Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs: Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports

Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs: Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports

Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs: Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports

Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs: Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports

Synopsis

One day Alice C. Fletcher realized that "unlike my Indian friends, I was an alien, a stranger in my native land." But while living with the Indians and pursuing her ethnological studies she felt that "the plants, the trees, the clouds and all things had become vocal with human hopes, fears, and supplications." This famous statement comes directly from the preface of this book and was later etched on her tombstone. "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," she wrote.

Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs is a collection that conveys the pleasure and meaning of music and play and rhythmic movement for American Indians. Many of the activities here described are adapted from ceremonials and sports. Included is a "drama in five dances" celebrating the life of corn. "Calling the Flowers" is an appeal to spirits dwelling underground to join the dancers. Still another dramatic dance, with accompanying songs, petitions clouds to leave the sky. The Festival of Joy, an ancient Omaha ceremony, is centered on a sacred tree. In the second part Indian ball games and games of hazard and guessing are set forth, as well as the popular hoop and javelin game. Fletcher closes with a section on Indian names.

Excerpt

by Helen Myers
aided by Elsie Myers-Stainton

"Fourfold deep lie my roots with the land;
Clad in green, bearing fruit. Lo! here I stand.
Pluck and eat, life for life, behold, I give!
Shout with joy, dance and sing with all that live."

Ritual Song

In the early years of the twentieth century, long before the plight of American Indians in the United States had become a national concern, a friend of those Indian tribes called them what they now request as their true designation. That honored name is Native American; that friend was Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923).

Alice Fletcher has earned for herself a special place among American anthropologists. She was one of the first to pay attention to Native American music, and most important she listened with a sympathetic ear to the sounds she heard. Born in 1838, at the age of forty-three she was so inspired by a self-imposed goal that she determined to visit the very Sioux Indians who five years before had defeated George Custer at the Little Big Horn. Eventually, for a time, she made her home with them.

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