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A SONG OF THE GHOST DANCE
seen the faces of old friends returned from the spirit realm. These are the scenes which come to the homesick Indian, who is stranded in his native land, his ears filled with foreign sounds, his old activities gone, and his hands unskilled and unable to take up new ones.
The ghost dance is the cry of a forsaken people, forsaken by the gods in which they once trusted,— a people bewildered by the complexity of the new path they must follow, misunderstood by and mis­understanding the race with whom they are forced to live. In this brief ceremony of the ghost dance the Indians seek to close their eyes to an unwel­come reality, and to live in the fanciful vision of an irrecoverable past.
This song was given me by a ghost dancer, a leader in the Arapaho tribe. Before he sang, he explained to me the ceremony, its peaceful charac­ter, and, all unconsciously, made apparent its ex­pression of a pathetic longing for a life that can never return. Standing before the graphophone, he offered an earnest prayer, then, with his companions, sang this song.
The simple pathos of the words cannot be repro-
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III