By Helen Addison Howard
The fashion of Indian poetry --
Alice Cunningham Fletcher --
Frances Densmore --
Mary Hunter Austin --
Natalie Curtis (Burlin) --
Alice Corbin Henderson --
Constance Lindsay Skinner --
Lew Sarett --
Eda Lou Walton.
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Extra resources for American Indian poetry
T h e song bears t h e marks of antiquity, Fletcher states, a n d she gives the following explanation of the Pebble society's teachings as told to her and Francis La Flesche by the old leader. This myth, she points out, may b e a paraphrase of a ritual: At the beginning all things were in the mind of Wakonda [the Supreme Power]. All creatures, including man, were spirits. They moved about in space between the earth and the stars (the heavens). 56 AMERICAN INDIAN POETRY They were seeking a place where they could come into a bodily existence.
Insects also of every description, Verily all gathered there together, By what means or manner we know not. Verily, one alone of all these was the greatest, Inspiring to all minds, The great white rock, Standing and reaching as high as the heavens enwrapped in mist, Verily as high as the heavens. Repetition is used here, as in "The Hako," to aid rhythm. T h e chant, of which the above quotation is but a small part, is imaginative, concrete, compact, and sincere. T h e stanzas quoted form the opening ritual song of the O m a h a Pebble society, whose members treated sickness.
On that day the Ku'rahus purified himself in the sweat lodge, 46 AMERICAN INDIAN POETRY then placed sweet grass on a pile of coals. Squatting on his heels, he drew a robe about himself and the coals so that the sweet grass smoke might reach every part of his body. After the purification, he took a bit of deer or buffalo fat consecrated to Tira'wa, mixed it with red paint, and anointed himself. Then, after putting on leggings and moccasins and tying a buffalo robe around his waist with the animal's hair rope, he fastened a white, downy, eagle feather in his scalp lock.
American Indian poetry by Helen Addison Howard