Legends of the Northwest
by Hanford Lennox Gordon
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3 Pronounced Wah-ze-yah. The god of the North, or Winter. A fabled spirit who dwells in the frozen North, in a great teepee of ice and snow. From his mouth and nostrils he blows the cold blasts of winter. He and "I-t-ka-ga Wi-cs-ta"—the spirit or god of the South (literally the "South Man"), are inveterate enemies, and always on the war-path against each other. In winter Wa-z-ya advances southward and drives "I-t-ka-ga Wi-cs-ta" before him to the Summer-Islands. But in Spring the god of the South, having renewed his youth and strength, in the "Happy Hunting Grounds," is able to drive Wa-z-ya back again to his icy wigwam in the North. Some Dakotas say that the numerous granite boulders, scattered over the prairies of Minnesota and Dakota, were hurled in battle by Wa-z-ya from his home in the North at "I-t-ka-ga Wi-cs-ta." The Wa-z-ya of the Dakotas is substantially the name as "Ka-be-bn-ik-ka"—the "Winter-maker" of the Ojibways.

4 Mendota—(meeting of the waters) at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. See view of the valleyfront cut. The true Dakota word is Md t—applied to the mouth of a river flowing into another,—also to the outlet of a lake.

5 Pronounced Wee-wh-stay; literally—a beautiful virgin, or woman.

6 Cetn-wa-k-wa-mni—"He who shoots pigeon-hawks walking"—was the full Dakota name of the grandfather of the celebrated "Little Crow" (Ta—ya-te-d-ta.—His Red People) who led his warriors in the terrible outbreak in Minnesota in 1862-3. The Chippewas called the grandfather "K-k-ke"—crow or raven—from his war-badge, a crow-skin; and hence the French traders and courriers du bois called him "Petit Corbeau"—Little Crow. This sobriquet, of which he was proud, descended to his son, Waknyan Tnka—Big Thunder, who succeeded him as chief; and from Big Thunder to his son Ta—ya-te-d-ta, who became chief on the death of Waknyan Tnka. These several "Little Crows" were successively Chiefs of the Light-foot, or Kapza band of Dakotas. Kapza, the principal village of this band, was originally located on the east bank of the Mississippi near the site of the city of St. Paul. Col. Minn. Hist. Soc., 1864, p. 29. It was in later years moved to the west bank. The grandfather, whom I, for short, call Wakwa, died the death of a brave in battle against the Ojibways (commonly called Chippewas)—the hereditary enemies of the Dakotas. Waknyan Tnka.—Big Thunder, was killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun. They were both buried with their kindred near the "Wakan Teepee," the sacred Cave—(Carver's Cave). Ta—ya-te-d-ta, the last of the Little Crows, was killed July 3, 1863, near Hutchinson, Minnesota, by one Lamson, and his bones were duly "done up" for the Historical Society of Minnesota. For a part of the foregoing information I am indebted to Gen. H. H. Sibley. See Heard's Hist. Sioux War, and Neill's Hist. Minnesota, Third Edition.

7 Hrps-te-nh. The first-born daughter of a Dakota is called Winona; the second, Hrpen; the third, Hrpstin; the fourth. Wska; the fifth, Wehrka. The first born son is called Chask; the second, Hrpam; the third, Hapda; the fourth, Chtun; the fifth, Hrka. They retain these names till others are given them on account of some action, peculiarity, etc. The females often retain their child-names through life.

8 Wah-pah-sh was the hereditary name of a long and illustrious lineof Dakota Chiefs. Wabashaw is a corrupt pronounciation. The name is a contraction of "W-pa-h-sa," which is from "W-ha-pa," the standard or pole used in the Dakota dances, and upon which feathers of various colors are tied, and not from "W-pa"—leaf or leaves, as has been generally supposed. Therefore Wpasa means the Standard—and not the "Leaf-Shaker," as many writers have it. The principal village of these hereditary Chiefs was Ke-k-sa, or Ke—sa,—where now stands the fair city of Winona. Ke-k-sa signifies—The village of law-breakers; so-called because this band broke the law or custom of the Dakotas against marrying blood relatives of any degree. I get this information from Rev. Stephen R. Riggs, author of the Dakota Grammar and Dictionary, "Takoo Wakan," etc. Wapasa, grandfather of the last Chief of that name, and a contemporary of Cetan-Wa-k-wa-mni, was a noted Chief, and a friend of the British in the war of the Revolution. Neill's Hist. Minn., pp. 225-9.

9 E-h, E-t—Exclamations of surprise and delight.

10 Mah-gh—The wild-goose.

11 Te-pe—A lodge or wigwam, often contracted to "tee."

12 Pronounced Mahr-pe-yah-do-tah—literally, Cloud Red.

13 Pronounced Wahnmde—The War-Eagle. Each feather worn by a warrior represents an enemy slain or captured—man, woman or child; but the Dakotas, before they became desperate under the cruel warfare of their enemies, generally spared the lives of their captives, and never killed women or infants, except in rare instances, under the lex talionis. Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 112.

14 Mah-t—The polar bear—ursus maritimus. The Dakotas say that, in olden times, white bears were often found about Rainy Lake and the Lake of the Woods, in winter, and sometimes as far south as the mouth of the Minnesota. They say one was once killed at White Bear Lake (but a few miles from St. Paul and Minneapolis), and they therefore named the lake Med Mat—White Bear Lake.

15 The H-h (H-hy) are the Assiniboins or "Stone-roasters." Their home is the region of the Assiniboin river in British America. They speak the Dakota tongue, and originally were a band of that nation. Tradition says a Dakota "Helen" was the cause of the separation and a bloody feud that lasted for many years. The Hohs are called "Stone roasters," because, until recently at least, they used "Wa-ta-pe" kettles and vessels made of birch bark in which they cooked their food. They boiled water in these vessels by heating stones and putting them in the water. The "wa-ta-pe" kettle is made of the fibrous roots of the white cedar, interlaced and tightly woven. When the vessel is soaked it becomes watertight. [Snelling's] Tales of the North west, p 21. Mackenzie's Travels.

16 Hey—ka is one of the principal Dakota deities. He is a Giant, but can change himself into a buffalo, a bear, a fish or a bird. He is called the Anti-natural God or Spirit. In summer he shivers with cold, in winter he suffers from heat; he cries when he laughs and he laughs when he cries, &c. He is the reverse of nature in all things. Heyka is universally feared and reverenced by the Dakotas, but so severe is the ordeal that the Heyka Wacpee (the dance to Heyka) is now rarely celebrated. It is said that the "Medicine-men" use a secret preparation which enables them to handle fire and dip their hands in boiling water without injury, and thereby gain great eclat from the uninitiated. The chiefs and the leading warriors usually belong to the secret order of "Medicine-men," or "Sons of Unkthee"—the Spirit of the Waters.

17 The Dakota name for the moon is Han-y-tu-wee—literally, Night-Sun. He is the twin brother of An-p-tu-wee—the Day Sun. See note 70.

18 The Dakotas believe that the stars are the spirits of their departed friends.

19 Tee—Contracted from teepee, lodge or wigwam, and means the same.

20 For all their sacred feasts the Dakotas kindle a new fire called "The Virgin Fire." This is done with flint and steel, or by rubbing together pieces of wood till friction produces fire. It must be done by a virgin, nor must any woman, except a virgin, ever touch the "sacred armor" of a Dakota warrior. White cedar is "Wakn"—sacred. See note 50. Riggs' "Tahkoo Wakn," p. 84.

21 All Northern Indians consider the East a mysterious and sacred land whence comes the sun. The Dakota name for the East is Wee-yo-he-yan-pa—the sunrise. The Ojibways call it Waub—nong—the white land or land of light, and they have many myths, legends and traditions relating thereto. Barbarous peoples of all times have regarded the East with superstitious reverence, simply because the sun rises in that quarter.

22 See Mrs. Eastman's Dacotah, pp. 225-8, describing the feast to Heyka.

23 This stone from which the Dakotas have made their pipes for ages, is esteemed "wakn"—sacred. They call it I-yn-ska, probably from "ya," to speak, and "ska," white, truthful, peaceful,—hence, peace-pipe, herald of peace, pledge of truth, etc. In the cabinet at Albany, N.Y., there is a very ancient pipe of this material which the Iroquois obtained from the Dakotas. Charlevoix speaks of this pipe-stone in his History of New France. LeSueur refers to the Yanktons as the village of the Dakotas at the Red-Stone Quarry, See Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 514.

24 "Ho" is an exclamation of approval-yea, yes, bravo.

25 Buying is the honorable way of taking a wife among the Dakotas. The proposed husband usually gives a horse or its, value in other articles to the father or natural guardian of the woman selected—sometimes against her will. See note 75.

26 The Dakotas believe that the Aurora Borealis is an evil omen and the threatening of an evil spirit, (perhaps Wazya, the Winter-god—some say a witch, or a very ugly old woman). When the lights appear, danger threatens, and the warriors shoot at, and often slay, the evil spirit, but it rises from the dead again.

27 Se-s-kah—The Robin.

28 The spirit of Anptu-spa that haunts the Falls of St. Anthony with her dead babe in her arms. See the Legend in Neill's Hist. Minn., or my "Legend of the Falls."

29 Mee-conk-shee—My daughter.

30 The Dakotas call the meteor, "Wakn-denda" (sacred fire) and Wakn-wohlpa (sacred gift.) Meteors are messengers from the Land of Spirits, warning of impending danger. It is a curious fact that the "sacred stone" of the Mohammedans, in the Kaaba at Mecca, is a meteoric stone, and obtains its sacred character from the fact that it fell from heaven. 31 Kah-n-te-dahn—The little, mysterious dweller in the woods. This spirit lives in the forest in hollow trees. Mrs. Eastman's Dacotah, Pre. Rem. xxxi. "The Dakota god of the woods—an unknown animal said to resemble a man, which the Dakotas worship; perhaps, the monkey." Riggs' Dakota Dic. Tit—Canotidan.

32 The Dakotas believe that thunder is produced by the flapping of the wings of an immense bird which they call Waknyan—the Thunder-bird. Near the source of the Minnesota River is a place called "Thunder-Tracks" where the foot-prints of a "Thunder-bird" are seen on the rocks twenty-five miles apart. Mrs. Eastman's Dacotah, p. 71. There are many Thunder-birds. The father of all the Thunder-birds—"Waknyan Tanka"—or "Big Thunder," has his teepee on a lofty mountain in the far West. His teepee has four openings, at each of which is a sentinel; at the east, a butterfly; at the west, a bear; at the south, a red deer; at the north, a caribou. He has a bitter enmity against Unkthee (god of waters) and often shoots his fiery arrows at him, and hits the earth, trees, rocks, and sometimes men. Waknyan created wild-rice, the bow and arrow, the tomahawk and the spear. He is a great war-spirit, and Wanmde (the war-eagle) is his messenger. A Thunder-bird (say the Dakotas) was once killed near Kapza by the son of Cetan-Wakawa-mni, and he there upon took the name of "Waknyan Tanka"—"Big Thunder."

33 Pronounced Tah-thn-kah—Bison or Buffalo.

34 Enh—An exclamation of wonder. Eh—Behold! see there!

35 The Crees are the Knisteneaux of Alexander Mackenzie. See his account of them, Mackenzie's Travels, (London 1801) p. xci. to cvii.

36 Lake Superior. The only names the Dakotas have for Lake Superior are Med Tnka or Tnka Med—Great Lake, and Me-ne-y-ta—literally, At-the-Water.

37 April—Literally, the moon when the geese lay eggs. See note 71.

38 Carver's Cave at St. Paul was called by the Dakotas "Wakn Teepee"—sacred lodge. In the days that are no more, they lighted their Council-fires in this cave, and buried their dead near it. See Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 207. Capt. Carver in his Travels, London, 1778, p. 63, et seq., describes this cave as follows: "It is a remarkable cave of an amazing depth. The Indians term it Wakon-teebe, that is, the Dwelling of the Great Spirit. The entrance into it is about ten feet wide, the height of it five feet, the arch within is near fifteen feet high and about thirty feet broad. The bottom of it consists of fine clear sand. About twenty feet from the entrance begins a lake, the water of which is transparent, and extends to an unsearchable distance; for the darkness of the cave prevents all attempts to acquire a knowledge of it. I threw a small pebble towards the interior parts of it with my utmost strength. I could hear that it fell into the water, and notwithstanding it was of so small a size, it caused an astonishing and horrible noise that reverberated through all those gloomy regions. I found in this cave many Indian hieroglyphics, which appeared very ancient, for time had nearly covered them with moss, so that it was with difficulty I could trace them. They were cut in a rude manner upon the inside of the walls, which were composed of a stone so extremely soft that it might be easily penetrated with a knife: a stone everywhere to be found near the Mississippi. This cave is only accessible by ascending a narrow, steep passage that lies near the brink of the river. At a little distance from this dreary cavern is the burying-place of several bands of the Naudowessie (Dakota) Indians." Many years ago the roof fell in, but the cave has been partially restored and is now used as a beer cellar.

39 Wah-kahn-dee—The lightning.

40 The Bloody River—the Red River was so-called on account of the numerous Indian battles that have been fought on its banks. The Chippewas say that its waters were colored red by the blood of many warriors slain on its banks in the fierce wars between themselves and the Dakotas.

41 Tah—The Moose. This is the root-word for all ruminating animals; Ta-tnka, buffalo-Ta-tka mountain antelope—Ta-hinca, the red-deer—Ta-mdka, the buck deer-Ta-hinca-ska, white deer (sheep).

42 Hoghn—Fish. Red Hogan, the trout.

43 Tipsnna (often called tipsinna) is a wild prairie turnip used for food by the Dakotas. It grows on high, dry land, and increases from year to year. It is eaten both cooked and raw.

44 Rio Tajo, (or Tagus), a river of Spain and Portugal.

45 "* * * * Bees of Trebizond— Which from the sunniest flowers that glad With their pure smile the gardens round, Draw venom forth that drives men mad."

Thomas Moore

46 Ske-skah—The Wood duck.

47 The Crocus. I have seen the prairies in Minnesota spangled with these beautiful flowers in various colors before the ground was entirely free from frost. The Datotas call them frost-flowers.

48 The "Sacred Ring" around the feast of the Virgins is formed by armed warriors sitting, and none but a virgin must enter this ring. The warrior who knows is bound on honor, and by old and sacred custom, to expose and publicly denounce any tarnished maiden who dares to enter this ring, and his word cannot be questioned—even by the chief. See Mrs Eastman's Dacotah, p. 64.

49 Prairie's Pride.—This annual shrub, which abounds on many of the sandy prairies in Minnesota, is sometimes called "tea-plant," "sage-plant," and "red-root willow." I doubt if it has any botanic name. Its long plumes of purple and gold are truly the "pride of the prairies."

50 The Dakotas consider white cedar "Wakn," (sacred). They use sprigs of it at their feasts, and often burn it to destroy the power of evil spirits. Mrs Eastman's Dacotah, p. 210.

51 Thkoo-skahng-skang.—This deity is supposed to be invisible, yet everywhere present; he is an avenger and a searcher of hearts. (Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 57.) I suspect he was the chief spirit of the Dakotas before the missionaries imported "Wakan Tnka"—(Great Spirit).

52 The Dakotas believe in "were-wolves" as firmly as did our Saxon ancestors, and for similar reasons—the howl of the wolf being often imitated as a decoy or signal by their enemies, the Ojibways.

53 Shee-sh-kah—The Robin.

54 The Dakotas cail the Evening Star the "Virgin Star," and believe it to be the spirit of the virgin wronged at the feast.

55 Mille Lacs. This lake was discovered by DuLuth, and by him named Lac Buade, in honor of Governor Frontenac of Canada, whose familyname was Buade. The Dakota name for it is Md Waksn—Spirit Lake.

56 The Ojibways imitate the hoot of the owl and the howl of the wolf to perfection, and often use these cries as signals to each other in war and the chase.

57 The Dakotas called the Ojibways the "Snakes of the Forest," on account of their lying in ambush for their enemies.

58 Strawberries.

59 Se-yo—The Prairie-hen.

60 Mahgh—The Wild-goose. Fox-pups. I could never see the propriety of calling the young of foxes kits or kittens, which mean little cats. The fox belongs to the canis, or dog family and not the felis, or cat family. If it is proper to call the young of dogs and wolves pups, it is equally proper to so call the young of foxes.

61 When a Dakota is sick, he thinks the spirit of an enemy or some animal has entered into his body, and the principal business of the "medicine man"—Wicasta Wakan—is to cast out the "unclean spirit," with incantations and charms. See Neill's Hist. Minn., pp. 66—8. The Jews entertained a similar belief in the days of Jesus of Nazareth.

62 Wah-ze-yah's star—The North-star. See note 3.

63 The Dakotas, like our forefathers and all other barbarians, believe in witches and witchcraft.

64 The Med is a wild potato, it resembles the sweet potato in top and taste. It grows in bottom-lands, and is much prized by the Dakotas for food. The "Dakota Friend," for December, 1850.

65 The meteor—Wakn denda—Sacred fire.

66 Meethwin—My bride.

67 Stoke—The body of a tree. This is an old English word of Saxon origin, now changed to stock.

68 The Via Lactea or Milky Way. The Dakotas call it Wanagee-Tach-anku—The path-way of the spirits and believe that over this path the spirits of the dead pass to the Spirit-land. See Riggs' Tah-koo Wah-kan, p. 101.

69 Oonk-ty-hee—There are many Unkthees, children of the Great Unkthee, who created the earth and man and who formerly dwelt in a vast cavern under the Falls of St. Anthony. The Unkthee sometimes reveals himself in the form of a huge buffalo-bull. From him proceed invisible influences. The Great Unkthee created the earth. "Assembling in grand conclave all the aquatic tribes he ordered them to bring up dirt from beneath the waters, and proclaimed death to the disobedient. The beaver and otter forfeited their lives. At last the muskrat went beneath the waters, and, after a long time appeared at the surface, nearly exhausted, with some dirt. From this, Unkthee fashioned the earth into a large circular plain. The earth being finished, he took a deity, one of his own offspring, and grinding him to powder, sprinkled it upon the earth, and this produced many worms. The worms were then collected and scattered again. They matured into infants and these were then collected and scattered and became full-grown Dakotas. The bones of the mastodon, the Dakotas think, are the bones of Unkthees, and they preserve the with the greatest care in the medicine bag." Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 55. The Unkthees and the Thunder-birds are perpetually it war. There are various accounts of the creation of man. Some say that at the bidding of the Great Unkthee, men sprang full grown from the caverns of the earth. See Riggs' "Tah-koo Wah-kn," and Mrs Eastman's Dacotah. The Great Unkthee and the Great Thunder-bird had a terrible battle in the bowels of the earth to determine which should be the ruler of the world. See description in Legend of Winona.

70 Prononced Ahng-pay-too-wee—The Sun; literally the Day Sun, thus distinguishing him from Han-y-tuwee (Hahng-yay-too-wee) the night sun, (the moon). They are twin brothers but Anptuwee is the more powerful Han-y-tuwee receives his power from his brother and obeys him. He watches over the earth while the Sun sleeps. The Dakotas believe the sun is the father of life. Unlike the most of their other gods, he is beneficent and kind; yet they worship him (in the sun-dance) in the most dreadful manner. See Riggs' "Tah-koo Wah-kn," pp. 81-2, and Catlin's Riggs' "Okee-pa." The moon is worshipped as the representative of the sun; and in the great Sun-dance, which is usually held in the full of the moon, when the moon rises the dancers turn their eyes on her (or him). Anptuwee issues every morning from the lodge of Han-nan-na (the Morning) and begins his journey over the sky to his lodge in the land of shadows. Sometimes he walks over on the Bridge (or path) of the Spirits—Wangee Ta-chan-ku,—and sometimes he sails over the sea of the skies in his shining canoe; but somehow, and the Dakotas do not explain how, he gets back again to the lodge of Hannanna in time to take a nap and eat his breakfast before starting anew on his journey. The Dakotas swear by the sun. "As Anp-tu-wee hears me, this is true!" They call him Father and pray to him —"Wakan! Ate, on-she-ma-da." "Sacred Spirit,—Father, have mercy on me." As the Sun is the father, so they believe the Earth is the mother, of life. Truly there is much philosophy in the Dakota mythology. The Algonkins call the earth "Me-suk-kum-mik-o-kwa"—the great-grandmother of all. Narrative of John Tanner, p. 193.

71 The Dakotas reckon their months by moon. They name their moons from natural circumstances. They correspond very nearly with our months, as follows:

January—Wee-t-rhee—The Hard Moon, i.e.—the cold moon.

February—Wee-c-ta-wee—The Coon Moon.

March—Ist-wee-ca-ya-zang-wee—the sore eyes moon (from snow blindness.)

April—Mag-ok-da-wee—the moon when the geese lay eggs; also called Wokda-wee—egg-moon, and sometimes Wat-papee-wee, the canoe moon, or moon when the streams become free from ice.

May—W-zu-pee-wee—the planting moon.

June—Waz-ste-ca-sa-wee—the strawberry moon

July—Wa-sun-pa-wee—moon when the geese shed their feathers, also called Chang-p-sapa-wee—Choke-Cherry moon, and sometimes—Mna-rch-rhca-wee—"The moon of the red blooming lilies", literally, the red-lily moon.

August—Was-ton-wee—the ripe moon, i.e. Harvest Moon.

September—Psin-na-k-tu-wee—the ripe rice moon.

October—W-zu-pee-wee or Wee-wa-z-pee—the moon when wild rice is gathered and laid up for winter.

November—Ta-kee-yu-hr-wee—the deer-rutting moon.

December—Ta-h-cha-psung-wee—the moon when deer shed their horns.

72 Oonk-t-mee—is a "bad spirit" in the form of a monstrous black spider. He inhabits fens and marshes and lies in wait for his prey. At night he often lights a torch (evidently the ignis fatuus or Jack-a-lantern) and swings it on the marshes to decoy the unwary into his toils.

73 The Dakotas have their stone idol, or god, called Toon-kan—or In-yan. This god dwells in stone or rocks and is they say, the oldest god of all—he is grandfather of all living things. I think, however that the stone is merely the symbol of the everlasting, all pervading, invisible Ta-ku Wa-kan—the essence of all life,—pervading all nature, animate and inanimate. The Rev. S. R. Riggs who, for forty years, has been a student of Dakota customs, superstitions etc., says, "Thkoo Wahkan," p. 55 et seq. "The religious faith of the Dakota is not in his gods as such. It is in an intangible, mysterious something of which they are only the embodiment, and that in such measure and degree as may accord with the individual fancy of the worshipper. Each one will worship some of these divinities, and neglect or despise others, but the great object of all their worship, whatever its chosen medium, is the Ta-koo Wa-kan, which is the supernatural and mysterious. No one term can express the full meaning of the Dakotas Wakan. It comprehends all mystery, secret power and divinity. Awe and reverence are its due, and it is as unlimited in manifestation as it is in idea. All life is Wakan; so also is everything which exhibits power, whether in action as the winds and drifting clouds; or in passive endurance, as the boulder by the wayside. For even the commonest sticks and stones have a spiritual essence which must be reverenced as a manifestation of the all-pervading mysterious power that fills the the universe."

74 Wazi-kut—Wah-ze-koo-tay; literally—Pine-shooter—he that shoots among the pines. When Father Hennepin was at Mille Lacs in 1679-80, Wazi-kut was the head Chief (Itncan) of the band of Isantees. Hennepin writes his name Ouasicoud and translates it—the "Pierced Pine." See Shea's Hennepin p. 234, Minn. Hist. Coll. vol. I. p. 316.

75 When a Dakota brave wishes to "propose" to a "dusky maid", he visits her teepee at night after she has retired, or rather, laid down in her robe to sleep. He lights a splinter of wood and holds it to her face. If she blows out the light, he is accepted; if she covers her head and leaves it burning, he is rejected. The rejection however is not considered final till it has been thrice repeated. Even then the maiden is often bought of her parents or guardian, and forced to become the wife of the rejected suitor. If she accepts the proposal, still the suitor must buy her of her parents with suitable gifts.

76 The Dakotas called the Falls of St. Anthony the Ha-Ha—the loud laughing, or roaring. The Mississippi River they called Ha-Ha W-kpa—River of the Falls. The Ojibway name for the Falls is Ka-k-bih-kng. Minnehaha is a combination of two Dakota words—Mini—water and Ha-Ha—Falls; but it is not the name by which the Dakotas designated that cataract. Some authorities say they called it I-ha-ha pronounced E-rhah-rhah—lightly laughing. Rev. S. W. Pond, whose long residence as a missionary among the Dakotas in this immediate vicinity makes him an authority that can hardly be questioned, says "they called the Falls of Minnehaha "Mini-i-hrp-ya dan," and it had no other name in Dakota. It means Little Falls and nothing else." Letter to the author.

77 The game of the Plum-stones is one of the favorite games of the Dakotas. Hennepin was the first to describe this game in his "Description de la Louisiane," Paris, 1683, and he describes it very accurately. See Shea's translation p. 301. The Dakotas call this game Kan-soo Koo tay-pe—shooting plum-stones. Each stone is painted black on one side and red on the other; on one side they grave certain figures which make the stones "Wakan." They are placed in a dish and thrown up like dice; indeed the game is virtually a game of dice. Hennepin says: "There are some so given to this game that they will gamble away even their great coat. Those who conduct the game cry at the top of their voices when they rattle the platter and they strike their shoulders so hard as to leave them all black with the blows."

78 Wa'tanka—contraction of Wa-kan Tanka—Great Spirit. The Dakotas had no Wakan Tanka—or Wakan-pta—fire spirit—till whitemen imported them. There being no name for the Supreme Being in the Dakota tongue (except T-ku Wakan—See note 73)—and all their gods and spirits being Wakan—the missionaries named God in Dakota—"Wakan Tanka"—which means Big Spirit, or The Big Mysterious.

79 The Dakotas called Lake Calhoun—Md-md-za—Loon Lake. They also called it—Re-ya-ta-mde—the lake back from the river. They called Lake Harriet—Md-nma—the other lake—or (perhaps) Md maHazel-nut Lake. The lake nearest Calhoun on the north—Lake of the Isles—they called W-ta Md—Island-Lake. Lake Minnetonka they called Me-me-a-tn-ka—Broad Water.

80 The animal called by the French voyageurs the cabri (the kid) is found only on the prairies. It is of the goat kind, smaller than a deer, and so swift that neither horse nor dog can overtake it. (Snelling's) "Tales of the Northwest," p. 286. note 15. It is the gazelle, or prairie antelope, called by the Dakotas Tato-ka-dan—little antelope. It is the Pish-tah-te-koosh of the Algonkin tribes, "reckoned the fleetest animal in the prairie country about the Assinneboin." Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, p. 301.

81 The Wicstpi Waknpi (literally, men supernatural) are the "Medicine-men" or Magicians of the Dakotas. They call themselves the sons, or disciples of Unkthee. In their rites, ceremonies, tricks and pretensions they closely resemble the Dactyli, Id and Curetes of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Magi of the Persians, and the Druids of Britain. Their pretended intercourse with spirits, their powers of magic and divination, and their rites are substantially the same, and point unmistakably to a common origin. The Dakota "Medicine-Man" can do the "rope-trick" of the Hindoo magician to perfection. The teepee used for the Wakan Wacipee—or Sacred Dance—is called the Wakan Teepee— the Sacred Teepee. Carver's Cave at St. Paul was also called Wakan Teepee, because the Medicine-men or magicians often held their dances and feasts in it. For a full account of the rites, etc., see Riggs' "Thkoo Wahkan", Chapter VI. The Ta-sha-ke—literally, "Deer-hoofs"—is a rattle made by hanging the hard segments of deer-hoofs to a wooden rod a foot long—about an inch in diameter at the handle end, and tapering to a point at the other. The clashing of these horny bits makes a sharp, shrill sound something like distant sleigh-bells. In their incantations over the sick they sometimes use the gourd-shell rattle.

The Chn-che-ga—is a drum or "Wooden Kettle." The hoop of the drum is from a foot to eighteen inches in diameter, and from three to ten inches deep. The skin covering is stretched over one end making a drum with one end only. The magical drum sticks are ornamented with down, and heads of birds or animals are carved on them. This makes them Wakan.

The flute called Cho-tanka (big pith) is of two varieties—one made of sumac, the pith of which is punched out, etc. The second variety is made of the long bone of the wing or thigh of the swan or crane. They call the first the bubbling chotanka from the tremulous note it gives when blown with all the holes stopped. Riggs' Tahkoo Wahkan, p. 476, et seq.

E-n-pee—vapor bath is used as a purification preparatory to the sacred feasts. The vapor bath is taken in this way: "A number of poles the size of hoop-poles or less are taken, and their larger ends being set in the ground in a circle, the flexible tops are bent over and tied in the centre. This frame work is then covered with robes and blankets, a small hole being left on one side for an entrance. Before the door a fire is built, and round stones about the size of a man's head are heated in it. When hot, they are rolled within, and the door being closed, steam is made by pouring water on them. The devotee, stripped to the skin, sits within this steam-tight dome, sweating profusely at every pore, until he is nearly suffocated. Sometimes a number engage in it together and unite their prayers and songs." "Thkoo Wakan," p. 83. Father Hennepin was subjected to the vapour-bath at Mille Lacs by Chief Aqui-pa-que-tin, two hundred years ago. After describing the method Hennepin says: "When he had made me sweat thus three times in a week, I felt as strong as ever." Shea's Hennepin, p. 228. For a very full and accurate account of the Medicine men of the Dakotas, and their rites etc., see Chap. II, Neill's Hist. Minnesota.

82 The sacred O-zu-ha—or Medicine-sack must be made of the skin of the otter, the coon, the weasel, the squirrel, the loon, a certain kind of fish or the skins of serpents. It must contain four kinds of medicine (or magic) representing birds, beasts, herbs and trees, viz: The down of the female swan colored red, the roots of certain grasses, bark from the roots of cedar trees, and hair of the buffalo. "From this combination proceeds a Wakn influence so powerful that no human being unassisted can resist it." Wonderful indeed must be the magic power of these Dakota Druids to lead such a man aa the Rev. S. R. Riggs to say of them: "By great shrewdness, untiring industry, and more or less of actual demoniacal possession, they convince great numbers of their fellows, and in the process are convinced themselves, of their sacred character and office." Tahkoo Wakn, pp. 88-9

83 Gh-ma-na-tek-whk—the river of many falls—is the Ojibway name of the river commonly called Kaministiguia, near the mouth of which is situate Fort William, on the site of DuLuth's old fort. The view on Thunder-Bay is one of the grandest in America. Thunder-Cap, with its sleeping stone-giant, looms up into the heavens. Here Ka-be-bon-ikka—the Ojibway's god of storms, flaps his huge wings and makes the Thunder. From this mountain he sends forth the rain, the snow, the hail, the lightning and the tempest. A vast giant, turned to stone by his magic, lies asleep at his feet. The island called by the Ojibways the Mak-i-nak (the turtle) from its tortoise-like shape, lifts its huge form in the distance. Some "down-east" Yankee, called it "Pie-Island," from its (to his hungry imagination) fancied resemblance to a pumpkin pie, and the name, like all bad names, sticks. McKay's Mountain on the main-land, a perpendicular rock more than a thousand feet high, up-heaved by the throes of some vast volcano, and numerous other bold and precipitous head lands, and rock-built islands, around which roll the sapphire-blue waters of the fathomless bay, present some of the most magnificent views to be found on either continent.

84 The Mission of the Holy Ghost—at La Pointe on the isle Waug-a-b-me—(winding view) in the beautiful bay of Cha-quam-egonwas founded by the Jesuits about the year 1660, and Father Ren Menard was the first priest at this point. After he was lost in the wilderness, Father Glaude Allouz permanently established ihe mission in 1665. The famous Father Marquette, who took Allouz's place, Sept. 13. 1669, writing to his Superior, thus describes the Dakotas: "The Nadouessi are the Iroquois of this country, beyond La Pointe, but less faithless, and never attack till attacked. Their language is entirely different from the Huron and Algonquin. They have many villages, but are widely scattered. They have very extraordinary customs. They principally use the calumet. They do not speak at great feasts, and when a stranger arrives give him to eat of a wooden fork, as we would a child. All the lake tribes make war on them, but with small success. They have false oats, (wild rice) use little canoes, and keep their word strictly." Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 111.

85 Michbo—the Good, Great Spirit of the Algonkins. In Autumn, in the moon of the falling leaf, ere he composes himself to his winter's sleep, he fills his great pipe and takes a god-like smoke. The balmy clouds from his pipe float over the hills and woodland, filling the air with the haze of "Indian Summer." Brinton's Myths of the New World, p. 163.

86 Pronounced Kah-thah-gah—literally, the place of waves and foam. This was the principal village of the Isantee band of Dakotas two hundred years ago, and was located at the Falls of St. Anthony, which the Dakotas called the Ha-ha—pronounced Rhah-rhah—the loud, laughing waters. The Dakotas believed that the Falls were in the centre of the earth. Here dwelt the Great Unkthee, the creator of the earth and man; and from this place a path led to the Spirit-land. DuLuth undoubtedly visited Kathga in the year 1679. In his "Memoir" (Archives of the Ministry of the Marine) addressed to Seignelay, 1685, he says: "On the 2nd of July, 1679, I had the honor to plant his Majesty's arms in the great village of the Nadouecioux called Izatys, where never had a Frenchman been, etc." Izatys is here used not as the name of the village, but as the name of the band—the Isantees. Nadouecioux was a name given the Dakotas generally by the early French traders and the Ojibways. See Shea's Hennepin's Description of Louisiana pp. 203 and 375. The villages of the Dakotas were not permanent towns. They were hardly more than camping grounds, occupied at intervals and for longer or shorter periods, as suited the convenience of the hunters: yet there were certain places, like Mille Lacs, the Falls of St. Anthony, Kapza (near St. Paul), Remnica, (where the city of Red Wing now stands), and Kexa (or Keza) on the site of the city of Winona, so frequently occupied by several of the bands as to be considered their chief villages respectively.


1 Kay-shk is the Ojibway name of Sea-Gull.

2 Gitchee—great,—Gumee—sea or lake,—Lake Superior; also often called Ochipw Gtchee Gmee, Great Lake (or sea) of the Ojibways.

3 N-m-Shmis—my grandfather. "In the days of my Grandfather" is the Ojibway's preface to all his traditions and legends.

4 Waub—white—-O-jeeg,—fisher, (a furred animal.) White Fisher was the name of a noted Chippewa Chief who lived on the south shore of Lake Superior many years ago. Schoolcraft married one of his descendants.

5 Ma-kw or mush-kwa—the bear.

6 The Te-ke-nh-gun is a board upon one side of which a sort of basket is fastened or woven with thongs of skin or strips of cloth. In this the babe is placed, and the mother carries it on her back. In the wigwam the tekenagun is often suspended by a cord to the lodge-poles and the mother swings her babe in it.

7 Wabse—the rabbit. Penay, the pheasant. At certain seasons the pheasant drums with his wings.

8 Kaug, the porcupine. Kenw. the war-eagle.

9 Ka-be-bn-ik-ka is the god of storms, thunder, lightning, etc. His home is on Thunder-Cap at Thunder-Bay, Lake Superior. By his magic, the giant that lies on the mountain was turned to stone. He always sends warnings before he finally sends the severe cold of winter, in order to give all creatures time to prepare for it.

10 Kewaydin or Kewaytin, is the North-wind or North-west wind.

11 Algnkin is the general name applied to all tribes that speak the Ojibway language or dialects of it.

12 This is the favorite "love-broth" of the Ojibway squaws. The warrior who drinks it immediately falls desperately in love with the woman who gives it to him. Various tricks are devised to conceal the nature of the "medicine" and to induce the warrior to drink it; but when it is mixed with a liberal quantity of "fire-water" it is considered irresistable.

13 Translation: Woe-is-me! Woe-is-me! Great Spirit, behold me! Look, Father; have pity upon me! Woe-is-me! Woe-is-me!

14 Snow-storms from the North-west.

15 The Ojibways, like the Dakotas, call the Via Lactea (Milky Way) the Pathway of the Spirits.

16 Shingebis, the diver, is the only water-fowl that remains about Lake Superior all winter. See Schoolcraft's Hiawatha Legends, p. 113.

17 Waub-s—the white swan.

18 P-bon, Winter, is represented as an old man with long white hair and beard.

19 Se-gn is Spring or Summer. This beautiful allegory has been "done into verse" by Longfellow in Hiawatha. I took my version from the lips of an old Chippewa Chief. I have compared it with Schoolcraft's version, from which Mr. Longfellow evidently took his.

20 Nah—look, see. Nashk—behold.

21 Kee-zis—the sun,—the father of life. Waubnong—or Waub—nong—is the White Land or Land of Light,—the Sun-rise, the East.

22 The Bridge of Stars spans the vast sea of the skies, and the sun and moon walk over on it.

23 The Miscodeed is a small white flower with a pink border. It is the earliestblooming wild-flower on the shores of Lake Superior, and belongs to the crocus family.

24 The Ne-be-naw-baigs, are Water-spirits; they dwell in caverns in the depths of the lake, and in some respects resemble the Unkthees of the Dakotas.

25 Ogema, Chief,—Ogema-kwa—female Chief. Among the Algonkin tribes women are sometimes made chiefs. Net-n-kwa, who adopted Tanner as her son, was Oge-m-kwa of a band of Ottawas. See John Tanner's Narrative, p. 36.

26 The "Bridge of Souls" leads from the earth over dark and stormy waters to the Spirit-land. The "Dark River" seems to have been a part of the superstition of all nations.

27 The Jossakeeds of the Ojibways are sooth-sayers who are able, by the aid of spirits, to read the past as well as the future.


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