Myth & Lore

Page 48

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The Black Hills
From Legends of the Mighty Sioux

Paha Sapa, or the Black Hills, have long been regarded by the Sioux as their holy land.

Each year tribes came from great distances to cure illness in the warm springs and to hunt wild animals.

A legend of the Sioux, still firmly believed, is that the dark of night turns the rocks into spirits that sing strange songs, awakening the echoes.

From holes in rock walls healing waters flow and the people fill their buffalo-horn cups with the clear water and drink it to become pure.

From the great needles of rock that touch the sky the Medicine Men call the Mighty Spirit.

The great deposits of glistening metals should be used for holy wearing and never sold. The Sioux knew of the gold there long before it was discovered by white men.

The picture paintings on the red stone walls, made long before the coming of the Sioux, are read by holy men as a guide on how to live.

The crystal caves, hidden beneath the ground, have great mystery.

It was on Bear Butte, Mato Paha, that the father of Crazy Horse preformed the rites of a holy man and was given great powers from the Mighty Spirit, who appeared to him in the form of a bear. Later, in 1876, a great council was held at this butte, where chiefs talked over the giving of the Black Hills to the United States Government.

In days of old, Harney Peak was never climbed by the Sioux because there was a strong belief that it was visited by the Thunder Bird. Legend further adds that whenever the Thunder Bird stopped it caused much lightning and thunder in the Black Hills.

Of all the land losses suffered by the Sioux with the coming of white men, the giving away of the holy Black Hills caused the most sadness.

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