THE MAN AND THE OAK
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 daughter.
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 ground.
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 or
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.