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Kitikiti'sh Little Sisters: Bringing in New Year with Wichita Young Man Society

Wichita Little Sisters -1-Group 2

 

(Originally published on Page 1 of the Wichita Tribal News December 2017 Edition)

 

There was a time in Cassie McAdams's childhood when she noticed only two girls dressed in Wichita tribal regalia-herself and the Wichita Tribal Princess. One day, McAdams asked her mother, Ardina McAdams, an important question.

 

"'How come no one dresses like I do?'" she asked. "'Everyone dresses different.'"

 

This question, then, became a primary factor in the creation of the Kitikiti'sh Little Sisters on March 15, 1993, with Ardina McAdams, Cleta Attadlety and Eva Cozad being the founders.

 

Cassie McAdams said that the organization's focus, both in its early days and today, is to incorporate Wichita culture in all aspects of daily life. This includes having good grades in school, showing manners and respect for others as well as themselves.

 

"That's what they were trying to get across," Cassie McAdams said about the founders of the Little Sisters. "It's not just powwows. It's things you do every day. That's how Wichitas are-respectable, with a demeanor about yourself. When they become like that, they turn around and have kids of their own. Hopefully, they bring their kids up like that."

 

Since its founding, the Wichita Little Sisters have had over 200 members, now with some of them being second generation members. Currently, there are 12 active members. McAdams said that past members such as Sydney Prince will return and work on Wichita language with the members.

 

"A lot of times around Indian people, when you say 'Wichita,' their mind goes to Little Sisters, because we've been around for so long," Cassie McAdams said. "We go all over. Everybody knows who we are. It's a pretty big thing to put on kids' shoulders, that they're going to have to be the ones to make sure our culture keeps going."

 

Some of their activities include meeting twice a month for educational activities, co-hosting benefit dances and performing Native sign language for special events.

 

Another event in which the Wichita Little Sisters take part is the annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, held at the beginning of April at the University of Oklahoma's Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Some of the categories in which the Little Sisters participate are both spoken language and traditional songs. In some cases, the Little Sisters select songs in the Wichita language that have not been actively sung in generations. Several years ago, one of the songs chosen for the fair were Wichita Rain Songs.

 

"When we decided to sing those Rain Songs, we practiced all the time," McAdams said. "We sung them, and that was a year we had so much rain. To me, that was really something. Those songs hadn't been sung by any Wichita in a long time. I really think there's a lot of power that's still there. Times have changed, but those things haven't changed-the power in those songs. I think they're important to learn."

 

While the Wichita Little Sisters has been going strong for over twenty years, the need for a young men's organization was also recognized. After consulting with her father, Gary McAdams, as well as Stratford Williams and Stuart Owings, the Wichita Young Man Society was created over three years ago.

 

A major focus of the group includes learning Wichita songs. At present, there are seven active members. According to Gary McAdams, "seven is a special number to the Wichita."

 

"It's probably going to turn into one big group," Cassie McAdams said. "When the mommas bring their daughters, they bring their sons too. When we have our fund-raisers, it's the same family. Everyone helps out."

 

The organizations have two events for the month of December. The first event is a Christmas family-style bingo and food sale beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday December 11 at the Wichita tribal complex. The second event is the annual New Year's Eve Watch Party, which begins at 6 p.m. New Year's Eve and continues into New Year's Day 2018. The watch party also takes place at the tribal complex.

 

The activities begin with a dinner and include handgame and traditional dances. Depending on the singers, the dances could include war dance, round dance or Big Wolf. Close to midnight, handgame activities then switch to Ghost Dance, which carries over into the New Year. It then closes with a Cedaring and then another meal.

 

The two organizations are free to join, with meetings scheduled to resume in January 2018.

 

"I always say to learn your culture, there's a blessing there that you get from learning that," McAdams said. "Our ancestors did a lot to make sure that we still had something to learn, to teach our kids. That's what we try to do with the girls and boys."

 

Wichita Little Sisters -1-Group 4