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Native Indian Lore

All being removed by three generations because of the schooling at Chilocco, myself, my mother and my grandmother it must be understood what I know as to family of the Native American is greatly lacking as to a total history. Taking a child away as was my grandmother at four years of age from the structure of the home, family and tribe deprived our generations from the culture of their ancestors. The elders made valiant efforts to bring their ways to the children. They could not compete with their powerful competitors. These lost methods of ways to deal with the world around them I believe is what has thrown our people into the heavy use of alcohol and substance abuse. The school was there for the youth up until they graduated. They were then thrown back into the real world. This was a place full of difficult problems hard for learned people of even our day to cope.

As understood were the anchors of the family. I have seen aged grandmothers' with little physical strength staying close to grandchildren. Maybe she could do little more than be placed at a location where the children were playing. Sometimes, though, this was enough to keep a tragedy from happening. Believe me, she or he, had a voice and it could be heard if there was a child in danger.

One gentleman, who knows Native Americans' well, made the comment, "Oh, I know those Indian Grandmother and Grandfather's, as to their role with grandchildren." Today's higher learning calls this, co-dependant speaking jargon as to indicate manipulation and control. I call it practical. Believe me if a bear was tearing down a hillside ready to pounce on anything and anyone in its path it was a good thing for the children to hear a warning and obey.

Naturally, the Natives would use everything and everyone without wasting something of value. In this case, the thing of value is the older person. Now that our Native grandparents are themselves well educated and striving to live within those boundaries of conscience they often find themselves torn between the white man's education, and the whispered memories to what they know and feel is right for them. Creating greater problems, of course, is the totally Americanized Native American grandchild who knows nothing of what the old culture was. Fortunately within their mind is something letting them understand. These children schooled here in a new society which tries to "even" out the differences in people, not allowing them to go to their own gifts in order to develop what is reserved admittedly for the children of the new wealth. This philosophy would work if not for the persistent thing called genes, which, too often, will out. If not, then the turning to drugs or alcohol to anaesthetize these ancient qualities of strength, imagination and creativity. These feelings, can be undeveloped and caged with drugs as if there is something wrong about the creative abilities. An outdated educational system forced, overloaded with too much placed on teachers to become parents as well as watchdogs for child abuse, to educate the populace makes this a difficult world for not only Native American generations but others as well.

This is something I cannot say much about because my father was Scot-Irish. Although somewhere in his history there were Native grandparents and he was raised with the Osage. Just from observation I was aware the Ponca woman was the matriarch in some families. Not to say the men were not strong. This would be a very wrong impression to leave, because they were incredibly strong.

The only reference to draw on was an incident with the brother of my grandmother, David Little Cook. He was, without any question, the head of the house. This is what gives me a problem with the historian saying the Ponca culture was matriarchal. To illustrate my point I tell this story. The agent came one day for some business with David's wife as to her land. The agent did not want to speak to Uncle David but to Marion, his wife. Uncle David was highly insulted and threatened to do bodily harm to the agent. The agent turned the matter over to the district attorney. It was only with my mother's acting as a diplomat was she able to keep my great-uncle from serious trouble. After the meeting Uncle David was more interested in the fact that mother could speak so fluently as to acting as interpreter. Mother said she found it frustrating because he was chuckling about his not know she spoke Ponca so well and was not even worried about the seriousness of the other circumstances.

In a world becoming increasingly changed, somehow, Mother remained just as she wished to be, American Indian. She always made it clear, "I am an Indian." For all that I am here to witness to the fact that she was. My father was most tolerant and allowed her to go about her business with her culture and never complained. Occasionally, he would make a little joke. For instance, if one would ask, "Where is Mother?" He would reply, "She's taking her dancing lesson." This meant she was attending a dance. Or he might say, "Just on the fringes," and we knew it was to some Native function requiring a shawl with fringes.

For all that is shared with you at this time, indeed, has been learned at great expense, and this is meant literally. There is a common saying, "It isn't easy to be an Indian," and this is the testimony. Every part of the customs we know has been learned through practice. It was more difficult for my mother because my dad was not Native. He did not hamper or hold Mother from her people, in fact, he was a gracious host to them. Let's face it, there were just some things he did not know, or if he did know, he wasn't in agreement with them because, they came into conflict with his own Christian faith, which was so very strong.

Only recently when Mother was asked to speak before a group of Native Americans' who were Senators, Lawyers, Teachers, Executives it was my brother who is totally fair and blond haired she took with her. I was not invited and I regret this because certainly it would have seem to it Mother's speech was recorded. However, I understand. As the Native American begins to age there is something in their culture to hold to what they know and let it die with them. This is so unfortunate, but understandable. When a person has lived a whole life time doing battle in a world where they are an island it is difficult to do as Christians are supposed to do, "love your enemies," or "do good to those who persecute you."

This is why I'm thankful for this opportunity to tell what little I know, because very soon, there will be no more. Even as I write so much of the basic standards have been put away as our folks go into the world around them. Some say this is good, but I along with my Mother will never believe this to be so.

Having five brothers of two different backgrounds, those of my older brothers having a German descendant for mother and my own Native American one have to understand the melting pot's working in my own environment. Just as when we attended Chilocco everything became at a personal level so it is with my family. What hurts a brother or a sister hurts the sibling as well.

Therefore, one becomes very aware of any racial problems. Mother taught my brother's, I'm sure, the way they were to behave as Native Americans but, on the other hand, there was my father, always insisting on the strong teachings of Christ. Some of the things I can remember as to Mother's Native American teaching are:

Being tutored by the grandfather, even though he was "white." This is where the culture of the Jones's was instilled into my brothers. Grandfather Joseph Hubbard Jones had a strong culture as well on which to draw. If nothing else, my brothers, would have learned from his example, because Mother insisted on their close association with him.

Insistence on the boys knowing, and practicing the Native culture as far as she could push in upon their Christian trained conscience. This is the voluntary, monetary support of the many and varied duties with the tribe as to death's of family and very extended family, dances, pow-wows, support to family members' seeking counsel positions. All these duties require donation on every side by family and some way or another it gets done, but it is a taught duty as to proper etiquette and understanding as to what to do and when. To the visitor of these occasions it all looks like just a "feast" or just a "pow-wow." They have no understanding of the great amount of work to go on in the background. In this area since the development of the "Standing Bear Project," many White folks are learning and one must say they have learned a greater respect for our culture. The picture in my family's history showing the daughter with the mark on their forehead was observed by a Ponca man. His statement, "They earned that." I am to agree, "Indeed they did."

Have varied duties according to their place by age. The heaviest responsibility placed on the eldest gave her the learning to pass her knowledge on down to the younger as they became willing to accept responsibilities and duties. The rub comes for those living in this society when the old ways are no longer accepted and when they are actually being adulterated with a blending of the two cultures. Unless one has strong guidance and can willingly, diligently strive to educate oneself of many cultures, including Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, or anyone else's faith as to the basis of their psychic living, but still holding to one's own faith, the melting pot can bubble and boil like a caldron.

In this way one is true to their own Christian teaching of "turning the other cheek," not getting into a fight and destroying good relations when one has simply been "slapped," and not bludgeoned, with religious differences, be they Native American or any other. This is the difficult place, Native American women are held today. Some turn completely to the world of the people around them, other blend it in with the other culture, some turn back to their old ways, others become alcoholic, and shut everything out completely.

Have a role in the family. They are as responsible to the children as much as the father as far as emotional and mental support is involved. The teaching of the child especially in crisis situations is upon their shoulders, at least in the days of old. Without this understanding and knowledge, even though the basic love is there, the circumstances as far as jobs, living conditions, distances, and all parts of modern living hamper this part of the culture. In addition, this is becoming less and less cultivated and refined with method even though the elders made every effort to save it. Some of the joys of having an Uncle were that a girl was given a special place in his world with him becoming her confidant and support emotionally and financially in times of need. I don't know about the man's role with his aunts. In remembering my aunt, I believe it was also a strong relationship, since her land was left to her nephew.

Were a very vital part of every family. If something happened to their sister then it was their duty to take the children to raise. Even if nothing happened and a child was particularly fond of an aunt, they might go to live with her. Especially, if she was more financially stable and could offer them benefits they needed as far as living closer to a school. These sisters were a great help in working and providing for the whole family. This was in the older times. However, some people still adheres to the principles as much as they can under the conditions in which we now live

Was widely practiced by the Ponca Tribe of American. The person adopted became as well versed in the family's duties and culture as anyone. There were those who were adopted in principle only. Physically, they stayed with family, but someone else "took them" as their own providing for them financially as they would be their own children. These relationships lasted for a person's whole life. A love for the adopted person was developed and this was acceptable. With these practices the grief of taxes, materialism, poverty was something unknown.

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