Walks on the Ground


Walks on the Ground

A Tribal History of the Ponca Nation

Louis V. Headman
Foreword by Sean O'Neill

540 pages
10-15 photos, diacritical marks

eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2020


$90.00 Add to Cart

November 2024


$45.00 Pre-order

February 2020


$90.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2020


$90.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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. 


Author Bio

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 a professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. He is a coauthor (with Louis V. Headman) of Dictionary of the Ponca People (Nebraska, 2020).


"This superb history of the Ponca Nation is part of the University of Nebraska Press’s effort to publish First Nations’ histories written by native historians, rather than outsiders. . . . Throughout Headman amplifies, clarifies, and enriches topics, emphasizing Ponca as a distinct nation, though reduced in numbers over time. This substantial volume should be absorbed, not skimmed."—A. B. Kehoe, Choice

“Headman positions himself as one in a long and ongoing chain of Ponca storytellers, and by bringing together voices of a prior generation of tribal elders and adapting those stories to a written format, Headman participates in the long history of Ponca resiliency and adaptation that Walks on the Ground narrates.”—David Dry, Chronicles of Oklahoma

"There are many audiences for this volume, but, read in tandem with Headman's Dictionary of the Ponca People (2019), it speaks most powerfully to the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the Ponca people. Here are the embers left to rekindle Ponca culture and language!"—Beth R. Ritter, Great Plains Quarterly

"Headman has produced an important work for the Great Plains region and for the growing literature of Indigenous-produced histories."—Phoebe Labat, South Dakota History

“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

Also of Interest