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Legend of the Thunder God


The Black Hills of South Dakota, "with more than a thousand square miles of mysterious, haze-shrouded peaks, peaceful flowering valleys, turbulent streams and gold-ribbed cliffs, have been aptly termed 'the Happy Hunting Ground of the Dakotas."'

When the Thunder God spoke among the people of the Black Hills, the Medicine Man called together the frightened warriors. They were huddled in the lodges of their camp along the Belle Fourche River. He told them this story:

"You who now listen will not be harmed. It is said that the Evil Spirit once became so angry at the Red People that he caused the mountains to vomit fire and hot stones to terrify them. Their lodges and their children were destroyed. The Great Spirit had compassion, put out the fire, and chased the Evil Spirit away.

"But when they returned to their wickedness, the Great Spirit permitted the Evil Spirit to return to the mountains and again vomit forth fire. When again the Red People became good and made sacrifices to the Great Spirit, He chased away the Evil Spirit and kept him from disturbing the people.

"For forty snows, they were undisturbed, except occasionally. Sometimes the Great Spirit would warn them, through thunder, that if they should return to their wickedness He would have them punished. Again He would have the mountains vomit forth fire and hot stones, and thus destroy them. Even today He occasionally warns us.

"So return now to your lodges, and do not be afraid. The Red People now will come to no harm."


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