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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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The Origin Of The Rainbow
The Spirits Of All The Flowers
Edited by Dakota Wind

Bismarck, N.D. - From the last snows of winter to the first frost of the next, from the Pasque Flowers and Easter Daisies in the lingering snows of spring to the White and Purple Asters of the cool fall, the native flowers of the open prairie rise from the heart of grandmother earth and beautify the grassy steppe.

The Lakhota say that long ago the flowers could speak. Long ago the Pasque Flower conversed with a young man and reassured him that he would receive a vision. They say that the Prairie Rose used to greet the Lakhota as they passed by, a shy flower anyway, became forever silent when its greetings were either unheard or unanswered.

They say that long ago, on a bright summer day, when all the flowers were out, dancing and bobbing in the wind with all their bright and beautiful colors, that they flowers were talking to one another about mortality and the hereafter. The Great Spirit listened to their conversation.

"I wonder where we will go with winter comes and we all must die," said the flowers. "It doesn't seem fair. We do our share to make grandmother earth a beautiful place to live. Should we not also go to a spirit country of our own?" they asked.

The Great Spirit carefully considered their questions and decided that the flowers would live on and their beauty would be remembered after the winter snows. Now, after a rain, we may look to the sky above and see all the pretty colors of the flowers from the past year making a beautiful rainbow across the heavens. [1]

In the ancient days, they say that the rainbow used to be solid, that one could actually touch the colors. Then one day a boy, in his rush to climb a rainbow, found sure footing and grip enough to climb the rainbow, and so he did. When he reached the top, he fired a blazing arrow to signal the people, but they couldn't find it. When they searched for the boy, neither could they find him. The spirits kept the arrow and the boy elusive. Whenever they approached the rainbow it too proved elusive.

The Lakhota refer to rainbows as Wígmunke, or "A Snare." It is said that the wígmunke, causes the storm to end by trapping it, so that no more rain can fall. No one points at the wígmunke with their fingers, but use their lips or elbows if they gesture to it.

"When a rainbow comes everyone looks at it. But no one points at it. If you point at it you will suffer then. Your finger will grow very large. It gets big. It is bad to point at the rainbow." Mrs. Amanda Grass, May 15, 1921. [2]

[1] Works Progress Administration. Legends Of The Mighty Sioux. 5th Printing ed. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2008.

[2] Welch Dakota Papers

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