Devils Tower Wyoming

The Legend of Devils Tower

It was the custom for The People (Kiowa) to put away food each fall in preparation for the starving time (winter).  It was the job of the young girls to pick blackberries and today was picking day.  Old-Basket-Women was in charge of sending out groups of young girls in different directions each armed with a large basket and orders to not return until it’s full.  But before the girls were sent off they were all seated under a sagging ancient willow tree, fighting to hang on to the last of its summer leaves.  When the girls were ready Old-Basket-Women started her story, it was a great, ah inspiring story but also one that reminded the girls to be careful and stay wary of dangers as they got farther and farther away from the village. “Seven girls, about your ages, were sent out to pick berries, but it had been a very dry summer and the girls wandered far from the village, some farther than they had ever been before.  They found a stream that had a good supply of blackberries, some gooseberries and some juicy wild plumbs.  The girls giggled and talked excitedly, mostly about the young boys of the tribe, as they, finally, started to fill their baskets.

ARRAG, ARRAG, ARRAG the girls all turned to look toward the terrible sound.  They really didn’t need to look because they knew what it was that they were hearing.  Mato, the terrible one, a Grizzly Bear, but it wasn’t just one Bear, the girls saw more Bears than they could count on both hands.  The girls dropped their baskets and started to run, at first the bears seemed to not be interested in the girls and instead started to eat the easy pickings from the girls overflowing baskets.  The bears had also experienced the very dry summer and were hungry, and some were flesh hungry and at least a half dozen of the bears gave up on the fruit and started after the girls who were now on the open prairie running as fast as they could toward the village. 

As the bears started to close in on the girls, they scrambled up on a large gray boulder that stood like a lonesome Buffalo on the open prairie.  The girls immediately began to sing a song to the gods to save them and a song to the rock to protect them.  Much to their surprise, the rock, who had never been prayed to and spoken of so nicely before, heard them and decided to answer their prayers and save the girls from the horrible Mato.

In seconds the rock started to groan and creek, and then, like magic, the rock started to, very rapidly grows taller and taller.  The Bears had now reached the rock but the girls were too high for them to reach.  But the Bears, who have great magical powers started to grow as fast as the rock.  As they grew they scratched and clawed at the girls but were only able to make deep scars in the holy rock that white men now call Devils Tower.  The bears circled the rock scratching and clawing off great piles of rock all the way around but were unable to reach the girls.  Finally after many hours of trying the bears gave up and slowly waddled back toward the stream and the berries left behind by the girls.  As the bears walked away they slowly shrunk back to their original size.

The girls were left on the rock for many days.  They prayed to the rockto give them a path to get down but the rock was sleeping again and did not hear them.  So the girls sang to the stars and asked them for help.  The stars smiled when they heard the happy songs of the girls and took the seven girls into the skies where they became the constellation known to all as the Seven Sisters.  Each clear night they smile down at the rock for saving them and at the bears that made their great shinning life in the sky possible.”

“O.K. girls now it’s time, go fill your baskets.”  The youngest of the girls got up from under the tree and hung back for a brief few seconds.  “Is their something you need,” asked Old-Basket-Women.  “Yes there is,” answered little Red Leaf, “what should we do if we see a bear.”  Old-Basket-Women smiled, patted Red Leaf on the head, winked at her and answered, “Run like hell!”

Good Night!


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