The Arapaho Girl
by John H. Bear
from the collection of W. C. McKern
Original manuscript pages: | 328 | 329 | 330 |
(328) At Clinton, Oklahoma, an Arapaho girl lived. Her father and mother were both peyote people. She was the only child. They had some land including a town lot and money in the bank. Before she was of age, both her parents died. Finally, she was of an adult age. Then she got married. She treated her husband nice in every way. She bought a new home for them. Before long, however, the man died. So she lost her husband. She had property and money, so she got along all right, but she had a "low mind" because all her relations were dead.
Once she saw the peyote paraphernalia which her parents had used. When she saw these things, she felt sorry, because she had not followed the teachings of her parents. These things had not been used for a long time. So she decided to have a meeting. So she did not want to spend the money in the bank, and she went (329) to town to get work, so that she could buy food for the meeting. So she found work in town. The money she saved until she should get enough for her purposes. Finally, she had enough. When she got home, she used a team for gathering wood to be used at the meeting. Everything was gotten ready. The tent was erected. Somebody was notified to lead the meeting. When all was ready, the people were assembled. They came over about noon and had both dinner and supper. She did all the work herself. When they were ready to enter the tent, the leader led them in. The leader asked her if she wanted to say something. She got up and said, "My brothers, you know that my father and mother were peyote people. One day I saw all the things that had not been used for a long time. I thought I would call a meeting so that they might be used again. So I have worked hard to get that which was necessary, and now all is ready. So I have called you. I have thought like this, I would notify you people, brothers and sisters. You know, my parents, when alive, treated me nice in every way. Since I was their only child. When I was grown, I married a man, and his treatment of me was like (330) that of my parents. Soon I lost him, so I thought, our Great Father wanted me to live alone as I am, so I ask you, brothers, pity me, and do not ask for me. Try to help me out. I want to remain single, just the way I am, because that is the way God wishes me to remain. So pray for me, I ask you." So they had a meeting. She composed a peyote song that night.
That is all.1
Commentary. "team" — this, of course, is a team of horses. To maintain a team of horses, assuming that they were hers, would cost a fair amount of money.
"that is all" — McKern adds a parenthetical remark after the end of the story: "This is the only case of a celibate story that John knows." The only person named "John" among his paid informants is John H. Bear. He also had grandchildren in Oklahoma.
Comparative Material. ...
Stories: about the Native American Church: White Shirt, The Death of Henry Harris’ Daughter, A Peyote Vision, A Peyote Story, Peyote as an Evil Spirit, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts; mentioning the Arapaho: How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, They Owe a Bullet; mentioning Oklahoma: Bow Meets Disease Giver.
1 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 328-330.