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Stories in Songs


Minapabe © 2017

My name is Minapabe.  I am a member of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma.  I am a descendant from the Citizen Band Pottawatomie Tribe of Oklahoma.  I represent the Half-Breed Clan of the Poncas and the Thunder Clan of the Pottawatomie.  I’ve been involved in making music since I was 17 years old.  

   What inspired me was my first tribal dance I attended with my late grandmother Annabelle Eagle Littlehoe.  Up until then I never attended dances nor was I involved with Ponca traditions, but the drum caught me and I wanted to dance. The songs captivated my mind, body, and spirit!   I was moved by the beat.  

   Grandmother shared with me the different types of songs the singers were singing and I was amazed.  My grandmother even translated the songs to me as the singers went through the night’s program.  Another influence came when I was 13 years old when the late Reverend Francine Biggoose sang in the Ponca Indian United Methodist Church.  Between the age of 13 through 17, I listened to all the Ponca hymns and by then I knew I wanted to learn them.  I attended dances, church services, funerals, and powwows to learn as much as I possibly could.  At age 17, I was introduced to the sweat lodge ceremony, located in Otoe, with the late Tony Arkeketa, Colbert Cole, and my brother C. S., who now resides in Kickapoo country.  These men often sang in the sweat lodge ceremony.  I was dedicated to this ceremony for four years, and it was in this ceremony I really found my voice.  I could sing in the dark and not be afraid or self-conscious.  I was not intimidated to sing in the darkness.  However, all my singing role models have sung all their lives and I was scared because I was older than most when they began to sing.  However, I just kept singing until I didn’t have that negative feeling of doubt.  

   Now I have a vast variety of singing styles in contemporary Native American music and traditional music.  Today I sing at every powwow in Oklahoma, dances, church services, funerals, Sun Dance ceremonies up north, and sweat lodge ceremonies.  Recently I just started singing at northern powwows and protests.  The genres I sing are round dance, Sun Dance, peyote, sweat lodge songs, tribal hymns, war dance, gourd dance, honoring songs, and all types of prayer songs.  The songs I am now studying are side step, grass dance, contest songs, fancy dance, ruffle songs, duck n dive, and fancy shawl.   I am studying all types of northern songs, but traditionally I am a southern singer.  Now I am learning and training my voice to sing higher for northern songs.  

   I have composed the song shared on this website.  The title is “He is not afraid.”   The song is in Ponca language and it is autobiographical. It is about how brave men have helped me in my life during a time of despair.  When I needed a direction, they helped me.  Women have helped me, too, but in this particular time men provided essential help.  I made this song January 18, 2012. 


The words to the song are:

Wakonda O domba ga. Wi gla thi.  Wi kage was nompa bazi.  Wi githe wasu she thati wasushe uki koh uki mo ho.
Wi blete agtha be Wathixte t athi sont ithu wgatha a sont ga 
U tont be t tinge wiblaha Wakonda.

God, look at me.  I am ignorant.
My friend, he is not afraid.
I am pleased with this brave man.
He came to help another against troubles.
I go calm being Ponca.  
A relentless pursuer, I overcome difficulties as I face the wind.  
Thank you, Creator.

Anna Lee Walters and Native American Literature 2024

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