol Creek Journey." Welch Dakota Papers. November 15, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.welchdakotapapers.com.
[7] "Spades Of Workers Rudely Disturb Last Resting Place Of Ancient Gros Ventres Warriors." Mandan Daily Pioneer (Mandan), May 11, 1933.
[8] Dakota Wind. “The Apple Creek Fight.” The First Scout. Nov. 17, 2014. Accessed Aug. 4, 2017. http://thefirstscout.blogspot.com.
[9] "Mandan Hill 501 N Mandan Ave." Mandan Historical Society. 2006. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://mandanhistory.org.
[10] Crying Hill Heritage Site. 2003. Accessed August 3, 2017. http://www.cryinghill.com


Monday, July 31, 2017

Mandan Woman Turned Into Stone

A lichen covered red granite stone rests in the earth about halfway up the plateau at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Not evident in this photo of this stone, but a rut runs through the half which is exposed to the elements.
Mandan Woman Turned Into Stone
Trees Grew To Honor Her Bravery

As told by Capt. Henry Marcotte (ret.)
Bismarck Tribune, Reprinted Dec. 15, 1922 as “The Clump of Trees on The Hogback”
Mandan, N.D. (TFS) - Fifty years after the construction of Fort McKean and Fort Abraham Lincoln, Captain Henry Marcotte (ret.), shared a story of sacrifice and remembrance regarding a Lakȟóta war party leader, a Nu’Eta (Mandan) man, and a beautiful Nu’Eta woman.

In 1872, Marcotte was serving at Fort McKeen as the Chief of Scouts. In his first summer of service he witnessed many ambuscades carried out on the north side of the newly constructed fort. Marcotte also witnessed the brave responses of the Fort McKeen Detachment of US Indian Scouts - namely, the Sahnis (Arikara). On the evening of November 3rd, Marcotte was invited to sit and smoke with the Sahnis, Hidsatsa, and Nu’Eta, and heard the tale of Black Hare, a Nu’Eta woman.

They had gathered just outside the north side of the palisades of Fort McKeen. It was the custom of Plains Indian men and women to sit on the ground in treaty, in council, at home, and in prayer. Men sat with straight backs and legs crossed; women sat with their knees together, legs tucked under and back, heels to one side. On this day, however, only men were present, and Marcotte undertook to sit on a rock that had been rolled into the circle.

At this gathering, though all spoke different first languages, Marcotte watched and listened to the men speak carefully and deliberately, testing the friendship of all gathered. Sergeant Young War Eagle began the afternoon with a pipe and passed it onto each man calling out his name, who responded in the affirmative. 



By 1910, five trees remained on the top of the plateau, where once was Fort McKeen.

When it was Marcotte’s turn, Young War Eagle recognized him as an officer, then pointed at the rock upon which Marcotte sat. Young War Eagle explained that Marcotte sat on the petrified remains of the Nu’Eta woman known to them as Black Hare. It was to recount her story that brought them together that day. Marcotte doesn’t mention whether or not he removed himself from his perch, but it would have been good manners to do so, and to apologize for his faux pas. Young War Eagle and the men gathered apparently took no offense, and the sergeant recounted the story of Black Hare, as Marcotte noted, “in pleasing tones.”

Black Hare, a young woman, was renowned by many nations near and far for her great beauty. She turned down all her suitors for the simple reason that she didn’t want to leave her village there overlooking the floodplain of the Heart and Missouri Rivers. According to the Sitting Rabbit map of the river, this village was called Watchman’s Village, which today is known as On-A-Slant.

A Thítȟuŋwaŋ (lit. “Dweller On The Plains”; Teton; Lakȟóta) man whom the Nu’Eta knew as Crow Necklace, a leader amongst his people, approached the Nu’Eta and wanted Black Hare for his woman. She declined. Crow Necklace then threatened the Nu’Eta leader with death, to be carried out by sundown, if Black Hare wasn’t brought to him.

The Mandan leader, “To’sh” according to Marcotte’s memory and spelling, induced Black Hare to go walking with him, and on this walk, he took her to where Crow Necklace was lodged, and turned her over to the Xa’Numak (Nu’Eta: lit. “Grass Man”; the Nu’Eta word for the “Sioux”). When To’sh returned to the safety within his palisaded village, he contrived to tell his people that Crow Necklace abducted Black Hare.

The Nu’Eta suspected To’sh’ insincerity, and the other leader of the village - for each village each had a civil chief and a war chief - ordered To’sh to be buried on the spot up to his neck for his disingenuity. The other Nu’Eta leader then made the very threat to To’sh that Crow Necklace made earlier that day, saying that if Black Hare wasn’t here by sundown, To’sh would die. 



By 1922, only one tree remained on the plateau. This photo was taken in the 1930s following the CCC's reconstruction of the three blockhouses. A last tree, dead, can be seen in this image.

From a distance, To’sh saw Black Hare returning to the village, her feet wounded and bleeding. Marcotte’s recollection didn’t tell readers why Black Hare would return in this condition, but other first nations of the Great Plains knew by cultural understanding that when a Lakȟóta man stole a woman from another tribe with the intention of making her his wife, he removed her háŋpa (her moccasins) so that she would be less likely to return to her people. Makȟóčhe Wašté (lit. “The Beautiful Country”; the Great Plains, and by extension, North America) is fraught with uŋkčéla ( little cacti). In this story, Black Hare was a strong-willed young woman to leave her captor and return.

To’sh feared that Black Hare’s return would reveal his falsehood, and earnestly prayed for her to turn into stone. Lo! Black Hare turned into a red calcined stone (as Marcotte described his seat)! A bird sang out during this transformation, and a spirit planted seeds in Black Hare’s bloody footprints. Winter spread its mantle of purity over the stone of Black Hare and her seeded tracks. The sun warmed the land and from Black Hare’s innocent blood grew trees to shade and shelter her stone memorial.

The stone is near Watchman’s Village, within present-day Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, about halfway up the plateau. When the 17th Infantry arrived, they cut all but eight trees, which were transplanted in front of the officers’ quarters at Fort McKeen. Black Hare’s stone lay on the hillside, bereft of shade and shelter. The water wagons used the stone to check and hold the rear wheels to afford the mules momentary rest.

In 1922, one last tree remained on the hilltop.


Marcotte's narrative appeared as "The Clump of Trees on The Hogsback" in The Bismarck Tribune, Dec. 15, 1922. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Badlands or Pitifullands

Nakota horses survey the landscape of Charred Wood River Country (Little Missouri River Country), also known as the Badlands, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The Badlands Or The Pitifullands
Place Name Of Little Missouri River Country

By Dakota Wind
Medora, N.D. (TFS) – Theodore Roosevelt National Park has been a part of the National Park Service since 1947. A site or park was in talks to honor the late president since 1921, and two units of the park were set aside to remember Roosevelt, despite a superintendent’s report findings that this park was unjustified.

The western part of the state, along the Little Missouri River is scenic. Some even say it’s majestic and open, inspiring a sense of smallness, wonder, and even isolation. The character of the landscape left a lasting impression on a president, and continues to do the same to millions of visitors today.

Roosevelt split his time between Little Missouri River country and New York from 1884 to 1887. In 1887, after a hard cold winter in which Roosevelt lost half his stock, he sold what remained so that his managers wouldn’t suffer a loss. He did not spend one continuous year in Dakota Territory.

Both units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park reside in the North Dakota Badlands. The Badlands (one word). 



The Charred Wood River runs through the Pitiful Landscape. 

The Little Missouri River is known to the Lakȟóta as Čhaŋšótka Wakpá, or “Charred Wood.” The Lakȟóta call a landscape by the name of the water or stream that runs through it, so Little Missouri River country is called Čhaŋšótka Wakpá Makȟóčhe, or “Charred Wood River Country.”

The landscape through which the Charred Wood River runs, is known as the Badlands. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park brochure cites the Lakȟóta word Makȟóšiča, which is “Badlands.” Makȟá means “Earth.” Šíča means “Bad.” When these two words are compounded it becomes one word: Makȟóšiča. 



The visitor center proudly displays the name of the country as the Lakota know it, "Mako Shika." 

The visitor center at TRNP differs in word usage from the info it publishes. The museum showcases a panel which instead tells visitors in loud orange words “Mako Shika.” Using the new LLC standard, Mako Shika becomes Makȟóšhika. 
Mako Shika, or Makȟóšhika comes from the words Makȟá meaning “Earth,” and Úŋšika meaning “Poor,” or “Pitiful.”

Badlands or Pitifullands? 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lakota Geography

A view of the Great Plains with Dakota-Lakota place names. South is the orienting direction on this map. Makȟóčhe Wašté means “The Beautiful Country.” This is the name the Lakota have for the Great Plains, and by extension, North America.
Lakȟóta Geography
A World View Perspective

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) – Everyone knows the four cardinal directions. In English these are north, south, east, and west. The Lakȟóta name these four winds, or directions: Itókaǧata (South; “Facing The Downstream Direction”), Wiyóȟpeyata (West; Direction Where The Sun Sets), Wazíyata (North; Direction Of The Pine Tree), and Wiyóhiŋyaŋpata (East; Direction From Which The Sun Comes).

These four directions are represented in the medicine wheel by colors. Black may represent the west. White may represent the north. Red the east, and south by yellow. The color designation isn’t “set in stone.” In fact, some Lakȟóta employ blue or green as well. Many medicine wheels are employed oriented to the north. 

Rivers and streams are often known by more than one name. For example, the Dakota and Lakota call the Cannonball River "Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá (Stone Makes For Itself River)," and they also call it "Íŋyaŋiya Wakpá (Talking Stone River)." 

The Lakȟóta memorized the landscape from a ground view perspective. The landscape was named according to the stream within. For example: Čhaŋšótka Wakpá Makȟóčhe, which means “Towering Tree River Country,” this presently refers to the country through which the Little Missouri River runs; Mníšoše Makȟóčhe means “Water A-stir Country,” which refers to country through which the Missouri River runs.

The Lakȟóta call the Great Plains, and by extension North America, “Makȟóčhe Wašté,” which means “The Beautiful Country.” The Lakota Language Consortium’s “New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd Edition,” has an entry for North America as “Khéya Wíta,” which means “Turtle Island.” Perhaps there are Lakȟóta people who call it so. 

A Hunkpapa map of the Little Bighorn Fight is oriented towards the south. Attention is paid more to the layout of the camps than to how the conflict unfolded.

At times the Lakȟóta employed maps, drawing or painting from whatever available resources were at hand (i.e. paper and pencil, cloth and ink, hide and paint, on the ground with a stick). When such maps were constructed, south seems to be the orienting direction.

This map relates the testimony of Takes His Shield, a survivor of the 1863 Whitestone Hill Massacre in Dakota Territory. It was rendered by the hand of Cottonwood and is oriented to the south. 

A testimonial map of the 1863 Whitestone Hill Massacre by Takes The Shield (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) and rendered by Cottonwood (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) was executed with the south at top of the map. Three Húŋkpapȟa maps of the 1876 Little Bighorn Fight were executed with south as the orienting direction.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Painting An Umbrella

The Black Warbonnet pattern is rendered in contemporary colors on an umbrella.
Painting An Umbrella
A Provision For Shade Or Privacy
By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND (TFS): In the late 1800s, and early 1900s, the umbrella or parasol was a valued item. Lakota-Dakota men and women obtained one to provide shade in the semi-arid environment of Makȟóčhe Wašté (The Beautiful Country; The Great Plains). Men and women took their shade with them to the wačhípi (pow-wow; dances), when they went visiting friends and relatives. Young single men and women used them to provide shade and privacy when they wanted to exchange a private word in the public village setting. 

This is about the half-way point. It was quite challenging to stay motivated.

The Lakȟóta call the umbrella, or parasol “Aóhaŋziya” (to cause shadow to fall upon somebody). The New Lakota Dictionary lists umbrella as “Íyohaŋzi.” The Williamson Dakota Dictionary entry for umbrella is “O’haŋzihdepi.” The Buechel Lakota Dictionary entry for the canvas of a covered wagon as “Oiyohaŋzi.” 

Each additional track of the pattern took twice as long as the previous. I used a string as a compass to keep the pattern balanced and uniform as best I could.

Before the umbrella was a trade item, the Lakȟóta carried a tree limb with green leaves still attached, to provide shade for themselves on the hottest and brightest of days. 

The pattern along the edge of the umbrella is one that would typically be seen on tipi liners.

The 2nd Edition of the New Lakota Dictionary lists a solar eclipse as “Aóhaŋziya,” and perhaps that is what some Lakȟóta speakers call it. The Húŋkpapȟa, however, called the solar eclipse “Maȟpíya Yapȟéta,” which means “Cloud On Fire.”

I am thinking of painting at least a few more umbrellas. Maybe a little smaller in size. This umbrella measured 60" across. I'll add a few finishing touches like nickle bells at the ends of each rib, and a few ribbon streamers from the spike. My youngest sister has offered to bead the spike in matching colors. The painting took about ninety hours to complete.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Review, Red Cloud, A Lakota Story of War and Surrender

A Review, Red Cloud 
A Story Of War And Surrender
By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND (TFS) – “I was born a Lakota and I have lived as a Lakota and I shall die a Lakota,” said Red Cloud. So opens S.D. Nelson’s Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender, a first-person narrative of the Lakȟóta leader Maȟpíya Lúta, Red Cloud, and the history of his people before his birth, through his life, and death in the confines of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in what became South Dakota.

Similar to Nelson’s Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People, Nelson tells this story by rendering a beautifully and fully realized world in the historic Plains Indian style of art reproduced here as though on a ledger book.

Red Cloud’s story breaks down the complexity of inter-tribal conflict, and the great struggle for resources and tribal sovereignty on Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country (Great Plains; North America). The two Fort Laramie Treaties are touched on, an agreement between nations, and how both were broken by the United States.

Red Cloud’s War is retold with this new pictography, and first-person narrative. The evolution of Plains Indian warfare grows from personal conflict and honor to organized military strategy. Red Cloud’s War is one of the wars the United States lost, a concession of the war was that the Lakȟóta shut down the Bozeman Trail and retain control of Powder River Country, but this was short-lived.

The decision for Red Cloud to sign the 1868 Fort Laramie must have caused a great internal struggle for the Lakȟóta leader and the people who followed him. The first-person narrative captures this struggle, “For the sake of my own people, those who followed, me, I accepted and signed the new treaty papers. But of course I did not represent the desire of all the people. Opinions were divided.”

The story of Red Cloud is taken up to his death, followed by a reflection on the journey of his people. Red Cloud’s story isn’t finished because his life came to an end, his story continues because his people continue.

There are books that deserve to be taken apart, but Nelson’s book literally deserves to be taken apart if only to frame the pages. Such pages are 4 (men astride their horses in water), 16 (meeting at Fort Laramie in 1851), pages 20 & 21 (the pipe dance), pages 29 & 29 (Red Cloud’s challenge of the Bozeman Trail), page 33 (a war party), and page 49 (the post-death reflection).

S.D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His traditional name is Maȟpíya Kiŋyáŋ (Flying Cloud) He is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. His books have received many accolades, including the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award, a place on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Nelson lives in Flagstaff, AZ. Follow him online at sdnelson.net.

Nelson, S.D. Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender. First ed. New York, NY: Abrams Books For Young Readers, 2017. 64 pp. $19.95. Hardcover. Photos, illustrations, timeline, notes, bibliography, index.

North Dakota Content Standards
Grades 4 and 8
Resources: 4.1.4; 8.1.2
Timeline: 4.1.5
Concepts of time: 4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4
People and events: 4.2.5
Colonization: 4.2.9
Expansion: 4.2.10
Physical geography: 4.5.3; 8.5.1
Human geography: 4.5.5, 4.5.6; 8.5.2, 8.5.3
Culture: 4.6.1, 4.6.2; 8.6.2
US History & Imperialism: 8.2.4, 8.2.9, 8.2.10, 8.2.11




Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Review: Sitting Bull, Lakota Warrior And Defender Of His People

A Review: Sitting Bull, Warrior & Defender
Beautiful Book About Great Leader
By Dakota Wind
Fort Yates, ND (TFS) – In 2015, SD Nelson published his Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People, a first-person historical narrative through the eyes of Sitting Bull. His people's struggle to survive manifest destiny in the late nineteenth century is told through historical photos and Great Plains pictography.

Nominally a children’s book, but much more, Nelson beautifully illustrates a carefully researched and composed historical narrative. Each page is a work of art rendered in the historic Plains Indian style on a ledger book background. Every piece of art is lovingly constructed with a contemporary feel without sacrificing style or story.

Nelson acknowledges the oral traditions for Sitting Bull’s childhood name, Jumping Badger, from the direct lineal descendant, the great-grandson of Sitting Bull, Mr. Ernie LaPointe.

Sitting Bull touches on the last greatest conflict in the American West, Little Bighorn. Nelson takes readers on the journey to Fort Walsh in Canada, where Sitting Bull and his people remained in exile for a few years until the overwhelming call to return home pulled the Lakota back to Missouri River country. Nelson thoughtfully reconstructs the “surrender” of Sitting Bull at Fort Buford, which was actually an exchange of one lifestyle, a hunter-gatherer one, for another, an agricultural one. Imprisonment at Fort Randall is mentioned too.

Sitting Bull’s time as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show is also touched upon, then Sitting Bull’s return to his first and last home on the Grand River, SD. Agent McLaughlin is rendered in a confrontation with Sitting Bull about the Ghost Dance, and Sitting Bull is simply but beautifully rendered as Ikčé (common) in wrapped braids and a robe.

Nelson brings Sitting Bull to a conclusion with the death of the great spiritual leader at the hands of his own people. Nelson illustrates Sitting Bull falling, but not quite on the ground. Two police officers are depicted firing at Sitting Bull in the side and head. The images are suggestive, not graphic in their depiction, truly rendered in the historic Plains Indian style of art.

Nelson’s book is a beautiful tribute to one of the great leaders of the Lakota people. His vibrant use of color enhances a traditional art. This isn’t a typical childhood read, and it shouldn’t be. This is based on a living, breathing first nation man and his struggle in the post-reservation era. If your bookcase has any work by Paul Goble, this one earns its place front and center on that shelf. Get it for yourself and your family if you love art and history.

S.D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His traditional name is Maȟpíya Kiŋyáŋ (Flying Cloud) He is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. His books have received many accolades, including the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award, a place on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Nelson lives in Flagstaff, AZ. Follow him online at sdnelson.net.

Nelson, S. D. Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People. First ed. New York, NY: Abrams Books For Young Readers, 2015. 64 pp. $19.95. Hardcover. Photos, illustrations, timeline, notes, bibliography, index.

North Dakota Content Standards
Grades 4 and 8
Resources: 4.1.4; 8.1.2
Timeline: 4.1.5
State Symbols: 4.2.1 (Western Meadowlark, Red Tomahawk)
Concepts of time: 4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4
People and events: 4.2.5
Colonization: 4.2.9
Expansion: 4.2.10
Physical geography: 4.5.3; 8.5.1
Human geography: 4.5.5, 4.5.6; 8.5.2, 8.5.3
Culture: 4.6.1, 4.6.2; 8.6.2
US History & Imperialism: 8.2.4, 8.2.9, 8.2.10, 8.2.11




Sunday, April 2, 2017

Grandmother Flower, First Flower Of Spring

The Prairie Crocus opened her petals as the sun broke through the overcast. 
First Flower Of The Spring
Grandmother Flower Returns

By Dakota Wind
Mandan, ND (TFS) – I awoke to the distinctive call of Tȟašiyagmuŋka, the Western Meadowlark, outside my window this morning. Last weekend I went out looking for what the settlers called the Pasque Flower, or the Prairie Crocus. The Lakȟóta have two names for the same flower: Hokšíčhekpa, or A Child’s Navel; Uŋčí Waȟčá, or Grandmother Flower. My search was unsuccessful until today.

I hiked on a trail located at a recreation area in the rolling hills of Heart River Country. The sky overhead was overcast with gray clouds and teased the possibility of rain. A light wind blew in from the west and picked the cold up off a lake yet frozen. Last year’s grass was matted from the weight of this winter’s snow; banks of snow lie scattered about the prairie steppe in protest of the coming spring. 


It's easy to see the Prairie Crocus against last year's brown grass.

I stepped off the trail and ascended the north face of a hill, stepping between brush and broken sandstone outcroppings, until I stood on the top. The scree of Čhetáŋ, a hawk, and the honking of a lonely Maǧá, a goose, echoed off the icy lake. I imagine their conversation for a moment, the solitary Maǧá honked, “Tuktél huwó?” and Čhetáŋ screed out into the sky, “WótA!” Maǧá asking where his flock was, Čhetáŋ replying that it’s time to eat.

Škipípi, Chickadee, flitted among the trees and brush whistling, “Alí,” an inquiry if spring has indeed arrived. Wakíŋyela, Mourning Dove, cooed an announcement to all that surely a rain was due. Ištáničatȟaŋka, the Horned Lark, sang out, “Optéptečela, optéptečela!” thinking that perhaps another snow was coming instead. Of all the birds to sing in the spring, it is Tȟašiyagmuŋka whos whistle rises above all, “Oíyokiphi! Ómakha Théča!” or, “Take pleasure! The new year [season] is here!” 

I had to manually focus my camera on the Prairie Crocus' golden heart. 

I reached the top of the hill and fell into step with another trail that took me along the plateau edge and straight to Uŋčí Waȟčá. Her purple robe is outstanding amongst last year’s brown grass and shattered sandstone. Last year’s prickly pear shown bright red against the grass, little bulbs of Missouri Pincushion sat in little round clumps, barbs from both still sharp, but it wasn’t cactus that brought me to the hills.

They say, a long time ago, that a young man went to pray on the hill at the end of winter. It was cold, lonely, and dark, and the young man drew his robe tight about himself. As he did so, a little voice called out in gratitude for the extra warmth. Over the course of the young man’s time on the hill, the flower assured him that he would have his vision. The young man eventually left after his quest was finished, and the flower shivered in the cold. Creator looked down on the flower, and offered gifts of her choice. She wanted a robe of her own, and said that she enjoyed the colors of the mornings and the warmth of the sun. 

From the side, one can see the "fur" of the Prairie Crocus. 

Creator bestowed upon Uŋčí Waȟčá a purple robe and painted her heart gold. She’s the first flower of the new year and as the first moon passes, her robe opens less and turns gray. The first flower sings courage to all the other flowers of the new season and reminds them not to fear their time, but to rejoice because their spirits will go on to color the rainbows. Once in a while, however, the robe of Uŋčí Waȟčá is white, which indicates that a bison drew its last breath in that spot.

The urge to pluck the soft fuzzy flowers is strong, but I can’t take from the earth without leaving a gift in return, so I leave all the Uŋčí Waȟčá as I found them. Long ago, the Lakȟóta gathered and used the whole flower from root to petal in treating arthritis. Someday, as the pain increases in the knuckles of my hands, I may return for these gentle flowers. 

One of many Prairie Crocus growing on a south-facing bluff.

The sun broke through the clouds as I prepared to leave the south-facing hillside, and the flowers began to open. I snapped a few more pictures as I made my way back to the trail. A Kaŋǧí, or Crow, let loose a raucous laugh I felt was at my expense. I was dressed as though it were a summer day, and it was still spring. Kaŋǧí laughed out, “Kȟá!” as if to say, “[You] should have [dressed for the weather]!” I stood and stretched, stiff from the cold, and walked back to my car wishing for my coat.

I thought I was by myself this morning, but in the midst of creation, Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country, was laughter, whistles, and songs that filled the air, and even the wind let up when I passed by the frozen lake.