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The He-de Wa-chi
An Omaha Festival of Joy
Introductory Note. — For centuries the home of the Omaha tribe has been in the region now known as the State of Nebraska, north of the city which bears their name. There they dwelt in permanent villages, surrounded by their garden plots of corn, beans, squashes, etc. From these villages every year in June all the tribes except the sick and infirm went forth to follow the buffalo herds in order to obtain their supply of meat and pelts. As this tribal hunt was essential to the needs of the life of the people, it was a very serious affair, initiated with religious ceremonies and conducted under strict rules enforced by duly appointed officers. It was at the close of this great tribal hunt, when food and clothing had been secured, while Summer lingered and the leaves had not yet begun to fall, so that brightness was still over the land, that this Festival of Joy took place. Like all Indian ceremonies, the He-de Wa-chi embodied a teaching that was for the welfare of the tribe, a teaching drawn from nature and dramatically enacted by the people. The Omaha tribe was made up of ten distinct groups, each one having its own name, a set of names for those born within the group, and certain religious symbols and ceremonies committed to its care. By tribal rites and regulations these ten dis­tinct groups were welded together to form the tribe, whose strength and prosperity depended upon internal harmony and unity.
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