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Native Indian Lore
Ponca Names

Some Ponca Names

"Tee Zhoní, niece, I am going to tell you some things. You must write them down so we donít forget." With those words I could remember her father, David Little Cook as he visited with his sister, my grandmother, Elizabeth Little Cook.

"Go slow, Auntie. I have to think about how to write these Ponca names in English." It was true. So many linguists have come and gone to leave a different way to write the language. My auntís first language was Ponca and surely this was more difficult for both of us. Some of the words I had not heard pronounced correctly since my grandmother passed away.

Our Christian scriptures speak of the value of one's name and so it is with the Ponca.

"You know Standing Bear?" His name was Man chu (bear) Nah Zhe (stands up.)

His brother was Black Feather, Mah Shah Sah Bay." My aunt was intent on passing information down to me. I had to smile as I remember the descriptive ways of this language. Mah Sah means different things, all of which could apply to a crow, or saucy black bird. The way a crow walks, head held up, looking back and forth and all around. His noisy Kaw Kaw Kaw resembles the Ponca word for " gentle leader." Pah Kah (Ponca) (Gentle leader). And, the word is the same in Osage. One Minnie Smith or Hun Kah, Mon kah-Sacred medicine of the Eagle Leader. My mind drifts a bit to the Khan of Mongolia and I wonder about that. .

Aunite continues, "Uncle Henry is brother to your Grandmother and is your mother and father at the Indian Cemetery is buried beside him. His name was Mah Shah Sah Bay, Black Feather, too. Names are passed down like this. This was the name your mother, Velma Jones wanted to give to her son, Dennis Michael Jones but they never did.

Lewis McDonald who was the ancestor of all these McDonalds here today was adopted, Indian way, by Sam and Esther Little Cook after the death of their child. There was a big give away in the east arena. There were many blankets carried on the back of a red horse. It went around the arena four times and then went east. Yes, it was a big give away because the McDonald family allowed them to adopt their son.

Sam and Esther was given hope they could see him grow up just as their own son would have done through the adoption of the McDonald's son. The boy would never leave his family but would be treated as Estherís and Samís son for all time with a providing of the things he would need just like their son. Today, many years later, when a Little Cook song is played the McDonaldís all stand up. This is how sacred life was to them.

Edward Buffalo Chief lived and is buried in Niobrara (Nebraska). There are many Little Cooks buried up there in the north.

Ella Others was Marion Cerreís grandmother.

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