Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 35

Micinski, micinski, my son, my son,” is the lamentation in Dakota land as it was in Israel.

The dead hunter is wrapped in the most beautifully painted buffalo robe, or in the newest red and blue blanket. Young men are called and feasted, and their duty it is to carry the body away and place it on a scaffold, for the dead remain not long in the tepee. In more recent times they bury it. The custom of burial immediately after death, however, was not a Dakota custom. The spirit did not bid farewell to the body for several days after death, and so the body was laid on a high scaffold or in some tree crotch where it would have a good view of the surrounding country, and also be safe from wolves.

Indian Scaffold Cemetery on the Missouri river

(From Schoolcraft)

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

An Omaha Village, Showing Earth Lodge and Conical Tepees

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

[Pg 111]



Long, long ago, a Dakota died and his parents made a death lodge for him on the bluff. In the lodge they made a grave scaffold, on which they laid the body of their son.

Now in that same village of Dakotas lived a young married man. His father lived with him, and there were two old men who used to visit the father and smoke with him, and talk with him about many things.

One night the father of the young man said, “My friends, let us go to the death scaffold and cut off summer robes for ourselves from the tent skins.”

The young man said, “No! Do not do so. It was a pity the young man died, and as his parents had nothing else to give up for him they made the death lodge and left it there.”

“What use can he get from the tent?” asked the father. “We have no robes, so we wish to use part of the tent skins for ourselves.”