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Native Indian Lore
Remind Them They Are in the Wrong World
Belief in the Existence of Spirits [L-S-3]


Belief in the Existence of SpiritsEvery culture has a belief and fear of the spirit world. This belief the Ponca's surely have. However, it isn't alike to the culture of the European people. The Ponca people do not believe the spirit who is bothersome is good. It is our belief that these are not the "ghosts" of family who have died but in reality are NUISANCES from the spirit world who barge in on peaceful people creating a breakdown in peaceful living. The old ones taught that these spirits were to be verbally reprimanded, aloud , as to their being in the wrong world and should return to their own world. One was to speak in a definite strong way in addressing the spirit. "Goo-D-Hah-Tha-Me-Ah!" They might say, meaning, "Go on, get away from here."

There are many stories told as to things happening as to what the whites call, "bumps in the night." To name them all would be just a taking up of time. Different circumstances surround events of particular times in folks lives.

One story was told to me and is worth quoting by a Christian minister's wife who is full Ponca. She related to me the incidents around the time before her father passed away. He was a strong, good Christian man, but somehow there was a going back to his old culture just before he died. She said he was bothered by THE LITTLE PEOPLE. He would scold them for hanging on his coat, or getting in front of him to try to trip him. "Once," She said, "He was walking along taking a bowl of soup to the chair on the porch when he kept turning around to swat at someone." He would say, "Get away, get off." "I can't walk with you swinging on my coat." She told me in such a sincere way I had not a doubt that she was most truthful. This was coming from a woman who is highly respected for her good works and is not prone to exaggerations or half truths. The Ponca had a high degree of civilization as to ethical culture. How they were ever called savages is a mystery to me.

Another legend is the story of the DEER WOMAN, who is said to have been seen for as many times as there are generations. Deer Woman is half woman and half deer. She floats along back roads and looks to be a woman. However, when the unsuspecting person is closer to her they see she, indeed, has not feet, but cloven hooves. She is not friendly and has actually been accused of doing mean things like kicking in windshields of cars or some such destruction. There are no words spoken by her as I have been told. She is always silent, only catching the persons attention for a moment, much like a deer, and then as suddenly bounding away. Some were told that someone spoke with her as if she were a woman, but she would not respond, instead after a time she would reveal herself as she ran away from them. The stories I have been told are always as the story was related to them. I have never actually visited with anyone who have themselves seen the Deer Woman.

Of course, again there are the stories of the "LITTLE BROWN PEOPLE" They are so real one almost wants to believe they were actually a race of people who lived in a hidden world, who carefully concealed their homes, which were underground. I myself have seen these little folk, and I wasn't in the middle of the night or indulging in strong drink. The time was not so long ago and they were in a fast food line just behind and beside me. It was strange to me that no one else seemed to be interested in them. I found it extremely fascinating that they were so really very tiny. The fact that they were almost like miniature dolls, perfect in physically characteristics and form and no way built any different from anyone else, except they were so very small. One of my neighbors has read a lot of material on these wee folk and he claims he also saw them one evening in the Wal-Mart store. This man is so stable and well grounded he would have made President Reagan seem frivolous. There is no way this man would be joking or insincere about what he claims he saw.

The folks are strong in their beliefs as to WARNINGS. Sometimes, I think these things are just natural phenomena we as yet, do not understand, much like the way animals get away from an earth quake zone before the quake actually happens. Scientists have found that the ground actually sends out slight tremors or waves the animal can feel. When the large Kaw dam was built here it was a shock to see how many animals were disturbed and driven out of their habitat by the encroaching bull dozers and heavy equipment. Because the Native American was close to the elements and the happenings around them they were especially sensitive to the animals and the fact that these animals were sometimes disturbed, thus giving, "warning."

For my clan of the He-Sah-Dah, many stories and beliefs surrounds their ability to know about the WEATHER. There again, I believe it is something in our physical make up to make us sensitive to barometric changes. Each clan had a way of treating the world around them in order to protect themselves. It is told that if water is thrown on a He-Sah-Dah it will rain soon. That wouldn't hold true in our world of many spas, swimming pools, or necessarily moving the water sprinkler in the yard. We once were buying a beautiful home very close to a lake. It was a new housing development, decorated beautifully. A huge American flag set close to our house and at the edge of the lake. It was lighted at night and there could not have been a more beautiful site with the reflection of the colors in the water. I don't know if being that close to the water kept me feeling miserable all the time or if there was something I was allergic to in the area. At any rate, I could not live there.


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