North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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There was but one funeral song in the Omaha tribe, and this was only sung to honour some man or woman who had been greatly respected by the people.
What one would see, when this song was sung, was in violent contrast to the character of the music. The blithe major strains suggest only happiness. They hardly touch ground, so to speak, but keep their flight up where the birds are flitting about in the sunshine; and, if there are clouds in the blue sky, they are soft and fleecy, and cast no shadows. Yet the men who sang this song were ranged in line before the tent where the dead lay ready for burial. They had drawn the stem of a willow branch through a loop of flesh cut on their left arm, and their blood dripped upon the green leaves and fell in drops to the ground.
The meaning of this strange spectacle and its musical accompaniment, so apparently out of keepĀ­ing, must be sought for in the beliefs of the people. It was a drama touching two worlds.
The shedding of blood was to express how vital was the loss. This act, visible to the mourners, was
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