The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero and loosely based on legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabeg) and other Native American peoples contained in Algic Researches and additional writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, the poem is very much a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition, although Longfellow insisted, "I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends."
Longfellow had originally planned on following Schoolcraft in calling his hero Manabozho, the name of the Ojibwe trickster-transformer in use along the south shore of Lake Superior at the time,The Song unfolds a legend of Hiawatha and his lover, Minnehaha. The poem closes with the approach of a birch canoe to Hiawatha's village, containing "the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face." Hiawatha welcomes him joyously and the "Black-Robe chief"
Told his message to the people,
Told the purport of his mission,
Told them of the Virgin Mary,
And her blessed Son, the Saviour.
Hiawatha and the chiefs accept their message. Hiawatha bids farewell to Nokomis, the warriors, and the young men, giving them this charge: "But my guests I leave behind me/Listen to their words of wisdom,/Listen to the truth they tell you." Having endorsed the Christian missionaries, he launches his canoe for the last time westward toward the sunset, and departs forever.