A long time ago many Indian tribes, at war with each other, were encamped on the shores of the lake now known as “Painted Woods Lake,” but at that time known to the Sioux as “Broken Axe Lake.”From First Scout.
A Sioux warrior flirted with an Arikara woman and they prepared to fly away. But that night the Arikara men killed the Dakotah in the arms of newly-found love.
When the Dakotah discovered this murder, they all went to the tipi where the body lay, with the poor woman weeping over it. They fitted arrows and shot her many times. Then there was war for many years, and a dead tree trunk, white with age, was painted red by the Rees and their friends. Whenever a war party of any Indians would pass that way, they would paint their war deeds upon the boles of certain dead trees as a taunt to their enemies.
Therefore, the place has become the Painted Woods place of the Indians, and the name Broken Axe Lake has passed into disuse.