Manataka American Indian Council









Children Of The Land

Lakota Children in their play, either alone or in groups, roamed far and wide over the countryside. They grew up without a sense of restriction and confinement. Their faculties became accustomed to space and distance, to skies clear or stormy, and to freedom in its. full meaning. The 'Great Out-doors' was reality and not something to be talked about in dim consciousness. And for them there was perfect safety. There were not the dangers that seem to surround childhood of today. I can recall days-entire days-when we roamed over the plains, hills, and up and down streams without fear of anything. I do not remember ever hearing of an Indian child being hurt or eaten by a wild animal.

Every now and then the whole village moved ten or fifteen miles to a grassier spot, but this was not considered much of a job. It was less trouble than moving a house from the front to the back of a city lot. Miles were to us as they were to the bird. The land was ours to roam in as the sky was for them to fly in. We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild.'

Only to the white man was nature a 'wilderness' and only to him was the land 'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it 'wild' for us.  When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was that for us the 'Wild West' began.

Luther Standing Bear, Lakota
From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories

Coyote and Wasichu


There was a white man who was such a sharp trader that nobody ever got the better of him. Or so people said, until one day a man told this Wasichu (literal translation: Meat-eater; White Person)

"There's somebody who can out trade you anytime, anywhere," said the man.

"That's not possible," said the Wasichu. "I've had a trading post for many years, and I've traded all the Indians around here."

"Even so, Coyote can beat you in any deal," the man said.

"Let's see whether he can. Where is Coyote?" "Over there, that tricky-looking guy?" Okay, all right, I'll try him." The Wasichu trader went over to Coyote.

"Hey, let's see you outsmart me," Wasichu said.

"I'm sorry," said Coyote, "I'd like to help you out, but I can't do it without my trading medicine."

"Trading medicine, hah! Go get it."

"I live miles from here and I'm on foot.  But if you'd lend me your fast horse...," said Coyote.

"Well, all right, you can borrow it. Go on home and get your trading medicine!," snarled the Wasichu.

"Well, friend, I'm a poor rider. Your horse is afraid of me, and I'm afraid of him. Lend me your clothes; then your horse will think that I am you," said Coyote.

"Well, all right.  Here are my clothes; now you can ride him. Go get that medicine. I'm sure I can beat it!"

So Coyote rode off with the Wasichu's fast horse and his fine clothes, while the Wasichu stood there naked.

Told at Grass Mountain, Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, 1974
Also From American Indian Myths and Legends, Richard Erdoes and Alfonso
Ortiz, editors. Copyright 1984 by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.
Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories

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