North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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typifying the stirring of the heart of man when sum­moned to fight the enemies of his people.
At the close of the song and ceremony of blacken­ing the Leader's face, I had seen the Leader take the pipe belonging to the society, fill it, and rever­ently lift the stem upward.
"When the Leader's face is painted," continued the old man, "he offers the pipe to Wa-ko#'-da (god). The words of the song then sung mean: Wa-kon'-da, we offer this pipe (the symbol of our unity as a society). Accept it (and us). All the members must join in singing this prayer, and after­ward all must smoke the pipe."
"The He-dhu'-shka Society is very old," contin­ued my friend. "It is said to have been in exist­ence at the time when the Omahas and the Ponkas were together as one tribe. There is a song with a dance which must be given at every meeting, It is to keep alive the memory of a battle that took place while we were migrating westward, and where defeat would have meant our extermination as a tribe. I will tell you the story.*
"One morning the tribe, whose country had been invaded by the Ponkas, made an unexpected assault
* The translation given is by my collaborator, Mr. Francis La Flesche.
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