Native American Legends
The Man and the Oak
A Sioux Legend
There once lived a Sioux couple who had two children, a boy and
a girl. Every fall this family would move away from the main camp
and take up their winter quarters in a grove of timber some distance
from the principal village. The reason they did this was that he
was a great hunter and where a village was located for the winter
the game was usually very scarce. Therefore, he always camped by
himself in order to have an abundance of game adjacent to his camp.
All summer he had roamed around following the tribe to wherever
their fancy might take them. During their travels this particular
year there came to the village a strange girl who had no relatives
there. No one seemed very anxious to take her into their family,
so the great hunter's daughter, taking a fancy to the poor girl,
took her to their home and kept her. She addressed her as sister,
and the parents, on account of their daughter, addressed her as
This strange girl became desperately in love with the young man
of the family, but being addressed as daughter by the parents, she
could not openly show her feelings as the young man was considered
In the fall when the main village moved into a large belt of timber
for their winter quarters, the hunter moved on to another place
two days' travel from the main winter camp, where he would not be
disturbed by any other hunters.
The young man had a tent by himself, and it was always kept nice
and clean by his sister, who was very much attached to him. After
a long day's hunt in the woods, he would go into his tent and lie
down to rest, and when his supper was ready his sister would say,
"My brother is so tired. I will carry his supper to him."
Her friend, whom she addressed as sister, would never go into the
young man's tent. Along towards spring there came one night into
the young man's tent a woman. She sat down by the door and kept
her face covered so that it was hidden from view. She sat there
a long time and finally arose and went away. The young man could
not imagine who this could be. He knew that it was a long distance
from the village and could not make out where the woman could have
come from. The next night the woman came again and this time she
came a little nearer to where the young man lay. She sat down and
kept her face covered as before. Neither spoke a word. She sat there
for a long time and then arose and departed. He was very much puzzled
over the actions of this woman and decided to ascertain on her next
visit who she was.
He kindled a small fire in his tent and had some ash wood laid
on it so as to keep fire a long time, as ash burns very slowly and
holds fire a long time.
The third night the woman came again and sat down still nearer
his bed. She held her blanket open just a trifle, and he, catching
up one of the embers, flashed it in her face; jumping up she ran
hurriedly out of the tent. The next morning he noticed that his
adopted sister kept her face hidden with her blanket. She chanced
to drop her blanket while in the act of pouring out some soup, and
when she did so he noticed a large burned spot on her cheek.
He felt so sorry for what he had done that he could eat no breakfast,
but went outside and lay down under an oak tree. All day long he
lay there gazing up into the tree, and when he was called for supper
he refused, saying that he was not hungry, and for them not to bother
him, as he would soon get up and go to bed. Far into the night he
lay thus, and when he tried to arise he could not, as a small oak
tree grew through the center of his body and held him fast to the
In the morning when the family awoke they found the girl had disappeared,
and on going outside the sister discovered her brother held fast
to the earth by an oak tree which grew very rapidly. In vain were
the best medicine men of the tribe sent for. Their medicine was
of no avail. They said: "If the tree is cut down the young
man will die."
The sister was wild with grief, and extending her hands to the
sun, she cried: "Great Spirit, relieve my suffering brother.
Any one who releases him I will marry, be he young, old, homely
Several days after the young man had met with the mishap, there
came to the tent a very tall man, who had a bright light encircling
his body. "Where is the girl who promised to marry any one
who would release her brother?" "I am the one," said
the young man's sister. "I am the all-powerful lightning and
thunder. I see all things and can kill at one stroke a whole tribe.
When I make my voice heard the rocks shake loose and go rattling
down the hillsides. The brave warriors cower shivering under some
shelter at the sound of my voice. The girl whom you had adopted
as your sister was a sorceress. She bewitched your brother because
he would not let her make love to him. On my way here I met her
traveling towards the west, and knowing what she had done, I struck
her with one of my blazing swords, and she lies there now a heap
of ashes. I will now release your brother."
So saying he placed his hand on the tree and instantly it crumbled
to ashes. The young man arose, and thanked his deliverer.
Then they saw a great black cloud approaching, and the man said:
"Make ready, we shall go home on that cloud." As the cloud
approached near to the man who stood with his bride, it suddenly
lowered and enveloped them and with a great roar and amidst flashes
of lightning and loud peals of thunder the girl ascended and disappeared
into the west with her Thunder and Lightning husband.
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