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
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 her brother.
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
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
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 deformed."
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.