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Native Indian Lore
Crafts - Warrior

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, secretly.

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 discipline.

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 were preferred.

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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