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THE BLACK HILLS AND STONE BOY: A NEW INTERPRETATION?


Researching Ohunkaka stories--traditional Lakota/Dakota teaching stories that were taught to children to teach them social mores and morals, I found an old article I wrote about it years ago.  It is very academic, but I think it was also published in Wicazo Sa (Red Pen) Review then edited by fellow Dakota Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  To show ever more how Dakota are related she immediately figured out how we were related, although she was from Crow Creek and my dad's family were Yankton.  Her Uncle Theo had been married to my grandpa's cousin Julia Keeler and the house my grandmother lived in had once been theirs!   Truly in the Dakota world we are all related!

Felix Brunot, Ihanktowan Dakota Chief as a boy


THE BLACK HILLS AND STONE BOY: A NEW INTERPRETATION?
When we speak of "mitakuye oyasin" all my relatives, we know always
that the growing and moving things of the earth, the winged, the
four-legged, and the two legged are all children of the earth and they,
too, want to live.  So we say mitakuye oyasin.


- Black Elk


        I have used this quote because it explicitly verbalizes and puts us into the state of mind, which the ohunkaka demonstrates; a way of relating to our environment that is Lakota.  The traditional Lakota folk story, the ohunkaka is particularly suited for use in the political restructuring of the Lakota future, as it has embedded in it the symbology of culturally-specific features that could be used to redefine the Lakota relationship to its past and thus, redirect the perceived future of the people.  As noted by Elaine Jahner in "Cognitive Style Oral Literature" the "Lakota ohunkaka function primarily as pedagogical means."   The most recent, and perhaps, most explicitly political use of the Stone Boy (Inya Hok si), was seen in the prepared statements given by Charlotte Black Elk, Lakota Oral Historian, at the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act hearings held on Wednesday, July 16, 1986 at the U.S. Senate.  In her testimony, Ms. Black Elk's states that her purpose is to show that "traditional Ikce (Lakota) philosophical principles and theological concepts for organizational design and management practice is one the Lakota have used for thousands of generations, and is still appropriate, particularly for the Black Hills."
Charlotte Black Elk

This need to reaffirm the Lakota peoples connection to the land--particularly to the Black Hills, through myth arose out of the attempts by the United States to negate the Lakota's claim through numerous practices.  This has included the use of myth, in the sense that it is as a way of relating to a mutually agreed upon past history of a people.  This myth written and propagated by Americans, rewrote the history of the Lakota and introduced them as recent denizens of the plains, and put their discovery of the Black Hills, the sacred Paha Sapa at about roughly the same time as that of European explorers like the Vendryes brothers, intrepid 18th century European pioneers of the Dakota territory.  As recorded by Emerson Hough in 1909, "The Sioux did not always live in Dakota, but once dwelt in South Carolina, where their remnants were cleaned up by the savage Iroquois even after the establishment of the English settlements on the Atlantic coast."  Thomas Mails, biographer of Chief Frank Fools Crow, despite noting that Mr. Hough did not see fit to site any sources for this information, asserts that we should accept it in good faith as have many otherexperts of Sioux history.



This myth is far from dead today,this idea is being propagated by even popular commercial historians like James Michenor in his best-selling epic Centennial, published in 1974.  He writes, "do not depict the plains Indians as having been for any great length of time in the locations where the white man discovered them.  Do not fall into the error of writing about white men intruding into areas which the Indian had held from time immemorial."  He then goes on to assert that from 6,000 B.C. to 1750 A.D. the Great Plains were devoid of "permanently settled human beings," and he concludes that, "it must not be thought that they lived there.  They were nomads, hunters who went wherever the Bison went and it was of no concern to them what type of land they lived on.  THEY HAD NO HOME."
  
Of course, the power of this myth to limit or even possibly eliminate Lakota land claims to the Black Hills is obvious, and is hotly contested by the Lakota themselves.  Dr. David B. Miller, a professor of History at Black Hills State College, Spearfish, South Dakota draws the obvious legal question that the new American myth begs, "at what point in time does an historic seizure of land without just compensation become a moot point?"  As the Chairperson of the Open Hills Association, a political organization that stands in opposition to the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act (the Bradley bill), he states, "opponents of the Bradley bill believe that the bill's supporters should offer traditional and historical evidence such as that offered by the Cheyenne for Bear Butte to substantiate Lakota claims for sacred aspects of the Black Hills."in its explicit use of the ohunkaka and other culture-specific features to directly address this question.  The way in which she uses these thematic structures in such original new ways calls to mind the statements made by an earlier generation of Lakota to Lakota ethnologist Ella Deloria concerning the adaptations embodied in George Sword's storytelling: "tales were never told in that manner.  We had tales treating of Ikto, Iya, the Owl Maker, the cold wizard, the old woman or witch, coyote, and these were personified as humans and besides them there was nothing."   Ms. Black Elk may be particularly able to tackle this task; as she notes in her testimony, she is the great-granddaughter of the famous Lakota medicine man and visionary of Black Elk Speaks, as well as the great-granddaughter of Hollow Horn and a college graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  "Sioux Treaty Hearings" held in Lincoln, Nebraska has never been so specific in its detail.  Although, the ideas given form by the ohunkaka Black Elk recounts have been articulated by elders like the great medicine men Chief Frank Fools Crow.  As recorded in his biography, "when Fools Crow said this same thing, and stooped down as he did so to grab a handful of South Dakota dirt . . . in the Sioux mind they have always been an integral part of the Plains country, and God created the first Sioux out of that very ground.  To understand any of their religious and political views one must hold this fact in mind."

Thus, the testimony that Ms. Black Elk gives in the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act hearing accomplishes a number of things: 1) it establishes the antiquity of the Lakota claims and use of the land; 2) shows the
relationship between the religious practices of the Lakota to particular locations within the Black Hills; 3) organizes the culture-specific features (oral history, myth, astronomy, and linguistical knowledge) of the Lakota in a European definitional fashion; and 4) then transposes this into a traditional Lakota teaching story, the ohunkaka for the non-Lakota U.S. Senate Select Committee.  She begins this process by beginning from the beginning, the Lakota creation story in which the forces of life are personified in a manner similar to (and perhaps derived from) the work of George Sword and relationships are established between them and the Lakota people.  This is the definitional lexicon that she begins with and then continues with a short linguistic study of various Lakota words and their relationship to the earth (Maka), and includes some astronomical and archaeological data.  It is not until she has done all of this that she places these symbols within their proper context of the Lakota ohunkaka, infusing them with meaning and making these symbols accessible to not only the cultural cathexis of the Lakota people, but also the non-Lakota audience who will decide the fate of this bill.  In this way, the ohunkaka fulfills it purpose and it links reality and narrative action by showing how specifically Lakota cognitive features apply to fictional conflicts and their resolutions."

Therefore what I will detail in the next few pages is the way in which Ms. Black Elk's version of the Stone Boy story defines "the relationships between constancy and change [to] reflect fundamental
social processes and interactional models"--basically, how she tailors the lexicon of Lakota symbology to fit the needs of a particular political position.  In doing this, she not only had to work within that lexicon, or circle of symbolic interaction, but without that circle and carry that meaning across cultural boundaries in order to make it intelligible to a European cultural milieu.  Listing the variations in the story across five versions spanning in time nearly 100 years.  I have ordered them (one through five) in the manner in which they are most greatly divergent from Ms. Black Elk's telling of the story.  They are in many ways similar in their intent, that is the pursuit of timelessness, but are at the same time the products of their times.  

Placing it in relation to the Tagluzaza Topa, which she translates as "The Cleansing", an event similar to the "Great Flood" recounted by the Hebrew book Genesis.  By doing so, she calls to mind the fact that this story occurred after a cataclysmic event and is part of a renewal of structures that have maintained the earth ever since that point.  In none of the other versions cited (see chart, pages i - v) is such a reference found, it is, perhaps, assumed.  The inclusion of this reference, is probably for the benefit of her non-Indian audience and serves, in this instance, to further her political point that, "if humans make the wrong choices, they will have to bear the responsibility of selecting their own genocide."

In establishing the human setting of the story, she chooses the point in time when there is relative stability in the core "family" that represents every (Lakota) human family.   There are four brothers and
one sister that are, as she notes, "a family of choice, while not related, come together and choose to be a family."   They can also be seen to be representative of the space we inhabit.  The four brothers
can be seen as corresponding to the four directions or the four winds coming together to one location to define a point in time and space encircled by the circle of the tipi, their home, often referred to by
the Lakota as a symbol of the cosmos.  They are however, static and it is the inclusion of the feminine force that allows for change and, thus, life to occur.  In many of the versions that have been related,
the first woman who arrives at their tipi is evil and attempts to destroy all of them.  Well, not utterly destroy, but to deanimate them and construct from their dead parts either a robe (Deloria) or a shield
(Sword) for herself.  This misuse of resources for a non-life-giving and inherently selfish purpose, also points to the practices of the people prior to "The Cleansing" that necessitated their destruction by
the flood to protect "the work of Hor'e Win (She Makes a Mark =Creation) [who] was in danger of being interrupted and a time of choice was among the nations a red and blue day if Hor'e Win was allowed to complete her task or the humans could declare for their own decision of abandoning the robe of creation."   

The robe of creation that Maka works on is one composed of the life-giving attributes of the energy raised by the interaction through kinship relationships not simply their dead material parts.  Thus, the woman can be seen as a manifestation or personification of a human society's relationship with the earth. extension of the earth, not only as a female, life-giving aspect, but also through her ability to animate stone (Inyan).  "She had found a little transparent pebble which she was carrying in her mouth.  One day, while weeping, she chanced to swallow it.  The result was that a little boy was born to her."   This exactly parallels the creation story of the Lakota people.  As Charlotte Black Elk notes in her version of Otakahe Ekta:
Before anything had meaning, Inyan is the spirit of Inyan is Wakan Tanka that which is that it is, is beyond understanding, what makes it what it is and always is.  Inyan is soft and Inyan is supple, the power of Inyan flows from his blood, and the blood of Inyan is different and the difference is blue.  But hanhepi does not have meaning, for Hanhepi is only the dark emptiness that is the void of space. 
So, Inyan takes of himself and shapes a disk, this he wraps over and around himself.  He names this new being, "Maka" I am from the first.  He desires that Maka be great, so he opens his veins and allows his blood to run freely.
but her heart is more great and special and it stands first of all the places of Maka.  And the liquid of Inyan's blood becomes the water, Mni "life sustaining fluid"circling Maka, the blue of the sky, Marpiya To, I am the difference tossed upward now his spirit, power, and meaning are reduced.  He now becomes inyan "the stone" brittle and hard . . . 

Here, now, within the context of this, the sister's loss of her four brothers, the four directions can be seen as the loss of a locative place.  She is "Hanhepi" and does not have meaning and is devoid of
space.  This would also be true within the Lakota system of kinship relationships, as Ella Deloria notes in her novel Waterlily, "Almost from the beginning everyone could declare, 'I am not afraid; I have
relatives.'  To be cast out from one's relatives was literally to be lost.  To return to them was to recover one's rightful haven."   Therefore, she is in the place within the Creation myth that exists before the creation of Maka and becomes Maka after she swallows the stone (inyan).  In light of this, I see Ms. Black Elk's inclusion of the sister's feelings of anger over her pregnancy as interesting.  These feelings are not attributed to her in any of the other versions of the story I have cited, and must be a result of the non-Lakota audience to whom this version is directed.


"Hok si from a pregnancy to a throwing into the water.   At it for a long time, threw it into the water [a stream].  No sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger.  She took it out and looked at it and threw it in again.  This time it had assumed the form
of a baby."
Although, her reasons for choosing this allegory for the pregnancy may have been due to Victorian prudery over an unwed, illegitimate pregnancy, or it could be due to her source being from the Dakota rather than the Lakota (although she had access to the Lakota and lived amongst them for most of her life)-in any case, her analogy is correct according to Lakota motifs.  The moving water is the blood of Inyan and is where his power flows, and the growth of the stone into a baby is correctly correlated with the interaction (throwing back and forth) between the male Inyan and the female Maka.  This analogy also allows us to see the Lakota symbolic meaning behind the mother throwing her child out of the tipi, that is her circle, which is not because she thinks the child is necessary evil, as noted by Black Elk, but because it is this interaction that brings about life.  When she throws him out of the tipi where does he go?  As seen in McLaughlin's version, he goes to Inyan, his father, the water and continues to be sent to him, until he becomes a man who can help his mother.  Elk's version nor is it attributed to any actions(s) of Inyan Hok si and thus, it must not be perceived as having any bearing on the Black Hills case.  This section seems to deal with the process of individuation through the successful navigation between circles in space.  This is traced on his trip between the home (tipi) of his mother, to his encounter with the old witch (Iya) and her/his degenerated form of tipi, to the sweatlodge (inipi) where his uncles are restored, and finally back home.  I see, once again, the reenactment of a form of "The Cleansing" in this portion of the tale in the life of the family of Stone Boy.  Stone Boy acts to destroy a being (the Iya) that acts to misappropriate (once again) the powers of his four uncles and keeps them in an inanimate form in (or on) his tipi (cosmos or construction of the world).  There is some support that this is an reenactment of the first sister's destruction (and therefore, the previous "cleansing" motif in the story).  In Ella Deloria's "Synopsis of Tales" given in Dakota Texts, she notes that the first part of the Stone Boy tale is similar to that of "Double Face and the Four Brothers" in which "Double-Face, posing as a young woman, comes to live with the four brothers as their sister."   Once again, it is Hakela (youngest brother) who discovers her identity and rescues his brothers.  Double-Face is also the Iya, as related to Hakela in another tale by Iktomi.  This corresponds with McLaughlin's version (which lacks a first evil sister) in which the old witch who captures the brothers says, "I hate her [the good sister], for I was going to try and keep house for them and marry the oldest, but she got ahead of me and became their sister."   The witch is identified as the Iya (Double-Face) also in Bad Wound's version.  Thus, the original sister is Iya, as well as the witch (which could be a reference to the two faces of Double-Face, which have the same source and each conceal the same intent).
  
That she would gloss over this aspect of the story is particularly surprising when, as noted in two of the versions (Bad Wound's and McLaughlin's), Stone Boy's very reason for existence is to free his
mother's brothers.  "My father sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing can harm me, because I am stone and my name is 'Stone Boy'",  and again, "the Great Beast told her that the four brothers were kept by a stone and that a stone would find them and bring them back to her."
In addition to this, by entirely cutting out Iya from her version she may have lost a very potent archetype for the materialist society she sees as being very destructive to the earth.  As, however, the battle with the Iya does not take place directly in the home of the Lakota people, but often, in the home of the Iya, itself, it is not directly applicable to the Black Hills case, and may have even detracted
somewhat from her argument as to the Black Hills being the specific location of a 'final battle" between good and evil.  Smashing the cubs is done out of jealousy for their beloved (or hunka) status and as symbolic embodiments of wisdom.  In all the other versions where this scene is included, these beloved children are symbolized by buffalo, normally four in number, or as in McLaughlin's version, twins,
another way, consistent with Lakota symbolism of conveying a beloved status.   Black Elk, probably uses the bear (mato)  to continue a line of symbolism she developed in a previous story of the Race around the Black Hills between the winged and the four-legged (Otakuye Topa Wamaka
Og'naka I'Cante oki'inyanke) in order to determine the fate of the two-leggeds.  She attributes the wingeds' desire to save the two-leggeds to their respect for the wisdom of the bear.  This reason
is not mentioned in her Great-grandfather Black Elk's version documented in The Sixth Grandfather.   Charlotte Black Elk's use of the Mato interpretation, however, demonstrates the pedagogical nature
of the ohunkaka.  It allows her to use a symbol, Mato, wisdom to reconnect humanity to the rest of creation and endow us with a debt and respect for the powers of the four-legged, the winged and the other two-leggeds to whom we now owe our existence expounded in Black Elk's interpretation of the sledding scene.  She interprets Inyan Hok si's actions to not only arise from a desire to be
feared for being the "one who killed a child so special.  All would clear a path for the one who would crush wisdom,"  but as the right thing to do as, "the representation of evil, aligning itself with good,
in this case the esteemed child of the earth the bear, is a lesson that evil will hide behind goodness (thereby corrupting even wisdom) to achieve its own ends."  Although, this is not so clearly articulated in any of the other versions of the sledding scene, it may be implied.

This is supported by Bad Wound's version, which does not contain a sledding scene but espouses a similar interpretation for Inyan Hok si's smashing of his father, the stone, who has become evil and made a deal with the Iya, and we also find the bear (Iya's "child") who helps the Iya perpetuate his evil deeds, as well.  As Stone Boy notes, "I broke my own father because he was evil."   This could also apply to modern society, in that it can be interpreted as the misuse of a beloved child of wisdom (science) in our own society for destructive acts against creation and Maka.  The use for evil purposes of inyan, the stone can be seen in the use by the modern Iya (capitalistic society) of the
energy resources under Maka (the earth), which is, according to the Creation myth, Inyan (the stone).  This scene is included to allow us to see who it is that stands behind these beloved children.  In the Lakota way, this would relate to who it is that holds them beloved and is such high esteem that they would hold great give-aways in their honor and provides this with this status.  In Black Elk's version we see it is the monster, Tata Gnaxkiya  who as Deloria notes is a bad spirit.  In another ohunkaka documented in Dakota Texts, "Boy-Beloved's Blanket", this monster "Crazy Buffalo" attempts to steal a beloved child's blanket (identity) and give it to his own child.  This supports Black Elk's premise that it is but an evil spirit attempting to coopt and misdirect the powers of the good.   Stone Boy, therefore is correct in smashing them like he did his own father who was similarly coopted. Black Elk's version explicitly alludes to another cataclysmic event on the scale of "The Cleansing".  She writes, "the Lakota will be at a time of war (the day of blowing skies) . . . the moon turning orange is a symbol of disruption in the balance of wiconi/wicunt'e (the power to make live and the power to destroy).  The earth staggering in her path is a symbol of final destruction as the earth is dying."   Her description of the day is similar to that of other versions cited, although she substitutes an orange moon  for the "brown-tinged clouds" described in the other versions and includes a reference to the earth
staggering that is not mentioned in any of the others.  This could be an additional symbol to drive home the point to a non-Lakota audience in terms that they could appreciate (an earthquake) and presently fear.

In Black Elk's version, the Tata Gnaxkiya also specifies that he wants part of the root of the tree, she notes this as being, "a reference to the center of the Lakota "Ho coka" (sacred hoop), where stands the sacred tree."   It is interesting that Bad Wound, in his version, describes Stone Boy's mother as being from "the heart of the tree," thus, as a symbol of Maka (as earlier established) the monster is asking for part of the earth must construct circular walls around his home, a circular tipi, all symbols of wholeness, completeness, the cosmos.  It is also the symbol of the Lakota people, and is a name they use for their own camps, ho coka and for the Black Hills, Ho coka yapi, a sacred name meaning simply, the center.  Another name for the Black Hills is Otiwita, which means "home sanctuary".  The red race track encircling the Black Hills is used as a motif in her version to denote the final wall, which is red in color (sa, also meaning decorated) and shaped like a tipi.  This does not correspond to any of the other versions cited, which describe four fences (not three as Black Elk stipulates) constructed of wood, not stone, except is one case.  In McLaughlin's version, the final barrier is constructed at the last minute by Stone Boy (as are all the barriers in Black Elk's version) and is made of white stone (not red).  Red (sa) and white (ska) are somewhat similar in sound, but connote slightly endings to the story, I believe.  There is of course, the analogy that the color red possesses to the Black Hills itself, but it also may be seen as identifying with the Lakota way.  Today, red is associated with the Indian people by most Lakota medicine men and seeking sanctuary in a red tipi may symbolize seeking sanctuary in traditional Lakota ways, particularly those associated with the home and kinship.  White on one level, could be seen as signifying the European lifestyle, as Mrs. McLaughlin herself did espouse.  It does however, also refer back to Stone Boy's own creation from a white stone, and the shooting up is reminiscent of the "throwing up" of Marpiya To and another form of birth, as is the "rubbing together" of the stones as seen in Black Elk's version.  This act of "birth", however produces a child (the stone barrier) that protects him, unlike his smashing of his own father in Bad Wound's version.  And as Charlotte Black Elk's notes in her testimony, what distinguishes us two-leggeds (both the bear and the human) is this proclivity for choice.  It is obvious which choice she would like for the Lakota people to make and for the White people to support and she has made this clear through the symbolism of the ohunkaka's pedagogical grandstand of ideas.


Footnotes:
This need to reaffirm the Lakota people's connection to the land-- This myth is far from dead today,this idea is being propagated by even the testimony and prepared statement given by Ms. Black Elk is unique.
Earlier testimony given in previous years, including that of the 1974 
To examine this I have included in my paper a chart (page i - v),
She begins her version of the ohunkaka Stone Boy (Inyan Hok si)_ by "When the woman is good, she can also be seen as representation ... At the time of the first motion, Inyan from which it is.
Hanhepi "it is without motion" is then,
Inyan desires that another exist . . .
All of Maka is great
Now, Maka becomes the earth,
So the other would be Inyan takes of himself, completely,

In Marie McLaughlin's  version, she transposes the creation of Inyan
"She picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and after looking

The return of the brothers is not described in any detail in Black Elk

In the sledding scene, Black Elk claims that Inyan Hok si's desire to
The theme brought up in Bad Wound's version of the ohunkaka is also
The revenge scene, is preluded by the "Old Man" scene (as I have termed
The references to the day that the attack will occur as set up in Black Elk.
To defend against this attack, Inyan Hok si, in all versions cited,
In this last use of symbolism, we can see how a choice has been made,
Jacqueline Keeler
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