(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.
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!