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THE OMAHA TRIBAL PRAYER
the four nights and days of his vigil in some lonely place. As he left his home, his parents put clay on his head; and, to teach him self-control, they placed a bow and arrows in his hand, with the injunction not to use them during his long fast, no matter how great the temptation might be. He was bidden to weep as he sang the prayer, and to wipe his tears with the palms of his hands, to lift his wet hands to heaven, and then lay them on the earth. With these instructions the youth departed, to enter upon the trial of his endurance. When at last he fell into a sleep or trance, and the vision came, of bird, or beast, or cloud, bringing with it a cadence, this song became ever after the medium of communication between the man and the mysterious power typified in his vision; and by it he summoned help and strength in the hour of his need.
In this manner all mystery songs originated, — the songs sung when healing plants were gathered and when the medicine was administered; when a man set his traps or hunted for game; when he desired to look into the future or sought supernatural guidance, or deliverance from impending danger.
The Tribal Prayer was called in the Omaha
tongue Wa-ko»'-da gi-kon: Wa-kon'-da, the power