These stories were collected during three weeks at the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota in June, 1931, and on a later visit of ten days in September, 1932, to check up results. They were all taken down from two informants, Bear's Arm for the Hidatsa, Ben Benson for the Mandan, and, unless otherwise stated, were interpreted by Arthur Mandan. They supplement in an interesting way the stories collected previously from the same and other informants and published in 1930 in number 10 of the Vassar College Folklore Publications. In this later collection the relation of the mythology to ceremonial is distinctly brought out. Bear's Arm himself explained that as these old things were passing he was willing to have them written down lest they be lost. The breakdown of native religious custom, however, has not impaired the strong sense of inherited possession and this was constantly evidenced in the reluctance of my informant to relate stories which bore upon ceremonies not strictly within his possession and his refusal even to talk about ceremonial customs of an esoteric character in which he had no inherited right or for which he had made no proper purchase. Songs, too, of a sacred character, that is, which were regarded as having the power of a charm, were never given, although the narrator intimated that they were purchasable under proper conditions. I had the impression that the idea of purchase and that of inherited possession in these ceremonial practices had gone hand in hand, so that the informant was not merely making a commercial bargain for their transference but was fulfilling a social requirement enforced by tradition and rendered sacred by the sanction of the patron spirit of the ceremony who is honored in the purchase.

 

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Ceremonies of the Mandan - Hidatsa - M W Beckwith 1932

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