Old Indian Legends

Old Indian Legends

Old Indian Legends

Old Indian Legends


Early in the century a magnificent Sioux woman named Zitkala-Ša published these legends that she learned during her childhood on the Yankton Reservation. Her eastern education developed a writing talent that was put to good use in recording from oral tradition the exploits of Iktomi the trickster, Eya the glutton, the Dragon Fly, the Blood Clot boy, and other magical and mysterious figures, human and animal, known to the Sioux. Until her death in 1938, Zitkala-Ša stood between two cultures as preserver and translator.


These legends are relics of our country's once virgin soil. These and many others are the tales the little black-haired aborigine loved so much to hear beside the night fire.

For him the personified elements and other spirits played in a vast world right around the center fire of the wigwam.

Iktomi, the snare weaver, Iya, the Eater, and Old Double-Face are not wholly fanciful creatures.

There were other worlds of legendary folk for the young aborigine, such as "The StarMen of the Sky," "The Thunder Birds Blinking Zigzag Lightning," and "The Mysterious Spirits of Trees and Flowers."

Under an open sky, nestling close to the earth, the old Dakota story-tellers have told me these legends. In both Dakotas, North and South, I have often listened to the same story told over again by a new story-teller.

While I recognized such a legend without the least difficulty, I found the renderings varying . . .

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