Friday, March 2, 2012

Dakota Sioux's Belief in Giants

Dakota Sioux Superstitions

But there is no superstition which influences them more than their belief in Haokah, or the Giant. They say this being is possessed of superhuman powers: indeed he is deemed so powerful, as to be able to take the thunder in his hand and cast it to the ground. He dresses in many colors, and wears a forked hat. One side of his face is red, the other blue, his eyes are also of different colors. He always carries a bow and arrow in his hand, but never has occasion to use it, as one look will kill the animal he wants.
They sing songs to this giant, and once in a long time dance in honor of him; but so severe is the latter custom, that it is rarely performed. The following incident will show how great is their reverence for this singular being. An Indian made a vapor bath, and placed inside of it a rude image of the giant, made of birch bark. This he intended to pray to while bathing.
After the hot stone was placed inside of the wigwam, several Indians went in to assist in giving the bath to their sick friend. One of them commenced pouring the water on the hot stone, and the water flew on the others, and scalded them badly; the image of the giant was also displaced; the Indians never dreamed of attributing their burns to the natural cause, but concluded that the giant was displeased at their placing his image there, and they considered it as an instance of his mercy that they were not scalded to death.
However defective may be the religion of the Dakotas, they are faithful in acting up to all its requirements. Every feast and custom among them is celebrated as a part of their religion.

After the scalp-dance had been performed long enough, the Dakotas of the villages turned their attention to making sugar. Many groves of sugar trees were in sight of their village, and on this occasion the generous sap rewarded their labors.