Digging through the newspaper archives, I found another version of the Indian legend featuring Mina Sauk and her father, Sauk-ton-qua, the namesakes of Mina Sauk Falls and Taum Sauk Mountain. In this variation of the story, the daughter's name is spelled Mina-lauk, but she is the same star-crossed lover who comes to an unhappy end.
As the newspaper story explains, this legend was the basis for a play performed at the university in 1926. It probably made for a dramatic play, but this legend is definitely not the kind of thing we'll ever see as a Disney fairy-tale story:
Indian play to be presented written by Cape Girardeau man
Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian, July 26, 1926
The annual summer festival by the department of physical education for women at the Teachers College, will be given the evening of Friday, July 30, at 8 o'clock. The program will be in the out-door theater, on the campus.
The festival will have two parts, the first being a musical play, "The Red Bird," the story and songs being written by Allan Hinchey, taken from his Piankisha Indian legend of the Bois Brule as told in "The Community," of November, 1923.
The scenes are laid in the Bois Brule country, lying along the Mississippi River between Ste. Genevieve and Perryville.
This is the legend:
In the Bois Brule lived the people of Sauk-ton-qua. Great hunters they were and warriors feared by other tribes. For years they had waged war against the Osages, who lives many miles to the north.
Chief Sauk-ton-qua had two daughters, comely maidens and graceful. Mina-lauk, the younger, being beloved of all her people. The elder sister, Oon-la-ka, was envious of Mina-lauk's popularity.
Sauk-ton-qua and his warriors were away in the hill country to the north on an expedition against the Osage enemies. The old men, the squaws and the children remained in the village in the Bois Brule. It was the autumn of the year, the forests were clad in gorgeous hues, purple grapes hung thickly from the vines and the ground was covered with pecans that had fallen from the trees.
Each day Mina-lauk went into the forest surrounding the village to gather grapes and nuts for the winter stores. And often she would linger by the trail that led into the Bois Brule from the country to the north, for among the absent warriors was Omo-pa-si, a young chief to whom Mina-lauk had pledged her troth, and she longed for his coming. Her sister, too, loved the young chief, and was jealous of Mina-lauk, whom she, at times, followed into the forest and watched from concealment with hatred in her heart.
One day a runner came to announce the approach of Sauk-ton-qua and his victorious warriors. Mina-lauk hastened to a trysting place to which she knew her lover would come. As she stood in the trysting place she was happy in the thought that soon her lover would come.
Suddenly and fiercely she was attacked by a huge bird that tore her face and clawed at her eyes until the poor maiden was blinded and her face covered with blood. The shrieks of Mina-lauk brought an aged medicine man, who seized the bird, the feathers of which were dyed crimson from the blood torn from the face of Mina-lauk.
Omo-pa-si came to the trysting place to seek his beloved. He found her blinded, with her face cruelly torn. "Give me the the bird, that I may kill it," he cried.
"No," said the medicine man, "it is her cruel sister who has taken the form of a bird. To punish her she shall remain for all time, and she and all her kind shall wear feathers the color of blood unto the end of time."