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Music of the First Nations

Tradition and Innovation in Native North America

Tara Browner

Publication Year: 2009

This unique anthology presents a wide variety of approaches to an ethnomusicology of Inuit and Native North American musical expression. Contributors include Native and non-Native scholars who provide erudite and illuminating perspectives on aboriginal culture, incorporating both traditional practices and contemporary musical influences. Gathering scholarship on a realm of intense interest but little previous publication, this collection promises to revitalize the study of Native music in North America, an area of ethnomusicology that stands to benefit greatly from these scholars' cooperative, community-oriented methods._x000B__x000B_Contributors are T. Christopher Aplin, Tara Browner, Paula Conlon, David E. Draper, Elaine Keillor, Lucy Lafferty, Franziska von Rosen, David W. Samuels, Laurel Sercombe, and Judith Vander.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Music in American Life

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: Studying First Nations and Inuit Music

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pp. 1-6

In countless ways, the study of North American indigenous musical cultures by Westerners has been a crucial element in establishing ethnomusicology as a discipline distinct from historical musicology. Early ethnologists such as Alice Fletcher, Francis Densmore, James Mooney, and Jesse Walker Fewkes laid the foundations for studying music in its cultural context...

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1. Iglulik Inuit Drum-Dance Songs

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pp. 7-20

This article discusses the traditional musical style that dominates the Inuit from the Arctic East to West: the drum-dance song, or pisiq (plural pisiit).1 The syllabic a-ya-ya, which appears in the text of drum-dance songs from Alaska to Greenland, is used today to designate the whole of the song as well...

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2. Musical Expressions of the Dene: Dogrib Love and Land Songs

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pp. 21-33

The respected Sahtú Dene elder George Blondin concludes his book of stories by stating, “The important values of Dene—respect for the land and respect for one another—will endure, both here in Denendeh and all over the world” (1990: 246). Those primary values are reinforced within Dene society by means of certain songs that can be called in English “land songs” and “love...

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3. The Story of Dirty Face: Power and Song in Western Washington Coast Salish Myth Narratives

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pp. 34-53

Stories and songs have been part of the rich cultural life of Pacific Northwest indigenous communities for many generations. Storytellers in traditional and contemporary contexts entertain and instruct both children and adults by evoking a lively world of characters, places, and events. Their narratives...

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4. Drum, Songs, Vibrations: Conversations with a Passamaquoddy Traditional Singer

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pp. 54-66

The Passamaquoddy (Peskotomuhkati) and Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) are closely related but politically independent peoples who share very similar languages. They are historically part of the Wabanaki Alliance together with the Abenaki, Penobscot, and Mi’kmaq nations. These tribal nations straddle the national...

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5. Identity, Retention, and Survival: Contexts for the Performance of Ntaive Choctaw Music

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pp. 67-91

As the current revival of interest in American Indian music expands our knowledge about expressive behavior in contemporary Native American societies, music is being recognized by more and more researchers as a viable part of tribal cultures. Because of this increase in scholarly attention, brought...

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6. "This Is Our Dance": The Fire Dance of the Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache

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pp. 92-112

The Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache are their Fire Dance. That is to say, the dance represents them as a collective people because it bears the marks of their culture, history, and identity. The Fire Dance expresses their religious outlook while simultaneously celebrating their exuberance....

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7. The Creative Power and Style of Ghost Dance Songs

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pp. 113-130

The 1890 Ghost Dance, a religious movement originating among the Northern Paiute in Nevada, quickly spread eastward to many tribes on the northern and southern plains. It is easy to imagine the appeal of the religion and...

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8. An Acoustic Geography of Intertribal Pow-wow Songs

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pp. 131-140

At modern-day intertribal pow-wows, there are two distinctive regional singing styles commonly referred to by participants and observers as “Northern” and “Southern.” Of the two, Southern singing, the conventional style of Oklahoma, is the most similar to the traditional performance practices...

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9. Singing Indian Country

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pp. 141-160

In the song “Indian Cowboy,” Midnite Ethelbah, lead singer of the band Apache Spirit, delivers one of the more famous lines in contemporary Native American country music: “I don’t know how it happened, but I’m feeling kind of glad / I’m an Indian cowboy, and being both can’t be so bad.”1 The rhythm...

List of Contributors

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pp. 161-164


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pp. 165-171

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090653
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252022210

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Music in American Life