Omaha tribal songs fill the web

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Anyone in the world now has access to traditional Omaha Nation songs and language available over the Internet.

The Omaha Indian Tribe from Nebraska, with the aid of American Folklife Center, is using the World Wide Web to help preserve their language and songs.

Its a real positive tool, said Arnie Harlan, a tribal councilman Its one way to preserve our culture.

The American Folklife Center, a program of the National Library of Congress, included its archives of the Omaha in February and is already receiving a lot of attention. It includes 44 recordings documented on ancient wax cylinder recorded from 1895 to 1897 as well as present-day recordings.

The response has been amazing, said Alan Jabboure, former director of the American Folklife Center. Its a chance to share our collection and use the technology to do it.

Included in the collection are interviews with Omaha tribal members that provide information about the traditional songs performed.

Jabboure said Francis La Flesche, second son of Omaha Chief Joseph La Flesche, and Alice Cunningham, an early Native American anthropologist, made the oldest recordings in the collection. They were the first to document the history of the Omaha tribe.

The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 but has recordings that date back to 1890s and includes Bureau of Ethnology recordings on wax cylinder.

We have a tremendous sampling of recording from almost every tribe in the country, said Jabboure. He said the catalogue of recordings at the Library of Congress has been used extensively by schools, scholars and anyone interested in Native American culture.

What is of great interest on the Omaha recordings are the similarities between the songs recorded more than 100 years ago and those performed today. Harlan said there aren't too many revisions in the songs or language.

Jabboure said that although the web site has proven successful, there are no immediate plans to include other tribes.

The site can be reached at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/omhhtml/

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