Format Audio Recordings
Contributors Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham)
La Flesche, Francis
Merrick, Joseph (Gion'Zethinge) (None to Teach Him)
Miller, George (Inke'Tonga) (Big Shoulder)
Dates 1897
Location Nebraska
United States
Language English
Siouan Languages
Subjects Field Recordings
Music
Songs
Title
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
Genre
Music
Field recordings
Songs
Notes
-  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: La Flesche's translation is: "We walk here on earth. We, the Heth'ushka, walk here on earth."
-  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.
Medium
wax cylinder recording
Call Number
AFC 1948/123: AFS 20,314: 1d
Source Collection
Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche collection of Omaha cylinder recordings (AFC 1948/123)
Repository
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.afc/afcomaha.2031401d


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The Library of Congress has carefully researched these materials to ascertain possible legal rights embodied in the materials it contains. For the most part, the performers have been identified in this collection. In the case of the pow-wow recordings there are some stray voices which are audible but not identifiable. As is often the case with materials collected in the course of ethnographic field research, however, it is difficult or impossible to sufficiently identify specific songs sung by participants which precludes performing a comprehensive assessment of the copyright status of underlying musical rights in lyrics or compositions. The identification of specific speakers or singers included in sound recordings is also often difficult or sometimes impossible. The songs in this collection were created in traditional genres by anonymous authors and are part of the oral tradition.

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Credit line

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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