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INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES               123
Giving the Child a Name
This ceremony, formerly practiced among the Omaha and cognate tribes, took place in the spring, "when the grass was up and the birds were singing." A tent was set apart and made sacred by the priest who had the hereditary right to perform the ceremony. As the occa­sion was one of tribal interest, many people flocked to the scene of the rite.
A large stone was brought and placed on the east side of the fire that was burning in the center of the space inside the tent. When everything was ready the old priest stood at the door awaiting the arrival of the child. Then all the mothers who had children of the proper age wended their way to this tent, each one leading her little child, who carried in its hands a new pair of moccasins. As the two reached the tent the mother addressed the priest, saying: "Venerable man, I desire my child to wear moccasins." (This was a symbolic form of expression.) "I desire my child to walk long upon the earth, to be content with the light of many days. We seek your protection!" The priest made a formal reply and the little one, carrying its moccasins, entered the tent alone. After a few ritualistic phrases the priest accompanied the child to the fire place, where he and the child stood facing the East while the priest sang an invocation to the Four Winds. He bade them to come hither and stand in this place in four groups.
At the close of this Ritual Song the priest lifted the child by the arms so that its little bare feet rested upon the stone, as it faced the South; then he lifted the
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III