Native American Legends
How the Lakota Sioux came to be Brule
A Lakota Legend
This story was told to me by a Santee grandmother.
A long time ago, a really long time when the world was still freshly
made, Unktehi the water monster fought the people and caused a great
flood. Perhaps the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, was angry with us
for some reason. Maybe he let Unktehi win out because he wanted
to make a better kind of human being.
Well, the waters got higher and higher. Finally everything was
flooded except the hill next to the place where the sacred red pipe
stone quarry lies today. The people climbed up there to save themselves,
but it was no use. The water swept over that hill. Waves tumbled
the rocks and pinnacles, smashing them down on the people. Everyone
was killed, and all the blood jelled, making one big pool.
The blood turned to pipe stone and created the pipe stone quarry,
the grave of those ancient ones. That's why the pipe, made of that
red rock, is so sacred to us. Its red bowl is the flesh and blood
of our ancestors, its stem is the backbone of those people long
dead, the smoke rising from it is their breath. I tell you, that
pipe, that *chanunpa*, comes alive when used in a ceremony; you
can feel power flowing from it.
Unktehi, the big water monster, was also turned to stone. Maybe
Tunkshila, the Grandfather Spirit, punished her for making the flood.
Her bones are in the Badlands now. Her back forms a long high ridge,
and you can see her vertebrae sticking out in a great row of red
and yellow rocks. I have seen them. It scared me when I was on that
ridge, for I felt Unktehi. She was moving beneath me, wanting to
Well, when all the people were killed so many generations ago,
one girl survived, a beautiful girl. It happened this way: When
the water swept over the hill where they tried to seek refuge, a
big spotted eagle, Wanblee Galeshka, swept down and let her grab
hold of his feet. With her hanging on, he flew to the top of a tall
tree which stood on the highest stone pinnacle in the Black Hills.
That was the eagle's home. It became the only spot not covered with
If the people had gotten up there, they would have survived, but
it was a needle-like rock as smooth and steep as the skyscrapers
you got now in the big cities. My grandfather told me that maybe
the rock was not in the Black Hills; maybe it was the Devil's Tower,
as white men call it , that place in Wyoming.
Both places are sacred. Wanblee kept that beautiful girl with him
and made her his wife. There was a closer connection then between
people and animals, so he could do it. The eagle's wife became pregnant
and bore him twins, a boy and a girl. She was happy, and said: "Now
we will have people again. *Washtay*, it is good."
The children were born right there, on top of that cliff. When
the waters finally subsided, Wanblee helped the children and their
mother down from his rock and put them on the earth, telling them:
Be a nation, become a great Nation - the Lakota Oyate."
The boy and girl grew up. He was the only man on earth, she the
only woman of child-bearing age. They married; they had children.
A nation was born.
So we are descended from the eagle. We are an eagle nation. That
is good, something to be proud of, because the eagle is the wisest
of birds. He is the Great Spirit's messenger; he is a great warrior.
That is why we always wore the eagle plume, and still wear it. We
are a great nation.
It is I, Lame Deer, who said this.
- Told by Lame Deer in Winner, South Dakota, in 1969.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends