The Wakan-Wacepee, Or Sacred Dance.

A poem by Hanford Lennox Gordon

Lo the lights in the "Teepee-Wákan!"
'tis the night of the Wákan Wacépee.
Round and round walks the chief of the clan,
as he rattles the sacred Ta-shá-kay; [81]
Long and loud on the Chán-che-ga [81]
beat the drummers with magical drumsticks,
And the notes of the Chô-tánka [81]
greet like the murmur of winds on the waters.
By the friction of white-cedar wood
for the feast was a Virgin-fire [20] kindled.
They that enter the firm brotherhood
first must fast and be cleansed by E-neé-pee;[81]
And from foot-sole to crown of the head
must they paint with the favorite colors;
For Unktéhee likes bands of blood-red,
with the stripings of blue intermingled.
In the hollow earth, dark and profound,
Unktéhee and fiery Wakínyan
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.
Wakín-yan escaped from the cavern,
And long on the mountains he wailed,
and his hatred endureth forever.

When Unktéhee 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,[69]
A band chose the god from the hordes,
and he said: "Ye are the sons of Unktéhee:
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 Unktéhee and hate Wakinyan,
the Spirit of Thunder,
For the power of Unktéhee 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; [70]
Let your prayer to the Sun be:
Wakán Até; on-si-md-da oheé-neé."[AF]
And remember the Táku Wakán[73]
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 Tunkán
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,[AG]
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.[AH]
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 "Wanágee Ta-chán-ku,"[68]
You shall walk as a red, shining star[8]
in the land of perpetual summer."

All the night in the teepee they sang,
and they danced to the mighty Unktéhee,
While the loud-braying Chán-che-ga rang
and the shrill-piping flute and the rattle,
Till Anpétuwee [70] rose in the east
from the couch of the blushing Han-nân-na,
And thus at the dance and the feast
sang the sons of Unktéhee in chorus:

"Wa-dú-ta o-hná mi-ká-ge!
Wa-dú-ta o-hná mi-ká-ge!
Mini-yâta ité wakândè makú,
Atè wakán Tunkánsidân.

Tunkânsidân pejihúta wakán
Micâgè he Wicâgè!
Miniyáta ité wakándè makú.
Taukánsidan ité, nápè dú-win-ta woo,
Wahutôpa wan yúha, nápè dú-win-ta woo."


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
Anpétuwee walked on his journey,
In secret they danced at the feast,
and communed with the mighty Unktéhee.
Then opened the door of the tee
to the eyes of the wondering Dakotas,
And the sons of Unktéhee to be,
were endowed with the sacred Ozúha[82]
By the son of tall Wazí-kuté, Tamdóka,
the chief of the Magi.
And thus since the birth-day of man
since he sprang from the heart of the mountains,[69]
Has the sacred "Wacépee Wakán"
by the warlike Dakotas been honored,
And the god-favored sons of the clan
work their will with the help of the spirits.

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