|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
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
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."