American Women Writers to 1800

By Sharon M. Harris | Go to book overview

Poetry

Native American Songs
(Omaha, Hopi, Ojibway, and Osage)

Within virtually all tribal societies, songs were an important part of many facets of tribal life. Songs constitute one of the earliest oral forms of poetry, crossing many racial and cultural boundaries. The Native American poem-songs that follow reflect both formal spiritual ceremonies and fundamental facets of women's everyday lives. "Prayer for Infants" is an Omaha song to celebrate the birth of a child; as Carolyn Niethammer has explained, the ceremonial song was performed on the eighth day of the child's life to assure "it would have an accepted place in the life force that united all nature, both animate and inanimate" (11-12). The second song, from the Hopi, demonstrates how integrated were a Hopi woman's sense of self and her work in the community. Grinding corn was a process much like sewing in Euro-American culture: it was a skill passed from mother to daughter; whenever women gathered, their hands were busy with the grinding of corn, and exceptional skill could bring special acknowledgment for a young girl. The Ojibway songs reflect moments in individuals' lives while the Osage lamentation captures the strong sense of community that was a part of all tribal societies.

Bibliography: Burton; Densmore; Fletcher and La Flesche; La Flesche; Niethammer; Qoyawayma.


Prayer for Infants (Omaha)

Ho! Ye Sun, Moon, Stars, all ye that move in the heavens,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Consent ye, I implore!
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the first hill!

-303-

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American Women Writers to 1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Note on the Text xii
  • Introduction 3
  • I- The Ages of Women 31
  • Youthful Reflections 41
  • On Women''s Education 63
  • Domestic Records 79
  • Businesswomen''s Writings 105
  • "Death-Bed" Declarations Skate''Ne (choctaw) 123
  • II- Emerging Feminist Voices 133
  • Feminist Visions 137
  • III- Origins, Revolutions, and Women in the Nations 161
  • First Women 173
  • Spiritual Narratives 197
  • Captivity Narratives and Travel Journals 217
  • Epistolary Exchanges 235
  • Petitions, Political Essays, and Organizational Tracts 251
  • Revolutionary War Writings 269
  • Poetry 303
  • Histories 349
  • Drama 373
  • Novels 393
  • Notably Early American Women 413
  • Selected Bibliography 421
  • Index 432
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