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American History
Indian Summer

Crisp cool air greeted them as they stepped outside the teepee. Fall is here and soon winter will be upon us. Our corn is dried and stored in large sacks, but still there is the matter of drying the meat for the winter. We-hay, "little sister," and I were very excited. Ahead were many enjoyable days to be filled with play. We-hay's family was here to camp in the pecan grove along the river. Already, their tee-pees were set in a neat circle around the smoking fires. Racks had been built over the fires. Hanging over the racks were the long strips of thinly sliced meat being smoked and dried.

Pecan TreeNights that were cool, almost cold let them awake to a ground covered with a white frost so heavy it appeared to be snow. Because of this frost the leaves and pecans were falling rapidly. We-hay and her sister-cousins couldn't get enough running and playing through the leaves. They tossed them into the air where they let them fall to their heads and remained as a silly ornament. Only occasionally when a falling pecan thumped them on the head did they howl in resentful complaint. The juicy fresh pecans in such abundance were being gathered by the children as well as the adults and even by some of the old ones who were not agile enough to run about searching for them on the ground but rather simply reached out for them as they fell around them onto the blanket where they sat. Later on in the winter when the winds moaned and howled outside the children would busily crack and nibble at the meat of the nuts as they would listen to the quiet conversation of the adults.

Autumn too was a time for fasting and praying for the people by the elders. These would go deeper into the woods. There they would quietly pray....No one would come near them nor would they notice anyone. Their total being was  immersed in the communing with Great Spirit. Their fast was total and they took neither food or drink. Praying aloud, their voices were raised in a soft whispered plea to Wah-Kohn-Dah, Great spirit for blessing and mercy. Their fast lasted for four days.

This was a treasured time for We-hays's mother. Visiting with her sister for many hours as they worked was a rare pleasure for her. We-hay's mother had been taken from her parents when she was only five. The years away at a boarding school made this a time of  returning to her family, which was precious moments  for her. She was well educated in the white man's school and spoke fluent English. However, she never forgot her first language and now she slipped back into it easily since it was a colorful descriptive speech giving one the ability to have greater communication between them.

The place we speak of as being descriptive in the language is what the Anglo-Saxon culture would call "not getting to the point."  For instance, grandmother's name, Me-Kah-Theng-gay, is called in English, "Bright Moon". In our language it would be Me-Kah (star) Theng-gay (literally nothing there) or in this case, "there are no stars because the moon is so bright."

Wah-Kahn-Dah Ki-He-Kah, is "Woman Chief,"  in English, the name for Grandma Mary Hunter (Osage). Actually, Wah-Kahn-Dah means God. And Ki-He-Kah loosely translated, "chief ".  It doesn't mean she was a god, but that she had god like traits such as our God has, that of love, kindness, mercy, etc. The "He,"  could be going to "horn," a symbol of a chief. Last "kah," maybe that of the crow, who was a messenger which means she could have had some sort of gift of  seeing the outcome of a thing. Still the English name for the woman was simply "Woman Chief."

These Indian summer days were short and beautiful as a shining jewel resting on the ring finger of Wah-Kohn-Dah, Great Spirit, We-Hay would never forget, and in the days of her own Indian Summer she would speak of this to her granddaughter who was but in the Spring of her life.

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