Songs From The Iroquois Longhouse

by William N. Fenton Bureau of American Ethnology
From recordings in The Archive of Folk Culture AFS L6
The People Of The Longhouse


Ordinarily ethnologists reduce their observations and descriptions of our primitive contemporaries to the printed page. But even illustrated publications do not convey quite the idea of how a language sounds, the atmosphere of a ceremony, or what the music is really like, No amount of writing or talk about Iroquois esthetic culture offers as convincing evidence of its actual survival as sound recordings of the songs from the longhouse. There is something in them that is more than the shuffle of distant dancing feet, the faint cries of dancers, and a glimpse of feathers passing the firelight. What there is is a living part of the tradition of American civilization–the powerful voices of Indian neighbors who dance in rubber boots, chew snuff, and dress as other workers, the grandchildren of the noble Redmen who have fired the imagination of school children in every land. These are the songs of the old-time Indians in record form so that children can learn them and adults can play them as examples of exotic music from out the fires of their native land. After friends in Washington had urged me to publish an album from my collection of Iroquois records, when I suggested to the singers of the longhouse that some such use might be made of their songs, they all expressed satisfaction that Indians in other lands and "pale faces" everywhere might hear their songs.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



The Great Feather Dance Chancey Johnny John THE CREATOR'S SONGS


Great Feather Dance ('osto'we'gowa) is the grand religious dance of the Iroquois (Side A, 1) . Its name derives from the feather headdress (gasto'we'), the Iroquois buckskin cap with single revolving eagle feather set in a spindle surrounded by a cluster of split feathers; but now the dancers wear a type of Plains war bonnet which they have adopted for show work (pl. 7, fig. I). Yet Feather Dance is both the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Adeste fideles" to the people of the longhouse. Although it was once probably associated with war, participating in Feather Dance now is a token of one's religious allegiance to the teachings of Handsome Lake, the Seneca prophet–a pledge to follow the longhouse way. The tenacity with which the Iroquois have adhered to their dances is no less true today than it was a century ago when Lewis Morgan first described them. The Iroquois still love the old ceremonies. Three hundred years of missionary effort has not succeeded in obliterating them. However, old men say that they used to sing Feather Dance more slowly, and with greater dignity, so that the old people could join in, but nowadays the young dancers want the tempo fast. Nevertheless, it is now equally true as it was in Morgan's time that the Iroquois will be Indians forever, so long as they hold to their dances.

In the beginning when the world was new the Master of Life gave the Iroquois four sacred ceremonies to enjoy in his honor-Great Feather Dance, Drum Dance, Individual Chant, and the Great Wager or Bowl Game. These four rites are the core of the longhouse festivals on earth and they are what they have forever in the hunting ground. At great councils, and twice a year at the festivals marking midwinter and the ingathering of crops, at Green Corn Festival, the officials clear the longhouse and set a plain bench lengthwise of the room, and on this bench the conductor places two turtle rattles, tail to tail, with the handles pointing toward the ends of the bench where the two singers will straddle. Now the speaker announces the names of the two men whom the officials have selected to help each other sing and the names of the dance leader and his assistant, and he urges all the people from the officials to the smallest child to participate; he says the old people should at least walk around two or three circuits in the dance and lead the little children. One who is unable to dance may stand at the end of the bench. They always announce this.

The singers go to the bench and straddle it, facing one another. They pick up the turtle rattles. The leading singer strikes the edge of his rattle on the bench and cries "hyo'" twice and the crowd replies "yo hee'." Now the song begins. The dance leader takes up the cry and it is again echoed by the crowd. This antiphonal is repeated between dances.

The version from which these selections were taken for the album is the one which Chancey Johnny John sings for the officials of Coldspring longhouse early in the morning while the food is cooking for the feast which follows the Great Feather Dance later in the morning. These songs summon the officials to come in and dance. They enter from the cookhouse and the men doff their hats. The women wipe their hands on clean calico aprons made from goods distributed in annual fulfillment of the Treaty of 1794, and they join the dance a little after the men begin on the third song, when the tempo increases; the women form a column of their own.

These are the words of hau'no'on, Cold-voice. Very few have any meaning.

The last song is as Feather Dance actually sounds to the dancers as they pass the singer's bench. This selection from the last two songs of the dance is from a record toward the end of the song when Chancey really let himself out. During the intervals between songs the dancers walk slowly around the bench, the men in the lead and the slower-moving women forming a column of their own which the men frequently lap in the circuit. The dance leader shouts "hyo' hyo'" for the singers to resume. This is the most graceful and dignified of Iroquois dances. The men raise each foot in succession as high as they are able and bring the heel down forcibly with the beat of the turtle rattles. In the faster songs youngsters manage to bring one heel down several times before the other. The impact of the foot on floor and straightening of knees sets the knee rattles and bells to jingling. Older men merely bump their heels in walking. The step of the women is a sideward shifting of toe and heel, coming down on heel in time with the rattles, shoulders erect and swaying with the music. Occasionally an animated matron will leap like the warriors. A great dancer is momentarily given the lead of the column.

wiye he'en he honinen
goya heya heya ho'o ho honinen
ho' ho'o ho honinen
goya he he he'eh honinen :] yo' ho'

To end the dance the singer beats twice on the bench with his rattle.
1)hyo hyo' yoo [Cries of the dance leader and the crowd]
wenonya we'nonya
wenonya he he hee
he he hee
heya wenonya wenonya
heya he hee
he hen'en hen wiyo :] [repeat] yo hooo [end]

2) hyo hyo'
gayowine hayowine
hayowine he' he'e
hiye he' he'e
hayowine he' he'e hiye yo ho [end]
3) [Dance begins at the faster tempo]
yode'ha we'nonya
yoda hawenonya hee
yo hawinonya he he' hen'en lie huh' [end]
4) wegoyahee wegoyahe' [repeat]
he' hen'en [as above] he huh' [end]
5) onen di ne'ho daodiyonje' honondiondon'
yahowiyahe yahowiyahe:] [repeat]
6) onen di ne'ho otadidaat honondiondon'
yahowiyahe yatiowiyahe :] [repeat]2 yo ho'
7) Yo' yo' yuh
ganonhsagon todiyon heyah
heganonhsayenda hee
todiyon todiyon hee
heganonhsayenda hee
8) gagwegon ne'ho non' jiye onen ne'ho
yahowiyahe he' hen'en : yo' ho
9) gagwegon onen jongwa'yon he nigyajon ne'ho
yahowiyahe yahowiyahe etc. yo' ho [end]

5) Now then here they are entering the officials
6) Now right her they stand up the officials
7) Inside the house they have gone
The whole length of the house
They have come in they have come in
[They fill) the whole length of the house, etc.3
8) Everyone here must participate now in this
9) Everyone now has come back from recess here.4

2 In these two songs the officials enter from the cookhouse and their chores of cutting wood and hauling water to remove hats and join in Feather Dance while the kettles of soup boil.

3 "Everyone has now gone inside of the longhouse." In a preceding song, someone was shouting the whole length of the house. One of the chiefs had gone outside to call the people in, saying, "Now, come on in! Now they are starting the Great Feather Dance. Everyone inside!"

4 Everyone now has returned from the recess between this and the preceding great festival such as the Midwinter Festival, if this is sung at the Green Corn Festival.
Dream Song Of Our Two Uncles The Bigheads Joshua Billy Buck THE GREAT FESTIVAL OF DREAMS AT MIDWINTER

The dream song of Our Two Uncles, the Bigheads (Side A, 2). This is the first of the songs for stirring ashes, the rite which occupies the first two days of the annual Midwinter Festival. The Iroquois call the song and the ceremony of stirring ashes, and moreover the whole festival which elaborates on this initial rite, by the single term ganonhwai'wi (Onondaga) or ganaiéowi' (Seneca) which are clearly cognate with various forms such as Ganonli8arori (Mohawk of Bruyas) and Annonh8aroria (Huron) that appear with descriptions in the seventeenth-century Jesuit Relations. The idea conveyed in both this and in the term "Bigheads" is that one's mind is distraught or frenzied with an accumulation of ceremonial obligations which have been revealed in dreams that must be fulfilled during the first 5 days of the festival (p1. 9. fig. 1).

Before the date of the Midwinter Festival the longhouse officials have met to appoint two chiefs who will set out from the longhouse and go from house to house on the first morning. The two heralds are called "Our Two Uncles, the Bigheads." Among the Seneca they wear buffalo robes that are tied on with corn-husk braids to which are appended the fruits of the harvest, and they carry wooden corn pounders, but in Canada they merely costume as chiefs, wearing the Iroquois feather headdress with its crown of torn feathers and one erect whirling feather. One who represents the leading side of the community at this festival speaks, and the other waits his turn to sing.

He will say:
Our nephews and nieces [3 times]. Now the ceremony of the great riddle has begun. Now moreover he has made our bodies tremble he who lives upward where there is an earth in the sky who is our maker and has given it to us. And now then you who are chiefs [for one might reside here], and also you officials, and also our mothers and moreover the young people, and also you children-now all of you shall stand firm. Now the smoke arises from where the officials have kindled a fire and it reaches even to the heavens, for the Holder-of-the-heavens has decreed that the ceremony should be performed on earth as in the skyworld five sleeps [overnights] after the new moon of Longer Days. Now we two take out of your hands all manner of work and amusements of all kinds which you have and they are set aside to rest. Now moreover all of you shall attend to the ceremonies where the officials have built a fire; everyone must go there, even the children, and you old people shall lead them there by the hand, for now the Dream Rite has commenced. Therefore, if one has had a new dream and also a particular dream, she shall fulfill all of her old dreams; and it is most urgent that she reveal any new dreams or else she might become ill [for whoever fails to renew his dreams and reveal new dreams brings trouble to the community]; and maybe that will happen and for that you, old woman, are responsible [the matron of the house knows who has had dreams] for if that should happen you will be to blame.

Now then nephews and nieces [three times].
Here his partner sings while with long wooden paddles they both stir up the ashes from the depths of the hearth, or in the ash pit of the woodstove. The ashes fly in the air and run off the end of the paddle. New fires are no longer kindled.

Joshua Billy Buck sings the version he has employed when performing for the Senecas on Grand River.
Now he has sung the dream song of our maker who dwells in the sky, and now he has gone through the Dream Rite. Now then let all of us return thanks, and right now we shall thank the ruler for now he has invited all of us people that are feeling well. [With this they go from the house and return to the longhouse.]
For the next 2 days the whole community repeats this rite after the example of their uncles.
niyawee honiyawe hane
niyawee honiyawe hane'eh :] [repeat ad lib]
Dream Song Of The Creator At The White Dog Sacrifice Chief Joseph Logan The White Dog Sacrifice.–The whole Midwinter Festival, though made up of the rites of individuals and families, belongs nevertheless to the Creator or Master of Life and it is his ceremony in the sense that lesser supernaturals preside over its component rituals. Also, it is his ceremony in another sense that likewise individuals derive protection from charms or guardians that other individuals who guess their dreams make in miniature for them. Persons having new dreams take them to the longhouse and reveal them to a committee from one's four clans. A reporter crosses the longhouse, cries "kuh!", announces that such a person has had a dream, and gives a hint as to its content; guessers from the opposite four clans attempt to name items in the culture which may be in the context of the dream. The reporter has said, "It runs on the snow." One guesser says, "Maybe I will make a hand sleigh for her." The reporter says, "No, not that." Another says, "Maybe I will carry her on my back" (a joke, for the False-faces carry their patients). Finally, someone guesses, "Maybe I will make a snowsnake for her," which is the correct guess, and then the reporter cries "kuh!" This was the answer. The guesser must make the miniature and be ready in 3 days to present it on the seventh day of the festival, Then this talisman, a miniature snowsnake of wood, will serve as a guardian for the dreamer throughout her life. Thereafter she will commemorate the occasion by sponsoring a game of snowsnake at Midwinter Festivals throughout her life.

The white dog which is sacrificed to the Creator then is a dream token from all the people to the Creator and it becomes his guardian. On the fifth day of the festival they burn the decorated dog. The dog must be pure white, although the breed, which survived until it became hybridized in recent years, sometimes had spotted ears. Children who are requested to give up a dog are told that they will meet it in the skyworld. The dog must be strangled before sunrise by pulling two ropes in such vise that no blood is split. When the dog is dead, two appointed dressers decorate its body with a carrying loop which passes from the hind feet to the neck, wampum strings are placed around the dog's neck, and they daub both cheeks with three fingers of ceremonial red paint, with a half circle toward the ears. Then the dog is borne into the longhouse and placed on a litter in the center of the

Chief Logan remembers the last time the Onondagas burned a white dog because he participated as messenger to announce the Creator who was impersonated by a friend. At this point in the ceremony they retreated to a neighboring house just south of the longhouse. Chief Logan as messenger walked about 200 yards ahead of the appointed singer. The messenger does not sing, but when he reaches the gate to the longhouse common he cries to attract the attention of the people waiting in the longhouse.

Just once he calls "kuh!" which is the signal for an important message. lie announces, "Now then, the Holder-of-the-heavens is singing the Dream Feast song. Now then, pay attention both fire places [Deer and Eel clans]. Pay attention also the four house corners [four clans on the other side]. Now, moreover, he is approaching."

Having made this announcement the messenger walks to the longhouse, indicating that the one impersonating the Creator is coming along. The Creator's impersonator comes to the gate where he commences to sing. He nears the longhouse singing, enters the building, and circles part way around where the dog has been laid out on the singing bench in the center of the room. He continues until a man taps him on the shoulder to attract his attention and stop him with a suggestion of that he may desire. According to Chief Logan, the first interruption is always a mistake.

Another man interrupts the singer as he goes about the decorated dog. The speaker taps the singer's shoulder. (The voice and text are Chief Logan. The Creator's reply is Simeon Gibson; but Logan continues the song. (Side A, 3)

This is said to be the death chant of the Holder-of-the-heavens.

At last when one guesses, "a decorated dog," which is the word the Creator has been awaiting, he cries "kuh!" This word is the name of the token, the decorated white dog which is presented him by all the people of earth, that becomes his guardian. His dream had called for the name of a certain thing which will protect him. The present is finally sent up to the skyworld on a column of smoke, together with a burnt offering of tobacco.
1) hiyaa' oonenh wa'hononhwai'ya' ne' Tainhiyawa"gih.
2) da naaye' di' newa' de'uiwadoogen naaye' nengen' dayagohe'ikh
3) naaye' nengen' ahonwawenna'haa"gwa' ne' gaonhwenjiagweegi
4) naaye' nengen' ne' a'eena'.

But the Creator replies

5) hiiyah ne' snijiagen naaye' se, ne'
6) ganoo'wen' niyawenhsee'.

Then the Creator goes on singing

7) gowenuude'e ye yegen'en nee'e hegenne.

A voice rises upward.
1) Indeed now he was singing the dream chant the Holder-of-the-heavens.
2) So moreover there is perhaps a certain word which is the one that is awaited
3) and this is his word of protection (guardian) from all of the people of the earth
4) namely this very bow and arrow.

But the Creator replies

5) Not that, do your best, and understand it is
6) Very perplexing how it will turn out.

Then the Creator goes on singing

7) A voice rises upward.
The Trackers Boasting Chant Simeon Gibson INDIVIDUAL CHANTS

The rite of personal chant (adónwen') is ancient with the people of the longhouse, who say it is one of the Four Ceremonies given them by the Creator. There are many, accounts, from Lafitau forward, of Iroquois singing the chant of war, which the Mohawks called Katonrontha. The songs range in character from war chants, through a motley series of ridiculous songs that sometimes have sexual reference, to individual thanksgiving songs for members of one's family or for a ceremonial "friend." Each man has his own set of songs which were those of his maternal family, but some songs pass from father to son, and men and not women sing them. The songs are somewhat the property of certain families and each clan has its own songs which refer only to it and these are sometimes sung at adoptions or when an individual participates in the name of his clan. Adónwen' is the last song which a warrior sings in torture when on the point of death, and each individual takes one with him "on the long trail" to the land of the dead.

The individual stands and sings part of his song, and then hesitatingly places one heel forward, rocks his weight onto his toes while his other foot lags, and then advances in the rhythm of the chant. Thus he traverses the open space in the assembly and returns to his place. With him the men chant in unison, "he' he'," etc., while the women clap their hands in accompaniment.

An Oneida tracker's boasting song.-There is a story of an old Oneida chief who had a boasting chant. Chief John Danforth of Oneidatown used to tell this story, which explains a song coming down from the olden time when the Iroquois were at war with neighboring tribes. According to Simeon Gibson, from whom I had it, the late Dr. Alexander Goldenweiser learned this song during field work in l912 and he liked to sing it.

It seems there was an Oneida warrior and he was a great hunter and tracker of men who had escaped through the brush. He possessed a cane that was a magic pathfinder which enabled him to track a person wherever he escaped regardless of brush, swamps, or thickets. The clever tracker would merely probe about in the bush with his magic cane until it struck a track which he could detect by sniffing from time to time at the point of the cane. Even his voice was magic and whoever heard it crying on his trail would become weak and powerless to escape.

In the longhouse the singer who impersonates the tracker walks along in the usual chant-way, singing and striking about on the floor or ground with a cane. Sometimes lie shades his eyes and looks about at the crowd as if scouting for a man at a great distance. Now and again he sniffs at the point of the cane and pretends to peer about in search of a track. Having found the trail he shouts in rapid succession "hai hai !" Even his voice is magic and whoever hears it becomes weak at once. On discovery the tracker cries "shaaaaaaa!" and points his cane which is supposed to paralyze the proposed victim, some unsuspecting friend who sits in the crowd. Naturally, this is all quite humorous.

Simeon Gibson renders this act to great advantage (Side A, 4)

Spoken text:
1) ónkgenh onenh gohiiya' nengen' engadeno'den' ne' undowasta'
2) nengen'ne' ungwe'daga'yun naaye' ne, adúnwa'.

4) ungwe ungwe 'iyen'se'
5) ye' eheee honiya' he e e'
[Nonsense words in chant pattern.]
5) shaaaaa ! [The discovery.)
[Goes out singing.]
Spoken text:
1) This time now indeed then I shall sing the tracking (song)
2) of the people of old namely the chant.

4) A human a human lurks here about
Individual Thanksgiving Chant Chancey Johnny John Personal thanksgiving.–Nowadays the chants are sung occasionally at ceremonies of adoption but principally twice a year when the rite of chant is celebrated on the third day of the Green Corn Festival and near the end of the Midwinter Festival. Then every man should return thanks to the Creator that he has lived to see the ceremonies again and that so many people have once again returned to renew the faith of their ancestors. If a man cannot sing he may get another singer to supply for him. This is what Chancey Johnny John of Coldspring usually says (Side A, 5):

1) enswátondeek engadennooden' nee' gadennodáhkwa'
2) degadawanyee. heyoendzadaadie'.

hojiden gwanode giinon
howeyo gwanode hiiyaa
hojiden gwanode giinon
honiyah honode hiiyo
honiyah honode yegennoo
honiyah honode hegen hegendi
honiyah gwanode higenne
ho ho a honode hegenno hegendi
honiya gwanode higenne

wa' ! [To which tile crowd replies "waaaaaa . . . ."]
1) You shall all listen to what I am going to sing: the one which I use for singing
2) it goes all over the earth.
Throwing Songs Of Four Individual Medicine Men Chief Joseph Logan MEDICINE SOCIETIES


Hadi'hi"'duus, as the Onondagas call singing the songs of the Medicine Men's Society, is one of the most exciting of Iroquois ceremonies. The songs of 12 to 15 men shaking gourd rattles in unison fill the narrow confines of a log house to overflowing and in the overtones one hears the cries of mystic animals that were the familiars of past generations of shamans. The rites are more or less secret and singing the songs outside of the medicine lodge is still believed by some to bring illness or accidents to the singer who disregards the tabu. Therefore, I consider it a great honor that Chief Joseph Logan, out of consideration of my knowing the ceremony among the Seneca, desired to put down the Onondaga songs for future generations of his own people and for scientific study.

Chief Joseph Logan learned his version of the songs from the late John Echo, a famed singer on the Grand River, and old Dave Skye, and Chief Logan is now the leading singer for the ritual. In recording, he remembered the songs by recalling the sequence of key words which he denominated at the same time on his fingers, doubling a finger as he recalled the name of a song. He preferred to sing them piecemeal, recording a strip or two at a time, lest he omit anything. He thought there should be 50 songs in all, but we came out with about 45 from which a selection was made illustrating the component parts of the ceremony for the album.

The history of the Medicine Society is shrouded in antiquity. According to Chief Logan, the society is descended from an old society of shamans, or medicine men.
In the old times, perhaps a thousand years ago, men of each Iroquois nation had these songs for contesting magic power. Only magicians belonged to this society, and only magicians danced. All the old songs which they used referred to their powers. While they were dancing they demonstrated these powers by "throwing," or "shooting sharp objects," such as "horns" [antler, which gives to part of the ritual the name of "sharp point" (gai"don')], or one would sing "something [like a bear] is running around." The magician would then transform himself into a bear and run around there in the room. Another would make a twig stand of itself in the center of the room while the other medicine men danced around it. Still another would in turn go to the fire and remove red hot stones and juggle them. A man lacking this kind of power could not do this.

Later they decided to abandon these songs. But the old songs kept continually molesting the people who felt compelled to do something about it; and so the old magicians held council. They decided that they cannot abandon the songs, and that they must carry on. They have continued through all the generations that followed. Now only the songs have power. Now only the one who wears the mask has the power to juggle live embers when he is impersonating the ancients. No one any longer tosses hot rocks.
Members are those who have dreamed of the songs or have been cured by the ritual. In holding a feast for the society, the member who wishes to renew his association or the sick person, as the case may be, solicits a member of the opposite half of the tribe to conduct the ceremony; and the conductor receives from the sponsor kernels of corn equal to the number of men he shall invite to the feast. The invited medicine men go where the feast is scheduled on such a night, no matter how severe the weather. If the medicine man is sick himself, he has to offer tobacco in his own fire and explain to the society, the animal familiars who are tutelaries of the society, that he is ill and cannot meet them. At the feast, meanwhile, the conductor appoints one to make a similar invocation enlisting the aid of all the supernatural members to cure the sponsor.

The first part of the ceremony is called "Throwing in a song" (Side A, 6). This part of the record includes the "throwing songs" of four individual medicine men, although sung by Logan; and the individual singing is considered prefatory to the introductory or beginning songs which the leading shaman sings before the Medicine Dance commences.

One side of four clans is leading the ceremony, and the sick person is of the opposite four clans. The leading side furnishes the song. Properly each individual speaks before singing, mentioning the name of the person who is sponsoring the feast. The individual asks the Creator to help the sick person during his illness. Then he sings. This continues until all the medicine men in the leading half have spoken and thrown in a song, then the conductor hands it over the fire to the leader of the sponsor's side and his men sing individually to the last man.

Throwing songs.–Text of individual shaman to his host (Side B, 6).

So now indeed I shall sing for the one who has set down this feast for us. And now moreover I will speak kindly to this one intending to help him, as the Creator has decreed, in order that when this ceremony is over he shall feel well.

1) [Shakes rattle] Da onenh góhiiya' enskenongóhden'
2) nengén ne' songwaniyosgo'yeni. Da onen di' engihwa'nee'ga'
3) nengen'ne' gaya'dagénha' se'awaadon' onenh enwadongoh'da'
4) nengen' skenon' nengen' onsahenónhdonniyon'. Da' nen
5) di' enyenongóhdon'.
Song Text:
6) enyagoya'dagenhaa ne'ho ne'i' agenna'
7) hen'he ganyo' ne'i' engadennooden' hen'enhe :] [repeat] hai'yen'.

Text of second member's song:
8) yohahahi (yohohohi) yohahahii:] [4 times] hai yénh.

Third member's song:
9) hotgon ne'ho joegaa'
10) yowi'inen'en hee heyawinen yowi'innen'en he'enhe :] hai' yénh.

Fourth member's song:
11) hothayonii ha'adakée gahéntenshon' hadakée
12) yowi yowii yowi hi i :] hai' yénh.

The speaker says,
13) Da onenh go'hiiya' nengen' enskaiwayendah'kwa'
14) gadano'den' nengen ne' skanonniya"gwen'.
15) da naaye' di" skasawah'kwa' nengen ne' ongwaena' deyenagaenhe'sta'.

16) 1) wegondaya we'egondaya'a wegondaya yoohinen he é
(a) (b) :] hai yénh.
16) 2) gagwegongi' he'keyadele'a'a[: wa'aga'anonhsayendondye' a'a':]
1) So now right here I shall sing for you
2) who have set down this feast for us. So now moreover I will speak kindly
3) to this one to help her as he [the Creator] said so that when it [the ceremony] is finished
4) this one well he disposed shall be. so now
5) then I shall go through with it.
Song Text:
6) It is going to help her this mine my song
7) possibly if I myself shall sing it.

Third Member's Song:
9) He's a witch that raccoon
10) He has supernatural power, that raccoon.

The next song says, "I never knew that the raccoon was supernatural."
Fourth member's song:
11) Male wolf runs, on the open fields he runs

The speaker says,
13) So now indeed this rests with you
14) to sing this the medicine dance.
15) And moreover it shall commence at the beginning of this our song (and go on) to the end of the song.

16) 2) All my grandchildren's houses stretched out in a row.
Introductory Songs Of The Medicine Man Chief Joseph Logan Beginning Songs.–There follow two of the four introductory songs of the medicine man, and sometimes these seem to be sung before the period of throwing individual songs. This is called "going toward the end of the song."

So now indeed this is up to you to sing this the Medicine Dance. And, moreover, our song shall commence at the beginning and proceed to the very last song. [There shall be no interruptions.]

The song seems to mean, "All my grandchildren's houses extend in a long line." Medicines are grandparents to the people, and the line of successive houses through which the shamans may pass extends some distance.
Beginning Songs Chief Joseph Logan The Medicine Dance.-The second or main part of the ritual (Side A, 7) is the round dance, the so-called Medicine Dance (ganonyáhgwen'). The singers are seated at first for a dozen or more songs, and halfway of the eighteenth song they stand and sing before the benches, and on the twentieth song, the fourth on this side of the album record, the dance begins. The songs run in pairs. A:
1) henhe hojinowa' deyodih-
2) tadyee de'yodih-:]
3) he'enhe :] gwa'heeh.

1) henhe jiistogeli deyodih-
2) tadyee de'yodih:]
3) he'enhe :] gwaheeh.
1) Bugs they are
2) conversing
3) The bugs are conversing.

1) Great white owls are
2) conversing
3) The great white owls are conversing.
Dancing Songs Chief Joseph Logan These two animals are familiars of the Medicine Society. They hear the songs afar and are conversing. Soon they know that they are invited, and they come.

6 gahii'dohon', "sharp point," possibly, is an obscure archaic word which is used as a name for the ceremony. It refers to sharp objects which shamans shoot.
1) [The animals having arrived, the melody changes, and now the songs of the round dance begin:]
gwah ha
yowine ga'a'ayo ho ho :] gwa'heeh.

2) [The round dance starts with this song:]
gahiidohon'6 yowi'ine
[:heyawi'ine yowi'ine he'enhe:] :1 gwa' heeh.
2) Sharp point is moving(?) Onondaga
Magic Songs Chief Joseph Logan 1) wa'ginhen'en wa'ginhen'en
2) hongesagahon'onwe
3) wa'ginhen'en wa'ginhen'hen'en :] gwa'h heeh.
1) I threw it I threw it
2) it lodged in my mouth7
3) I threw it I threw it.
Ending Songs Chief Joseph Logan A:
[These are the last two songs of the ceremony:]
1) yoonenh yoonenh
2) ondehongoh'ta
3) yoonenh yoonenh :] [repeat] gwah heee.

1)YOO yoonenh yoonenh
2) ha'degayendá'hnha'
3) yoonenh yoonenh :] [repeat]
4) engwah hee engwah hee' onen gwaa hee'
5) [spoken:] ganeyos gwanosta' swachina'gen"shon'.
1) Now now
2) It [the ceremony] is over
3) Now now

1) Now now
2) it is finished
5) The steam of cooking has cooled down you shamans.
Marching Or Dream Song For The Winds Joshua Buck THE FALSE-FACE COMPANY

An album of Iroquois music would not be complete without a performance of the maskers who impersonate the original medicine men whose portraits have been done in wood by generations of Iroquois carvers. These wooden masks are well-known collectors' items, and the semiannual rounds of the Society of Faces constitute the most conspicuous feature in Iroquois culture.8 We will not dwell on masks here, but let Joshua "Billy" Buck illustrate the song repertoire of a typical feast for the False-faces (Side A, 8.3).

First is the dream song (ganonhwai'wi') or the so-called marching song when the conductor leads the masked company into the longhouse or a private dwelling. This is the same type of song as is sung at the Midwinter Festival for stirring ashes; it is also called "a disorganized mind," and it appeals to the wind spirits which the masks represent. It is said that no wind ever blows when this song is sung, and that singing it will avert a hurricane.

8For a discussion of this subject, see "Masked Medicine Societies of the Iroquois," by William N. Fenton, Ann. Rep. Smithsonian Inst. for 1940, PP. 397-430, 25 pls., 1941.
1) guwennode'e yoowige hanoo :] [Repeat ad lib.] A voice is rising ...... Iroqouis
Onondaga Address To The Hunchbacks Simeon Gibson Now Simeon Gibson addresses briefly the masked company who have crawled into the longhouse where they eagerly search amid the members for tobacco from which they have smelled the smoke of invocations. Tobacco is the means of communication between man and the supernaturals; in order to get tobacco the False-faces will cure sickness by blowing hot ashes on people's heads (Pl. 7, fig. 2). He tells them to hold, that someone has been appointed to sing for them that they may rejoice with their grandchildren. On the record Gibson speaks so rapidly that the text is much contracted and somewhat shortened. The translation is,
Now right here you stop and listen a little while until we have finished talking, you our grandparents. And now, moreover, one has been appointed to sing your two songs for you that you may rejoice.
The False-faces are very eager and keep up a continual whining and rubbing of rattles on the staves which they carry and they indulge in all sorts of antics to amuse one another and the crowd. While part of this is in the tradition much of it is just fun.
Song Of The Hunchbacks Or False-faces Joshua Buck Next are the dance songs of the common faces, "belonging to the hunchbacks" (hadu'i'ge'ha'), as the Onondagas say. However, some of Billy Buck's songs have Seneca words.

In the small patches of open fields the False-faces travel from house to house when they are on their rounds of the settlement driving out disease.
1) hoii hoi hoi
ho'iyehee he'he' he'en he :] [repeat] hai hai
[Note the moan of the masker, hon'on'on' . . . .]
2) hoii ongwe'e yonwe heyongwe héyonwe.
3) yaa'o gagonhsiyohgoowaa
he'e he' hen'en'en
hee hogonhsayóndii :]
4) hai hai hai
he' he' he'en he
howeni etc.
hai hai hai
5) he'e gahendayen'don'on
he'e hen' :] hai hai [end]
2) Men preeminently men that are genuine [the Iroquois].
3) Mask fine and great
his face is smiling.
The great good mask, etc., has a smiling face, etc.
5) In the scattered clearings
Song Of The Bushy-heads Or Husk-faces Joshua Buck The songs of the Husk-faces or "Bushy-heads" follow. These are individuals wearing masks of braided corn husks and they are supposed to represent beings who at an early time brought garden seeds to the Iroquois. They have great curing power as well, but they are mutes and their songs have little meaning to modern listeners.

hun' hun' hun' hun'ga'yen' :] hai hai

This word possibly means "snow that is lying about," but even this is doubtful. It is just a song. The last song has the same text, but it is sung faster, as the Husk-faces dance at great speed around their staves.
The Iroquois War Dance George and Joshua Buck SONGS OF WAR AND PEACE


Not since 1812 has the longhouse fought a war for its existence, but over the many years Iroquois generations have not forgotten how to dance War Dance. Before they are 6, boys learn to dance to the water drum, and contests are still popular among older men of advancing years. I suppose that War Dance was performed this year (1942) when the Iroquois of New York declared war on the Axis powers. In fact, the Six Nations have asserted that they never made peace with Germany; in World War I the Six Nations of Canada sent a battalion to the western front. Simeon Gibson was a member of that company and he tells how once in a pub in Aldershot he settled an argument between French and English Canadian soldiers as to whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of Canada, by saying, "Neither of you is the original Canadian. Only we Iroquois were original Canadians. Real Canadians can whoop and dance War Dance like this." The proprietor of the pub liked Gibson's demonstration so much and was so pleased to meet a real Iroquois that he ordered drinks on the house, but he first asked Gibson where he was bivouacked. "You know," said Gibson to me, "that man was a gentleman. When I awoke next morning I was in my bed."

Morgan is the authority for the statement that the Iroquois had derived the War Dance from the Sioux after whom the dance is named Wasaa'se'. The words and music do have a decided flavor of the Plains Indians. However, the Iroquois themselves associate the War Dance which they sometimes call eni"je' with the Sun and Thunder, the patrons of war, to whom, whenever a serious drought threatens to destroy their crops, they burn tobacco and implore the Thunderers to come water the gardens and they beseech the Sun not to wither the growing plants, and then they dance wasaa'se'.

The songs are sung by George and Joshua Buck (Side B, 2): George Buck's introductory remarks are in both reservation English and Cayuga. In his own language he says,

onen' ne' dnodeno'den' wasaa'se' enjagon' ne'o'nen' enj adisa' -swatgwe'ni' jigaa'gon'.

Now we two shall sing Warn Dance of olden time as when they used to be fighting in ancient times.

This third song is the first of the dance songs, and the dancers in turning from side to side assume various postures suggestive of combat, and as they strike these postures they come down on both heels at once in time with the drum. Between dances individual speakers strike the floor for attention. Speakers used to recite war records. The late Chief David Skye once said that hearing War Dance always thrilled him because it recalled to his mind the last War party of the Cayuga in 1812.
Introductory songs:

1) weyaweya weheya'a :] [repeat 4 times]
weya ya'a hawiya
weho weheya yaweho weheya hahee wiya' :1 [repeat]
2) yawe'ho goyaweho weheyaa hahee' :] [repeat]
yawe'ho yawe'ho wiheya'a hahee
goyaweho weheyaa heya [repeat]
3) wiyo'a hogine ya'we'hoo hahee
goya howiya' goya howiya' hahee heya' :] [repeat from start]
(he'a hee heya') [on repeat]

For a time the Indian show was an integral part of traveling carnivals and medicine shows which annually visited small towns of western New York and Ontario. Going out among the Whites to take part in activities of this sort, which now includes one-night stands at summer camps, commercial adoptions, and lecture tours, is known among the Iroquois by the single term ga'neho, which stands for "show business." Ga'neho seems to be derived from gáonwan', "boat," plus ne'ho, a demonstrative meaning "here" or "there" depending on the context. Now ga'neho songs are something apart from the songs of the longhouse which are sacred and not to be profaned by commercial use, but show songs apparently include some songs that were formerly associated with more important activities. My Cayuga friends claim that these songs were part of the old Scalp Dance, but that they are now used only by showmen.

The late Chief William Williams of Six Nations Reserve had a troup that accompanied the Cayuga Lacrosse Club on trips, the actors performing between halves of the game. First, a fleeing warrior appears while the drum is beating in the distance, and the fugitive is soon followed by a tracker. Next, during the second song another man enters with a paddle as if paddling a boat, whence the name gaonwan' ne"ho, "a boat here" which has led some to call this the hunting or paddling song, and sometimes the canoeist puts the blade of the paddle in a track and sniffs at the end for scent of the fugitive. During the third song the paddler finds the scent and pursues and scalps the fugitive, and finally, the first tracker returns to help the second dispose of the body. This is all done in pantomime.
1) howeya wehayo howeya
howeya wehayo:] [repeat]
wehayahaa :] [repeat whole three times]
2) heyaho ho'o o'o
gayowaneho'o heya gayowaneho:] [repeat)
heya gayowaneho:] [3 times, and repeat whole]
3) honiya gwanode hanoo:] [4 times and repeat]
4) howajina wehayo howeya
howajina wehayo:] [repeat]
wehayahaa :] [repeat whole 3 times]
Eagle Or Striking Dance Chief Joseph Logan THE EAGLE SOCIETY AND THE STRIKING DANCE

Individuals having large birds as familiars, those who have dreamed of large birds (or chickens nowadays), and individuals who have been cured of "eagle sickness," a neurotic complaint of the shoulders, back, and legs, form a society called "the fan strikers" (hadine'gwá'is), which is a suborder of the medicine company. However, the Eagle Society has a distinct ceremony elaborated around the Eagle or Striking Dance (pl. 8) which is performed in honor of its tutelaries, certain mythical species of giant eagles that wheel in flight high against the sky dome amid clouds. The Seneca call them Dew Eagles or "cloud dwellers" ('o'shada'ge'aa') and attribute to them powers of restoring life to wilting things and to human beings on the very brink of the grave, but among the Cayuga and Onondaga the giant bird is called ha"guks. Among the Iroquois it is believed that the society was founded long ago by a certain youth who in a typical Roc legend was carried off through a hole in the sky to live in the great bird's nest and after a generation away from home he returned to earth astride one of the young birds. The song which he brought back is called "striking a fan song" (gane'gwa"e' gaena' (Onondaga)) or in Seneca, "shaking a fan" (gane"ondaadon'); and the dance appears to be a survival of the ancient calumet dance with which Father Marquette was first welcomed among the tribes living south of the western Great Lakes. The Iroquois acquired a variant of the calumet ceremony during the eighteenth century, and the Eagle Dance is its descendant. To the accompaniment of the water drum and horn rattles, pairs of youths or men, holding a small gourd rattle in the right hand and a feather calumet fan in the left hand, crouch swaying and advance to bend far forward and pick up objects in their mouths and hop from side to side in imitation of birds feeding on the ground. There are still several dancers who can lean over without touching either hand and pick up a coin in their teeth. Near the end of the song, a speaker, usually an older man, strikes a pole to interrupt the song long enough to praise his host or the dancers, or to recite some record of personal achievement or a humorous anecdote. To appease hurt feelings the speaker distributes presents to his victims.

Chief Logan learned these songs from Tom Smoke, a Seneca chief, and his version is very similar to others I have recorded among the Seneca (Side B, 4).

Introductory remarks:

Da onenh go'hiiya' da nengeil' engadeno'den'

So now indeed therefore this I shall sing

nengen' gane'gwa"e' en'tgahsaáwen' tca' diunsawákhkwa'.

the striking a fan starting from the beginning.

The dance begins after the first repeat and continues throughout the song.
1) wahiyoo waahiiyaahaa heya :] [repeat]
wahiya wahiya heya.

2) yonohawee yonohawee yonohawe:] [repeat]
yonohawee yonohawee

3) howeya howiyo'o ah howeya howeyah :] [repeat]
howeyo'o howeya howeya
yahoweya howiyoah howeya howeya:] [DC]

4) weganawee heyoonen'
weganawee heyoonen'en
he'yonen'en wiyonen'en'en :] [repeat]
weganawee heyoonen
heyoonen wiyonen'en'en:] [DC]

5) goyahahoo goyahawe goyaho'o ganadiyawee:] [repeat]
goya'ho'o ganadiyawee :] [DC]

6) hanigondo yooheei
hanigondo ya'a hee
yoohee hanigondo ya'a he'e'eh :] [DC]

Last song when the dancers lay down the feather fans.

7) yowajine'e gonoodiya'awe :] [repeat 3 times]
we'e ya'a hee hya'a heyo'onen' yowajine hahee
we'e ya'a hee' ga'anawe wiyo'onen' :] [DC]

Here the dancers lay down their fans and retire.
The Warriors Stomp Dance Or Trotting Dance Joshua Buck and Simeon Gibson SOCIAL DANCES


This dance which Morgan called the Trotting Dance clearly epitomizes the social history of the eastern Indians. It reaches back from modern Indians in overalls dancing around a stove to speak of old war parties in feathers traveling on expeditions by land and water, and then harps on an ageless theme-a love affair between a young warrior and an older woman who is homely and aggressive. The singer makes fun of fleeting affairs and extols the town of his hosts as being full of attractive unmarried women. The pig's curly tail forms the antiphonal of another euphonious song: "A shoat's tail is tied up," which sounds so well in the song that everyone is amused.

Generally speaking, the woodland tribes shared the habit of forming in single file behind a dance leader who sings the initial song to assemble his followers. The song pattern is an antiphonal between the leader and his helper assisted by all the dancers, who gradually form a queue behind them. With the second song the dance starts around a fire, which is the men's stove in the modern Iroquois longhouses, and the dancers keep the short jog step of the leader who shuffles forward hardly lifting his toes from the ground. They walk between songs and swing into the step again with each new song. As others join the end of the line the file gradually expands to include the whole room and overlap the leader. Then this is "Great Stomp Dance" (ga'da'shotgoowa), a pun on Great Feather Dance, as when "Twenty" Jacobs of Coldspring leads the Six Nations meeting at Tonawanda, for everywhere among the children of the longhouse this dance invariably leads off any social dance, be it a "rubbing of antlers," a reception for visiting chiefs; "pushing off the canoes," a bon voyage party; or a celebration after a wedding.

In their enjoyment of this dance an old chief will sometimes be moved to remind the modern generation of its history. Chief Solon Skye and Jesse Cornplanter of Tonawanda first told me that gada'shot is really an Iroquois dance which goes back to the time when a party on the warpath would customarily break camp by stacking their quivers and arms at the fireside and dance around them behind their leader until the party had gathered momentum for the day's run. The various names for the dance in the several dialects refer to the "quiver bearers" or warriors of the Iroquois longhouse. The songs themselves lend credence to the tale for they describe a traveling party of shouting warriors who are wearing feather headdresses and come paddling a canoe. Here the dancers halfway of the song turn toward the fire and side-step and pretend they are paddling a boat.

Such are the songs of Joshua "Billy" Buck: (Side B , 5)

This last song is a famous composition of Twenty Jacobs of Quaker Bridge on Allegany Reservation whom Billy heard sing at a Six Nations meeting at Sour Springs Cayuga longhouse on Grand River. Twenty's song goes, 'tganaho'na' ohiiyo', meaning that Ohiiyo', or Allegheny River, his home, is full of good-looking unmarried women. So Billy changed it for local consumption around Ohsweken on Six Nations Reserve. The situation implies there is a certain amount of opportunity for youths to meet new girls when they go visiting to other reservations.
Leader Reply

1) wihoo wii:] 14 times]
weha weha :]
hahe hahe :]
ha'a'a ha'a'a :] 13 times]
hahe'ya haheya :1 13 times]

2) yohaweye'eha'a haheyaweha'a :] [8 times]

3) haye'eha'a'a wiyeha'a'a :] [4 times]
wiye'eha'a'a wiyeha'a'a
wiyohawiyeha'a'a wiyeha'a'a :] [DC to end of first line]

4) wigayowaha'ne'e wi'gayowahane :] (repeat 4 times]
yaha a a ha ho wigayowahane :]]

5) hadigawe'nondie'e henongwe'e :] [5 times]
dagastowada'ake'e henongwee [twice, repeat whole and DC to end of first line]

6) yohoonondieha wiyeha'a
yahonondie'eha wiyeha'a :]
yowiganonwiyeha' wiyeha'a :] [repeat]

7) 'tganahóna' 'ohswe'gen' yoweh hiya'a'a
dedjodinyaakon'on yoweh hiya'a'a
wegahhanohiiyo yoweh hiya'a'a [repeat]
wehoononhiiyo yoweh hiya'a'a [DC and repeat]

[End of the dance.]

9 This is one of the old warpath songs.
5) They are paddling a boat those Indians
the are wearing feathers those men9

7) Filled is Ohsweken
with divorced women
filled with good-looking ones
fine-looking ones
Seneca - Onondaga
Corn Song George Buck The Corn Song or Dance (Side B, 1) is one of the dances associated with the food spirits, "the sisters our life sustainers," as the Iroquois call them, and its performance as I observed it at Onondaga longhouse on Grand River occurs on the last day of the Midwinter
Festival at a ceremony known as "songs of all kinds" (gaena'suil'ah). The song is an antiphonal between the leader and his assistant who both carry horn rattles which they beat in the palm of the left hand, and my notes say that the dancers form two parallel lines behind them. All the dancers who know how join in the refrain. In step it is a stomp dance, and among the Seneca I have observed a single file of dancers as in the preceding dance. Corn Song usually comes toward the end of a program of Seneca social dances. The men commence and the women enter any time. The course of the dance is counterclockwise like other Iroquois dances, but Seneca dance leaders of Corn Dance sometimes wind in and out around benches and the fire in figures, at times even going momentarily clockwise. The dance is sometimes called Bean Dance and its complexity has some association with the growing habits of beans.

These are the songs of George Buck of Lower Cayuga Band on Six Nations Reserve.

1) yo'owajinee yoowajine yowajine :] [repeat]
yo ho

2) heyowine weha' :] [repeat]
yo ho

3) yodawa' yodawahiyoo hai haa:] [repeat]
yoo ho

4) yodawa yodawa hiyoo haii haa :] [repeat 5 times]
yo hoo

5) yonenne gayonenhiiyoo :] [repeat)
yo haa'

6) yodajiya hanewa he'yo'oho yonenne:]
weya'a ahe'ehe yonenne haii ha'a'a :] [DC]
Womans Shuffle Dance George and Joshua Buck Enough has already been said of mutual aid and societies of singers who go on composing new sets of Women's Shuffle Dance songs. The following group which George and Joshua Buck sing (Side B, 6) are splendid examples of recent composition. The instruments, of course, are the water drum and horn rattle.

In the Women's Dance (Pl. 9, fig. 2), when either the old-time songs for the food spirits or the modern songs are sung, the drummer who is first singer sings the introductory part alone which is once through the whole song, and then his helpers, from 2 to 20, repeat the song vibrating their horn rattles in time with the drummer's double or quadruple time. After the first few introductory songs, the dancers commence dancing when the body of singers join the drummer and they continue dancing to the end of the song. The singers continue song after song, but usually not more than a group of seven or eight songs, which one of the singer's associates, when there are two drummers, will repeat after him so that each song is gone over twice---as long as the dancers appear eager to continue. When the drummer is tired or the women signify their intention of quitting, the drummer beats twice to dismiss the dancers.
1) lead: heya hoo : finis
ganonhayohane ganonhayohane
heya he en ho nohayoo
ganonhayohane heya he en ho
nohayoo ga'enawiya' :] [DC]

2) lead: heya ho' : finis
nonwiyo hehoo haina howe haweyo hane
[:nonwiyo hehoo haina howe:]
ga'enawiya' :] [DC]

3) lead: [heya] yo'o : finis
ganohenyo howiya yohowiyo hinen'en
nonhayo ganohenyo howiya hinenen
ga'enawiya' :] [DC]

4) lead: [heya yo] : finis
yo'o yohowine yohowine
yo'o ho'ohowine yohowine
yo ho hawiya hinen ga'enawiya' :] [DC]

5) lead: [heya hoo] : finis
yo'o heya he en ho'oo heya he ho
hawiyo hinee heya heya ho
hawiya hinen ga'enawiya' :] [DC]