North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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According to the Omaha idea, a child during its infancy had no recognised existence as an individual or distinct member of the tribe, but remained as a part of its parents. When it could walk alone, at about three years of age, it was initiated into the tribal organisation through certain religious rites; but its responsible and individual life did not begin until its mind had "become white," as the Indians say. This expression referred to the dawn, to the passing of night into day, and represented the com­ing of the child out of the period where nothing was clearly apprehended into a time when he could readily recall past events with their distinctness of detail. This seeming mastery of the minutiae of passing occurrences indicated that a stage of growth had been reached where the youth could be inducted into the religious mysteries through a distinct personal experience acquired in the rite, Now'-zhiw-zhow,— a rite which brought him into what was believed to be direct communication with the supernatural powers.
In preparation for this rite the Omaha youth was taught the Tribal Prayer. He was to sing it during
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