Indian Games, Dances & Native Songs - online book

Native American Ceremonials, Sports, and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics & Commentary

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INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES               127
opportunity to express in acts his peculiar endow­ments; so this place, this act, forms a stage in his career and he takes a new name to indicate that he is on a level different from that he occupied previously." He added: "Some men can rise only a little way, others live on a dead level." He illustrated his words by moving his hands horizontally. " Men having power to advance climb step by step." Again he made his meaning clear by outlining a flight of steps.
The following ritual is recited on the occasion of taking a new name and is a dramatic poem in three parts. The first gives briefly the institution of the rite of changing one's name in consequence of a new achieve­ment; the second shows how the man was enabled to accomplish this act. It begins with his lonely vigil and fast when he cried to the powers for help; the scene then shifts to the circle of the lesser powers, who, in council, deliberate on his petition which makes its way to them and finally wins their consent; then the winds summon the messengers and these, gathering at the command of the lesser powers, are sent to earth to the man crying in lonely places, to grant him his desire. This part closes with a few vivid words which set forth that only by the favor of the powers had the man been able to do the deed. The third part deals with the man's names — the one to be discarded and the one now to be assumed. The ritual is in rhythmic form, im­possible to reproduce in English. The following ren­dition contains nothing which is not in the original text as explained and amplified by the priest.
The ritual was intoned in a loud voice; the man who
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