The Song of Hiawatha is based on the legends and stories of many North American Indian tribes, but especially those of the Ojibway Indians of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They were collected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the reknowned historian, pioneer explorer, and geologist. He was superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan from 1836 to 1841. Schoolcraft married Jane, O-bah-bahm-wawa-ge-zhe-go-qua (The Woman of the Sound Which the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky), Johnston. Jane was a daughter of John Johnston, an early Irish fur trader, and O-shau-gus-coday-way-qua (The Woman of the Green Prairie), who was a daughter of Waub-o-jeeg (The White Fisher), who was Chief of the Ojibway tribe at La Pointe, Wisconsin. Jane and her mother are credited with having researched, authenticated, and compiled much of the material Schoolcraft included in his Algic Researches (1839) and a revision published in 1856 as The Myth of Hiawatha. It was this latter revision that Longfellow used as the basis for The Song of Hiawatha.
"At the door on summer evenings Sat the little Hiawatha; Heard the whispering of the pine-trees, Sounds of music, words of wonder . . ." The infectious rhythm of The Song of Hiawatha has captured the ears of millions. Once drawn in, they've stayed to hear about the young brave with the magic moccasins, who talks with animals and uses his supernatural gifts to bring peace and enlightenment to his people. America's most popular nineteenth-century poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow devoted himself to providing his country with a national mythology, poetic tradition, and epic forms. Known and loved by generations of schoolchildren for its evocative storytelling, his 1855 classic is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature, combining romance and idealism in an idyllic natural setting.
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