Hu'thuga [tribal circle]
Margery Coffey
Computer enhanced
Collection of Wayne Tyndall


Wayne Tyndall
Umonhon Nation, Wezhinshte (Elk) Clan, HonGashenu (Earth) Division

Wayne Tyndall
©1999 Wayne Tyndall 
All rights reserved

My knowledge and experiences as a member of the Umonhon Nation is comprehensive. I grew up when the Umonhon were very poor and undergoing much hardship. If the Umonhon did not practice their culture and traditions, it would have been difficult for them to survive.

The strong ability that the Umonhon Nation possessed to still believe in Waconda (the Great Unseen Power or Source of Mi) and to share with each other was the underlying factor that sustained them in a most difficult life they were forced to confront.

During my early life, there was still enough of the old culture left that provided us with knowledge of native foods that sustained us from hunger. I once recall someone telling me that they were without food.

I replied, "There's food all around you; let's pick this and that and have us a dinner."

There were only two kinds of things you could eat living on the Umonhon Reservation. Any particular food was either good to eat or it was bad to eat. Someone knew what foods to eat. We were taught the difference in foods and what was not food and acted accordingly.

The winters were severe and we lived usually in tents or log cabins and anticipated the coming of spring when we could be warmer and food became plentiful. Many of our tribal families lost loved ones during the cold, harsh winters.

Enough of the old people were still around when I was growing up and they shared much of their culture with me. These teachings have helped me in later life to live an orderly life and have concern for and understanding of the Umonhon people. I appreciate all that I have been told and wish to pass these teachings on to you for what they are worth. The whole life patterns of the Umonhon had a theme of spirituality underlying the reason to live. With that philosophy, one finds each day a new beginning, a reason to correct wrongs and live even if one is without material gain. it doesn't take much to make an Umonhon  happy, so long as s/he is free to do what they like even if that is to sit along outside with your thoughts taking you back in time.

My father's family were traditional and lived according to the old social standards of the past. They basically kept to themselves and ignored the outside world. According to their clan Wezhinshte (Elk), Keepers of the Tent of War, other people left them alone but did not disturb them for fear of the Thunder god who was their protector. They still had remnants of sacred objects in the house and one could not talk loudly or display anger in the presence of these sacred objects. If the rules regarding these sacred objects were not followed, supernatural harm could befall one or his/her family. These things happened enough times that one had to believe in them.

I never understood at the time the meaning of what all I was taught. It only seemed natural that we lived according to tradition as it existed then. I did not like going to school and resented the things they were teaching me. I rejected much of what I was being told in school. Early on I had to learn how to pick out what I wanted to keep in my mind and how to discard the rest. For this reason, I never planned to attend college. But today I can see that it is very important for anyone to learn all s/he can no matter what the subject matter may consist of, since the person is old enough to make his/her decision on its contents. Children are the ones who should be properly told the correct things early in life so they will not be confounded later. Anyway, from all these teachings I was taught, I was able to formulate my own philosophy in life that is compatible with both worlds in which I must live.

Years later as I look back I can now see where this traditional background I was fortunate enough to be a part of gave me a tremendous insight into an understanding of being an Umonhon and how we as Umonhon must take our sacred place in today's society. It is imperative that we learn our old ways in order to pass these teachings on to our children. This process was given to us way back when and it is our obligation as Umonhon  to keep the teachings of our ancestors and pass them on to our children. Waconda (the Great Unseen Power) gave us a plan, a way of life, but it was disrupted by outsiders who only thought they knew it all and we have resisted all we could but lost some of our philosophy in the process. Today as you learn and read and study you now have the tools and skills to regain that traditional philosophy that can help you to become a good and happy person, spiritual in nature. When we regain these things and live by them, our children will also have a better life ahead. Today we are causing our children problems they are born into by not leading them and teaching them in proper ways. Some of our old people try to tell the children and young people things but are misleading them and confounding them due to misinformation.

The old elders always said, "Speak with authority. Always tell the truth and you have nothing to hide."

My work is to tell you about the proud Umonhon and how they lived in harmony.

Today you hear and read much about tradition and culture and old customs of Indian Nations. There's no tribe/band/Nation today living that equals the extensive history and ethnology of the Umonhon Nation. What's important is that most of this material has been recorded and left for us to live by. I can promise that if you study these teachings with an open mind you will become a better Umonhon and live a happier life among the Great Tribal Circle.

For further reading click below:

Introduction of the child to the cosmos

Consecration of Boys to Thunder God

Lament of the 'Mahas

Blizzard Snows

Christmas Cheer



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