Going back to the information regarding the
clans we will now consider what were the warriors of the tribe. One will
remember there was a clan for this group in the tribe which was, indeed,
the warrior clan. This is not of my family's clan. My grandmother's clan
was of the He-Sah-Dah or Rain band as previously mentioned. These duties
were totally different from the warrior clan and if in my rambling I make
a mistake in some of the material for any who sees of that clan it is my
wish to be corrected.
There is the
principle belief that the Ponca, Osage, and Sioux tribe were at one time
one great nation and I believe this to be so. It is strictly my opinion
that it was a part of the great kingdom of the Aztec government. There are
many reasons for this belief but the most dominant is what was practiced
as the Sun dance. This dance was banned by the government. However, there
are those who tell me and just recently, that it is still practiced,
The sun dance is for those who do not know
of it a grueling discipline exercised whereupon, thongs of wet leather are
laced through the skin at, and below the collarbone on the chest. The
thongs are attached to a center pole and the person dances around the
pole, looking at the sun, leaning back against the thongs until the
leather tears through the skin. My father remembered when the last sun
dance was performed at Grey horse in Oklahoma. This is a warrior's
These diciplines were not for everyone and
only those with the blood and the inheritance to come to it practiced
this. Now we are going toward what some anthropologists note about the
Osage as to genetic engineering being practiced. To this day it is quite a
shock to meet an Osage man who, no doubt, is of this warrior group. He
will be inordinately tall, startling and noticeable so. His height is only
remarkable as opposed to his slender build, that of being tall and with
muscles like tight ropes.
When and how the Ponca broke off from the
Sioux is not recorded I don't believe. Not too long ago I discussed with a
Ponca man his knowledge of the mounds in different areas which hold
structures all through the north to be built like the buildings with tall
stairs of the Aztecs. He made note that they had been built by the Ponca.
When I called to his attention the similarities to the Aztec it was like a
flash of light opened up his thinking. The Aztecs were supremely into
warfare and that is a whole different study.
For the Ponca, they have always been noted
to be a peaceful tribe bent toward farming. Historians make notes as to
how they farmed their land with a hoe in one hand and a rifle in the other
to fend off the warlike Sioux who would come in on them to raid. The
questions are there to wonder as to why one tribe would be warlike and
another peaceful, especially since they were of the same group. I have
wondered that maybe in the genetic engineering if maybe it worked so well,
as to say, on the Ponca, that they completely pulled away from the warlike
Sioux and if maybe this was the cause for the break, but this is purely
speculation on my part, and means nothing as to fact.
On this end one can go back to King David
who was not allowed to build the temple because of his part in warfare. He
only collected the materials for his son, Solomon, who did build. This
division of warrior and peaceful clan heads going that far back into
history makes one wish to understand about the distance into antiquity of
the Ponca teachings.
Historians have made note about the way the
children of the Siouxian groups were raised. Like Samuel of the Hebrews
they were not weaned until they were five or sometimes six years old. This
has caused these learned people to make the observation that this was the
reason they were so protective over the hearth of the tee-pee, and were,
indeed, fierce, courageous warriors.
There were other practices as well to teach
these disciplines from the time of infancy. Just today a woman,
non-Indian, asked me a pointed question. She drives the bus for delivering
the Native American, Ponca, young women to different programs. She said
she noticed the mother's wrapped their babies in tight swaddling and
wondered why they did this.
This is a practice passed down from mother
to daughter and isn't explained as to why it was done. My mother simply
said, "the baby rests better with the swaddling band." For those who enjoy
the history of the Bible we can remember the swaddling of the Christ
child. Jesus was of the Nazarene group and they were the peaceful "clan"
also. They didn't cut their hair, didn't touch dead meat, much like our
He-Sah-Dah, Rain makers.
This swaddling was practiced in order for
the baby to feel secure, not subject to being startled and having unusual
waving of arms to cause them to awaken. What is the point? Simply that the
methods of child care were bent to a direction even from infancy, just as
the Bible speaks of teaching a child, not from the time of a toddler, but
from infancy. These early hands on discipline created a remarkable courage
in the warrior. Contrary to the belief that they had to be "toughened up,"
they were instead protected and seen to as to not being marred with
unneeded damage to nerves and muscles stemming from brain development.
Probably, this is what earned the Natives the term, "the noble savage." To
this day, even with altered diet and life style the Ponca of the old ways
are unusually strong, those who are left.
As one absorbs these thoughts then we are
able to go on to other factors in the teaching of the warriors. These
teachings go toward the making of the weapons. This is a lost art as far
as the arrow making is concerned. Many arrowheads have been collected and
displayed in beautiful arrangements in museums, sometimes in a circular
pattern. The arrows go from a very tiny thing to a much larger one. If the
method was a delicate one as to the shaping and chipping of the stone,
however it was done, it certainly is interesting to think about how they
could bring the craft on down to these very tiny arrowheads which were
told to be used for birds and small game. The skill would have to be
started to learn at an early age in order to achieve the ability. This
must have just been one more place for the warrior clan's children to
become educated to their place in the tribe.
There were more than arrows too. My father
in law collected a number of rock weapons. They were not tomahawks but
were a large rounded weapon on both ends much like must have been used for
warfare. Heavy with rounded stone, they were carved out in the middle to
hold a handle. They certainly have an ancient savage look as to their
purpose. The stone is of something like granite. There isn't any question
as to its being used for bashing when one see it. Whether these were used
by the Ponca or some other race of antiquity here we don't know. Of
course, as soon as the weapons of the non-Indian became available they
To have had this clan dedicated to the
protection of the tribe gave a peaceful feeling over a group. One was
relieved of the worry as to not having someone there to maintain order
much as we in America have order brought about by our loftier and higher
development of protection beginning at the community level in community
watches, on to police and fire protection which is in levels of military
type regimen. This order going on to the legal system holding its lawyers
and to the judicial systems reaching ultimately to the supreme court. In
no way was there this elevated level of government but, there was a system
adhered to by the people which gave protection and peace put in place not
by election or payroll, but by learned culture based on the love and
dedication to the whole as a tribe, sub-divided into clans. In one
instance, it was the warrior clan to give this peace. Today, around the
upper level of the building of our police station at Whiteeagle, on the
reservation, or grounds of the Ponca, you will find the symbol of the
buffalo clan. These were the police clan, different from the warriors'
clan as to performance of duty. Some person's clan for police work, the
other clan for warfare. In the mural I painted for the US post office here
in Ponca City, Oklahoma the buffalo can be seen grazing on the distant
hills at the top of the picture. This too is symbolic of this police group
looking over the other clans below them.
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