Crisp cool air greeted them as they stepped
outside the teepee. Fall is here and soon winter will be upon us. Our corn
is dried and stored in large sacks, but still there is the matter of
drying the meat for the winter. We-hay, "little sister," and I
were very excited. Ahead were many enjoyable days to be filled with play.
We-hay's family was here to camp in the pecan grove along the river.
Already, their tee-pees were set in a neat circle around the smoking
fires. Racks had been built over the fires. Hanging over the racks were
the long strips of thinly sliced meat being smoked and dried.
Nights that were cool, almost cold let them awake to a ground covered with
a white frost so heavy it appeared to be snow. Because of this frost the
leaves and pecans were falling rapidly. We-hay and her sister-cousins
couldn't get enough running and playing through the leaves. They tossed
them into the air where they let them fall to their heads and remained as
a silly ornament. Only occasionally when a falling pecan thumped them on
the head did they howl in resentful complaint. The juicy fresh pecans in
such abundance were being gathered by the children as well as the adults
and even by some of the old ones who were not agile enough to run about
searching for them on the ground but rather simply reached out for them as
they fell around them onto the blanket where they sat. Later on in the
winter when the winds moaned and howled outside the children would busily
crack and nibble at the meat of the nuts as they would listen to the quiet
conversation of the adults.
Autumn too was a time for fasting and praying for the people by the
elders. These would go deeper into the woods. There they would quietly
pray....No one would come near them nor would they notice anyone. Their
total being was immersed in the communing with Great Spirit. Their
fast was total and they took neither food or drink. Praying aloud, their
voices were raised in a soft whispered plea to Wah-Kohn-Dah, Great spirit
for blessing and mercy. Their fast lasted for four days.
This was a treasured time for We-hays's mother. Visiting with her sister
for many hours as they worked was a rare pleasure for her. We-hay's mother
had been taken from her parents when she was only five. The years away at
a boarding school made this a time of returning to her family, which
was precious moments for her. She was well educated in the white
man's school and spoke fluent English. However, she never forgot her first
language and now she slipped back into it easily since it was a colorful
descriptive speech giving one the ability to have greater communication
The place we speak of as being descriptive
in the language is what the Anglo-Saxon culture would call "not
getting to the point." For instance, grandmother's name, Me-Kah-Theng-gay,
is called in English, "Bright Moon". In our language it would be
Me-Kah (star) Theng-gay (literally nothing there) or in this case,
"there are no stars because the moon is so bright."
Wah-Kahn-Dah Ki-He-Kah, is "Woman Chief," in English, the
name for Grandma Mary Hunter (Osage). Actually, Wah-Kahn-Dah means God.
And Ki-He-Kah loosely translated, "chief ". It doesn't
mean she was a god, but that she had god like traits such as our God has,
that of love, kindness, mercy, etc. The "He," could be
going to "horn," a symbol of a chief. Last "kah,"
maybe that of the crow, who was a messenger which means she could have had
some sort of gift of seeing the outcome of a thing. Still the
English name for the woman was simply "Woman Chief."
These Indian summer days were short and beautiful as a shining jewel
resting on the ring finger of Wah-Kohn-Dah, Great Spirit, We-Hay would
never forget, and in the days of her own Indian Summer she would speak of
this to her granddaughter who was but in the Spring of her life.