The Hako: Song, Pipe, and Unity in a Pawnee Calumet Ceremony


One of the more complex and widespread rituals practiced by Native American groups focused on the calumet, a sacred pipe with a feathered shaft. The Calumet Ceremony was a powerful ritual through which members of another tribe were adopted. It also promoted social unity within tribes and facilitated contact and trade between them. Perhaps the most detailed description of a Calumet Ceremony was recorded near the turn of the century by ethnographer Alice C. Fletcher. Fletcher witnessed the Hako, a version of the Calumet Ceremony practiced by the Chaui clan of the Pawnee. With the invaluable assistance of Tahirussawichi, a Pawnee Ku'rahus or ceremonial leader, and renowned Indian scholar James R. Murie, himself a Pawnee, the author describes in marvelous detail the intricate rhythm and structure of the ceremony. Each song of the Hako is transcribed, translated, interpreted by the Pawnee Ku'rahus, and later analyzed by the author. Fletcher concludes that the Hako promised longevity, fertility, and prosperity to,individuals and worked to insure "friendship and peace" between clans and tribes. The Hako, originally published in 1904, is introduced by Helen Myers, an associate professor of music at Trinity College and the ethnomusicology editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Alice C. Fletcher
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Lincoln, NE
Publication year:
  • 1996


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