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Lakota Mythology



Three Brothers Who Had a Witch-Sister


Heceš wana, koškalaka yamnipi nan wikoškalaka wanjinla. Lena thiwahewanjipila ške?; hunku nan atku'kupi kin ehanni t'api ca hecel un lena wakanyeja kin hehantan thiwokithahela tuweni el ewicatunwešni unpi.

So / now / young men / they are three / and / young one / only one. These / they were one family / it is said. Their mother / and / father / the / long ago / they died / so / thus / on account of / these / children / the / from then / between homes / nobody / to / them looked not / they stayed.

Come now, a story: There were three young men, and one young woman and these belong to one family. Their mother and father had been long dead so that these children grew up anyway, passed around from house to house with nobody responsible for them.

Heceš wana: Heceš wana is a formal opening. "Thus, now," is what it says. But usually it is said only to rivet attention Now and then the story starts.   hunku nan atku'kupi hunku, their mother, is singular, and atku'kupi, their father, is plural. It is the way Bushotter wrote it, and it is the right way. In dakota, the second noun takes the pluralization for both. Hunkupi nan atku'kukupi kin is literally correct, but hunku nan atku'kupi kin, is idiomatic.


nan wana koškalakapiz; nan tankeyapi kin wikoškalaka icaga yunkan hehanl oyas'in maninl etipi. Tuweniĥcin unšni wan ekta tipi?; yunkan tankeyapi kin lila wipata-wayuphika keyapi.

And / now / they were young men / and / their elder sister / the / young woman / she was grown / and lo / then / all / to the wilds away from tribal habitation / they went and camped. Nobody at all / was not / a / at / they lived / and / their elder sister / the / very / to embroider with porcupine-quills she was skilled / they say.

Now the men were grown up; and the girl was a young woman; and then they all removed to a place away from the tribal camp, where they made their permanent home. There was not a soul about in that land, where they went to live. And it is said the sister grew very skillful in the art of embroidering with quills.


Takuke c'eyaš ipatha okihi canke sunkawicaye cin oyas'in taku wašte kin ece koyakapi?; nan lila winyan wašte keyapi.

Whatever thing / yet / to embroider / she was able / so / her younger brothers / the / all / things / fine / the / that kind always / they wore; / and / very / woman / fine / they say.

There was nothing she could not make in that way, so that her brothers had only handsome apparel; and they say she was very beautiful.


Thipi kin ikiyela wakpala wan mni kin thoyela kalu'za ca el capa ocaje kin oyas'in unpi keyapi.

They lived / the / near by / creek / a / water / blue-ly / it flowed / so / there / beavers / kinds / the / all / they stayed / it is said.

Near their tipi was a stream, a creek with water flowing blue; and there lived all manner of beavers in it.


Ho, un.na-ahankeya tankeyapi kin wakan aya keyapi?; maza-waha`ca´ka wan yuha´ nan wahu´keza wan yuha´?, nan nakun´ wapha´pa wan, nan wica´pehin-ogle wan, he´cel yuha´ keya´pi. Nan ta´kuke c'e´yaš kte´ oki´hi keya´pi.

Now / gradually / their elder sister / the / supernatural / she became / it is said; / iron shield / a / she owned / and / spear / a / she owned / and / also / war-bonnet / a / and / scalp-shirt / a / those / she owned / they say. And / whatever thing / yet / to kill / she was able / they say.

Now, it is said, that gradually the sister began to be possessed with supernatural power; and she owned an iron shield, and a spear, and a war-bonnet, and a shirt decorated with human hair--such were her possessions, it is said. And she was able to kill any sort of being.

ungna-ahankeya: ungna, does not always mean suddenly; often, as here, it means "It chanced" ahankeya, adv. meaning gradually. Hanke, piece; ahankeya, pieced on to time, it chanced. What is meant is there was no break in time; no definite time when the woman began to act supernaturally. It came on gradually.   wicapehin: I have always heard wicaphaha when human hair is referred to; the kind taken in war. Because it is always attached to a small disk of scalp; ha, skin of man. Wicapehin says "human hair", the ' strands of hair. Perhaps only strands of hair were attached in this case.


Yunkan koškalaka kin oyas'in lehanyak maninl ipi nan tokeške ĥ'anpi kinhan takekupi kin wašakešniyanpikta hecinhan he iwoglakapi.

And lo/ young man/ the/ all/ place apart/ out away/ they went/ and/ how/ they act/ the-then/ their elder sister/ the/ they will weaken her/ if-then/ that/ they talked on.

So one day her brothers withdrew to a place apart from the home to talk over how they would have to act in order to make their sister not so powerful.


Yunkan wanzi heye?: "Ihopiye, tanke maza-wahacanka nan wahunkeza nan wokoyake tawa kin oyas'in ihank-unyanpikte; kinhan waš'akinktešni sece," eya yunkan unmapi kin iyu'ha "Hopiye hecunk'unpi, nan he tuwa ecun kin unkokiyakapiktešni yelo," eyapi.

And lo / one / he said: / "Come all, / elder sister / iron-shield / and / spear / and / apparel / hers / the / all / let us destroy; / the-then / she will not be strong / perhaps" / he said / and / rest / the / all / "Come now, / we will do so, / and / that / who / he did it / the / we shall not tell her," / eyapi

And one said, "Come on, let's destroy her possessions: her iron shield, and spear and her special apparel; it may be that will make her weak." And the others all said, "Let's do that; and then not tell her who did it."

ihopiye Iho, now then! ihopiye, or hopiye, come, let us (do so and so together!) pi, plural, ye, exhortation.


Nan tankeyapi kin wicapehin-o`gle wan ic'i´cagahe cun he´ to´keške ĥ'an´pi kinhan ta´kowe´ he´ ka´ga he´cinhan slolya´pikta cin´pi yunkan´ hake´la kin heye´?: "ito´, ciye, zitka´la-mic'icagin nan hotun´tun tice´ e´l okin´yan waun´kte lo´, ito´ ta´kemakiye ca," eya´ yunkan´, "Ho wo´, misun," eya´pi.

And / their elder sister / the / scalp-shirt / a / she was making for herself / the-past / that / somehow / they (will) act / the-then / why / that / she makes / if-then / they will know / they wished / and / last-born / the / he said: "Well, / elder brothers, / bird-I will make of myself / and / singing / roof of tipi / at / flying around / I will stay / "let's see" / what she may say to me / as it were," / he said / and / "Very well, / younger brother," / they said.

And when they wondered how they might find out why she was making a scalp-shirt, the youngest said, "Well, brothers, I think I shall change myself into a bird, and flutter around the top of her tipi, singing now and again, and see what she might say to me." So the brothers said, "Do."

hakela: Most narrators when they use hakela, make it a proper name, witout kin, the. when they wish to designate him as ' the last-born one they say "Hakakta kin" the youngest.


Nan paha-ainap ape yankapikta keyapi nan wana ekta ap'e yankahanpi hanl hake kin kinyan iyayin nan tankeku thi el i yunkan lece tankeyapi kin wicapehin-o`gle wan ka´gahan ške.

And / hill-hidden by / awaiting him / they will sit / they said / and / now / at / awaiting him / they were sitting / when / last-born / the / flying / he went / and / his elder sister / she lived / at / arrived / and lo / behold / their elder sister / the / scalp-shirt / a / she was making / it is said.

So they agreed to await him back of the hill, and there they were sitting while he went flying to his sister's tipi, and there was his sister working on a scalp-shirt.

ape-------yankahanpi:   Bushotter is verbose; this is a good example, a good speaker would avoid in Dakota: "They said they would sit waiting for him and not at that place (already mentioned--beyond the hill) waiting for him they were sitting when----" Good Dakota would say, Hecel aokiyapi ca wanan paha-ainap ape yankahanpi hanl etc. "In that way / they had agreed / so / now / hill-beyond, hidden by / awaiting him / they were sitting / when---" Instead of "Nan paha-ainap ape yankapikta keyapi nan wana ekta ape yankahanpi hanl." It is better Dakota for it does not repeat.


Yunkan hakela tice el iyotakin nan hotun. Yunkan wikoškalaka kin leyaya wipatahe?: "Ako ecun na, takuš wicapehin-o`gle kin hanke´ya iyo´micihiktešni caš cante´ maši´ca tka´; ungna´š ciyu´t'in nan pehin´ ciyu´zin nan e´l ao´pe wakiye ci!" eya´ ške.

And / youngest / roof of tipi / at / sat / and / he sang (as a bird.) And / young woman / the / saying thus / she was embroidering: "Away / go, / (na - the sign of mild command by woman) / Something indeed / scalp-shirt / the / partly / it will not be enough to me / such indeed / heart / I am bad / but; / By chance indeed / I choke you / and / hair / I take from you / and / to it / I add on / the least!" / she said.

So he sat on top of the tipi and started to sing. The young woman said this while she went on working, "Oh, go away, will you? Isnt it enough that I am annoyed because I havent enough material to finish out my scalp-shirt! If you arent careful, I am likely to choke the life out of you, and take your hair and piece out my work with it, so there!" she said.


Hecegna Hakela wancak paha ekta ki nan ciyeku kin owicakiyaka canke ho hetan wana tokel ecunphica kin akiyapi.

Thereupon witout delay / Hakela / at once / hill / to / returned / and / his elder brothers / the / told them / so / now / from then / now / how / they ought to do / the / they discussed.

At once Hakela flew back to the place on the hill and told his brothers, so from that time on they discussed ways of procedure.


Heceš wana hakakta kin tiyata ki nan tankeku kin leciya ške?: "Tanke, ka kaĥmi kin heci lila canhašla waštešte yukan ca hošicicahi ye lo, Hecel ekta nin nan etan k'in ayakukta cinpe lo," eya yunkan leya-ayupta ške?:

So / now / youngest / the / back home / returned / and / his elder sister / the / said this to her," / Elder sister / yonder / bend / the / over there / very / wood witout bark / good ones / they exist / so / I bring you news. So / to that place / you go / and / some / carrying on the back / you will bring / elder brothers / they want " / he said / and / saying this she replied:

So now the youngest went back home, and said to his sister: "Sister over in yonder bend of the wood, there is a lot of clean wood, free of bark, so I came to tell you about it. My brothers want you to go there and bring some of it on your back." And she replied:

hošicicahi:   hoši bringing word; ci, I to you; kahi, to bring something to one; I bring you word.


"To, misun, ito wancak ekta mninkte," eyin nan wana wikan yuha nan iyaye ĥcehanl sunkaku unma` kin oya´s'in gli´pi nan ka´kel tanke´kupi kin iya´ye c'un ehan´l ti´ i´pi nan ceti´pi nan wapha´ha k'un he´ e´l iĥpe´yapi nan a´taya ĥugna´ĥyapi?; nan nakun´ wica´pehin-o`gle k'un ile´yapi.

"Certainly, / younger brother, / well / at once / to it / I shall go," / she said / and / now / rope / carried / and / went off / just then / her brothers / others / the / all / returned / and / the instant / their elder sister / she had left / the-past / then / her home / at / they arrived / and / built a fire / and / war-bonnet / the-past / that / in / they threw / and / all / they burnt it; / and / also / human-hair-shirt / the-past / they burned.

"Surely I will, I think I better go right now," so she took a rope and was just departing when her brothers all came in; and as soon as she was really gone, they entered her tipi and made a fire and threw her war-bonnet into the flames to be destroyed; and also the scalp-shirt they disposed of in that way.

ĥugnaĥyapi :   The text uses the Yankton word ĥuĥnaĥyapi. I have substituted the Teton form here, as I am doing in many other places.

Hehanl wahunkeza nan maza-wahacanka k'un nunphin mni šme cin el iĥpeyapi nan glipi.

Then / spear / and / iron-shief / the-past / both / water / deep / the / in / they cast / and / returned.

Then they took both the spear and iron shield and threw them into the deep water and came home.


1 ĥcehanl wana tankekupi kin matho iyecel gliyankin nan peta el yugal iyeya yunkan taku ĥugnaĥyapi k'un oyas'in ikikcu nan hehanl mni etkiya anatan nan wancak mni el yugal iyeya yunkan wahacanka nan waphaha k'un hena ikikcu?; nan wancak koškalaka yamnikin naphapi ca etkiya anawicatan yunkan wana ob.laye wan opta inyankapi ĥcehanl winyan kin hihunni.

Just then / now / their elder sister / the / bear / like / she get home / and / fire / into / reaching / went / and / something / they burnt / the-past / all / she took back out / and / then / water / towards / she hurried / and / at once / water / towards / she reached / (reaching / she went) / and lo / shield / and / headgear / the-past / those / she took back her own; / and / at once / young men / three / the / they ran away / so / towards them / she rushed / and lo / now / open prairie / a / across / they ran / just then / woman / the / she arrived there.

Just then the sister arrived on the scene, angry as a bear; and made a gesture of reaching into the fire, and behold she had back all that had been burned; and then she ran to the creek, and immediately reached towards it, and recovered her shield and warbonnet.(translator's note: bushotter must mean the shield and spear; because he said at first that it was the shirt and warbonnet which had been burned in the fire and the shield and spear which had been thrown in the water.) And immediately the three young men started to run away but she ran after them and caught up with them while they were crossing an open piece of land, a prairie.

ĥcehanl:   Bushotter uses ĥcehanl too much. Hanl, at that time, is enough; not ĥcehanl, just at that ' exact moment. Because if the run-aways were making off across a field, one does not say ĥcehanl, the ' exact moment is always shifting with the runners.


Nan tokapa kin pha kaksa iyeyin nan hehanl ake iyokihe kin iyecel ecakicun, nan hehanl hakela k'un ceya inyankin nan ungnahala kawinĥ iyaya yunkan maka kin yupta eyaya canke tokani winyan kin el u'šni canke heye?:

And / eldest / the / head / cutting off / sent it / and / then / again / next / the / according to the same way / did to him / and / then / Hakela / the past / weeping / ran / and / suddenly / about facing / went / and lo / earth the / breaking into / went / so / in no way / woman / the / to it / came not / so / she said:

She instantly beheaded the eldest brother, and then did the same to the next one; and then it was the youngest's turn, but he ran crying and when he made a sudden turn about, he kicked the earth open, and the woman could not approach it then; so she said:


"Iho, yanitka ce wati ekta ku'," eya canke ekta kici ki nan unhe. Hehanl ake itehan yunkan ciyeku kin glipi nan ena wiyuškinyan unpi. Yunkan tokapa kin heye?:

"Now / you shall live / so / my home / at / return" / she said / so / to it / with / he returned / and / was living. Then / again / long time later / and lo / his elder brothers / the / they came home / and / there (at home) / happily / they stayed. And / eldest / the / he said:

"Well now, you shall live; so come home to my tipi." So he went home with her, and was now living there. Then long afterwards the elder brothers came back home, and there they remained, happily. And the eldest said,

wiyuškinyan :   A good Dakota story-teller is a stickler for consistency. I am surprised at this incident. Witout any explanation, after cutting off her brothers' heads, she welcomes them back, apparently they are glad to return, and do not resent her act. Also, we are not told how they restored themselves; nobody seems to wonder. Audiences would not accept that.


Tanke, ito waye-mninkte lo," eya canke ho iyowinkiya ca iyaye. Yunkan anpetu tona glišni canke tankeku kin ceyahan canke iyokihe kin heye?: Tanke, ito ciye ole-mninkte lo," eya yunkan "howe," eya canke ciyeku iyaye c'un ogna iyaye.

"elder sister, / Suppose / I go hunting," / he said / so / she permitted him / so / he went. And lo / days / several / he returned not / so / his elder sister / the / she was weeping / so / next / the / he said: "Elder sister, / suppose / elder brother / to seek I will go, / " he said / and lo / "Very well" she said / so / his elder brother / he went / the-past / in that way / he went.

"Sister, I am thinking of going hunting." And she gave her permission, so he left. And when many days had passed witout his returning, his sister was weeping, so the next one said, "Sister, I think I must go looking for my elder brother," so she said, "All right." So the next brother left, going in the way the other had gone.


Yunkan iš eya ake glišni. Yunkan hake kin heye?: Tanke, miš eya ito ciye owicakile-mni`kte lo," eya canke ake iyowinkiye. Hecel iš eya ake ecel iyayin nan glišni.

And lo / he / too / again / returned not. And lo / youngest / the / he said: "Elder sister, / I / too / suppose / elder brothers / to hunt my own-I will go," / he said / so / again / she allowed him. So / he / too / again / in the (same) way / went / and returned not.

And he also didnt return. So the youngest said, "Sister, I too will now go, seeking my brothers." And again she gave her consent. So he too went the way his brothers did, and did not return.


Tankekupi k'un ceyahin nan heye?: "ito inyan wanji nawapcinkte" eyin nan iyecala inyan-janjan wan napcin nan he iyecala hokšila wan tun.

Their elder sister / the-past / she was weeping / and / said: "Well, / stone / a / I shall swallow" / she said / and / soon thereafter / stone-translucent one / a / she swallowed / and / that / soon after / boy / she gave birth to.

His sister was crying, and then said, "I guess I will swallow a stone." So soon thereafter she did so, and soon after that she bore a son.

"ito inyan wanji nawapcinkte" :   In all other versions, the stone was swallowed accidentally. The girl or woman did not say, speculating, "I guess I will swallow a stone." Why should she?


Tkaš wancak icu' nan tice etan tankal iyeya yunkan tiaglaheya hinĥpayin nan tiyopa el ceyaya slohan glicu'. Tkaš ake heye?: "misun eepika yeš makitaninpišni kin, iš le taku-waĥteka ca," eyin nan ake tankal iyeya yunkan hehanl kitanyela inajinpi nanšna kaiyotak gliĥpayapila k'un heca ca timahel hiyu'.

But / immediately / she took him / and / roof of tipi / out of / outward / sent him / and / rolling down the tipi side / he fell / and / door / at / crying / crawling / he came back in. / But indeed / again / she said / "My younger brothers / it is they / yet / they are lost to me / the / as for him / this / something-no good / such!" / she said / and / again / outside / sent him / and lo / then / barely / they stand up / and regularly / knocked-back into a sitting position / they fall / the-past / that sort / such / into the room / came in.

But at once she took him and sent him out, and he fell down the side of the tipi, and came crawling, and crying, into the tipi. But she said, "All my brothers are lost to me; what is this worthless thing anyway?" And again she sent him out, and then he came in, a child at that stage when children barely stand up, only to tumble backward into a sitting posture again.


"Misun eepika yeš makitaninpišni kin, iš le taku-waĥteka ca"

"Even my brothers have been lost to me, what care I about this wretched child?" -- is not the way a woman would talk about her child. Besides it seems odd she would suddenly be so devoted to her brother.

Nan iciyamni k'un hehanl lila kaĥ'ol iyeya yunkan mani til hiyu', nan ake isto sani yu'zin nan ticopa iyeya yunkan hehanl inyankyank til glicu'.

And / third time / the-past / then / very / hurling / sent him / and lo / walking / indoors / entered / and / again / arm / one side / she held him / and / along the top-opening sent him / and / then / running / indoors / he came in.

The third time she threw him out he ran back in; and again when she seized him by an arm and sent him up through the smoke-vent, then he ran in;

ticopa tice, roof of tipi; ophaya, along, following along the top opening. But the contraction is unusual; opha, verb, to follow along in ticopa(ya)


Ake izaptan ecun yunkan hehanl iaa til glicu' canke hehanl wana ayu'štan. Yunkan Inyan-hokšila heye?: "Ina, lekši tokiyayapi hecin han ekta mninkte lo," eya yunkan "Ho we," eye.

Again / fifth time / she did it / and lo / then / talking / indoors / he came / so / then / now / she let him be. And lo / Stone-Boy / he said: "My mother, / my uncles / where they are gone / if-then / to / I will go,". He said / and lo / "Very well," / she said.

The fifth time, and he came in talking, so then she left off sending him out. And Stone-Boy said, "Mother. I am going wherever it is that my uncles have gone." So she said, "Very well, go."

izaptan :   This is unusual; to send the child out five times for enforced growth. Everything goes by four ordinarily.


Yunkan, "ito k'eyaš mni ekta mnin nan waškatinkte lo," eya yunkan ake "Ho we," eya canke mni ekta i yunkan capa k'eya sinte-blaska kin akanl iglotakapi nanšna mni kin mahel iyayahanpi ca awicayuta najinhe.

And lo / "Well / but / water / to / I will go / and / I will play," / he said / and / again / "Very well," / she said / so / water / to / he went / and lo / Beavers / some / tail-flat / the / on / they sat on their own / and regularly / water / the / in / they went / so / watching them / he was standing.

And then he said, "But first I think I shall go to the creek to play." Again she said he might, so he went to the water and stood watching some beavers which were seating themselves on their broad tails, and sliding down (into the water).

"ito------------lo," :   I do not like this either. A boy serious enough to go seeking his lost relatives is not going to get permission, and then dally around, 'Guess I will go and play first." I am sure an audience would object to that.


Yunkan wanji heye?: "Inyan-Hokšila, u'wi ye, oslohanunkic'unpikta, eya. Tkaš Inyan-Hokšila heye?: "Wan, tka sinte-blaska manica ca tokani oslohanwec'un owakihišni ye lo," eye.

And / one / he said: "Stone-Boy / come you, / Let us slide down," / he said. But / Stone-Boy / he said: "Why / but / tail-flat / I lack / so / in no way / for me to slide down / I am unable / " / he said.

And one of them said, "Stone-Boy, come here, let us all slide down", but Stone-Boy replied, "Yes, but, I havent a broad-tail, so I cant do that, I have no way of sliding down."


Yunkan heyapi?: "Iopi ye, mni t'eunyanpikte," capa kin eyapi nan kicopi. K?eyaš Inyan-hokšila hecin: "ito ekta mnin nan wanji wakat'a yanke," ecin nan ekta i.

And / they said: "Come on / water / we will cause him to die," / beavers / the / they said / and / they invited him. But / Stone-Boy / he thought: "Suppose / to them / I go / and / one / I kill / what if," / he thought / and / to them / went.

And they said, "Come on, let's drown him," and they urged him to join them. But Stone-Boy thought to himself: "I think I shall go, and what if I should kill one of them?" And so he went.


Yunkan capa wan tankalaĥcaka ca heye?: "ito sinte el akanl mayanki ye, unkiyayinkte," eye. He Inyan-Hokšila mnin t'eye-wacin nan heun hecun. Tkaš wana aiyoĥpeya kakel-iyayapi

And lo / beaver / a / very large one / such / he said: "Suppose / tail /a at / on / you me sit / we shall go, we two." / he said. That / Stone-Boy / water / to cause him to die-he aimed / and / therefore / he did so. But / now / down-hill / the instant they started to go.

And an exceptionally huge beaver said, "Come now, sit down on my tail, and let's go down together." he made this suggestion because he intended to drown Stone-Boy. But when they were now just starting to slide

note! The story stops in mid-sentence; evidently the remainder of it is lost.




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