A Study of Omaha Indian Music

A Study of Omaha Indian Music

A Study of Omaha Indian Music

A Study of Omaha Indian Music

Synopsis

Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, her Omaha coworker and adopted son, divided the songs into three categories: religious ones, to be sung by a certain class either through initiation or inheritance; social ones, involving dances and games, always sung by a group; and ones to be sung singly, including dream songs, love songs, captive songs, prayer songs, death songs, sweat lodge songs, and songs of thanks. John Comfort Fillmore, a professional musician, added a "Report on the Structural Peculiarities of the Music". Those interested in a vital aspect of Indian culture will want to own this book, which contains the musical scores as well as the native-language words for the songs.

Excerpt

Aided byElsie Myers-Stainton

It is thus near to Nature that much of the life of the Indian still is;
hence its story, rather than being replete with statistics of
commercial conquest, is a record of the Indian's relations with and
his dependence on the phenomena of the universe--the trees and
shrubs, the sun and stars, the lightning and rain--for these to him
are animate creatures.
Edward S. Curtis,
The North American Indians

Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923), in persevering as she did to live among the Omaha Indians, showed a pioneering spirit that also characterized her writings about Native American music. Her involvement with the Omahas began in 1879 at a meeting of a Boston literary society where she was introduced to the Omaha singer Francis La Flesche, who became a lifelong informant, confidant, and collaborator. She first visited the Omahas in 1881 and returned again and again in the next three decades, during which time she photographed and recorded (first by ear and later with the Edison cylinder machine) Indian folkways. These primary source materials demonstrated her empathy for the Omahas and her understanding of them.

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