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A little more background...

Longfellow claimed that, while at college (Bowdoin), he read some works by John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder, a missionary who worked among the Indians of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 1810s, which had an impact on him. 

He was also moved by a visit of Black Hawk to Boston -- Longfellow saw  him in the Boston Common in the 1830s.

There was a musical treatment of the Hiawatha story soon after Longfellow's book hit the shelves.  Robert Stoepel's Hiawatha: an Indian Symphony premiered in 1858.  Another musical treatment was Arthur Foote's The Farewell of Hiawatha in 1888.

Dignity, always dignity.