P.O. BOX 603



The Legend of Spirit Mound

Long before white men came to what is now South Dakota, the little hill known by the Sioux as Paha Wakan was held in awe by tribes for miles around. The Omaha, the Sioux, and the Otoes believe that the mound was occupied by spirits that killed any human who came near.

By the 1790s, when white traders came up the Missouri as far as the Vermillion River, reports of these "little spirits" must have been well known. Although no written record earler than the journals of Lewis and Clark has been found. On August 24, 1804, the day before they reached the mouth of the Vermillion, which they called the White Stone River, Clark wrote:

“Capt Lewis and my Self Concluded to visit a High Hill Situated in an emence Plain three Leagues N. 20º W. from the mouth of White Stone river, this hill appear to be of a Conic form and by all the different Nations in this quater is Supposed to be a place of Deavels or that they are in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 inches high; that they are very watchfull and ar armed with Sharp arrows with which they can kill at a great distance; they are said to kill all persons who are so hardy as to attemp to approach the hill; they state that tradition informs them than many indians have suffered by these little people and among others that three Maha men fell a sacrefice to their murcyless fury not meany years since- so much do the Mahas Souix Ottoes and other neibhbouring nations believe this fable that no consideration is sufficient to induce them to approach this hill.”

Copyright Spirit Mound Trust