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by Ernest Thompson Seton

SCENE: Enter a procession of a dozen or more braves, led by the Medicine Man, behind him one with tom-tom beats slow march. In middle of procession Hiawatha--they circle the fire. The Medicine Man gives the signal to sit.

MEDICINE MAN: Rising--"My brothers, we are assembled to hear tidings of great sorrow. To all men soon or late there comes the call of Pauguk, the voice that bids them journey to the Spirit Land. Happy that man to whom death cometh when his fame is at its height,--when most truly the people shall mourn for him.

"My brothers, our beloved Chieftain Hiawatha hath heard the dread summons; even now must he sing his death song, and bid us all farewell forever." (Stage business, murmurs among the braves.)

HIAWATHA: Rising, steps forward, says: "My work is done; I have made you a united nation; I have taught you how to live. Now I go, and in going let me show you how to die:" Walks to exit and sings to them:

"Mourn ye not o'er my departure

Mourn ye not, I go upon a journey;

I, Hiawatha, soon will have departed.

Mourn ye not: My journey is eternal.

I, Hiawatha, soon will have gone forever."

then backs away with one hand uplifted, folds his arms, raises his face to gaze over their heads. All rise, kneel and sing:

"Fare thee well, then Hiawatha;

Fare thee well, O, fare thee well forever,

Sinks the Sun, our prophet goeth onward,

Fare thee well, may stars shine on thy journey;

Oh, Hiawatha, through shadows everlasting."

Hiawatha now is supposed to be in the canoe (all the better if real); as it moves away he sings again the song as above.

As his song dies away those left behind kneel and with outstretched hands sing again. At last from the far distance Hiawatha is heard singing as before: the song fades away, all bow down covering their heads with their blankets for a minute, then still covered and with heads low, they file out.

(Indian Music and words of song by permission of Fred R. Burton.) For the music, See Ojibway Death Song.

The Birch Bark Roll






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Flower Planting ] [ Hiawatha ] Legger Snake ] Tree Planting ] Two Captives ]

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Native Skills ] Totem Poles ] Indian Sign Language ] Indian Ceremonies ] Indian Dance ] Indian Songs ] Birch Bark Dances ] Birch Bark Songs ] Birch Bark Plays ] Indian Games for Boys ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.