In 1855, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published the epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, which is a fictional account of the childhood and life of one Native American, Hiawatha. The poem takes place on the shores of Lake Superior and details Hiawatha’s love for his grandmother, his people, and the natural world. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was probably the most popular American poet of his time and The Song of Hiawatha remains a beloved American poem. The real Hiawatha was a great diplomat and chief among the Iroquois Indians. Born around 1525, Hiawatha belonged to the Onondaga tribe, a tribe that belonged to the powerful Iroquois nation. Even though the tribes in the Iroquois nation spoke the same language and shared similar culture, they were constantly at war with one another. Hiawatha wanted peace and worked to unite the tribes.
Questions and Answers
Question: Who was Longfellow’s inspiration for his poem, Hiawatha?
Answer: Hiawatha is based on Chippewa (Ojibway) legends as recorded by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and John Tanner. Longfellow was also inspired by an Ojibway chief who stayed at his home.
Visit PBS to watch a video about Henry Longfellow’s epic poem, Hiawatha.
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Declan, Tobin. " Hiawatha Native Indian Facts for Kids - ." American History for Kids, Aug 2017. Web. 21 Aug 2017. < http://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/native-american-profiles-hiawatha/ >.
Tobin, Declan. (2017). Hiawatha Native Indian Facts for Kids -. American History for Kids. Retrieved from http://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/native-american-profiles-hiawatha/