Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD Spring 2010:
An epic adventure through the Grasslands of Gumption

Over the Pine Ridge prairie in South Dakota, the sun rose with astonished eyes, surprised to find a horde of supervillains creeping through the dancing grasses. They had been spying on Superhero Training Academy for weeks, with crook eyes and stink eyes and evil eyes and even the menacingly popping eyes.

They snuck past a sneezing white unicorn and the horses of the Four Directions, who could do nothing but watch.

From afar, they scoped out Red Cloud Indian School and listened to the students scramble off buses into the cafeteria for breakfast. Breakfast wasn’t the rotting alligator guts that the supervillains were used to. Yet they could discern, with their keen senses of smell: the scrambled eggs, the apples, and most important:

the Superhero Spirit.

17 galaxies, 3,000 stars, and 1 supernova

The Supervillains snuck past the tangles of tree branches and wiggles of river,

past Bob the Brontosaurus and the swings to the seventh dimension.

Laughing Moon climbed the steps into the cafeteria with the Superhero Spirit in his hands. Blinded by the morning light, Moon did not see three Supervillains: the Greedy Goblin, Masquerade, and Hanz Vanfrigglefitz. They burst into the cafeteria and in less than two blinks, clobbered Laughing Moon and stole the Superhero Spirit. The whole school watched the Villains storm off laughing, but the Superheroes would not give up this day.

The Superheroes hustled back to their headquarters in the classroom, and quickly armed themselves: capes, symbols, shields, and Go Get ‘Em Forces of Fortitude, Wisdom, Compassion, and Humility.

The supervillains were ready.

Meanwhile, another horde of supervillains (who smelled like hippopatomus tongues) armed themselves with bad mamma jamma blasters, 200 slime balloons, and oodles and caboodles of discouragement. They laughed. They already had the Superhero Spirit.

24 Superheroes, under the leadership of the Laughing Moon and the Wedgebreaker, came to the hills to find a dozen supervillains, gnarling and snarling. They hid the Superhero Spirit in the grass, and challenged any superhero to come across to find it. They had their blasters armed, aimed, and angry.

Nearing defeat, with only a handful of superheroes left free, the Superheroes huddled to make a plan. They created a charge to confuse the villains, and freed up the Wild Mustang. With a blaze of sonic speed, enhanced from the horses of the land, she tore through villain territory, recovered the Spirit, and brought it back to the heroes!

The supervillains retreated back to the river.

Laughing Moon gathered all the Superheroes together, and in a motion of gratitude for victory, handed the Superhero Spirit to the Wedgebreaker, his trusted companion. The Wedgebreaker began a speech, “There’s only one thing left to say…I’m a supervillain!”

He ripped off his Wedgebreaker disguise. He was really Iktomi, a master trickster villain of Lakota stories, and on very rare occasions, a hero.

The heroes had been bamboozled! Bewitched! Bedoggled!

Iktomi ran, and the heroes chased him for a half mile to the river.

Iktomi shot the Superhero Spirit over the river, along with three riddles. Each Superhero team had to find a way to cross the river. Build a bridge, help with hands through the sticky river bottom, or balance across toppled trees.

While they were attempting to cross the river, the Greedy Goblin led the supervillains to block their paths!

The heroes persisted past the bad mamma jamma blasters, keeping a keen awareness,

balancing over toppled trees,

and getting shoes stuck in the murky, mucky, muddy water. When Ninja Thunder Warrior got stuck in the mud, Iron Bull and Iron Tornado used their ultra strength to pull him out (

After the heroes crossed the river and solved the riddles to find the Tree of Terrible Traps, the zany and insane Russian riddler, Hanz Vanfrigglefitz, hovered across the river.

At the Tree of Terrible Traps, Vanfrigglefitz attempted his mindbending mayhem and menacing mindboggling, but the superheroes knew too well the wisdom of the Four Directions, the Lakota values, the Superhero Oath, and their own lights and shadows. Hanz stood no chance.

The heroes were ready for anything.

They hiked up the ridge, still searching for the Superhero Spirit.

Though they began to feel the Superhero Spirit inside themselves.

And they knew that the true tests were just ahead.

The first was Iktomi’s spiderweb. Each team of superheroes had to pass through the web without touching. They had to make plans, use each other’s strengths, lift each other up, and not get discouraged by the intricate weavings of Iktomi’s tricks.

Then they came to the Cave of Shadows.

Each hero bravely went in alone, facing complete darkness and their own shadow. No one has spoken of it since.

The last challenge was the Boogie Oogie Oogie Bridge, which each superhero had to cross blindfolded.

At the edge of the bridge, the superheroes found Iktomi. With all their combined might, they surrounded and interrogated him.

“Where’s the Superhero Spirit? Where is it!” all the superheroes demanded.

“The Superhero Spirit,” replied Iktomi. “It’s found within.”

“Within what?” the Laughing Moon continued. “Within 100 feet? Within your pocket? Within your shoe? Within what?”

Iktomi smiled and said again, slowly and slyly. “Within yourself.”

There was a full moon that night. Yet nothing could have been brighter that night than the Superhero Spirit of those 24 superheroes.