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Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs   By: (1838-1923)

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Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs

Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports


Holder of the Thaw Fellowship, Peabody Museum, Harvard University

Author of The Hako, The Omaha Tribe, Indian Stories and Song, etc.


Dedicated to



This little book took its rise in the following experience that came to me many years ago when living with the Indians in their homes and pursuing my ethnological studies:

One day I suddenly realized with a rude shock that, unlike my Indian friends, I was an alien, a stranger in my native land; its fauna and flora had no fond, familiar place amid my mental imagery, nor did any thoughts of human aspiration or love give to its hills and valleys the charm of personal companionship. I was alone, even in my loneliness.

Time went on. The outward aspect of nature remained the same, but imperceptibly a change had been wrought in me until I no longer felt alone in a strange, silent country. I had learned to hear the echoes of a time when every living thing upon this land and even the varied overshadowing skies had its voice, a voice that was attentively heard and devoutly heeded by the ancient people of America. Henceforth, to me the plants, the trees, the clouds and all things had become vocal with human hopes, fears and supplications.

When I realized how much closer because of this change I had been drawn to our land, how much greater had become my enjoyment of nature, the desire arose to find some way by which I could help to make audible to others the voice I had heard, and thereby restore to our hills and valleys their lost human element. Impelled by this purpose I have arranged these dances and games with native songs in order that our young people may recognize, enjoy and share in the spirit of the olden life upon this continent.

My obligations are due to Mr. Francis La Flesche of the U. S. Bureau of American Ethnology and to Mr. Edwin S. Tracy, Musical Director of the Morris High School of New York City, for assistance in the preparation of this book.



Preface Introduction Song and Dance Among the Indians


The Life of the Corn (a Drama in Five Dances) Introduction Dance I. The Corn Speaks Dance II. Planting the Corn Dance III. The Corn Springs Up Dance IV. The Fields are Ready Dance V. Honor to Mother Corn Calling the Flowers Appeal for Clear Sky The Hé de Wa chi (An Omaha Festival of Joy)



HAZARD GAMES Introductory Note Pa tol Stick Plum Stone

GUESSING GAMES Introductory Note Pu in Atá a kut Hand Game Hiding the Disks I ou' tin

BALL GAMES Introduction Ball and Racket Ta bé Double ball Hoop and Javelin Follow My Leader


Introduction Presenting the Child to the Cosmos Giving the Child a Name Bestowing a New Name Taking and Indian Name in Camp Indian Names for Boys Indian Names for Girls Indian Names for Camps





The adaptations from Indian ceremonies and sports here offered will enable those who take part in them to follow in happy mood some of the paths of expression that were opened long ago by thoughtful men and women as they lived, worked and played on this land in undisturbed intimacy with nature. Some of the thoughts bred of this intimacy find their expression in these dances and games, and it may help toward a better understanding of them and their spirit to tell briefly how the Indian looked upon and regarded his relation to nature.

The natives of America thought of the cosmos as a unit that was throbbing with the same life force of which they were conscious within themselves; a force that gave to the rocks and hills their stable, unchanging character; to every living thing on land or water the power of growth and of movement; to man the ability to think, to will and to bring to pass. This universal and permeating life force was always thought of as sacred, powerful, like a god... Continue reading book >>

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