Monday, May 23, 2011
Niobrara and Neligh, Nebraska
It is not too often when you see a golden eagle fly over head to come look in on what you are doing. Sunday morning we saw one. Our ancestors were looking in on us. I was very happy that my Mom went with me to witness this event. No doubt her great grandfather White Eagle was there, and his father Waegah-saupie (The Whip). The day had a cool breeze, partly cloudy, with a warm sun shining down on us. The Creator blessed this day for us, and made everyone feel blessed.
18 month old baby girl named White Buffalo Girl's memorial was today, she died on May 23rd, 1877. For 134 years the town of Neligh, Ne. has decorated WBG's grave and cared for it just as one of their own. The towns people gave WBG a christian burial, at the request of her folks, Black Elk, and her mama. Black Elk asked them to do this because the Ponca people didn't like to leave their dead behind. The towns people agreed, and kept that promise! It is refreshing to see people of a different culture do this, from all the broken promises the Government made to not just to Ponca, but Indians across the US. It is a new found respect you have for people.
Our Northern Ponca relatives were in attendance from Niobrara and the surrounding communities in Nebraska. Brother Dwight Howe and the Omaha tribes "Big Crazy society" came to help and support us with providing and preparing the noon meal feast of corn soup, fry bread, fruit, and water. The Omahas brought their drum as well, to provide memorial songs for the memorial. WBG never had a tribal burial, and on May 22nd, 2011 we were able to complete it for her spirit. The Ponca tribe of Okla. provided a plaque to Neligh, presented by brother Dan Jones.
The noon meal was handled by Uncle Nate Merrick of the Omaha, he narrated to the people of what was to transpire. Elder brother and road man Mark Merrick performed a cedar ceremony for the Mayor, her chamber members, and members of the cemetery board. We took the food offering to the cemetery for WBG's spirit.
Upon returning to the indoor arbor where some 400 - 500 towns people were in attendance and were fed. Once the line died down, we began our give away. The Northern Poncas gave a blanket to the oldest male, who turned 104 yrs. old on Sunday, and a shawl to a woman who is in her nineties. Brother Dan Jones spoke for the Southern Poncas upon giving the plaque to Mayor Jeri Anderson. Once he finished I spoke on behalf of the painting I created for the memorial. Mayor Jeri excepted the painting and it will hang in the chamber of commerce for public viewing. Only one of a kind. When I finished my part brother Dwight Howe spoke, and presented them with a Ponca cradle board. The town maintains a Ponca Trail of Tears Memorial Park. We were able to take some pictures of the town's efforts on behalf of our ancestors.
The day before were headed to Niobrara, Ne. with brother Dwight to visit our old home lands. Very beautiful eco transition happening in that area. I can see why so many wanted this land for themselves. We attended a sweat lodge at the old Ponca Agency and met brother Larry Wright who lives right at the agency. He also cares for a herd of buffalos. We exchanged gifts of cedar with one another! He gave me flat cedar from Niobrara, and I presented him with cedar from Mr. Scott SW Okla. Amazingly we had the same thoughts for one another! Brother Larry poured for the sweat lodge, and during the ceremony a rain cloud appeared. When we had finished, the rain stopped for us. Another good blessing!
The Nebraska historical society along with Joe Starita (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) were present. The NPR was filming and recording the event in Neligh, so I expect a press release to come out about the event. All in all everyone I shook hands with had a smile on their faces with a friendly greeting. Our Ponca people are loved there, you can feel the good spirit around the community. I would one day hope to travel back to Niobrara and maybe attend another sweat, and take in the powwow there. Blessings, Sid