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Donna Flood
Lost Ways, Conserving Marriage


Swift though we walk through our modern life style, quick we think and fast our decisions; Still, our minds go in peaceful remembrance to another time not so long ago. This was a time when the ways of the old ones were with us. It was a time before these caring people left us behind with their death, and we don't even know their ways. The energies where we live must be channeled to another world. This world tied up with demands of another nature. However, can we not pull up the pleasant bridge that we might cross over it for just a brief reflection.

White Wing sat with her needle work in her lap while her children rolled and tumbled about her on the floor of their small apartment. She was at one with a time of transition. Her heart held the traditions of her tribe's ways, but she was at force to come to a place where she could step back and forth from one world to the other. She was a quiet woman. The most she used the English language was to speak to her children, directing them in some school activity, home duty, or whatever was necessary for their instruction. When her family visited with her, the conversations were of her own language, that of the Ponca tribe.

"Wing!" Her sister spoke to her, "Who will be here for supper?"

"Just us."

The children would be lined up on benches at both sides of the table. After a brief Christian prayer learned at the Mission, they would busily go about the business of eating. One by one, they would slip away from the table and pick up where they left off in their play. There wasn't the customary conversation practiced by other nationalities. These other cultures often used the opportunity of the mealtime to hone their abilities to develop this skill of communication. Not so, with the family of this clan. Their lives would be directed to a different master which allowed them no time for frivolity of any sort. They had a determination about their character which gave them the strength to go forward in service not deviating from a goal for any light frivolous moment, not even at meal time. They were a people strong in their dedication to family and tribe.

Their joy was equally tied up with these pursuits. It was a common thing for them to laugh among themselves at what they considered to be "silly" ways of the people around them. If these same people considered the Indian's lives to be stark and uninteresting as to decor and decoration of their living space, equally the Indian's considered the other's spaces to be cluttered and filled with unnecessary things.

After their meal White Wing picked up her needle work and was busily completing her son's dance regalia. "I must get this finished before our family's gathering, this summer."

"Little Joe is so sharp in his clothes." "He looks like a little man, White Wing's sister smiled and spoke."

"Oh!" " He feels so grown up when he dances." "There is no missing a beat, the song can end and he is right with it." "You know he is learning the songs."

The charm of simple living was upon White Wing and it was with these uncomplicated ways she raised her family. They always had regular meals, a place to lay their head, and secure family traditions she taught them.

Years later an acquaintance of her own tribe who had not seen her for a long time happened to make a chance encounter with her. "White Wing!" "It is so good to see you!" "How are you?" "How is your family?" The acquaintance in her ignorance of White Wings circumstances was questioning her.

White Wing was quiet. She at first bowed her head. There was no comment forth coming. Though they were in a room she looked away as if she were looking across vast terrain. Her eyes she squinted too, as if she was trying to see. The older woman seemed to be looking to some object at a very far distance. She said nothing. She nodded her head in a friendly way as the acquaintance spoke and, on occasion, she would lower her head again. Something about her spoke strongly, but it wasn't her voice. An attitude of quiet acceptance was with her, and there was no comment. She smiled wistfully as the acquaintance parted company with her, but still she was silent.

"I saw White Wing the other day and she did not speak to me, not once," the girl complained to her Mother. "She was pleasant and all, but she was very certainly removed from my company."

"She is one of the old ones, still." "She carries on her ways." The Mother instructed her daughter, because she knew she was also ignorant about many of their ways.

"Why was she so quiet?" The girl asked.

"It is because her husband divorced her." "In the old ways it was the greatest curse and shame." "She cannot become a part of any of her folks and their association." "Literally, years ago, she would have been ostracized from the tribe." "Maybe, she would have died of starvation, or shame." "The men would not bring their family to this." "They were never cruel enough to bring this upon the woman and their children." "The children were even shamed and often they became careless, having accidents or in some other way lose their life in a suicidal way."

"It seems so sad." "How does she exist with that sort of sorrow?" "I don't see how she cannot want to go on living." "In her whole personality there is such a morose feeling, you can seem to almost touch the thing." "It just doesn't seem right." The young woman thought out loud.

"It was our way," The Mother stated simply.


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