To the left is Brother, Dan Jones. The smaller
girl is the Standing Bear Pow Wow Princess, the other girl is The Ponca
Princess. The man in the back is Rolf, a photographer for the Northern
This is the story my brother, Dan Jones, gave to the
Ponca City News and I need to list it as the one taken from a congressional
record of Big Snake's killing as accurate. The story I heard about him
having only a machete to fight the soldiers came from my own Native American
Grandmother who told it to me when I was a young girl. According to Dan the
congressional record is the true story.
Standing Bear won a decision in district court that said
the forced move to Indian Territory was executed without rightful authority.
Standing Bear's release was ordered. Big Snake interpreted this to mean that
tribe members could not be confined to areas dictated by the government.
Big Snake went to the Ponca Indian Agency in October 1879
to collect pay owed to him and was unaware of an order from the federal
government for his arrest.
When Big Snake, who had been imprisoned before, was told
of his arrest, he sat, unarmed, on the floor of the agency. He was attacked
by six men, one of whom shot him in the head.
Dan Jones described Big Snake as "a man of incredible
physical and spiritual strength."
After Big Snake's death, personnel changes were made at
the agency and policies restricting the travel of tribe members were
Dan Jones, my brother,
represented the Ponca tribe as their chairman at the ribbon cutting on June
30, 2005. The group of people who were in attendance were brave souls in
that the heat was a real issue for people who were no longer considered to
be young. It was bearing down on our heads with a determination all its own.
Besides this, a constant wind swept a powdery dust, everywhere. Contact
lense users would be, all of a sudden, blinded as were others.
The blessing of the bridge
My friend and I arrived
earlier than anyone and had fun joking about what we were going to have to
do if no one was to show up (we knew that wasn't going to happen). “Well,
you get up and talk and I'll applaud and then, you get up and talk. I'll
applaud for you. I can use my Ponca vocabulary, 'bread, water, smokes,
crazy, and salt. Oh yes, I'll open with prayer, I know, ' God, 'Wah-Kahn-Dah.”
The young, serious looking,
man who had now arrived with the huge ribbon cutting scissors and the wide
roll of ribbon had a quiet wide smile over our jesting about something that
was so serious to our tribe and the town, for that matter. Maybe he felt as
foolish over having to carry the huge pair of scissors.
Soon, a rather nice, crowd of
folks, were arriving and gathering about the speaker's stand which had been
set up at the edge of the bridge. The hot sun seemed to be penetrating
through even the umbrellas the women were holding. I wore a hat that
protected my head but sooner than I expected I had to crowd under the
umbrella with another woman and my friend. The three of us stood huddled
together like comrades together in defiance of what had become our mutual
enemy, the blazing, unrelenting sun.
The speeches were made, and
then Cousin smoked off and blessed the bridge. I could smell the sweet odor
of cedar as he took his feather and pushed the smoke on up to the sky.
Something about it is always a feeling of reverence when the fragrance is
wafted over the air. Even the wicked heat had to bow to it for a moment.
Everyone then retired to,
E.W's mansion where a sumptuous feast was served to select towns people,
senators, heads of entities and tribal members. My Brother, Dan Jones, gave
a short speech to thank the Big Snake family descendants for allowing their
name to be put on the bridge.
The money to build the bridge
was donated by the Native Americans. This bridge will help to channel
traffic into town and take some traffic off the other bridge and road. There
have been two and three wrecks a week in the area before the other bridge
because it is a bottle neck like area. Another road leading into the area
was donated by the Osage tribe. It is a wide smooth blacktop highway. This
will take some traffic off the bottleneck, also.
Several of the speakers made
the same comment, “Let this bridge be a symbol of the co-operation that has
gone on between governments, the sovereign nations, and other departments of
This is a rather ironic
outcome for a past fraught with sorrow and heavy suffering because of
bloodshed. However, may we ever be thankful for the beauty of joint
association for the common good.
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