STORY OF THE WE-TO´N SONG. as told by Alice Fletcher 1900
Many Indian tribes believed it possible for one person to affect another through the power of the will. This belief gave rise to peculiar customs and to a class of songs called, in the Omaha tongue, We´-ton, composed and sung by women for the sole purpose of exerting this power for the benefit of absent warriors.
Unless the village was attacked, women did not take active part in war. When the men went forth on a long journey to meet the enemy, the women remained at home, attending to domestic duties. Their thoughts, however, were with the absent ones; and, under the incentive of the belief in will power, they would gather in groups at the lodge of the Leader of the war party, and in the hearing of his family would sing a We´-ton song, which should carry strength to the far-away warriors and help them to win the battle.
The words of these songs do not reveal the purpose for which they were sung, it being one of the peculiarities of the Indian never to expatiate upon that which to him is apparent. The gathering of the women at the lodge of the Leader of the war party, the united action in singing a song never used but for one purpose, made any explanatory words seem unnecessary. The distinctive mission of the song was to reach the absent man, who, far from home, was suffering hardship and facing danger. Upon him the singers fixed their thoughts, and to him sent strength by their power of will. The words always referred to the difficulties that confronted the warrior, and promised him success and victory. They were not addressed to any visible audience.
Many years ago a large party of warriors were out on a dangerous expedition for the purpose of recapturing some property stolen by an implacable enemy. There seemed little hope for their safe return, and great apprehension was felt in many a tent. One evening, as the moon rose, round and clear, over the wide rolling prairie, a group of women moved in single file to the lodge of the Leader of the war party, upon whom rested the responsibility of the expedition.
The tent stood dark against the evening sky, revealing the anxiety within, which had let the blazing fire die to smoldering embers. At the door the women paused, and across the stillness of the night they sent forth this song, fraught with their united determination to compel victory for the absent men.
“All the tribes shall hear of you,” they sang. “Put forth your strength. Truly this shall come to pass.”
Out of the silent tent emerged the Leader’s wife, bearing in her arms gifts in acknowledgment of sympathy given and of succour sent.
And, as the women sang, “truly it came to pass.” In due time the men returned triumphant, after many hair-breadth escapes, with not one of their number missing.
I was fascinated by this story, and found myself re-considering the idea of the Great Cloud of Witnesses and the prayer of the Spirit and the Bride….”COME LORD JESUS” for the day when our hearts and minds are set upon Him, and he answers our cry and truly it comes to pass”…
Heb 12:1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
I can almost hear them praying for us…”come on, truly it will come to pass…” Oh, to finish well. That is my heart’s desire.