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Walks on the Ground

A Tribal History of the Ponca Nation

Louis V. Headman

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 02/2020
Pages: 540
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9781496219336


Walks on the Ground is a record of Louis V. Headman's personal study of the Southern Ponca people, spanning seven decades beginning with the historic notation of the Ponca people's origins in the East. The last of the true Ponca speakers and storytellers entered Indian Territory in 1877 and most lived into the 1940s. In Ponca heritage the history of individuals is told and passed along in songs of tribal members. Headman acquired information primarily when singing with known ceremonial singers such as Harry Buffalohead, Ed Littlecook, Oliver Littlecook, Eli Warrior, Dr. Sherman Warrior (son of Sylvester Warrior), Roland No Ear, and "Pee-wee" Clark. Headman's father, Kenneth Headman, shared most of this history and culture with Louis. During winter nights, after putting a large log into the fireplace, Kenneth would begin his storytelling. The other elders in the tribe confirmed Kenneth's stories and insights and contributed to the history Louis has written about the Ponca.Walks on the Ground traces changes in the tribe as reflected in educational processes, the influences and effects of the federal government, and the dominant social structure and culture. Headman includes children's stories and recognizes the contribution made by Ponca soldiers who served during both world wars, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.               


Louis V. Headman (Ponca elder) (Oklahoma) is the project coordinator of the Ponca Language Grant and pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Ponca City. He is the author of Dictionary of the Ponca People (Nebraska, 2019). Sean O'Neill is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of Cultural Contact and Linguistic Relativity among the Indians of Northwestern California and the coeditor of Northwest California Linguistics, volume 14 of The Collected Works of Edward Sapir.  


"This book is a jewel because it presents an insider's view drawn from the insights of Ponca elders with whom the author talked during many years while simultaneously bringing outside scholarly assessments into the mix. Specialists on the American Indian, whether anthropologists, archaeologists, sociologists, political scientists, or historians, as well as the general reader, will gain insights from the work."—Blue Clark, professor of American Indian Studies at Oklahoma City University

"A welcome model of how to do collaborative ethnography from within a culture and how to synthesize and evaluate information from multiple sources. . . . This volume, in an accessible way, leads the reader toward an understanding of how to see the Ponca as the Ponca see themselves."—Regna Darnell, Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and First Nations Studies at the University of Western Ontario