A long, long time ago, the Lakota tribes gathered for their great summer festival, as they did every year, when the land was covered with greenery, the grass was high and the plains were teeming with game. That year, however, the game remained untraceable, and the people were hungry.
Among the seven tribes gathered were the Itazipchos, the "Arcless". They were starving, and they were desperately looking for buffalo. Chief Standing Hollow Horn (Horn-cru-trained) chose two young men among his warriors who were tasked with scouting in search of game. They pushed their exploration far, far, on all sides, but to no avail. Yet, just as discouragement had taken hold of them and they were preparing to give up and return to the camp, one of them said:
My brother, I see a buffalo in the distance, coming towards us.
They watched him approaching, and the other young warrior exclaimed:
It's not a buffalo that comes here, but a woman!
She was a woman, of a beauty that words are very poor to describe. She had a radiant face, and she seemed to float rather than walk. She was dressed in a white deer skin, lined with fringes, but without any ornament, which wrapped her like a long dress. Her hair, untied, floated gently in the wind. On the left side was a tuft of buffalo hair.
When this strange woman was close to touch her, one of the two scouts said:
- This girl is all alone. Its beauty is beyond imagination. I'm going to lie down with her.
"My brother, don't do that. She is no ordinary woman. Can't you see that she's walking above the ground without her feet touching the Earth?
But the other refused to listen to her, and he reached out to touch her. Then a cloud fell upon him, and when he dissipated, all that remained of the warrior was a pile of bones.
This strange woman then addressed the other scout:
Your friend had impure thoughts, and he was punished for his lack of humility. I am sent by the buffalo nation, and I bring a message to your people, a message of extreme importance. Go back to your tribe, and tell them what happened. Tomorrow, at sunrise, I will come to your camp. Tell the people that everything must be ready for my visit. Tell them to make a special teepee, the door of which is oriented in the direction where the sun disappears in the evening. Let the soil be dotted with sage. With three sticks, two erect, one lying down, which is made a rake, in front of which a buffalo skull will be laid. Also be sure to prepare a square of carefully flattened earth. Let everything be sanctified. Now go back to your camp without turning around.
The young warrior followed these instructions. He reported to Chief Standing Hollow Horn what had happened to his friend and the demands of this strange woman. With the help of the whole people, the chief made all the preparations for this visit. The eyapaha (the herald) crisscrossed the camp to ask all men, women and children to gather at sunrise to welcome this wakan [sacred] woman. At the first light of dawn, the Young Sacred Woman appeared, in the same outfit as the day before. She held in the palm of her hands the Ptechinchala Hulu Chanunpa, the sacred pipe among all, carved from the bone of the shank of a young bison. This pipe was not human-made, but it was Wakan Tanka, the creator, who had fashioned it. Ptesan Win, Bison Blanc's wife, for that was her name now, walked on the sprigs of sage spread on the ground singing:
Imawani ye.You can see my breath going up
And I walk
Towards this nation [of bison]
I'm on the move,
You can hear my voice.
You can see my breath going up
And I'm walking.
This red, sacred thing,
it's for her that I walk.
Ptesan Win entered the hut prepared for her, where she sat in the place of honour. Then she started singing.
Put that sacred pipe in the center. Send your prayers to Wakan Tanka, the Creator. This pipe was the one who gave it to you.
She turned west, whose color is black, and raised the Pipe:
I make this offering to the Wakinyans, the Great Winged Beings. I send them my prayers.
Then she turned to the right, heading north, whose color is red, and raised the Pipe:
At the whirlwind, and at all that moves in a circle, in the Wind and in the four sacred directions, I make an offering.
She turned to the east, whose color is yellow, to present the Pipe:
The sun rises, which offers us a new day, which gives thanks for all that lives.
She turned south, whose color is white, praying:
I give thanks to the world of the Spirits, the world beyond.
When she had closed the circle, she raised the Pipe high to heaven, to pray and instruct the people:
I'm your heart. We are one, one people, one spirit. We are the nation of the buffalo.
Then she sang:
I give you this Earth,
You will walk there with a sacred step.
You will walk, in perfect balance with Unchi,
Our Grandmother Earth.
I'll give you this sacred Pipe.
With her you will pray
For all that lives,
For creatures that walk, fly,
swimming, and crawling.
Addressing the people, she added:
One day I'll come back, and it'll be forever. Then a new life, and a new intelligence will begin.
Chef Standing Hollow Horn addressed the Young Woman Bison:
Sister, you came here to comfort us in times of distress. We usually offer food to our guests, but we are poor, and we can only offer you water.
With these words, he plunged a braid of wachanga, fragrant glyceria, into a buffalo horn filled with rainwater, which he offered to the young woman. She thanked him:
You couldn't have offered me a more pleasant feast.
Then she taught him to stuff the sacred tobacco pipe, light it with a piece of buffalo dung reddened in the fire, and smoke it appropriately at a ceremony.
To the Lakota people, she gave the 7 sacred rituals:
inipi or Purification in the sweat lodge
The quest for vision
the dance of the sun
the guard of the mind
Ishnati Alonwanpi, or puberty rite of young girls
and the ball thrower.
To the men she said:
You have the strength. You must protect and act kindly towards those who are helpless, women and children. You must share your food with those whose physical weakness or age prevents them from supporting themselves. You must pray with this Pipe. You, the "No-Arcs," have been chosen to receive this present, but it belongs to all the red nations.
To the women, Ptesan Win declared:
You don't have the strength, but you're strong. It is your strength that maintains the unity of the family. You who give life, you are the belly of the nation. You love children. You show benevolence towards all that lives. Wakan Tanka loves you.
To the little children, she says:
You are still small, but you will grow up, to become men and women, who will walk the way of the Pipe, and pass that spark on to the next generation. You're blessed.
For four days, Ptesan Win taught everyone to behave as human beings. She taught them everything they needed to know. When she had completed her task, she said to the people:
I must leave you now, but if you follow me to the top of this hill, there, you will no longer be hungry.
And she set out to the east, followed, at a respectful distance, by the whole people, who were both very impressed and grateful to this holy woman. When she was on the hill, she turned into a young white buffalo, before slowly disappearing. Then the people were certain that it was sent by Wakan Tanka. When they reached the top of the hill, they saw, on the other side, a herd of bison ready to offer their flesh so that the nation could live.