Wakanda or the Wind

The winds had some mystic references to the cross in the Kansas mind —at least in the Siouan mind. The Omaha and Ponca prayed to the wind and invoked it. In the pipe dance the ceremonial implements had drawn on them with green paint a cross indicating the four quarters of the world—the four winds. The Kansas warriors drew out the hearts of their slain enemies and burned them as a sacrifice to these four winds. In 1882 the Kansas still sacrificed and made offerings to all their ancient wakandas —including the four winds. They began with the East Wind, then they turned to the South Wind, then to the West Wind, and then to the North Wind. In ancient times they cut pieces of flesh from their own bodies for these offerings.

The idea or conception that wind was a wakanda or was supernatural seems to lie at the very base of Siouan development. It may have been the first wakanda, being associated with the breath of life. In the Order of the Translucent Stone, of the Omaha tribe, the Wind or Wind Makers were invoked. The four winds were associated with the sun in the ceremonies of raising the sun pole. In the Dakota each of the four quarters of the heaven or winds was counted as three, making twelve—always a sacred number with mankind. Mr. Dorsey asks if there might be any reference to three worlds in this custom—an upper world, our world, a lower world. Or were there three divisions of the wind, or three kinds of wind—that near the earth, that in mid air, and that high and bearing the clouds. The wind gentes of the various Siouan tribes are thus enumerated by Mr. Dorsey:

The following social divisions are assigned to this category: Kanze, or Wind people, and the Te-da-it’aji, Touch-not-a-buffalo-skull, or Eagle people, of the Omaha tribe; the Cixida and Nikadacna gentes of the Ponka; the Kanze (Wind or South Wind people), Quya (White eagle), Ghost, and perhaps the Large Hanga (Black eagle), among the Kansa; the Kanze (also called the Wind and South Wind people), and perhaps the Hanka Utacantse (Black eagle) gens of the Osage; the Pigeon and Buffalo gentes of the Iowa and the Oto tribes; the Hawk and Momi (Small bird) subgentes of the Missouri tribe; the Eagle and Pigeon and perhaps the Hawk subgens of the Winnebago Bird gens.

Each wind or quarter is reckoned as three by the Dakota and presumably by the Osage, making the four quarters equal to twelve. Can there be any reference here to a belief in three worlds, the one in which we live, an upper world, and a world beneath this one? Or were the winds divided into three classes, those close to the ground, those in mid air, and those very high in the air? The Kansa seem to make some such distinction, judging from the names of the divisions of the Kanze or Wind gens of that tribe.

It would appear to be against reason that a word which runs through all the mysticism of an Indian linguistic family should have any alien origin whatever. It is impossible that such a word should have its origin in any European language. Kansa (the Kansas of our day) is an old Siouan word. Its application and use go back to the social organization of the Siouan group. It lies at the foundation of the political systems of various tribes of the Siouan linguistic family. To these uses it had been assigned perhaps many centuries prior to the discovery of America. While the full meaning of the word Kansa may never be known, it is established beyond question that it does mean—Wind People, or People of the South Wind. To the Siouans of ancient times it probably meant much more, but it did mean Wind people, or People of the South Wind, whatever else it may have included.

So Kansas is the land of the Wind People, or the land of the People of the South Wind, if we look to the aboriginal tongue for its signification.

History, Omaha, Osage, Ponca,


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