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Alice C. (Alice Cunningham) Fletcher.

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Produced by David Newman, Linda Cantoni, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. Music
transcribed by Linda Cantoni, Espe (Nada Prodanovic), and
the PG Finale Team.









[Transcriber's Note: This e-book contains passages in Native American
dialects; hyphenation and accents have been preserved as they appear
in the original. Italics are represented by underscores. Obvious
printer errors in English passages have been corrected, in particular
the inconsistent use of "rythm" for "rhythm."]




INDIAN
STORY AND SONG

FROM NORTH AMERICA


By

ALICE C. FLETCHER

_Holder of the Thaw Fellowship
Peabody Museum Harvard University_


Boston
Small Maynard & Company
Publishers

_Copyright, 1900,
By Alice C. Fletcher_

_Entered at Stationers' Hall_




_To_

MY INDIAN FRIENDS

FROM WHOM I HAVE GATHERED

STORY AND SONG




PREFACE.


_At the Congress of Musicians held in connection with the
Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha in July, 1898, several essays
upon the songs of the North American Indians were read, in
illustration of which a number of Omaha Indians, for the first time,
sang their native melodies to an audience largely composed of trained
musicians._

_This unique presentation not only demonstrated the scientific value
of these aboriginal songs in the study of the development of music,
but suggested their availability as themes, novel and characteristic,
for the American composer. It was felt that this availability would be
greater if the story, or the ceremony which gave rise to the song,
could be known, so that, in developing the theme, all the movements
might be consonant with the circumstances that had inspired the
motive. In response to the expressed desire of many musicians, I have
here given a number of songs in their matrix of story._

_Material like that brought together in these pages has hitherto
appeared only in scientific publications, where it has attracted the
lively interest of specialists both in Europe and America. It is now
offered in a more popular form, that the general public may share
with the student the light shed by these untutored melodies upon the
history of music; for these songs take us back to a stage of
development antecedent to that in which culture music appeared among
the ancients, and reveal to us something of the foundations upon which
rests the art of music as we know it to-day._

_Many of the stories and songs in this little book are now for the
first time published. All have been gathered directly from the people,
in their homes, or as I have listened to the earnest voice of the
native priest explaining the ancient ceremonials of his fathers. The
stories are close translations, losing only a certain picturesqueness
and vigour in their foreign guise; but the melodies are exactly as
sung by the Indians._

_Indian myths embodying cosmic ideas have passages told in song,
tribal legends have their milestones of song, folk-tales at dramatic
points break into song; but into these rich fields I have not here
entered. This collection reveals something of the wealth of musical
and dramatic material that can be gleaned outside of myth, legend, and
folk-lore among the natives of our country._

_Aside from its scientific value, this music possesses a charm of
spontaneity that cannot fail to please those who would come near to
nature and enjoy the expression of emotion untrammelled by the
intellectual control of schools. These songs are like the wild flowers
that have not yet come under the transforming hand of the gardener._

ALICE C. FLETCHER.

PEABODY MUSEUM,
HARVARD UNIVERSITY.




CONTENTS.


PAGE.

STORY AND SONG OF THE HE-DHU´-SHKA 3

STORY AND SONG OF ISH´-I-BUZ-ZHI 14

STORY AND SONG OF THE LEADER 21

THE OMAHA TRIBAL PRAYER 26

STORY AND SONG OF THE BIRD'S NEST 30

A TRYSTING LOVE-SONG 34

STORY AND SONG OF THE DEATHLESS VOICE 39

STORY AND SONG OF ZO_N_´-ZI-MO_N_-DE 45

LOVE-SONG. Poetical Transcription by Miss E.D. Proctor 49

STORY AND SONG OF THE WREN 53

THE OMAHA FUNERAL SONG 57

STORY AND SONG OF THE MOTHER'S VOW 61

A LOVE-CALL 68

A GAME SONG FROM THE NORTH-WEST COAST 70

STORY AND SONG OF THE INDIAN COQUET 74

AN OLD MAN'S LOVE-SONG 77

STORY OF THE WE´-TO_N_ SONG. 81

A PAWNEE LOVE-SONG 86

STORY AND SONG OF A WARRIOR 88

THE MOCKING-BIRD'S SONG 94

A SONG OF THE GHOST DANCE 96

SACRED SONGS OF PEACE 101

COMFORTING THE CHILD 108

MUSIC IN INDIAN LIFE 114

THE RELATION OF STORY AND SONG 120




LIST OF SONGS.


PAGE.

THE INSIGNIA OF THUNDER (Omaha) 6

THE WARRIOR'S PRAYER (Omaha) 9

THE LAUGH (Ponka) 13

ISH´-I-BUZ-ZHI. Dance Song (Omaha) 18

THE LEADER'S SONG (Omaha) 24

TRIBAL PRAYER (Omaha) 29

THE BIRD'S NEST (Pawnee) 33

TRYSTING LOVE-SONG (Omaha) 36

THE DEATHLESS VOICE (Dakota) 42

ZO_N_´-ZI-MO_N_-DE (Omaha) 46

LOVE-SONG. Poetical Transcription by
Miss E.D. Proctor (Omaha) 50

THE WREN (Pawnee) 54

SONG TO THE SPIRIT (Omaha) 58

THE MOTHER'S VOW (Dakota) 66

A LOVE-CALL (Omaha) 69

GAME SONG (Vancouver's Island) 72

THE INDIAN COQUET (Omaha) 75

AN OLD MAN'S LOVE-SONG (Omaha) 78

WE´-TO_N_ SONG (Dakota) 84

LOVE-SONG (Pawnee) 87

A WARRIOR'S SONG. Mi´-ka-thi (Ponka) 92

MOCKING-BIRD'S SONG (Tigua) 95

SONG OF THE GHOST DANCE (Arapaho) 98

CHORAL. Sacred Song of Peace (Omaha) 105

THE GIFT OF PEACE (Otoe) 107

KAWAS, THY BABY IS CRYING (Pawnee) 109

THY FATHER IS COMING (Pawnee) 111

LOOK UP (Pawnee) 113

PRAYER FOR RAIN (Mexico) 123

KWAKIUTL SONG (British Columbia) 123




INDIAN STORY AND SONG




STORY AND SONG OF THE HE-DHU´-SHKA.[1]

[Footnote 1: In the Indian words and vocables the vowels have the
continental sound. _G_ is hard, as in _go_; _dh_ is like _th_ in
_the_; _th_, as in _thin_; _n_ as in French _en_.]


It had been a warm September day; and I was resting in my hammock,
swung from a wide-spreading tree that stood near the tent of my Indian
host. We had partaken of our evening meal beside an outdoor fire. The
mother was busy clearing away the supper dishes, the men had gone off
to look after the horses, the children had fallen asleep, and I lay
watching the shadowy darkness come out of the east and slowly pursue
the glowing trail of the retreating sun, thinking of the Indian's
imagery of night ever haunting and following upon the track of day,
seeking to gain the mastery. I was aroused from my musings by hearing
the mother say, "It is chilly!" for the fire had died down, and the
deep blue of twilight was all about us.

She dropped beside the embers, blew them into a feeble blaze, threw on
fresh wood, that crackled and sent up a shower of sparks and soon
bright yellow flames illumined the under side of the branches beneath
which I was swinging.

The call of the fire summoned one tall form after another out of the
dusky surroundings, and around the blazing logs robes were spread here
and there, on which the men reclined. By and by the women came and
dropped down near the fire, and added the treble of their voices to
the deep tones of the men, as the chat of the day's occurrences went
on.

It was a peaceful, picturesque scene upon which I looked; and by very
contrast my thoughts reverted to the preceding evening, when I had
attended a meeting of the He-dhu´-shka, society composed of warriors.
The gathering had been in a large tent; and, as the night was warm,
the bottom of the tent cover had been lifted to let the breeze blow
through. This had given an opportunity for the crowd outside to look
within and watch the ceremony and the dramatic dance. To the right of
the door, in two circles around the drum, sat the choir of men and
women, all in their gala dress. Each member of the society, wrapped in
his robe, with measured steps entered the tent, and silently took his
seat on the ground against the wall. The ceremony had opened by the
choir singing the ritual song which accompanied the act of charring
the elder wood with which the face of the Leader was afterward to be
painted. As memory brought back the scene in vivid colours, - the
blazing fire in the centre of the wide circle of muffled warriors, the
solemn aspect of the Leader awaiting the preparation of the elder
wood, and his strange appearance after the painting of his face, - I
pondered wonderingly as to what it all might signify. In my perplexity
I spoke from my hammock to one of the elder men in the group before
me: -

"Grandfather, I wish you would explain to me the meaning of what I saw
yesterday at the He-dhu´-shka Society. Tell me why the Leader put
black on his face."

My friend was accustomed to my questionings, and all eyes were turned
toward him as he replied:

"The Leader put the black cloud over his face, because the black cloud
is worn by Thunder when it comes near to man. The song sung while this
is being done tells that the Leader is making ready and impatiently
awaits the commands of the approaching god of war."...

This is the song which accompanied the preparation and the putting on
of the insignia of the thunder god. The music is expressive of the
tremulous movement of the leaves, of the flying of the birds, of the
stir of all nature before the advancing storm, typifying the
stirring of the heart of man when summoned to fight the enemies of his
people.

[Music: PUTTING ON THE INSIGNIA OF THE THUNDER GOD.

_Omaha. He-dhu´-shka._

Harmonized by PROF. J.C. FILLMORE.

Non-g'dhe dhe-te hi-dha-ki-un te dhon-hi-de,
Non-g'dhe dhe-te hi-dha-ki-un te dhon-hi-de,
Non-g'dhe dhe-te hi-dha-ki-un te dhon-hi-de,
Non-g'dhe dhe-te hi-dha-hi-un te dhon-hi-de,
Non-g'dhe dhe-te hi-dha-ke-un te dhon-hi-de.]

At the close of the song and ceremony of blackening the Leader's face,
I had seen the Leader take the pipe belonging to the society, fill it,
and reverently lift the stem upward.

"When the Leader's face is painted," continued the old man, "he offers
the pipe to Wa-ko_n_´-da (god). The words of the song then sung mean:
Wa-ko_n_´-da, we offer this pipe (the symbol of our unity as a
society). Accept it (and us). All the members must join in singing
this prayer, and afterward all must smoke the pipe."

[Music: PRAYER OF THE WARRIORS BEFORE SMOKING THE PIPE.

_Omaha. He-dhu´-shka._

Harmonized by PROF. J.C. FILLMORE.

Wa-kon-da dha-ni ga dhe ke,
Wa-kon-da dha-ni ga dhe ke,
Wa-kon-da dha-ni ga dhe ke,
E-ha dha-ni hin ga _we dho he dho_.]

"The He-dhu´-shka Society is very old," continued my friend. "It is
said to have been in existence at the time when the Omahas and the
Ponkas were together as one tribe. There is a song with a dance which
must be given at every meeting. It is to keep alive the memory of a
battle that took place while we were migrating westward, and where
defeat would have meant our extermination as a tribe. I will tell you
the story.[2]

[Footnote 2: The translation given is by my collaborator, Mr. Francis
La Flesche.]

"One morning the tribe, whose country had been invaded by the Ponkas,
made an unexpected assault upon the camp of the invaders. For a time
it seemed as though the Ponkas would fare badly at the hands of their
assailants, who were determined to drive out or destroy the intruders;
but after a desperate struggle the Ponkas pushed their enemies back
from the outskirts of the village, until finally their retreat became
a rout. Both sides suffered great loss. The ground was strewn with the
dead, and the grass stained with the blood of the warriors who fell in
the battle; but the victory was with us, and we had conquered the
right to dwell in that country.

"At the outset of the conflict a man bent with age emerged slowly from
the door of one of the tents. The breezes played with his long white
hair as he stood leaning on his staff, shading his face with one hand
and looking intently in the direction whence came the noise of battle.
As he recognised the voice of a warrior rushing to the fray, imitating
as he ran the cry of some animal (his tutelary god), the aged man
called after him:

"'Once more! Once more be the undaunted warrior you have hitherto
been! Utter aloud your mystic cry, and make the enemy to tremble with
fear!'

"If a youth passed by, singing his death song, the old man would
ask: -

"'Who is that young man? He promises well.' Upon being told whose son
he was, the aged man shouted: 'Ho-o! You have the spirit of your
father. Be like him: turn not your face from the foe!'

"All day the old man stood at his door as though rooted to the ground.
As the hours sped on, fainter and fainter grew the shouts and the
cries of the contending men, until finally the sounds died away. Even
then the venerable man moved not from his tent, but still stood
watching. Lower and lower dropped the sun toward the western horizon,
and all through the village anxious faces were turned in the direction
whence the last sound of the fight had been heard. Suddenly a woman
cried, -

"'There they come!'

"At her words the old man leaned forward, straining his dim eyes to
discern the distant figures on the far-off hill. In single file, on
the warriors came, one preceding another, according to the grade of
the honours he had won in the battle. The Herald hastened forth from
the village to meet them and to learn their tidings. After a halt he
turned and came on in advance of the men, shouting as he came near
the village the names of those who had fallen in battle. As each name
was called, the wife or mother of the slain man rent the air with
sudden cry and wail, so that the whole village vibrated with the sound
of sorrow as the victorious warriors drew near. In the midst of all
this commotion the aged watcher remained motionless, giving no sign of
emotion as the wailing grew in volume, and stirring not even when he
heard the names of his two sons called in the long death-roll.

"As the warriors entered the village, the Herald proclaimed the names
of those who had distinguished themselves in that memorable fight.
Slowly the men of valour approached their aged chief, who bowed
acknowledgment as each one spoke and laid at his feet a trophy of war.

"Among the veterans came a young warrior, who, in this his first
battle, had, in a hand to hand contest, wrenched a club from the grasp
of his antagonist, and had slain the enemy with his own weapon. This
club he presented to the old man, recounting the deed. The chief,
lifting the weapon, exclaimed with a dramatic laugh: 'Ha, ha, ha! It
is thus you should treat your enemies, that they may fear you. My
exhortations to our young men have not fallen on deaf ears. Those who
sought to destroy our people lie scattered and dead on the ground.
Wherever their shadows may wander, even there the fear of you shall
be. The enemy sought to make me weep, but I laugh.' And the old man
danced to his triumphant laugh for the victory of that day."

[Music: SONG OF THE LAUGH.

_Ponka. He-dhu´-shka._

Ha, ha, ha ha ha! Ha ha! hi hi! ha ha! hi!]

So this was the meaning of the monotonous song that had accompanied
the opening dance I had seen at the He-dhu´-shka Society, where the
dancer, with body bent and with short rhythmic steps, had kept time to
the dramatic laugh of the song, - a song that had seemed so aimless to
me only the night before.

"Every song of the Society has its story which is the record of some
deed or achievement of its members," said another old man who was
lying beside the fire. "I will tell you one that was known to our
great-great-grandfathers," and rising upon his elbow he began: -




THE STORY AND SONG OF ISH´-I-BUZ-ZHI.


"Long ago there lived an old Omaha Indian couple who had an only
child, a son named Ish´-i-buz-zhi. From his birth he was peculiar. He
did not play like the other children; and, as he grew older, he kept
away from the boys of his own age, refusing to join in their sports or
to hunt with them for small game. He was silent and reserved with
every one but his mother and her friends. With them he chatted and was
quite at ease. So queer a little boy could not escape ridicule. The
people spoke of him as one 'having no sense,' and it seemed as though
he would have no friends except his parents and a few women intimates
of his mother.

"During the long winter evenings, when the old men who came to his
father's lodge talked of bygone times and told tales of ancient
heroes, this silent, seemingly heedless boy caught and treasured every
word. He noted that the stories said that the mighty men of early days
were armed only with clubs. He mused on this fact, and determined to
make himself such a weapon. So he fashioned a four-sided club,
practised with it in secret, and kept it constantly with him. He was
well laughed at because he clung always to his club and would not
learn the use of the bow; but he kept his own counsel, and, as the
years went on, no one knew that the Sparrow-hawk had talked to him in
a vision, and that he had become possessed of two of its sacred
feathers.

"One day when Ish´-i-buz-zhi had grown to be a man, he heard a group
of warriors discussing plans for an expedition against a tribal enemy.
He determined to go with them; but he said nothing, and silently
watched the men depart. That night he stole away and followed the
trail of the warriors. In the morning one of the servants of the war
party discovered him and reported to the Leader, who ordered that he
be brought in. When the men saw that it was Ish´-i-buz-zhi, they joked
him, and asked why he who cared only for the company of old women had
come to them; but the Leader rebuked the warriors and received the
youth kindly, and, when he found that the young man was not properly
provided with clothing, bade his followers to fit him out from their
own supplies. They obeyed, and they also made him a bow of ash and
gave him some arrows.

"After many days' travel the party drew near to the enemy. A scout
discovered their camp and reported having seen one of their men. At
once the warriors prepared for battle, putting on the sacred paint and
divesting themselves of unnecessary garments, which they handed over
to Ish´-i-buz-zhi to take care of during the fight. But the young man
had his own plans, and went to the Leader and asked permission to go
and look at the enemy. With many cautions not to give an alarm and
prevent surprise, the Leader consented, and off Ish´-i-buz-zhi
started.

"Catching sight of the enemy, he threw away his bow, and, armed only
with his club, rushed suddenly upon the foremost man, overthrew and
killed him. When the war party came upon the scene, they saw with
amazement what he had done, - how by the might of his single arm he had
killed the Leader of the enemy and scattered his warriors.

"On the return of the Omaha men to their village the Herald, according
to custom, proclaimed the deed of Ish´-i-buz-zhi. The old mother
sitting in her tent heard his words, and called to her husband:

"'What is this that I hear? Go you out and learn the truth.'

"'It is only their ridicule of our boy,' said the old man, loath to
stir.

"The Herald cried again, and the old man arose and stood at the door
of the tent. Then of a truth he learned that, single-handed, his son
had vanquished the enemy. Again and again did Ish´-i-buz-zhi join war
parties, and he was always the foremost to meet the enemy and to
scatter them with his club.

"Many tales are told of him; for he was fond of joking, and was often
absent-minded. It is said that his wife was skilled in embroidery, and
would decorate his moccasins with fine porcupine quill work; and it
disturbed her to see him put them on to go out of a morning when the
dew was on the grass. So she took him to task for his thoughtlessness.

"'While the grass is wet,'" said she, "'carry your moccasins in your
belt.'

"He obeyed; but he forgot to put them on when the grass was dry, and
came home with feet bruised and sore, and his moccasins still in his
belt.

"But these peculiarities no longer provoked ridicule, as when
Ish´-i-buz-zhi was a boy; for as a man, generous and strong, he was
beloved by the people. The child who had feasted on tales of the
old heroes had in his manhood reproduced their brave deeds. So it came
to pass that, when danger threatened, it was to him that the people
ran for help; and he never failed them."

The song refers to one of these appeals. An alarm arose, and to
Ish´-i-buz-zhi, sitting in his tent, the people cried, "The enemy
comes and calls for you, Ish´-i-buz-zhi."

[Music: DANCE SONG. (ICHIBUZZHI.)

_Omaha. He-dhu´-shka._

Harmonized by PROF. J.C. FILLMORE.

Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no dho-e.
Nu-da hun-ga Ich-i-buz-zhi dha-da e dhin-ke de,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no,
Ni-ka wi-ta wa-gun-dha ti-be-no.]




STORY AND SONG OF THE LEADER.


After many years of warfare the Omaha tribe made peace with the Sioux.
One bright autumn day it was suggested that, in order to show their
friendly feeling, a party of Omahas should visit the Sioux tribe. So
the men and women made everything ready for the long journey.

Tent covers and camp belongings were fastened on trailing travaux,
ponies were laden with gayly painted parfleche packs, containing the
fine garments of the people and the gifts to be presented to the
Sioux. Soon the motley-coloured line could be seen winding over the
rolling prairie. The young men, mounted on their spirited horses,
dashed off, racing with each other to attract the attention of the
maidens, who could only follow with their eyes, so closely guarded
were they by the elder women. Old men jogged along in groups, talking
to each other, their lariats dragging through the grass, now and then
snapping off the head of a wild flower or catching in a tangle of
weeds. Boys made the air ring with their laughter, as they slipped off
their ponies to shoot their small arrows at some imaginary game. It
was a scene full of careless pleasure and happy movement under a
cloudless sky.

When nearing the Sioux village, the people paused beside a stream to
wash off the dust of travel, to put on their gayest attire, and to
newly paint their hair and faces. The prairie was their vast
dressing-room, and friendly eyes were their mirrors. Young men decked
each other, and girls slyly put on touches of finery. Every one was
moving about and busy, from the oldest man to the youngster captured
from play to be washed and painted. At last the transformation was
complete, from the dun, every-day colour to the brilliant hues of a
gala time. Now messengers were despatched with small bunches of
tobacco, tied up in bits of bladder skin (in lieu of visiting cards),
to give notice of the visiting party's approach.


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Online LibraryAlice C. (Alice Cunningham) FletcherIndian story and song from North America → online text (page 1 of 4)