Collection: Life and Legends of the Sioux

Storms in Life and Nature or Unktahe and the Thunder Bird

“Ever,” says Checkered Cloud, “will Unktahe, the god of the waters, and Wahkeon, (Thunder,) do battle against each other. Sometimes the thunder birds are conquerors often the god of the waters chases his enemies back to the distant clouds.” Many times, too, will the daughters of the nation go into the pathless prairies to weep; it is their custom; and while there is sickness, and want, and death, so long will they leave the haunts of men to weep where none but the Great Spirit may witness their tears. It is only, they believe, in the City of spirits, that

Red Earth or Mocka-Doota-Win

“Good Road” is one of the Dahcotah chiefs he is fifty years old and has two wives, but these two have given a deal of trouble; although the chief probably thinks it of no importance whether his two wives fight all the time or not, so that they obey his orders. For what would be a calamity in domestic life to us, is an every day affair among the Dahcotahs. Good Road’s village is situated on the banks of the St. Peter’s about seven miles from Fort Snelling. And like other Indian villages it abounds in variety more than anything

Sioux Ceremonies

The Sioux occupy a country from the Mississippi river to some point west of the Missouri, and from the Chippewa tribe on the north, to the Winnebago on the south; the whole extent being about nine hundred miles long by four hundred in breadth. Dahcotah is the proper name of this once powerful tribe of Indians. The term Sioux is not recognized, except among those who live near the whites. It is said to have been given by the old French traders, that the Dahcotahs might not know when they were the subjects of conversation. The exact meaning of the

Shah-Co-Pee, The Orator of the Sioux

Shah-co-pee (or Six) is one of the chiefs of the Dahcotahs; his village is about twenty-five miles from Fort Snelling. He belongs to the bands that are called Men-da-wa-can-ton, or People of the Spirit Lakes. No one who has lived at Fort Snelling can ever forget him, for at what house has he not called to shake hands and smoke; to say that he is a great chief, and that he is hungry and must eat before he starts for home? If the hint is not immediately acted upon, he adds that the sun is dying fast, and it is

Dakota Indian Names and Writing

The names of the Sioux bands or villages, are as fanciful as those given to individuals. Near Fort Snelling, are the “Men-da-wahcan-tons,” or people of the spirit lakes; the “Wahk-patons,” or people of the leaves; the “Wahk-pa-coo-tahs,” or people that shoot at leaves, and other bands who have names of this kind. Among those chiefs who have been well-known around Fort Snelling, are: Wah-ba-shaw The Leaf Wah-ke-on-tun-kah Big Thunder Wah-coo-ta Red Wing Muzza Hotah Gray Iron Ma-pe-ah-we-chas-tah The man in the Cloud Tah-chun-coo-wash-ta Good Road Sha-ce-pee The Sixth Wah-soo-we-chasta-ne Bad Hail Ish-ta-hum-bah Sleepy Eyes These fanciful names are given to

Mock-Pe-En-Dag-A-Win: or Checkered Cloud, the Medicine Woman

Mock-Pe-En-Dag-A-Win: or Checkered Cloud, the Medicine Woman 1A medicine woman is a female doctor or juggler. No man or woman can assume this office without previous initiation by authority. The medicine dance is a sacred rite, in honor of the souls of the dead; the mysteries of this dance are kept inviolable; its secrets have never been divulged by its members. The medicine men and women attend in cases of sickness. The Sioux have the greatest faith in them. When the patient recovers, it redounds to the honor of the doctor; if he die, they say “The time had come

The Maiden’s Rock or Wenona’s Leap

Lake Pepin is a widening of the Mississippi river. It is about twenty miles in length, and from one to two miles wide. The country along its banks is barren. The lake has little current, but is dangerous for steamboats in a high wind. It is not deep, and abounds in fish, particularly the sturgeon. On its shores the traveler gathers white and red agates, and sometimes specimens streaked with veins of gold color. The lover reads the motto from his mistress’ seal, not thinking that the beautiful stone which made the impression, was found on the banks of Lake

U-Me-Ne-Wah-Chippe or To Dance Around

I have noticed the many singular notions of the Sioux concerning thunder, and especially the fact that they believe it to be a large bird. They represent it thus. This figure is often seen worked with porcupine quills on their ornaments. Ke-on means to fly. Thunder is called Wah-ke-on or All-flier. U-mi-ne-wah-chippe is a dance given by some one who fears thunder and thus endeavors to propitiate the god and save his own life. A ring is made, of about sixty feet in circumference, by sticking saplings in the ground, and bending their tops down, fastening them together. In the

Dakota Indian Doctors

When an Indian is sick and wants “the Doctor” as we say, or a medicine man, as they say, they call them also priests, doctors and jugglers, a messenger is sent for one, with a pipe filled in one hand, and payment in the other; which fee may be a gun, blanket, kettle or anything in the way of present. The messenger enters the wigwam (or teepee, as the houses of the Sioux are called) of the juggler, presents the pipe, and lays the present or fee beside him. Having smoked, the Doctor goes to the teepee of the patient,