Hanford Lennox Gordon Poems >>
Winona - The Wakan-Wacepee, Or Sacred Dance

Lo the lights in the _"Teepee-Wakan!"_
     'tis the night of the _Wakan Wacepee_.
Round and round walks the chief of the clan,
     as he rattles the sacred _Ta-sha-kay_;
Long and loud on the _Chan-che-ga_
     beat the drummers with magical drumsticks,
And the notes of the _Cho-tanka_
     greet like the murmur of winds on the waters.
By the friction of white-cedar wood
     for the feast was a Virgin-fire kindled.
They that enter the firm brotherhood
     first must fast and be cleansed by _E-nee-pee_;
And from foot-sole to crown of the head
     must they paint with the favorite colors;
For _Unktehee_ likes bands of blood-red,
     with the stripings of blue intermingled.
In the hollow earth, dark and profound,
     _Unktehee_ and fiery _Wakinyan_
Long fought, and the terrible sound
     of the battle was louder than thunder;
The mountains were heaved and around
     were scattered the hills and the boulders,
And the vast solid plains of the ground
     rose and fell like the waves of the ocean.
But the god of the waters prevailed.
     _Wakin-yan_ escaped from the cavern,
And long on the mountains he wailed,
     and his hatred endureth forever.

When _Unktehee_ had finished the earth,
     and the beasts and the birds and the fishes,
And men at his bidding came forth
     from the heart of the huge hollow mountains,
A band chose the god from the hordes,
     and he said: "Ye are the sons of _Unktehee_:
Ye are lords of the beasts and the birds,
     and the fishes that swim in the waters.
But hearken ye now to my words,--
     let them sound in your bosoms forever:
Ye shall honor _Unktehee_ and hate _Wakinyan_,
     the Spirit of Thunder,
For the power of _Unktehee_ is great,
     and he laughs at the darts of _Wakinyan_.
Ye shall honor the Earth and the Sun,--
     for they are your father and mother;
Let your prayer to the Sun be:--
     _Wakan Ate; on-si-md-da ohee-nee_."
And remember the _Taku Wakan_
     all-pervading in earth and in ether--
Invisible ever to man,
     but He dwells in the midst of all matter;
Yea, he dwells in the heart of the stone--
     in the hard granite heart of the boulder;
Ye shall call him forever _Tunkan_--
     grandfather of all the Dakotas.
Ye are men that I choose for my own;
     ye shall be as a strong band of brothers,
Now I give you the magical bone
     and the magical pouch of the spirits,
And these are the laws ye shall heed:
     Ye shall honor the pouch and the giver.
Ye shall walk as twin-brothers; in need,
     one shall forfeit his life for another.
Listen not to the voice of the crow.
     Hold as sacred the wife of a brother.
Strike, and fear not the shaft of the foe,
     for the soul of the brave is immortal.
Slay the warrior in battle,
     but spare the innocent babe and the mother.
Remember a promise,--beware,--
     let the word of a warrior be sacred
When a stranger arrives at the _tee_--
     be he friend of the band or a foeman,
Give him food; let your bounty be free;
     lay a robe for the guest by the lodge-fire;
Let him go to his kindred in peace,
     if the peace-pipe he smoke in the _teepee_;
And so shall your children increase,
     and your lodges shall laugh with abundance.
And long shall ye live in the land,
     and the spirits of earth and the waters
Shall come to your aid, at command,
     with the power of invisible magic.
And at last, when you journey afar--
     o'er the shining "_Wanagee Ta-chan-ku_,"
You shall walk as a red, shining star
     in the land of perpetual summer."

All the night in the _teepee_ they sang,
     and they danced to the mighty _Unktehee_,
While the loud-braying _Chan-che-ga_ rang
     and the shrill-piping flute and the rattle,
Till _Anpetuwee_ rose in the east--
     from the couch of the blushing _Han-nan-na_,
And thus at the dance and the feast
     sang the sons of _Unktehee_ in chorus:

 "Wa-du-ta o-hna mi-ka-ge!
 Wa-du-ta o-hna mi-ka-ge!
 Mini-yata ite wakande maku,
 Ate wakan--Tunkansidan.

 Tunkansidan pejihuta wakan
 Micage--he Wicage!
 Miniyata ite wakande maku.
 Taukansidan ite, nape du-win-ta woo,
 Wahutopa wan yuha, nape du-win-ta woo."

TRANSLATION.

 In red swan-down he made it for me;
 In red swan-down he made it for me;
 He of the water--he of the mysterious face--
  Gave it to me;
 Sacred Father--Grandfather!

 Grandfather made me magical medicine.
  That is true!
 Being of mystery,--grown in the water--
  He gave it to me!
 To the face of our Grandfather stretch out your hand;
 Holding a quadruped, stretch out your hand!

Till high o'er the hills of the east
     _Anpetuwee_ walked on his journey,
In secret they danced at the feast,
     and communed with the mighty _Unktehee_.
Then opened the door of the _tee_
     to the eyes of the wondering Dakotas,
And the sons of _Unktehee_ to be,
     were endowed with the sacred _Ozuha_
By the son of tall Wazi-kute, Tamdoka,
     the chief of the Magi.
And thus since the birth-day of man--
     since he sprang from the heart of the mountains,
Has the sacred "_Wacepee Wakan_"
     by the warlike Dakotas been honored,
And the god-favored sons of the clan
     work their will with the help of the spirits.