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The Legend of Standing Rock

Years ago, a man from the Dakota nation married a girl from the Arikara nation. After they had one child, the man brought another wife to their home. The first wife pouted because she was jealous. When the time came for their people to break camp, she refused to move from her place. After their tent was taken down, she sat there, on the ground, with her baby on her back. Her husband and the rest of their people moved on.

At noon, her husband stopped the line of people and said to his two brothers, “Go back to your sister-in-law. Tell her to come on. We will wait for you here. But hurry! I fear that she may become desperate and kill herself.”

The two rode off and arrived at their last camping place in the evening. The woman still sat on the ground. The elder brother said to her, “Sister-in-law, we have come to get you. The camp is waiting for you. Get up and join us.”

When she did not answer, brother-in-law put out his hand and touched her lightly on her head. She had turned into stone!

The two brothers lashed their ponies and rode back to camp. They told their story, but no one believed them. “She has killed herself,” said her husband, “and my brothers will not tell me.”

The whole village broke camp and returned to the place where they had left the woman. There she sat, a block of stone in the form of a woman. Her husband’s people were very excited. They chose a handsome pony, made a new travois and placed the stone in its carrying net. Pony and travois were beautifully painted and then decorated with streamers of various colors. The stone was considered holy and was given a place of honor in the center of camp.

Whenever the people moved and made a new camp, the stone and travois were taken with them. For years the stone woman traveled with that group. It stands today in front of the Standing Rock Indian Agency in North Dakota.


Legend has been edited from historical documents and is believed to be in the public domain.