“PONCA TRIBAL MYTH PROJECT”
“Through a dialogue conducted with these inward forces through our dreams and through a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self. And analogously, the society that cherishes and keeps its myths alive will be nourished from the soundest, richest strata of the human spirit.”
Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By
Three years ago a team was commissioned to reconstruct six (6) mythological stories from Ponca Tribal history and folklore. Some of these stories remained with-in the traditions of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma to this day. Others of the six stories were taken from a manuscript of Ponca Tribal members telling these stories in the 1870’s as was documented by the missionary James Dorsey, they were recorded in the Ponca Language with Old English translations.
The project was funded by a grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) for Language retention and with matching funds from the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
The Four (4) phase project included:
- The redevelopment of the six Stories from Ponca Mythology, in the Ponca language with English translations;
- The reestablishment of traditional Ponca songs that accompany the stories and characters;
- The development of six (6) bronze statues to represent the visual icons of what the characters would have looked like;
- The development of a language workbook that would follow the stories word for word as a translation tool;
Ponca Team Members:
Henry Lieb, Kinsel Lieb and Dan C. Jones all of Ponca City were instrumental in making the project happen for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
Henry Lieb, Kinsel Lieb and Dan C. Jones (SaSuWeh) all of Ponca City, Oklahoma were instrumental in making the project happen for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
Henry Lieb (Omaha/Ponca) a fluent speaker of the Ponca Language and longtime teacher of the language. Born and raised in the Ponca City area Henry was instrumental in translating the stories from the Classic Ponca Language into modern English language. Henry also worked on the Language Workbook.
Kinsel Lieb (Ponca) is one of the Ponca Tribes Head Singers with a vast repertoire of the renown Ponca Music. Kinsel recorded the known songs for each story and redeveloped songs to stories and characters where they had been lost or were missing from the original stories. Kinsel also worked on the Language Workbook.
SaSuWeh (Ponca) is the artist and sculptor of the bronze icons. It took him three years to complete six (6) bronze statues of the various stories and characters. The artworks include three free standing sculptures weighing up to one thousand pounds each and three plaques in deep relief weighing three to five hundred pounds. The designs for the characters came from the stories themselves and where the descriptions were vague the team would collaborate on concepts in addition to consulting with others elders and members of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.
What Mythology means to a culture:
With-in these stories a person learns what it means to be Ponca, and a major introduction into your language, there is a vast knowledge of the Ponca the deeper you go into these stories. Mythology is how a people preserve and pass down values that they consider the most important characteristics of being who they are as a people. In these ancient stories, the nature of the people become clear, aspects of social interactions such as the humor and how it is used in appropriate and in inappropriate situations for instances. How the stories transmit base principles from generation to generation cannot be understated like values which can clearly discern courage from foolishness, right from wrong. The Ponca Myth Project Team
The Bronze Characters and their Stories