Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAKOTA STORIES III

 

 

Creation of the Buffalo Nation

"The Great Spirit Skan made us with bones from Stone, bodies from Earth, and souls from himself, Wind and Thunders. The gifts of Sun, Wisdom, Moon, and Revealer gave us life. A council of the spirits named us Pte Oyate - Buffalo Nation - and told us to care for the spirits.

One day Spider sent Wolf to the Underworld to tell Tokahe that life would be easier on the surface of the earth. Tokahe ignored the warnings of the holy man Tatanka, and led the people up through Wind Cave. Life there was hard, so Tatanka came to help - as a great, shaggy beast. Since then the people have lived here with the buffalo."

Lakota creation story courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.


Dance in a Buffalo Skull



It was night upon the prairie. Overhead the stars were twinkling bright their red and yellow lights. The moon was young. A silvery thread among the stars, it soon drifted low beneath the horizon. Upon the ground the land was pitchy black. There are night people on the plain who love the dark. Amid the black level land they meet to frolic under the stars. Then when their sharp ears hear any strange footfalls nigh they scamper away into the deep shadows of night. There they are safely hid from all dangers, they think.

Thus it was that one very black night, afar off from the edge of the level land, out of the wooded river bottom glided forth two balls of fire. They came farther and farther into the level land. They grew larger and brighter.  The dark hid the body of the creature with those fiery eyes. They came on and on, just over the tops of the prairie grass. It might have been a  wildcat prowling low on soft, stealthy feet. Slowly but surely the terrible eyes drew nearer and nearer to the heart of the level land.

There in a huge old buffalo skull was a wonderful feast and dance! Tiny little field mice were singing and dancing in a circle to the boom-boom of a tiny drum. They were laughing and talking among themselves while their chosen singers sang loud a merry tune. They built a small open fire within the center of their queer dance house. The light streamed out of the buffalo skull through all the curious sockets and holes.

The field mice were singing and dancing in a circle A light on the plain in the middle of the night was an unusual thing. But so merry were the mice they did not hear the "king, king" of sleepy birds, disturbed by the unaccustomed fire.

A pack of wolves, fearing to come nigh this night fire, stood together a little distance away, and, turning their pointed noses to the stars, howled and yelped most dismally. Even the cry of the wolves was unheeded by the mice within the lighted buffalo skull. They were feasting and dancing; they were singing and laughing -- those funny little furry fellows.

All the while across the dark from out the low river bottom came that pair of fiery eyes.

Now closer and more swift, now fiercer and glaring, the eyes moved toward the buffalo skull. All unconscious of those fearful eyes, the happy mice nibbled at dried roots and venison. The singers had started another song.  The drummers beat the time, turning their heads from side to side in rhythm.  In a ring around the fire hopped the mice, each bouncing hard on his two hind feet. Some carried their tails over their arms, while others trailed them proudly along. Ah, very near are those round yellow eyes! Very low to
the ground they seem to creep - creep toward the buffalo skull. All of a sudden they slide into the eye- sockets of the old skull.

"Spirit of the buffalo!" squeaked a frightened mouse as he jumped out from a hole in the back part of the skull.

"A cat! a cat!" cried other mice as they scrambled out of holes both large and snug. Noiseless they ran away into the dark.

As told by Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, 1876-1938), Lakota
Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.

 

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