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The Legend of Standing Rock


Years ago, a man from the Dakota nation married a girl from the Arikara nation. After they had one child, the man brought another wife to their home. The first wife pouted because she was jealous. When time came for their people to break camp, she refused to move from her place. After their tent was taken down, she sat there, on the ground, with her baby on her back. Her husband and the rest of their people moved on.

At noon, her husband stopped the line of people and said to his two brothers, "Go back to your sister-in-law. Tell her to come on. We will wait for you here. But hurry! I fear that she may become desperate and kill herself."

The two rode off and in the evening arrived at their last camping place. The woman still sat on the ground. The elder brother said to her, "Sister-in-law, we have come to get you. The camp is waiting for you. Get up and join us."

When she did not answer, brother-in-law put out his hand and touched her lightly on her head. She had turned into stone!

The two brothers lashed their ponies and rode back to camp. They told their story, but were not believed. "She has killed herself," said her husband, "and my brothers will not tell me."

The whole village broke camp and returned to the place where they had left the woman. There she sat, a block of stone in the form of a woman. Her husband's people were very excited. They chose a pony, a handsome one, made a new travois, and placed the stone in its carrying net. Pony and travois were beautifully painted and then decorated with streamers of various colours. The stone was considered holy, and was given a place of honour in the centre of the camp.

Whenever the people moved and made a new camp, the stone and travois were taken with them. For years the stone woman travelled with that group. It stands today in front of the Standing Rock Indian Agency in South Dakota.


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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.