Page:The American Indian.djvu/191
situations leading to the composition are fully stated. This must be considered in translations, such as we have just noted, for this setting is generally known to the singers. Thus, it appears that the song verses of the more primitive tribes are not themselves narratives, but rather mnemonic suggestions of prose tales. One more example may not be amiss:—
DAKOTA FOX SOCIETY SONG
E ha e—yo e—yo he ye ye
This is the song of a warlike society, the joining of which carries an obligation of bravery and even foolhardiness when on the line of battle; hence, the pathetic lament of the phrases.
Under the head of mythology we shall consider the literary value of prose narrative. In such narrative and oratory rests a vast store of unwritten lore, much of which has great literary merit. In our own literature the speech of Logan is justly famous. As to its precise correctness we may entertain some doubts, but there are authentic reports of similar speeches from other Indians, and anthropologists have collected literal transcriptions of discourses that rise to the same level of excellence. However, for the comprehension of this phase of New World culture, the reader must turn to the published works on Indian languages.
- Curtis, 1907. I, p. 51.