Uŋk & Uŋktehi

Uŋk & Maka

​In Dakota/Lakota stories, Uŋk is the former companion to Maka, the Earth spirit. However the two were constantly quarreling and eventually, Maka banished Uŋk to the waters. Uŋk obviously didn’t appreciate this banishment, but she ended up as the “goddess” of the waters.

In the beginning, Maka was lifeless and bare, but was given the gift of nurturing plants, animals, etc., from Taku Wakȟáŋ Skaŋskaŋ (the sacred motion of the universe). Never wanting to be second fiddle, Uŋk used schemes and trickery to equal Maka in having her watery domains filled with the many forms of life we know today.

Maka ultimately replaced Uŋk, who is known for her discord, with Wóȟpe as her companion — Wóȟpe is the spirit of harmony and peace; to some, her human form is known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman or visiting as a falling star.

(Note: this transition from Uŋk to Wóȟpe, from discord to peace, on Earth is one of the meanings in this story)


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Uŋktehi & Wakíŋyaŋ

Uŋktehi, the offspring of Uŋk, have not liked human beings from the time they were put on this earth. While the destruction these terrible beings bring is feared, it is also respected. Much care is taken to show reverence, so not to incur their wrath. Uŋktehi eat people; however, when Uŋktehi are pleased, protection is offered. Uŋktehi even give good gifts occasionally.

The Uŋktehi (who are many) are said to be the source of many floods when they puff up their bodies, causing rivers, lakes and streams to overflow.

The Wakíŋyaŋ (thunder beings) protect humans from these water monsters in an epic battle to make the world a safer place for people to live. The two are locked forever in war as the Wakíŋyaŋ cannot chase them once they’re in the waters.

Unk & Unktehi artwork by Marlena Myles
Unk & Unktehi artwork by Marlena Myles
Unk & Unktehi artwork by Marlena Myles
Unk & Unktehi artwork by Marlena Myles

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