Ponca Concept of God [L-S-1]
was a boy who was mostly grown in his physical self. He stumbled over
camp fires, tormented the children, rode the horses with wild abandon,
or generally was ill fitted to his surroundings, and his behavior was
being noted by the elders. Even his name, "Man-Chu-Thing Gay,"
meaning, "there is no bear," was child like and needed to be
replaced. The name he received when he was a child as he laughed at a
camp dog who attacked his mocassin with the same fervor of a small cub.
His statement, "Man-Chu, Thing-gay" caused laughter among his
folks because roughly translated he meant, "This little dog is no
"He has no knowledge of Wah-Kahn-Dah."
"I know." "The time for
his meeting Great Spirit is necessary."
With these short acknowledgments Man-Chu-Thing-Gay
was called before counsel.
"You have come to the place where
you must have an eagle feather for the ceremony."
Here it was, straight forward, no hidden
innuendoes, a statement made directly to him. There was no side stepping
or gentle or harsh persuasive measures taken. As was their culture, so
was their reasoning, not wasteful. A pointed statement was made. Since
he was raised with this same communication it was easy for him to
Toward the mountain Man-Chu-Thing-Gay
walked for it was there the eagles nested. This was a different world.
Here he was alone, totally alone. For the first time in his life he felt
the enormity of his environment. The space around him
was massive. Giant clouds drifted across unbelievably wide skies he must
not have seen before. All at once he was vividly aware of his
When he lifted his eyes to the heavens
the things his family spoke of as to Wah-Kahn-Dah was brought back to
him. They told him Wah-Kahn-Dah was not to be looked upon but, with a
person, if one needed his presence. Wah-Kahn-Dah would not make an
appearance visually but, one's mind would be aware. Somehow, he felt
this. There seemed to be something he could not describe here among what
otherwise could have been only empty spaces.
As if the time of his being baptized like
the Christian's a rain storm came upon him. The whipping of the water
against his unprotected face and body slapped at him, true and real.
Where was the protection of his family's tee-pee? The rain was cold and
unpleasant. For the first time he had a respect for the people who had
been around him providing a unit and a shelter. If his own decision has
not been made, indeed, he would have turned back. "No," he
spoke aloud. "No!" "Great Spirit, he called God's name,
Wah-Kahn-Dah," I have made an agreement." "I will honor
my commitment." After all there was really no great danger. There
were no wild animals upon him, or any enemies of his tribe about. He
decided his enemies were of his own mind and it was then he approached
Wah-Kahn-Dah. "Give me your guidance, please, Great One."
"Creator of these mighty windstorms and massive mountains."
Within moments his mind came to peace. Reasoning returned to him and he
slipped easily under a ledge hanging there as if by arrangement for his
protection until the storm passed over.
When the young man returned to his camp
with the eagle's feather carefully concealed in a wrapping of leather it
was a new person to greet the elders. He told them of how he had
actually climbed to the high place where the eagle nested plucking the
feather from the tail itself. He spoke of how he was away quickly, with
no time lost in avoiding the sharp talons of the bird. The decaying
flesh under its nails would have made a deadly wound upon the boy the
same as injecting possible death. He spoke with renewed confidence as to
how Wah-Kah-Dah had come to his mind with a deep understanding when he
was in the wind storm.
The elders were themselves pleased.
"Today, our boy has become a man. No longer will he be called Man-Chu-Thing-Gay.
Rather, his name will be only Man-Chu, or "One Who Stands
Up." Some day those of another time will not know our ways, but they
will be taught, and you will be known then as, "Standing
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