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Indigenous Stories

The Old Woman In The Cave

Categories : Sioux , Sioux Stories

This story told by Chief Lost Feather is similar to a legend that is recorded among the Sioux. Although the Sioux are generally associated with peoples originating around the Ohio River basin and the Great Lakes, they were related to tribes that migrated extensively throughout the central plains area from Arkansas to Canada.

Both the Quapaw and the Osage belonged to the Siouan language group, which presents the possibility that visitors from one of these tribes could have introduced the story in the Hot Springs area where it became associated with West Mountain.

A secret, mystic cave hidden somewhere on West Mountain has been the home for many centuries of an old woman who lives there with her dog.

The old woman spends her time diligently weaving a beautiful rug from pine needles that she has collected in the forest. Her dog spends his time napping in a corner of the cave and watching his mistress through narrow slits in his eyes.

From time to time, the old woman lays down her rug and goes to stir the soup she keeps cooking in a clay pot over a fire at the mouth of the cave. When she does this, the dog creeps out of his corner and, taken the rug in his jaws, shakes it until he has unraveled a part of it.

When the old woman returns to her work, she patiently tries to restore the damaged rug and resumes her weaving, but soon she must again attend to the soup that boils in her pot. Each time she leaves the rug, the sly old dog again ravels as much or more than she has been able to complete at the last sitting.

Thus, down through the years, the two have continued their ritual of weaving, raveling, and reweaving, but the rug never grows any larger. This is a good thing, for if ever the rug is finished, the world as we know it will come to an end.

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