Friday, June 6, 2014

Great Plains: The Wakanda, or Water God

This story is part of the Great Plains unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Great Plains by Katharine Berry Judson (1913).

The Wakanda, or Water God
Yankton

A man and his wife had only one child, they say, whom they loved very much. He used to go playing every day, they say, and one day he fell into the water. His father and mother and all his relations wailed regularly.

His father was very sad, they say. He would not sleep within the lodge; he lay out of doors, without any pillow at all. When he lay on the ground with his cheek on the palm of his hand, he heard his child crying. He heard him crying down under the ground, they say.

Having assembled all his relations, he spoke of digging into the ground. The relations collected horses to be given as pay; they collected goods and horses.

Then came two old men who said they were sacred. They spoke of seeking for the child. An old man went to tell the father. He brought the two sacred men to the lodge. The father filled a pipe with tobacco. He gave it to the sacred men, and said, “If you bring my child back, I will give all this to you.”

So they painted themselves; one made his body very  black, the other made his body very yellow. Both went into the deep water. So they arrived there, they say. They talked to the wakanda. The child was not dead; he was sitting up, alive.

The men said, “The father demands his child. We have him; we will go homeward,” they said.

“You have him, but if you take him homeward with you, he shall die. Had you taken him before he ate anything, he might have lived. Begone ye, and tell those words to his father.”

The two men went. They arrived at the lodge, they say.

“We have seen your child; the wakanda’s wife has him. We saw him alive, but he has eaten of the food of the wakandas. Therefore the wakanda says that if we bring the child back with us out of the water, he shall die.”

Still, the father wished to see him.

“If the wakanda’s wife gives you back your child, she desires a very white dog as pay.”

“I promise to give her the white dog,” said the father.

Again the two men painted themselves; the one made himself very black, the other made himself very yellow. Again they went beneath the water. They arrived at the place again.

“The father said we were to take the child back at any cost; he spoke of seeing his child.”

So the wakanda gave the child back to them; homeward they went with him. When they reached the surface of the water with him, the child died. They gave him back to his father. Then all the people wailed when they saw the child, their relation.

They plunged the white-haired dog into the water. When they had buried the child they gave pay to the two men.

After a while, the parents lost another child, a girl, in the same way, they say. But she did not eat any of the wakanda’s food; therefore they took her home alive. But it was another wakanda who took her, and he promised to give her back if they would give him four white-haired dogs.





(500 words)




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