Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tales from the Trail- The Storm

View from Observation Deck
Did you know past Indian Legend believes the rattlesnakes of Perrot State Park and Trempealeau Mountain are there to protect the Indian mounds.

Here's an article from the Independence News-Wave dated Sept. 20, 1919. Copy courtesy of Trempealeau County Historical Society from the files of Judge H. A. Anderson, House of Memories, Whitehall.

Trempealeau Mountain and Indian Legend...

According to an old legend, related by La Fayette A. Bunnell, late of Homer, Minn., Trempealeau Mountain, recently presented to the Wisconsin Conservation Commission by John A. Latsch, of Winona, for a State Park, was once at Red Wing, Minn., and during a terrible storm, was moved by a good spirit to Trempealeau.

The Storm, the story says, prevented a battle between factions of a tribe of Indians. The Bunnell manuscript was written in 1897. According to the legend, the Sioux Indians had a stronghold near Red Wing, Minn. Here a division of the tribe occurred as a result of intermarrying, and some of the warriors developing into effeminate men. Some of them could not finish the trial of the sun dance and the bear dance and had to don the garb of women, according to the law of the tribe. Alliances with other tribes were urged by the chief.

View from Boat Ramp

The story of Trempealeau Mountain follows:

"It so happened that one of the daughters of the chief was in expectation of an alliance with Chaska, a brave of great repute, but the talk of Wah-pa-sha had so impressed him that without saying anything of his purpose, he started off as if for a hunt, but in reality to see and espouse the daughter of Yellow Thunder, a noted Winnebago chief, who, though of Dah-ko-tah origin, was very far removed from the original stock.

"Chaska's absence was first noticed by his charming bride-to-be, who complained to her father. Bows were being strung and spears pointed when the power of the incantations of the high priest burst forth in vivid lightning flashes, the earth trembled and then all was enveloped in darkness most profound.

View from Bay Loop

"The Indians in affright, cast themselves upon the ground, where they remained chanting their death songs in expectation of destruction. But a light appeared and the Indians found that part of their possessions, including the dome-shaped peak and part of Barn bluff estuary had disappeared during the storm. Wah-pa-sha, the elder, and part of his band, had also been torn from Remnechee;s turbulent followers. Witch-e-ran, the virgin, had been left behind.

"A few braves not only declared they would find the truant lover but that they would also recover their lost territory, which they naturally supposed must have been transported with the wind down the  Mississippi. At the site of Winona, they were overjoyed to see, as they approached the landing, the exact counterpart of their sacred dome at Red Wing (Sugar Loaf Bluff).

View from Campground Site
"At Trempealeau they found their lost mountain and they landed on the spot and took possession. Their ears were assailed by the most persistent rattling of numerous rattlesnakes. Upon inquiry they found the bluff was really their old possession, but that the remains of their ancestors on top of the mound were not to be disturbed, but should be held sacred for all time. The snakes were sent out by the high priest into the bluffs to protect the remains from desecration. In consideration of the sacredness of the trust no snakes have been killed by the Indians on this bluff and the bluff is still called by the Winnebagos, in commemoration of the tradition, ' The Sacred Bluff.' "

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