Audio Recordings Hethu'shka Society Song
Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham)
La Flesche, Francis
Merrick, Joseph (Gion'Zethinge) (None to Teach Him)
Miller, George (Inke'Tonga) (Big Shoulder)
- Hethu'shka Society Song
- Contributor Names
- Miller, George (Iⁿke'toⁿga) (Big Shoulder) (Performer)
- Merrick, Joseph (Gioⁿ'zethiⁿge) (None to teach him) (Performer)
- Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham), 1838-1923 (Collector)
- La Flesche, Francis, 1857-1932 (Collector)
- Created / Published
- August 26, 1897
- Field recordings
- - This song was collected by Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche. It is included on "Omaha Indian Music: Historical Recordings from the Fletcher/La Flesche Collection" (AFC L71).
- - From the liner notes of the "Omaha Indian Music" album: Members of the Hethu'shka Society elected new members from the ranks of warriors who had publically received war honors before the Packs Sacred to War (1911, p. 460). In addition to opening rituals and a feast, meetings of the society included the performance of dances to songs composed about the heroic exploits of past and living members. Dance movements dramatically depicted these exploits:
- - Shortly after, the choir began a song in fast time and whoever was so inclined arose, dropped his robe n his seat, and stepped forth. Then, in a conversationalized pantomime he acted out one of his experiences in war from which he had gained a public war honor at the Wate'gictu. A good dancer was light of foot and agile. A variety of steps was taken; the foot was brought down on the ground with a thud, making a synchronous accompaniment to the resonant drum beat and the voices of the singers; the limbs were lifted at sharp angles; the body was bent and raised with sudden and diversified movements, as in a charge, or as if dodging arrows or averting blows from weapons. In all this dramatic presentation of an actual scene there was not a motion of foot, leg, body, arm, or head that did not follow the song in strict time, yet keeping close to the story that was being acted out. The throb of the drum started the pulses of the spectator and held him to the rhythm of the scene as the eye followed the rapid, tense action of the dancer, while the ear caught the melody which revealed the intent of the strange drama, so full of color, movement, and wild cadences. The intense character of the dance made it impossible to sustain it for any considerable time; therefore the dance and song, although the latter was repeated, were always short. Rest songs, slower in time, followed a dance and during these songs the dancers sat muffled in their robes, often dripping with perspiration and panting to recover their breath. (1911, p. 466)
- - The Hethu'shka dance was also known among those tribes related to the Omaha: the Oto, Osage, Ponca, and spread throughout the Plains, where it was known as the Grass dance, or the Omaha dance (1893, pp. 25-33, 86-99; 1911, pp. 459-480).
- - Probable years of birth of George Miller and Joseph Merrick are 1852 and 1845, respectively.
- wax cylinder recording
- Call Number
- AFC 1948/123: AFS 20,313: 3b
- Source Collection
- Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche collection of Omaha cylinder recordings (AFC 1948/123)
- American Folklife Center
- Digital Id
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Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:
Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche collection of Omaha cylinder recordings (AFC 1948/123)
Omaha Indian interviews collection, 1983 (AFC 1983/026)
1985 Neptune Plaza Concert Series collection (AFC 1985/015)
Omaha Powwow Project collection (AFC 1986/038)
Omaha Indian interviews collection, 1999 (AFC 1999/014)
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