Manataka American Indian Council


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NELLIE M. HAMPTON
Strength of Spirit

 

 

This page is dedicated to Nellie "Nell" Beautiful Basket Hampton, a most revered and beloved elder of Manataka.  The  strength of her enduring spirit and faith is a constant source of encouragement to all people, especially those of American Indian ancestry.  Nell is proud of her Cherokee heritage and her life serves as a beautiful example to our members and all who have come to know and love this most remarkable lady.

Born in 1932, Nell is the product of a Old Settler Western Cherokee family and white settlers who migrated to Arkansas in the early days prior to the Trail Where They Cried.   The poem below was written especially for Nell and her clan. 


BROKEN WING
Sally Zielinski

She was such a beautiful Indian maid
And by the "Trail of Tears" is where is was laid
Her days on earth were very brief
But not all her days were full of grief.

She had traveled from Georgia when just a babe
To Arkansas, where their home was made
When she was born she was ever so frail
And would not have survived that torturous trail.

Her father and mother escaped from the tribe
And hid in the woods of that countryside
They slept by day and traveled the dark of night
And found their way by precious moonlight.

Broken Wing became the name by which she was known
They did not think she would survive to ever be grown
But she was nurtured by love and a great deal of care
And she and her brother became an inseparable pair.

They lived with others of their Cherokee tribe
Ouachita and Quapaw were neighbors on the southern side
They lived in peace and farmed the land
The women went to the fields in a happy band.

The crops they tended were corn, squash, melons and beans
And from the river's edge they gathered their greens
The men in the tribe fished and hunted and sometimes waged war
And the stories of victory became tribal folklore.

Deerskin skirts were how the women dressed
And some were decorated with beads to look their best
Buffalo robes kept them from the bitter cold
Every tribal member wore one - young and old.

Women adorned themselves much as we do today
With tattoos and beads which were made of clay
Then men wore feathers, buffalo horns and wooden masks
This was the dressing up for their ceremonial tasks.

So they lived in peace for a number of years
And before too long the white man reappears
He brings diseases that devastate the tribe
And soon burial grounds scatter the countryside.

When the white settlers come, the churches come too
And they influence the Indians, making traditions taboo
Broken Wing and her family join the group
Each Sunday morning off to church they troop.

A settler's son is taken with the Indian maid
And makes advances, which she tries to evade
Broken Wing is a beauty and gentle of heart
But the young settler she wants no part.

She tries to avoid him at every chance
But he constantly tries to make an advance
She has dreams of marrying the old chief's son
But as yet, his heart she has not won.

She is returning from church on a Sunday eve
The settler's son will no longer grieve
He will make Broken Wing his loving wife
Or he can no longer go on with his life.

He tries to abduct her, but a scuffle ensues
And of course the Indians are the ones to lose
A shot rings out and Broken Wing falls dead
Her life has ended from a piece of lead.

The settler's son is whisked away
Never to be seen again by the light of day
Broken Wing is carried by the tearful band
Back to their village to be placed in the land.

A coffin is made from some boards of pine
And soft deerskin is of what it is lined
The Indians have adopted the white man's way
So Broken Wing is in a coffin this day.

They bury her coffin by the "Trail of Tears"
To be remembered by the Indians for years and years
The Indian maid is put to her rest
Dear Broken Wing is placed in her nest.

Dedicated to Nell Hampton and her clan
©Sally Zielinski, September, 2000


Nell is a champion of people in need. She is a mother and grandmother to many people outside her immediate family. Here she stands as 'mother' to her friend, Elain Freedom Rings Whitfield during Elain's traditional wedding ceremony under the Manataka medicine lodge.  Nell participates in many MAIC activities and she can be seen often at powwows and other American Indian events around the state.

Nell is a serious-minded person who values traditional customs.  "...You would not find me an easy person to deal with on disrespect of the American flag, eagles, the sacred pipe, the drum and the altar in my church….these things are very sacred and must be honored and respected...," says Nell. 

Among Nell's many friends is 95-year old Mescalaro Apache Chief Bill Little Horse.  Nell often visits or calls Little Horse, especially when he is not feeling well.   Little Horse says, "I could never say anything bad about our beautiful friend Nell...In fact, I like everything about her.  I especially like to give her hugs!...She is a credit to our people.  It is an honor to know her."   

During the signing of the proclamation declaring November, 2001 as American Indian Month, Nell stands with (clockwise) Chief Little Horse, Elaine Freedom Rings Whitfield, Sharon Kamama Baugh, Rick White Bear Whitfield, Lee Standing Bear Moore, Barbara Tsalagi Brandon, Frank Little Turtle Brandon and Sharon Kamama's grandchildren, Kyle and Tara Baugh.  

Manataka members Throndia Smith and Dr. Bob Tsalagi Digadoli Swindell pose with Nell during the 2001 Mid-Summer Gathering at Manataka.  Nell lives at Calion, Arkansas with her life soul-mate, Jasper "Hamp" Hampton.  "I have know Nell all my life. She taught me how to have a good relationship with family. She’s given a lot of love when I needed it," says Throndia Smith.

Nell Beautiful Basket Hampton was unanimously elected to the Elder Council of the Manataka American Indian Council on December 14, 2003.

     

The people of Manataka thank you Nell Hampton for being you.


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