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At the Congress of Musicians held in connection with the Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha in July, l898, several essays upon the songs of the North American Indians were read, in illustration of which a number of Omaha Indians, for the first time, sang their native melodies to an audience largely composed of trained musicians.
This unique presentation not only demonstrated the scientific value of these aboriginal songs in the study of the development of music, but suggested their availability as themes, novel and characteristic, for the American composer. It was felt that this availability would be greater if the story, or the ceremony which gave rise to the song, could be known, so that, in developing the theme, all the movements might be consonant with the circumstances that had inspired the motive. In response to the expressed desire of many musicians, I have here given a number of songs in their matrix of story.
Material like that brought together in these pages has hitherto appeared only in scientific publications, where it has attracted the lively interest of specialists both in Europe and America. It is now offered in