This is the story of
Meka-Thee-Ing-Gay, Little Bright Moon, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Little Cook.
Her first marriage made her Mrs. Narcisse Pensoneau. Her second marriage
she was Mrs. Enrique (Henry) Emillio Hernandez. Lizzie was of one Native
American tribe, Ponca. She was born to Esther Broken Jaw and Samuel Little
Cook. Sam's Indian name was OO-Hah-Shingah. In 1884, when in the area
around Ponca City, Oklahoma his Christian name became Samuel or Sam.
Lizzie's Indian name, Meka
(star) Thee-Ing-gay, literally translated Stars There Are None, which
becomes "There Are No Stars," or "There Is A Bright Moon."
Sam's name was
OO-Hah-Shingah: OO-Hah means Cook and Shingah is Little. The realities
of this name is not known. It could mean he did little cooking, or to the
opposite, he was a cook who wasn't very tall which is what the
interpreters may have put on him. In a tribal way the cook is treated with
respect because they are hard workers who can feed great numbers of
people. They become trusted dividers of the food. Since Sam was of the
straight path (Rain) clan, this was a possibility. It is known his
daughter's were hard workers because a picture shows them with a mark
on their forehead. The white society called this the mark of the chief's
daughter, but in actuality, it meant "she has earned this mark by her hard
Samuel owned a lumber mill
and worked as a business man who dressed in suit, white shirt and tie.
Therefore, he may have had the money to purchase food in the white man's
world. As was the custom, the dividing of food could have earned him his
name, "OO-Hah." This makes more sense to me, knowing the ways of our
folks. This is still practiced to some degree among our people.
Lizzie, Sam & Esther's
daughter, died September 13, l963, at Ponca City, Oklahoma. She is buried
in the Catholic section of the I.O.O.F. cemetery.
Elizabeth was what would
probably be known as someone who was given special favor and mercy during
her time. She stepped from one set of circumstances to another which was a
completely different lifestyle. Her Native American family became
successful in what was a totally strange world for them.
While the Anglo society was
pioneering the land around her, "Lizzie" was learning their culture. She
learned very well and was a secretary in a law office, a court reporter,
a notary republic, and an interpreter. She helped to establish an orderly
This story is written by
her granddaughter, Donna Colleen Jones Flood (Mrs. Rodney Flood). The
material has been taken from the many hours spent with Lizzie in the years
before her death in 1963. The grandmother shared the information willingly
and lovingly with her granddaughter. Grandmother's foresight is shown by
her choosing one of her grandchildren who graduated out of Chilocco Indian
School and was also a student of journalism. At the time Lizzie was not
sensitive or shy about sharing such intimate information with her
granddaughter and this is the way of the Native American. They were not
hampered by any morals put upon them by the Victorian society dominating
women's values at that time.
I Want a Chintz Covered Chair
Grandmother had a special place in her home where she lingered more and
more often as she grew older. The room was small and because of this she
used a twin bed that had four slender posts at each corner which saved it
from looking plain because of its half size. Only one picture was placed
on the wall behind her bed and it was when she was a girl. Her Gibson girl
poofed hairstyle and high necked blouse of a soft fabric gave away the
year as having been around 1910. A necklace of pearls in their elegant
luster was around the neck of the blouse she wore.
Across from the bed was a very old-fashioned
dark piece of furniture that had drawers and a mirror inside a small cubby
hole cabinet on top of it. Gramma always kept her face powdered so there
were continually small flecks of the colored powder on the dark wood.
But the nicest part of the room was the large
over-stuffed chair sitting beside a window so a guest could look out
across the large pleasant yard where roses, sweet smelling honeysuckle or
other flowering vines flourished.
Old shade trees had limbs drooping to the
ground in places. The chair was there for the guest because Gramma always
was seated on the edge of her bed. She must have preferred this because
then it was possible for her to recline on the bed when she was tired. A
coziness about this modest little room had been created. The view through
the window certainly gave the guest a good feeling, too.
Really, the chair was quite a homely thing of
a drab brownish color but some industrious lady had covered it with the
most beautiful floral print in a fabric of chintz. The glaze of the fabric
with its sheen made the chair look fresh, modern and clean and with the
light coming in through the window the piece of furniture became a kind of
centerpiece and focal point for what otherwise would have been a drab and
chair held the guest who took time for listening to Gramma as she
reminisced over her life and many were the hours I spent with her while I
heard the wonderfully strange happenings of her childhood. Maybe there was
no picture in my mind at the time of some one or another thing such as
button up shoes but later I would see a picture or something in a museum
and think of the story my Gramma told me around and about the article.
Im but ten years away from the her age at the
time and I must look for a Chintz fabric and an old overstuffed chair to
put beside my window here.The stories Ive already written and published
that Gramma so lovingly told to me. It was at a time when she was surely
feeble and even ill, although I did not know it. There was a girl like
charm about her and if her skin was less than perfect while she tried to
cover splotches of color with the powder that didnt matter to me. I felt
it was quiet elegance with a soft manner that was so beautiful and made
her seem warm and youthful. Maybe this is where we all first learn of true
love; the kind that accepts us just as we are and by learning this we are
able to love throughout our life in such a way.
There are those who were too busy for Gramma
and that was no crime for them to feel guilty for being involved in more
exciting endeavors. Their lives kept them centered on one or another
necessary part of living. I dont know if she would have been alone if I
had not taken time with her. Someone else might have spent time with her.
All I know is that every time I walked into her room the Chintz chair was
always vacant and Gramma was seemingly waiting patiently for someone to
take their place in it.
Here is a picture of an overstuffed chair similar to Gramma's in a room
with a feeling about it, like hers.
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