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American History
The Natives told of the Run for Land


The native folks were busy about their daily lives. It was summer and their harvesting and storing of food was legendary with this Ponca tribe. Most of the food they kept was dried. Hanging on long root strings were pieces of the bright yellow squash they so loved. Corn had to be spread out on sheets to dry in the sun for at least three days. They needed to roll it up in the material and carry it inside every night to keep it protected from the night dew.  Apples they grew were sliced thin and dried the same way.

Their society was not like that of the people who lived around them. They still held to their traditional ways which made this a time not only to prepare for winter but a time to enjoy each others company. It was a time for teaching the children of the many facets of their culture. They did not have the same relationship as those others they called "the white folks." Theirs was a much closer one. There were no cousins. What others called a cousin they called a brother or sister. If you had an Uncle then his son became your uncle also, or his daughter your aunt. The sisters in a family were equally responsible for each other's children. If one should become ill and actually die her children would just become a part of one of her sister's family. Therefore, many of the children were actually raised by someone besides their mother. It was common for a sister to breast feed her sister's child if the woman was too ill from childbirth to do so herself.

A mother-in-law never spoke to her son-in-law or a father-in-law never spoke to his daughter-in-law, no matter what. If  Scot or English, French or Irish married one of the daughters he was expected as well to abide by the laws of the tribe and in some way, even if he should be of the strongest nature, he would always bend to this part of these Natives lives. If at first he didn't understand, by example he learned and soon it was as much of his nature to live as they did.

This was the climate to be functioning and going on at the time of the run for land by the white man. A rider on a horse would ride at a breakneck speed into the camp ground. The natives couldn't speak his language, didn't know what was wrong. They thought he was running from someone.

After several men rode into the camp like this, one of the Native men said, "quick woman, make some bread, make coffee, and I'll bring more water for them to drink. Something bad is happening for these men to be running with such wildness about them."

"I shore wish we could speak their language," one of  the women said, " I really would like to know what is happening."

"How can you speak all their languages, look they are all different, can't you see, they are not the same people. You would need to speak all different,"  one of the other women observed.

The hot tired, wild eyed men and horses would run into the camp one by one, and the Natives were quick to water their horses, hand them bread, give them coffee and just as suddenly the man would straddle his horse and plunge away from their camp as abruptly as he came.

"Maybe there is a prairie fire," one of the Native men wondered.

"No, not that,  we'd see it on the horizon," someone would answer.

"Do you think there is a battle somewhere and they are running away?" another would question.

"I don't think so, look, none of them have been wounded, but they do seem to be frightened about something."

Of course, the Natives could not know about the men who were running to claim land in what was to be called the Cherokee Strip Land Run. They were busy about their lives and not until they had been moved to Oklahoma and given parcels of land had they even known about this kind of marking off of plots for individual ownership. The earth was their mother. The sun was their grandfather. They had no need to measure off a segment of their mother to claim only a part of her.

"Are we going to keep feeding these men?" the women wanted to know.

"As long as there is food," they were told.

Fortunately for the supplies of the Natives, as quickly as they had come the running of the seemingly desperate men stopped.

"Tomorrow, I will go to speak with the agent and interpreter, " one of the Native men assured the families, "they will tell me what this is all about."


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