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You're. This program was produced by our national educational radio from the National Home Library Foundation and was compiled to the subtleties of the radio at the University of South Dakota. This is a story of ruffled feathers. The Lakota Sioux in transition. This is Arlin diamond speaking during the past several months KUSA the radio with the University of South Dakota has been working on this series of programs dealing with the
Dakota or Sioux Indian in South Dakota. The series is important and necessary for we feel that the Indian has been one of the least known and most ignored of any of America's minorities during the past eight decades. During the course of the next 13 weeks this series will deal with many aspects of the Dakota Indian and South Dakota such areas as religion education legal systems and problems philosophy art and history will be covered with comments by Indians and non-Indians experts and laymen alike. South Dakota is one of the few states in the United States where such a series as this could be produced although there are many Indians of different tribes gathered across the United States South Dakota has a large somewhat consolidated resident Indian population. The Oglala tribe at Pine Ridge alone has over 14000 members on its rolls. I consider them the number of Dakota people enrolled on the Cheyenne River Reservation. The rose by the Standing Rock lower
brulee Crow Creek system and yanked on reservations. There are a number of people who have contributed material that has made possible the production of this series. Three of the people in the program today are Dr Adamson holdall regents professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota Harold shunk superintendent of the Rosebud agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Jay Herman a longtime resident of Pine Ridge South Dakota. This first program is concerned primarily with the legendary history of the Dakota. However in order to first identify the Dakota Dr. Horrible traces briefly the historical development of the Indians we call the Dakota. So what you get when you consider the origin of any American Indian tribe particularly in the plains is something like this a great flow and movement. And the Plains Indians as most of us know them the buffalo hunters mounted
on horses came into the plains quite late in human history and they didn't get the horses until around 1750 1760 and they didn't begin this great buffalo hunting war like existence until pretty close to eighteen hundred. So what we're talking about is we talk about the nomadic tribes of the plains. There's a culture in a way of life that actually came into existence pretty largely because of the French and the British traders coming into the Dakotas from Hudson Bay and the introduction of the horse from Spain and a sudden flowering of a very exciting way of life that was rich and satisfying but really only lasted about a hundred years before it collapsed under the Migration of the American settlers and pioneers coming in from the east the Dakota most often called the Sioux are not really Sioux Indians.
They never were hundreds of years ago when the Dakota were still woodlands Indians living in Minnesota some French fur traders were touring the area in the company of some Ojibwe Indians and they were camping with various tribes and negotiating for animal pelts. When they came to the Mississippi River the Frenchmen could see a large village with many tepees perched high up on a bluff across the river. When they told their guides they wanted to go over there the Ajo boy guide speaking their native tongues and referring to the Dakota said no that is the home of cutthroats and snakes. The last word of the sentence the jetways used was soup. The Frenchman mistook the word sue for the name of the tribe and spread the word Sioux throughout the United States. The usage became popular and was even adopted in Washington when the government dealt with the Dakota it is common to such wide usage by now that most Indians in an attempt to be accommodating will refer to
themselves as Sue rather than the code. This will be noticeable in many instances in this and other programs in the series. The person who provided me with many of the legends that you'll be hearing today is Jay Herman who is NATO of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and southwestern South Dakota. At 74 years old Jake is using his time in an attempt to save the Indian history and legends from passing through the ages. More now on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. You need 92. I've lived here all my life with the exception of my zucchini. I was away from them as they 1914. I went to that where he didn't live there but I went back there and I played football played basketball. Then after I finished up and not finished up Pardon me I didn't finish because then when I got there I was 20 years old and I was in
the fourth grade. So I had to struggle hard to try to get a little better education in the fourth grade. But one thing I found out my teacher told me that Abraham Lincoln was born a log house and he went he had to come in through education. I didn't want to hear Lincoln up. Then after I quit school in 1969 where maybe it's because I was lazy but the fact that I was a raid on a ranch in the town one could hang a rope and ride on your new wild west Carnival did not travel with the wild where he will learn to be a rodeo clown. And I came back in 20 and I started out with you and often on a clown never season I retired in 1943. But I am not a blood through and I race through and I thought that combination Wild Irish Rose while Sue.
The legends that will be dealt with today are some of the more common and better known one of the Indian legends and each is an important part of the Dakota culture or philosophy. You may have already heard one of these legends of a somewhat different form but don't let that bother you too much. As Jake points out each tribal division has its own interpretation of each logic and the structure of the legend different from one sub drive to another. The first legend appropriately enough as a type of creation or origin legend called The Legend of the seven campfires. Then that led into the seven camp fire he had really the origination and an idea dug more of the last if needed thing in NY and it's simple because the medicine man got a seven to the seven count and he merely days there was no matches so they had to use it. Firing is hard to get and when a people
to people had known they had to branch out due to the fact that they had many horses. You can't fight so they created what to call seven camps and in a seventy can't buy from the seven stars in heaven to need you know. Then if and then he had seven. You logical whatever the whole idea of that is that the fund and their culture and their war and taken almost ceremonial and then elected seven then at the seven camps and that's where we get the idea. He treated the creation of a new similar to the Bible if you read of the history of the need that is the story that they said briefly that's the main idea behind the legend of the seven campfires and its meaning. There is more to the legend however. One day a man went to the top of a mountain and there he had a vision and heard the echo of a voice.
The voice told him to take his people and to go to the land of plenty where his people would come in contact with other animals that they would use. So the Indians migrated into the Great Plains and to the recycler or Black Hills. When the Indians came into contact with the Buffalo or the Tonka the buffalo became the staff of the Indian's life. They also found a horse which they used to transport their camping equipment and to ride on their hunting trips. With the horse and buffaloes to use the Sioux Indians became a great Sioux Nation. Then as the Dakota nation prospered and increased by mutual agreement they split into seven bands with one recognized to each of the seven bands. This was the origin of the first seven campfires of the Sioux nation and of the Teton Sioux of the western plains and the Black Hills. Each year the seven campfires met at different places to hold their war consuls to unite in time of war and to hold their sacred ceremonies. The legend of the seven campfires as a saga of the Black Hills and the Great Plains in the days of
old when the Sioux Nation lived and roamed and hunted in the land of Mother Nature living on only what nature provided. This is a story of days that were days that have faded away leaving only the legend of the seven campfires. And noting the actual movement of the Dakota nation into the plains and splitting into separate bands the legend of the seven campfires traces essentially the same path as recorded history. As was said before this is a type of origin legend explaining the origin of the Dakota not from a garden of Eden concept but rather as a functioning social and political organization. The actual origin of these people is lost so far back in antiquity that neither historian nor anthropologist knows their exact origin. The decode are not unique in having an origin legend or legends explaining the creation and existence of things. And I would just comment as an anthropologist going beyond to quote
Indians that virtually every tribe anywhere in the world has its origin myth or legend. This simply reflects the fact that human beings are curious about where we came from and as a matter of fact perhaps a third or two thirds of the mythology of any people will be in explanation of their origin as people and an explanation of the origins of their customs. In addition to explaining where the earth and stars and animals came from myths and legends also serve to set customs into Sadler's patterns of social behavior. The basic function is simply that of giving authority to the customs that are or that exist. The point being that there are all sorts of ways in which human beings can behave. The anthropologist Clyde Clark only had a book that won a prize about 15 years ago for the best book on
science for the layman and he called it the mirror for man and he drew this title from a sentence in which he said anthropology holds up a great mirror for man in which to view himself in his infinite variety of variety isn't infinite. But that's one thing anthropology has demonstrated is the great great variety of possibilities that human beings have discovered for behaving and want to try a bori society is building up its culture its got to see elected a limited number of ways to set forth as the full quasar the right ways and has got to say to its members these other ways don't go here. And then when you answer this question why not isn't this other way just as good. Suppose you get a young rebel. The answer then is no it is not just as good because you go by who did it this way and this is the way it was intended. Almost every Dakota legend has some point to make or a moral to preach a case in
point is the legend of the Tomi and the buzzard. One day he told me he was sitting on a hill smoking his pipe. A buzzard was flying low over it tomean tipping his wings at him. It told me a smart and tricky but sometimes he's foolish too. He kept repeating to himself buzzard give me a ride. The buzzard finally let by the sight of it told me and said Get on my back and I'll give you a ride. So it told me got on the buzzards back as a buzzard was flying around with a cold me on his back Iktomi noticed the bald head of the buzzard. Now there are no cuss words in the Dakota language but there is a sign made with the hands that means you no good so and so. So what told me would close his fist and pointed at the buzzards head. Then he would open his fingers fast giving the buzzard the bad sign thinking that the buzzard could not see him. However the buzzard was watching his shadow on the ground and he could see a told me shadow down there too. You flew low over the deep stump of a hollow tree and suddenly he turned over and
flew upside down down fell Iktomi into the hollow tree and for days he could not get out. Then came a big rainstorm which soaked up the rotten hollow tree. The tree swelled up and was crushing it told me to death it told me started praying. He said Please Great Spirit save me. You made me smart but by my own foolishness and trickery I got myself into this trouble. Forgive me for I am sorry. After feeling so sorry for himself Iktomi felt so small that he was able to crawl out. The legends of the Dakota serve in some cases to explain the behavior of the elements like lightning and thunder to the Indian who was so close to nature and dependent upon nature. There had to be some logical explanation for the lightning that shot out of the sky and started fires and the rolling crashing thunder that shook the earth during rain storms out of this act of nature grew the legend of the Thunderbirds and thunder horses
led to another Thunderbird turning to horse ride together nearly a day then and believe that the Thunderbirds lived in the blank killed almost panicked called and there were little birds with red neck in a ride Crane thought. And then they'd come back and they were a blind bird and when the storm originated in a black killed and came into the great plain the Thunder Bird flew dormant when it flopped and wing it called through. Come down on the earth and when they do open it I did call it the twinkling of the lightning in the air and that fund of bird you wrote above never a warrior on the horse. They had spears and when they took the spear took it to monitor. That thunder took it too long. That led on by that method the reason they created that kind of condom burn brought to rain which made the graphical and the buffalo became
that and this is why the event didn't generate. An object that is familiar to anyone who has seen more than two western movies. Is the peace pipe. The peace pipe as a fundamental element of the Dakota culture established at a time for ever forgotten. Many moons ago the time of the great tribulation among the Dakota Indians game was scarce and people were hungry. Children were crying for food. They had Chief instructed his two best hunters to look for a game as the hunters stood on a hill. Suddenly a misty silvery cloud appeared and settled revealing a lady in buckskin dress. She warned the two hunters that she was not from Mother Earth. One of the hunters made a move toward the lady and immediately she caused the silver misty cloud to envelop the hunter. When the cloud drifted away only the skeleton of the reckless Hunter remained. The lady then
instructed the remaining hunter to return back to the Indian camp and to tell the head chief to prepare a large lodge for her and call his people together. Then she would appear to them. The hunter returned back to the camp and delivered the message at the break of day when the sun had cast its first rays on the Indian camp. The beautiful lady made her appearance to the people. The lady was carrying a tobacco pouch and a peace pipe. She told the people I bring you the first peace pipe when you put the tobacco into the pipe and light it. Point the pipe to the four cardinal points of Mother Earth to the east west north and south bend toward Mother Earth and last toward the blue sky where the Great Spirit dwells. Then say Have pity on me in time of hunting sickness of war and peace. Asked the Great Spirit the giver of all things for your temporal ones. Then as suddenly as she came she disappeared again leaving in her place a white buffalo calf a symbol of good will
abundance and peace to the creatures of Mother Earth. Jake talks a little about the legend of the peace pipe and the meaning of the peace pipe to the Dakota people. The peace pipe head out has a big meaning to the young people who are taken in a path to the outdoor church and to the peace the lady brought peace to the same people and he had to. Own a piece of heaven for the color of the bullet points of the earth find heaven mother Nath a great fear for a temple with a meaning simple meaning forget yourself but. Ask for help from the things you get from mother. And that's what the endin believed in and when they all believed in that naturally about peace and contentment because. He does. If you had like yourself I have a thought for you. He carried almost fanatical for something and
then like any other belief so that no one by the end if some of you know anything other Dakota legends deal with the naming of the various tribes bands by Gerald shank himself an Indian tells of one band of Dakotas I have come up with these as being the most authentic that I know of for example of the people with whom I work at the present time the rosebuds who are called Sea John who. Which means Burnside. The Frenchman of course calling them brulé which means burned in the French language. The story is that these people we don't know exactly where their worse one got their thiab or 2010 or how many. But the fact remains that they were caught in a prairie fire many years ago it might have been 200 years ago it might have been three hundred years ago. The name burned
tie was given to this large band of Sioux Indians as a result of this happening. Mr Sean can give only one example of what the oche by it where the actual origin of the name can be historically cf.. I used to sit through a very good interpreter and talk with them whenever I had any time whatsoever and they were a fine group of gentlemen such fellows as Pete one skunk Jim axe and numerous other fellows who were fortunate enough to get away. In 1890 when they were shot down by the soldiers that went on Wounded Knee creek north of Pine Ridge they were called tok ini which means served Biber. Now that is the only way that I know of that was named late. And you could really put your finger on the real reason why it was named. They were survivors and they were survivors of the Wounded Knee affair.
One method used to pass on the legends and history of the Dakota is the skin painting using a buffalo skin the tribal historian or perhaps the medicine man records the events of the year or one specific event using a fixed series of symbols to define each element of the event. Jake has in his little museum in the basement of the Billy Mills hall in Pine Ridge a very old skin painting that tells the story of the Custer battle of over seventy five years ago degrades the skin painting for us explaining some of the symbols used the fumble here up there. Early one morning the piping up and seen in the moon rose. That'll be June and everything including Can't you think so kind of camping in. Indeed had wired circles of 10 wide cubes at the Little Bighorn river. Indians heard Carter in command
come into the country and they did nor the power there in the Park Lane and the feather and old pipe do and who are you looking thing. And the soldier the soldier talked to four prong means that they had no fear their souls wanted war across their own means war. They shot at their news in the worst surprise they got like the story broke the treaty of the Union attack that cartoonist command. They chased them across to Little Big Horn River many were killed many were taken it was Baron Custer and his commanders were destroyed and cursed or laid in the middle he's. Your brother by him and his nephew by him. All the soldiers could do Custer's command was broken. All if so routine and use knives Tomahawks Arrow
Club. They took the blanket going on horses and that night why they took the drum left then for a night of circling dot. They took the drum and if took a legal step on Mother Earth and they had the war down and the war and the more high peace that ephemeral of the end of the trail and where that their warriors who were killed were a very the idea of an early day then didn't have no reckon I cemetery. There are good people up in a tree in a book where the world how. Did who'd give the sad effect. No matter what the legend one can be sure that it has been passed from generation to generation for many decades and miraculously enough has remained almost completely in its original form. I asked Jake how he learned the legends he has talked with me about the story that dates back to the law to write how history is preserved on
high and I defend ML and its power from word for word and he had my grandmother. And her grandmother from the generation that. Passed on to me and that's how I knew them. There are those who contend that in order for the Indians to assimilate into a non-Indian culture they must first be stripped of their heritage that the legends and history must no longer be passed on and that the dancing and other elements of Indian culture must be abandoned. The government has from time to time taken this type of position guided perhaps by anthropologists sociologists and psychologists who mean well stop don't think of the problems that this creates. Denying the people the right to keep alive the culture that has been a way of life for so many centuries. I think at your age you would preserve the community you know because we have a future ahead of us but it's nice to look back. It's nice to know
that you you came from some place you had it in the revolution. That's the way you act. If however the present trend continues the Indian will soon forget his proud and rich heritage for even today the secret rituals the meanings of the dances and legends are being lost. From 1930 back the old people talk to the people do to the case for in 1930 that thought in mind to get a better education even some wonderful can't talk and so nobody teaches is why I think out of the reason it had Konoha so interested in so we can keep that alive and we're dedicated to that. Already many books have been published which deal with the legends of the Dakota and more
are sure to be published. Perhaps the writing of Indian and non-Indian alike can preserve m paper at least the stories that were once told late at night while the family lunched on pounded wild cherries and read. The stories. The cry is echoes from the dying embers of the Dakota camp fire. These legends are guided the birth and growth of a Nation of Indians known as the Sioux called Dakota by its people a nation that was ruler of the plains unknowingly soon to be conquered humiliated and forgotten. Still they roam this great countryside. Many of them poppers. Many of them in need of help. Bound to the reservation system spawn by the Great White Father so long ago. These are the Dakotas soothe. Ruffled feathers. The Dakotas who in transition was producer the facilities of the US be ready oh at the University of South Dakota.
Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux
Legendary Sioux history
Producing Organization
University of South Dakota
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program explores some legends and folklore in Sioux Indian history.
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A documentary series about the history, culture and contemporary problems of the Sioux, a Native American tribe.
Race and Ethnicity
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Host: Diamond, Arlen
Producing Organization: University of South Dakota
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-10-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:20
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Chicago: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Legendary Sioux history,” 1967-02-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 6, 2021,
MLA: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Legendary Sioux history.” 1967-02-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 6, 2021. <>.
APA: Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Legendary Sioux history. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from