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Nature volume 113, pages 800801 (31 May 1924) | Download Citation



MANDAN Music.—Bulletin 80 of the Bureau of American Ethnology is a study of Mandan and Hidatsa music by Frances Densmore, who has already published careful accounts of the music of the Chip-pewa, Sioux, and Ute. One hundred and ten songs of. these two tribes of North Dakota Indians are recorded, of which the greater number are connected with the ritual of societies. Although the life of the Mandan and the Hidatsa, both of Siouan stock, has been blended for many years, each tribe has, to a great extent, preserved its own songs. The Mandan, however, frequently use the Hidatsa language to their own tunes because it is easier to sing. The instruments used are drums, rattles, and whistles of various types with specific uses. The several groups of songs, whether connected with ceremonies, legends, or tribal warriors, differ in melodic and rhythmic peculiarities. The Indian asserts that “he can tell the kind of song when he hears it.” Most of the songs are said to have been received from supernatural beings or animals, and are believed to have “supernatural power.” The oldest songs belong to the societies which were organised by “Good Fur Robe,” the first corn priest, a culture hero, who established certain organisations and customs for the good of the tribe.

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