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Ioway Cultural Institute : Culture :
Ancestral Ways of Life

Songs Recorded by George Catlin

There are some words to old songs that George Catlin recorded. I don't know if the song/melody still exists, but these were the words:

This one was an old one from the 1830s, from the Iroska:


Why run you from us when you are the most powerful?
But it was not you, Otapa
It was your body that run
It was your body, Otapa
It was your body that run

*(addressed to a leader of an enemy warparty)

[The next part of this song speeds up in tempo and is called washi shika:]

Hooo-wa! Hooo-wah!
Otapa! I am proud of being at home!
I am proud, Otapa
I am proud
I am at home, my enemy run
I am proud, I am proud Otapa!

[The next part is the approaching dance; we see this in the old straight dance .."the dancers are, by their gestures, exhibiting the mode of advancing upon an enemy, by hunting out and following up the track, discovering the enemy, preparing for the attack..."]

I am creeping on your track
Keep on your guard Otapa
Or I will hop on your back
I will hop on you, I will hop on you

Stand back my friends, I see them
The enemies are here
I see them
They are in a good place
Don't move, I see them

And the songs continue, though Catlin did not record them all.


There was also once an Eagle Dance, different from the one you see today..they wore eagle feather belts, and blew bone whistles and danced in a formation: "Each dancer imagines himself a soaring eagle, and as they dance forward...they take the positions of the eagles, heading against the wind, and looking down, preparing to make a swoop on their prey below them; the wind seems too strong for them, and they fall back, and repeatedly advance forward, imitating the chattering of that bird with the whistles carried in their hands.."

It is me, I am a war eagle
The wind is strong, but I am an eagle
I am not ashamed, no, I am not
The twisting eagle's feather is on my head*
I see my enemy below me
I am an eagle, a war eagle

*(referring to the feather on the roach)

Catlin also recorded a song used in the Moccasin Game, like the Hand Game of today.. men played this version, while women played bowl and dice:


Take care of yourself
Shoot well or you lose
You warned me, but see
I have defeated you
I am one of Wakanda's children
Wakanda I am, I am Wakanda

Lance Foster

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