Iowa Creepy January 17, 2022
The Legends Of Ictinike In Iowa May Send Chills Down Your Spine
Among the earliest people to live in Iowa were the Ioway (also known as Iowa, Bah-Kho-Je, or Báxoje) tribe. A subculture of the Sioux peoples, the Iowa inhabited portions of modern-day Wisconsin and Iowa up until the 1830s, when they were forced to relocate. Yet their influence is still felt here in Iowa – most obviously in a variety of geographical names, including the very name of the state. Another aspect of the original Iowa culture still referenced today are some of the original Siouan legends and stories…
...and one of the characters to feature prominently in these tales is Ictinike, the Trickster. He's not a pleasant character - a rebellious son of the Sun god, he was exiled to earth, where he caused much mischief.
The Iowa considered Ictinike the father of lies and the source of all evil.
In one gruesome tale, Ictinike met a malevolent buzzard who agreed to carry the weary trickster on his back. Yet instead of carrying him to his destination, the buzzard imprisoned him in a hollow tree trunk.
Ictinike spent a miserable interlude before being rescued by a hunting party who, because of the skins Ictinike was wearing, thought he was a raccoon and freed him before they realized that he was not the game they sought.
No longer a prisoner, Ictinike plotted his revenge against Mr. Buzzard. He pretended again to be a raccoon, this time a dead one. When the Buzzard came to feed on his flesh, Ictinike grabbed the bird and tore the feathers from his scalp. To this day, the buzzard (vulture) sports a bald head.
In another legend, Ictinike met an unfortunate rabbit. Ictinike asked the rabbit to kill a bird. The rabbit did so. Ictinike asked the rabbit to fetch the dead bird from the massive tree where it had fallen. Reluctantly, the rabbit shed his clothes, clambered into the tree, and stuck fast to the gum-bleeding from the branches.
Amused, Ictinike donned the rabbit's clothes, headed into town, and met two sisters, daughters of a chief. He promptly married the older one, thus slighting the younger, who betook herself to the forest and discovered and freed the stranded rabbit. When the younger sister and the rabbit realized that they had both suffered at the hands of Ictinike, they returned to town to enact their revenge.
Among other things, the rabbit instructed the people in the tribe to beat their drums. At every drum beat, Ictinike was forced to jump so high that every bone in his body broke until finally, he broke his neck.
The rabbit was avenged.
Ioway Legends from the Ioway Cultural Institute. Other modern Iowa place names inspired by the Iowa tribe include Mahaska County, known for being one of the most generous counties in the state.