Farewell Songs

"Death-Doing Songs" (T'e'ųra Nąwąra). He calls out for men to join him, and anyone who wishes to become a member of his warparty will follow him through the village. Those who have joined the warparty tell all the people who have assembled how the Old Ones had urged them to die in battle, and to bring home war honors and trophies.

These songs, which tend to be in chiastic form to begin with, are framed by a whoop given while patting the mouth (the typical battle shout of the upper midwest).1

Farewell Song I

I think that he would speak the truth.

To these warleaders, he has something that he says.

I think that he would speak the truth.

Hocąk Text
Híske wežéži, yaréną.
Truth he speaks,* I hope.†
*the suffix -jeji expresses the optative mood ("would, might").
yareną usually means "I think, believe."

Tácų wągenągre,* wažą aną́gere.
Warleaders, [something] he says.
*the text has tácų wañkenañgre.

Híske wežéži, yaréną.
Truth he tells, I hope.

Farewell Song II

I think of myself as being like these dogs,

because I am a warleader.

I think of myself this way.

Hocąk Text
Šųgeną́gere* žéske hitanąkik'įna,
Those dogs like I think of myself,
*the text has cuñkenáñgere.

tocų́kera wągánįge.*
[because] I am a warleader.
*the text has docúñkera wañgániñge.

Žéske hitanąkik'įna.
Thus, I think of myself.

Farewell Song III

Again I bring it to mind already.

The warpath is something that has been a long time.

Again I desire.

Hocąk Text
Žigé yárageníną.
Again I desire it.
*< hi-ha-ra-geni-ną, where -ha-, "I," is infixed in the stem hira, which means "to mind, to be concerned about" (Marino). The suffix -geni, seems to mean the same as -ginį, "already."

Wažą s'įp'anaína, tocų́kera.
Something [that has been] a long time, the warpath.

Žigé yáreną.
Again I desire.

Farewell Song IV

It is said that also even he will disappear.

Even the warleader will disappear.

Hocąk Text
Ga aíreške xawánįkjanéną.*
Even that they say [also] he will disappear.
*the text has xawániñkšanèną.

Tocų wągerareške* xawánįkjanéną.†
Even the warleader he will disappear.
*the text has docų wuñkerarëške.
†the text has xawániñkšaneną.

Commentary. "he would speak the truth" — the warleader must go off someplace and appeal to the spirits for guidance and success on the warpath. This is done while he fasts. His absence, on a more pragmatic level, may also be occasioned by scouting the enemy in order to frame a successful attack plan. Such plans must be almost foolproof, since it was considered a disgrace for a warleader to come back having lost even a single warrior in the fight. In such cases, the warleader might choose never to return to his people at all. Therefore, it was incumbent upon the warleader to have thoroughly researched his plan, and to have gained the support of the spirits in its execution. Consequently, when he returned and called for a warpath, his words must have powerful backing and inspire confidence in the consensus of other experienced warleaders. Indeed, the Peace Chief (in the Thunder Clan) exercised the final judgement on the merit of the warleader's declaration of the destiny of his warpath. If the Peace Chief did not think that the warleader's words were true, then he would simply place the peace pipe down across his path, and the warpath would be blocked. No attempt to circumvent this was tolerated. Therefore, when a warleader spoke of his warpath, his words had to be trusted as true by those who joined him.

"warleaders" — the basic term is tocą wąk, "man of the warpath." He is a man of proven ability in war and of very great status. If the warleader were to be killed, it would be a great disgrace to the warparty, which is morally obliged to die with him. He rarely if ever participates in the actual fighting, rather like a modern day general. He has absolute authority, appointing those who are to go out to hunt, or to scout, and those who will form the actual assault group. His nephews (sister's sons) are usually his warbundle bearers. He stands in contradistinction to the Peace Chief, who never goes to war, but who possesses veto power over any warparty.

"like these dogs" — what is meant is that the warleader values his life as no more than that of a dog. The chief role of the dog, beyond its practical values in hunting, guarding, and towing, is as a sacrifice. The dog, whose death almost always comes as a sacrifice to Disease Giver and other deities, makes him a model for the sacrifice of warriors in battle who die to save the people from those external forces that threaten their existence. It is precisely in that context that the dog's life becomes cheap. Indeed, the dog is humanized and given such status that its sacrifice becomes the counterpart and substitute for a human sacrifice. The warleader's canine allusion is a reference to an unmediated human sacrifice.

"he will disappear" — a euphemism for being killed in battle. If the warleader falls, no one in his warparty would be expected to survive such a catastrophe. Therefore, the song recognizes that from time to time whole warparties are rubbed out, but to the glory of all those who thus perished in the defence of the people.

Songs. Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 2), Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 3), Buffalo Dance Songs, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Returning, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Starting Out, Clan Song, Bear Clan, Song of the Youngest, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, The Four Songs of Hojanoka, Clan Songs—Deer Clan, Clan Songs—Wolf Clan, Clan Songs—Wonáǧire Wąkšik Clan, The Crawfish's Song, Duck Song, Farewell Songs, The Four Services Songs, Grandfather Sparrow's Rain Songs, Grizzly Bear Songs, Hare's Song to Grasshopper, Hare's Song to the Wągepanįgera, Hare's Song to Wildcat, Hawk's Song, Heroka Songs, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Little Fox's Death Song, Little Fox's Death Song (for the Warpath), Little Fox's Tail Song, Love Song I (female), Love Song II (female), Love Song III (female), The Mouse Song, Nightspirit Songs, The Quail's Song, Redman's Song, Slow Song of the Heroka, Soldier Dance Songs, Song for Calling the Buffalo, Song from the Water, Song from the Water (King Bird), The Song of Bluehorn's Sister, Hocąk Text — The Song of Sun Caught in a Net, The Song of the Boy Transformed into a Robin, Song of the Frog to Hare, Song of the Thunder Nestlings, The Song of Trickster's Baby, Song to Earthmaker, The Song to the Elephant, The Sun's Song to Hare, Three Warrior Songs, Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 1), Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 2), Turtle's Four Death Dance Songs, Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 1), Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 2), Twins, Ghost's Song (The Two Brothers), Twins, the Songs of Ghost and Flesh, Twins, Song of the Father-in-Law, Victory Song, Wailing Song, Warrior Song about Mącosepka, What a Turtle Sang in His Sleep, Wolf-Teasing Song of the Deer Spirits. Songs in the McKern collection: Waking Songs (27, 55, 56, 57, 58) War Song: The Black Grizzly (312), War Song: Dream Song (312), War Song: White Cloud (313), James’ Horse (313), Little Priest Songs (309), Little Priest's Song (316), Chipmunk Game Song (73), Patriotic Songs from World War I (105, 106, 175), Grave Site Song: "Coming Down the Path" (45), Songs of the Stick Ceremony (53).


1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 337.