Heritage Site / Ethnography Site / Dakota Nakota Lakota / Beliefs & Customs

Article: The Pet Rabbit

At one time, there was a little girl who owned a pet rabbit, which she loved very dearly. She carried him on her back, like mothers carry their babies. She made him a small pair of moccasins and at night, shared her bed with him. The little girl had a cousin, who liked her very much and wanted to honour her. So her cousin said to herself, "When women wish to honour their relatives and friends, they ask to hold their babies and carry them around. I will ask my dear cousin, to let me carry her rabbit around. In this way, I can honour her. "

So she went to the little girl and said, "Oh, dear cousin, I love you very much and wish to honour you. Let me carry your rabbit around on my back for this day."
The girl said to her, "Oh no, I do not let my little grandchild go away from our tipi."

But the cousin persisted, "Oh do let me carry it. I do so want to show you honour. " At last, she let her go away with the rabbit on her back.

When the little girl's cousin came home to her tipi, some rough boys were playing about, and began teasing her. They threw stones and sticks at her and the rabbit. Then at last, a stick struck the little rabbit upon the head and killed him.

When her rabbit was brought home dead, the little rabbit's adoptive mother wept bitterly. She cut off her hair in mourning and all her little friends wailed with her. Her mother mourned with them too. "Oh sister, your child is dead and now you shall be lonesome. He was always so kind and gentle. Oh, how we shall miss him. "

The little girl's mother called in her friends and made a great mourning feast for the little rabbit. As he lay in the tipi, his adoptive mother's little friends brought many precious gifts and covered his body with them. At the feast, robes, kettles, blankets and knives were given away in honour of the rabbit. When the feast and giveaway had ended, they wrapped the rabbit in a fine robe with his little moccasins on. Then they placed him in a high place upon a scaffold.