Rainbow and the Stone Arch

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

Version 1. The following story is about a natural arch found near Leland in Sauk County, which is said to be "the largest of three natural bridges in Wisconsin."1 It is a sandstone arch having a 35 foot span and standing as tall as it is long.

There once was a man who was a very good hunter. One day while he was out hunting he saw Wipámąkeréwįga, the rainbow. He fell in love with her polychrome beauty and wished that she would be with him forever. One day, by a ruse, he managed to fasten her securely to the ground where her two ends touched the earth. There he built a lodge so that he could always gaze upon this wondrous being. When night fell, he went to sleep. The next morning, unexpectedly, when he went out to see her, she had completely disappeared. However, she left behind a natural stone arch as a memorial to her.2

Version 2. The following version is about another natural arch at Rockbridge in Richland County. The stone arch is 10-12 feet high with a span of 15-20 feet under which a stream flows. It is made of sandstone.

One day a hunter was out stalking game when he came upon a rainbow. Immediately, he fell in love with her and finally was able to capture her. His love for the rainbow knew no bounds and he could not bring himself to part with her. Then one night the Rainbow Spirit, Wipámąkeréwįga, came to him. She was touched by his great devotion, and promised him that by the next morning he would dwell in heaven with her always. Then, just as she had said, when morning came she took him up to her abode in the heavens, but where once he had dwelt with her, she left behind a stone memorial to their love, the natural arch of Rockbridge.3

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Themes: frustrated love: White Flower, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Twin Sisters, The Phantom Woman, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Partridge's Older Brother, The Stone Heart, Snowshoe Strings, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Trickster Soils the Princess, Sunset Point; The Message the Fireballs Brought; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧábᵉra, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, Trickster Concludes His Mission.


1 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Indian Legends of Historic and Scenic Wisconsin, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 55.

2 D. M. Brown, Indian Legends, 55-56.

3 D. M. Brown, Indian Legends, 56.