Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pointing Is Impolite And Can Cause Death

The Crazy Horse monument has taken some criticisms over the years. 
Pointing Is Impolite And Can Cause Death
The Hero Overcomes The Cold

By Ella Deloria
STANDING ROCK, N.D. & S.D. - The Hero Overcomes The Cold appears in Ella Deloria’s “Dakota Texts.” Deloria refers to this story as “Ohu’kaka,” as a story that is intended to amuse and entertain, but not to be believed. These types of stories are only to be told after sunset. 

There was a great tribal camp, and in the centre lived a man with many children. Whenever the people had a killing, he would go there with his children, and the people would leave their meat and run away in fear. And his children would take it all home. This practice had continued so long that the entire tribe was now starving. But even the important men of the camp feared to object, so the tribe was in a sad state.

Now, there was a little orphan boy who with his grandmother lived in an old smoke-tanned tipi, back of the circle [at the edge of the camp]. He said, “Grandmother, go to the tipi within the circle where that man lives and say, ‘My grandchild is hungry and bids me come here.’”

So the old woman answered, “What! Why, that’s out of the question, grandchild! Even the finest people get no results when they appeal to him for food. What am I, that he should not kick me out!”

There was another hunt and a great killing; and the boy said, “Well, then, grandmother, I shall go to him myself!”

The old woman did not place any hope in him, evidently, for she laughed and said, “Really?”[1] But he went to the butchering ground, and there he saw the mean man and his children frightening away the people. 

"Sioux Tipi" by Karl Bodmer.

But the boy stood his ground, so the tyrant frowned on him and said, “Get out of here!”

The boy replied, “Do you think that you alone can cause destruction of so large a tribe?”

So the people said, “Look! He-who-lives-with-his-grandmother is standing his ground!”

But the mean man said, “Keep still and get away. If you don’t, I shall point my finger at you!” (The people said whenever he pointed his finger at anyone, that person died at once.)

But the boy replied, “All right. Point your finger at me. And then I will point mine at you in turn. It’s no trick to point a finger!”

So the man pointed first one of his fingers and then another, at the boy, but he did not die. Then the boy said, “Now it is my turn to point my finger at you!” And the instant he pointed a finger, the man died on the spot.

On seeing this, his wife and his many children ran in fear in all directions. Then the people ran to the drying racks thus abandoned, and scrambled for meat.

“Now, grandmother, ask that a crier be sent around to tell the people to heat water.” This was done by all the people who used every single vessel available; so meantime the tyrant’s wife and children ran for refuge into all the holes in the ground that they could find. Vapor issued from the various holes where they hid.

The people ran with the hot water and poured it down all their hiding places, killing them where they lay. Only one hole remained untouched when the hot water ran out, just as they were going to pour it there; thus, that one child was not killed. And they say that is how it happens that we occasionally have cold weather.[2]

Heha’yela owi’hake.[3] That is all.

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] “Really?” is a rather flat translation of an idiomatic phrase, showing lack of confidence in another’s undertaking, or statement. According to Deloria’s introduction, the interjection that the Lakȟóta people use to express incredulity, and the phrase that the grandmother most likely would have uttered, was Išé’he’ȟuká’kȟahe lo/le (lo for male speakers; le for female speakers), which is used when someone is talking nonsense , bragging, or making wild promises.

[2] Deloria’s synopsis says, “The boy who lived with his grandmother defies the Cold Tyrant, and overcomes both him and his wife and children; all but one, who escapes by hiding in a hole made by a tent-pole. He it is that produces the cold we now have." This boy who survived is not to be confused with the giant of the north, Waziya, who brings the winter and great snows.

[3] According to Deloria, all Ohu’kaka stories end with this conventional phrase meaning, “That is all.”

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