It is dusk around the
campground of the Ponca pow-wow at White Eagle, Oklahoma. For his
grandmother my son parked his recreation vehicle close to the river. The
air-conditioned comfort of its interior allows Mother to run there when
the heat becomes unbearable and it, indeed did become too much to endure
this temperature, at times. My brother mentioned that he missed the smell
of the campfires from earlier days and in a short while a small campfire
was built beside us.
This location was
assigned many years ago to the great grandparents. Choice location by the
river was given to the elders of our family. Today, we continue to locate
there every year to camp. For my feelings it is no longer the choice I
would make. After the 800 mile shore line of the Kaw lake has been
established by the Corp of Engineers, Federal, these waterways are
The Arkansas river
brings great masses of water down to the dam which must be released during
heavy rains. This Salt Fork runs high, too, channeling the run off into
the Arkasnsas river below the dam. The rains we've had have caused this
river to be almost at its highest point, right at the top of its banks.
Some bits of earth falling off into it is happening, There will be no
swimming in it this year. "There are angry spirits in flood waters," the
elders remind us." I might add, not to mention swift eddys of currents in
greater depths created by the churning currents, too swift to allow a
person to swim through them.
My brother Dan in
regalia is waiting at the beginning of the program . He arrived early
because he is the Chairman of the tribe and believes in leading by example
rather than through wordy announcements of his position from over the loud
speakers. The master of ceremonies the night before called this sacred
ground. My husband deleted a number of orbs from this photograph which
were in and above the ground here in this photograph.
The picture of the
young woman wearing the bone breastplate and bright yellow skirt is a
descendant of Uncle Johnny Williams who is the oldest living male elder of
the tribe. He is a few months older than our mother, Velma Jones, who is
92. Uncle Johnny still speaks for different occasions. He is a knowedgable
carrier of the old ways. I respected this woman's wearing the breastplate
of the warrior. In the old days it would have signified that she owned the
heart of a warrior.
[Dorcas Kent Williams
She and I both
made that costume, however she made the breastplate herself. The moccasins
she has on were my mother's, Emily Kent.
Her name is Sharvon
Telain Vick. Telain, as we call her works for Tulsa Public Schools, with
the Indian Education Program. This school year will be three years. When
she first started, she was in the school rooms with the students.
Allot of her
kids were Ponca Indians. Because of that her dream was to have the Ponca
language in the Tulsa area.
Last spring, she
contacted the right people and they have approved the Ponca language
classes to be taught at the Tulsa County Library. it's a dream come true
for her. She went to her dad Ceasar and her Uncle Curtis Lieb. Curtis is
the person that will be doing the actual teaching. Very soon a big
announcment will be in the Tulsa World and Tulsa Public schools.
Needless to say, we are very proud of her.
My brother Dan stands
behind Mother in one of the pictures. She looks wistfully out toward the
arena where the final song of the evening is being sung. One can only
imagine her feelings and thoughts as she is finishing out one more pow-wow.
My father was stern in
his stand for what he believed. His warfare was for a world we could only
envision where the greatest of accomplishments would be realized without
going backward toward racial barriers. He inculcated into us this dream
for a bright future. However, as Dad grew older Mother was able to grab
her youngest son and hold him to her values with her tribe. He is the only
one who participates in these activities. We, of the older ones, respect
the deep and good values of the Native American. We love our family of
that Nation but we respectfully abstain from the strength and dignity of
their religion, albeit adulterated and weakened with the addition of other
philosophies. Someone I call brother because of our traditional
relationship and I discussed this as we sat at the campground visiting. He
did not go into and around the arena and I asked why. He said, "My age and
blood pressure won't allow me to keep getting upset over and over by the
loss of our tribal ways."
I had to smilingly agree as
I understood his feelings.
Gordon Roy with his wife who has her back to
me. I went to school with Gordon at Chilocco. He has to be the most light
hearted person I know who always keeps a bright outlook on life. They
teased him from the speaker stand, calling him "The Golden Boy," but, I
think, in fact he is golden in every way.
About all that can be seen here is the very
nice sized arena which gives plenty of room for the dancers. A large
number of singers and drummers were in attendance.
These are "Jingle dancers" The little cone
shaped pieces of metal around their hips can just be barely seen. As the
girls dance the metal of the small cones hit against each other and
creates a sound all its own. This is what makes their performance unusual,
this rythmic talking of the little cones is managed by the girl's steps.
Many different tribes were in attendance. This
middle girl wears a shawl that is different from the Poncas. The quilt
piecing techiques looks like it may be Cherokee.
These two little plantinum haired blonds
dancing in the middle looked to be twins. Their regalia looks to be
Cherokee, also. They were so on their toes and knew just what to do and
when to do it. I really thought they were so darling.
The round dance and this again shows the size
of the arena. Orbs dancing in the sky.
Brother Dan, fourth dancer from the left. Sky
covered with orbs.
Brother Dan again, on the left.
Straight dancer. I'm just blown away by the
number of orbs in the sky. There is a very large one as big as the moon
over the right side of the drummer's circle.