Native American Tales

Stone Boy

Stone BoyStone Boy

Brule Sioux

People used to spend most of their time looking for food. There was a maiden who lived with her five brothers, they spent all day, every day, looking for food for them to eat. One day, only four of the brothers came home. They did not know where the other brother had gone. Then the next day, only three brothers came home. The next day, only two, and then, there was only one. The sister begged her brother not to go, but he went anyway, and didn’t come back.

The maiden wanted to die, but did not know how, nor did she know prayers to offer up to any god. She swallowed a stone and thought that maybe it would kill her. Instead, she felt a stirring in her belly. After four days, she thought she was going to die, but instead, she gave birth to a little boy. She did not know how it happened, other than that it was the rock she had swallowed.

She named the baby Iyan Hokshi or Stone Boy. He grew very fast, ten times faster than a normal baby. Soon he was big enough to hunt. His mother had told him about his five uncles and Stone Boy was determined to go and find them. He wandered for four days until he smelled smoke. There he found an old woman in a tipi. Inside the tipi were five big bundles. The woman prepared a place for him to sleep that night and said that he back was sore and that he should walk up and down her back. Instead of walking on her back, Iyan Hokshi jumped up really him and came down hard on the old woman’s back killing her.

He found a blade that he thought the woman might have used to kill his uncles. He did not know how to bring them back to life. Outside the tipi some rocks talked to him and told them that he was of Tunka. The rocks told him to build a structure and cover it with buffalo robes. He was to put his five uncles inside.

He did this and put hot ricks inside the tent and poured water over them. It created steam. Iyan opened the flap of the tent four times. Soon his uncles had come to life. They decided that they would worship Tunkashila, the grandfather spirit and that the rocks and steam would be used for purification from that point forward.


In case you haven’t guessed, this story is speaking of a sauna, or a steam bath, which is something people all over the world participate in. Many native tribes do you use steam for purification rituals. Some people call it a sweat lodge. When you are in a sauna, you will sweat. The steam forces you to sweat, which can clear out your skin. Some people may put other herbs in the steam as well for additional purifying qualities. Steam can also be good for congestion.

What’s with the number 4?


This is an origin story, of course, but it’s also a story about family and perhaps proper sex education. This is the story of how a people came to worship Tunkashila and also how they came to use steam for purification.

Family is also a big thing in this story. This boy knew nothing of his uncles, but he went out and searched for them anyway when he was big enough. That’s definitely a commitment to family right there.

Alright, so, yeah, one girl, five men, who cares if they’re related– how’d she really end up pregnant? I get that stories have these little bits about women becoming mysteriously with child, but it usually doesn’t happen that way. It’s usually sex, now with that said, not every woman, or man, knows that sex can make a baby. I’ve read some memoirs about the ignorance of people and sex that will make you wonder how some people are still even alive over the age of fifteen. Just because you swallow a rock, doesn’t mean you’re going to get pregnant, well, in any other case except this story. This story is fiction, it’s mythology; in mythology, people get pregnant from “golden rain.” In real life, people get pregnant from sex, or IVF; if this story was in any way based on reality, I can guarantee you that there was probably some sex going on between the siblings, and maybe they just didn’t really know what it was or what would happen.


I’m glad things worked out.

Weigh In

What’s the strangest pregnancy myth you’ve read about?

Do you appreciate a good steam bath?



3 thoughts on “Stone Boy”

  1. When the punishment for ‘pregnancy without husband’ was to be stoned to death there were a hell of a lot of virgin births. Hmmm, claim it was a miracle or be crushed to death by a mob… tough choice.

    1. I think you make a good point. Definitely in cases where women were afraid to be pregnant, there were a lot of “miracles” going around.

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