Dakota Sioux Hopewell of the Ohio Valley


Dakota Sioux Hopewell of the Ohio Valley



American Antiquarian, 1891

THE DAKOTAS AND THEIR TRADITIONS.
      Editor American Antiquarian : In reference to the Dakotas and their migrations, I would say that I was informed by my father and the Messrs. Pond that their myths refer to their ancestral villages on the Upper Mississippi, Lake Isanti, and the west end of Lake Superior; to wanderings in regions north of the Great Lakes ; to residence on the Great Lake many times farther east than Lake Superior. Their descriptions of the ocean storms, sea beaches, etc., are so accurate that it seems impossible that these myths, gathered more than fifty years [ago, could possibly have originated otherwise than when they resided there. But they had no traditions as to residence south of Lake Superior. Father was informed by half breeds, who had resided among the Iowas, that the Iowas had traditions that thev came from the Ohio Valley, but without the myths themselves to be analyzed little importance could be attached to such traditions. With the exception of the Crows, and perhaps the Osages and Winnebagos, the tribes allied to the Dakotas in language were, when first visited by the whites, chiefly dependent on agriculture for their support. It was my father's opinion that these tribes, the Iowas, Omahas, and Ponkas ; the Osages, Kansas, Kaws and Qunpas, the Mandans and Winnebagos, were the Ohio mound-builders, or at least one class of them. 


The Iowas and Ponka Sioux had a tradition of building large burial mounds like Seip in Ross County, Ohio

     According to Dakota traditions, the Iowas and Ponkas built much larger mounds than the Dakotas. I have myself heard several Dakotas say that the Iowas (" Syakhibee" in the Santee dialect) built the round mound thirty feet high, perhaps partly natural, on the brow of the bluff a mile east of my father's mission station, and quite an extensive earth-work, probably originally ten feet from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the wall between this mound and the mission station. This earth-work enclosed a spring well towards the top of the bluff, and over looked a rich bottom, in which was a large space partly covered with large trees, that seemed to be covered with old corn-hills. The Indians stated this bottom was used as a corn-field by the Iowas and also another piece afterwards planted by themselves. They represented that the Iowas left this region on account of a war between the Dakotas and Iowas, one Indian supposing this happened about ten generations ago, another estimating the time at only five generations. I noticed the remains of some circular houses banked up with earth within the enclosure, but these remains and a large share of the earth-work were many years ago destroyed by plowing. I never examined fully the large mound, and could not do so on account of intrusive burials of the Dakotas in the top. A small excavation in one side proved that it was to a considerable extent artificial, but seemed to indicate that it was partly natural. It commanded an extensive view. The Dakotas in winter sus pended their dead in trees or on scaffolds, and buried the bones only when the flesh had rotted off. In summer they usually buried at once, provided they could obtain a coffin of boards. The heathens always placed offerings with the body, whether on the scaffold, in the tree, or in the coffin; but I think never placed offerings with buried bones, as they supposed the dead by this time domiciled in the new world, and that the spirit, which long lingered about the body, took its final departure into some other human being or some animal when the decay of the flesh was complete. A. W. Williamson. Rock Island, I11., October 25, 1890.