Native American Tales

The Coming of Wasichu

The Coming of WasichuThe Coming of Wasichu

Brule Sioux

Iktome was a messenger and a bearer of bad news. He knew something awful was coming and went to tell all the tribes. He would go to one, tell them what was coming, then turn himself into a ball and go to the next tribe. What he told the tribes was this–the Wasichu was coming. He would destroy everything. He would eat up the air. He would eat up the land. He would make the people worship a new great spirit. He would take the land. He would have white skin and a hairy face. He would bring sickness. He would take away everything the tribes had.

The tribes kept saying that they didn’t want a new kind of person, but Iktome told them that a new person was going to come anyway. He would come on a ship. He was to be called Wasichu because he would steal all.

Iktome finished speaking to the tribes about the Wasichu and then left. Slowly, the people forgot about Iktome’s warning. One day they saw a strange man. He was dressed in black. He wore a tall hat. He rode an animal like an elk, but it was not an elk. He had a gun that spat fire. He had water that looked like water, but burned. He spoke a language that did not sound human. When he offered some of his firewater to a woman, disease leapt from him and onto the people. This was Wasichu.

Observations

I have to wonder if the tribes did have warning that the Europeans were coming. Did they know something this major was coming their way? Did they have any inkling that it would happen?

Themes

This is a story about the fall of the native tribes. This story was most likely invented after the white men came. Maybe Iktome, or some spiritual leader did warn the people, but what could they have done about it? If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen and there isn’t much you can do about it.

Overall

It’s a sad story.

Weigh In

If a spiritual leader told you that some great catastrophe was coming, would you listen?

Do you think the native tribes had any warning about the Europeans coming?

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