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Native American Music and Living Legends

Author: Cynthia Cozette Lee

School/Organization: Middle Years Alternative

Year: 2014

Seminar: Native American Voices: The People – Here and Now

Grade Level: 5

Keywords: History, biographies, Native American music, traditional, crossover, contemporary, percussion instruments

School Subject(s): Music, American History

This curriculum unit was created to give students a panorama view of the Native American experience in music which is vast and far reaching. The curriculum unit will be divided into multiple lessons. The first lesson begins with a discussion of the history of the Native American culture and music in the United States through listening to traditional songs and contemporary cross-over music. The Spotlight on Living Legends section provides the students a chance through guided instruction and discussion to read interviews conducted by Dr. Cynthia Lee and the biographies of Vaughnda Hilton, a Native American Seminole/Blackfoot musician, Denise Bright Dove Dunkley, a Lenni-Lenape artist and Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, a non-Native American scholar who all live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. The lessons on percussion instruments highlight instruments made by Onondaga music craftsman, Mark Barfoot, who has made hand-crafted instruments for many contemporary musicians like the world renowned songwriter and social activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Mr. Barfoot’s biography will provide the students with an understanding that the music sound of instruments in the Native American culture is closely linked to the natural elements of nature. In the final lesson the students will create original songs and poems as tributes to today’s Native American youth. The students will perform their compositions on their own hand-crafted percussion instruments.

Download Unit: Lee-Cynthia-unit.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Rationale

As a teacher I have often seen the Native American history being overlooked or distorted in the general curriculum programs. Recently when I covered a history class for the absent social studies teacher I was disheartened to view in the student textbook stereotypical photographs of Native Americans and only a few pages of one chapter dedicated to history of the Native American. In addition, of the dozens of music textbooks I have viewed, usually only one or two Native American songs are included from hundreds of songs in the book. Consequently, through these outdated or limited curriculum guides the American youth is exposed to stereotypes and false images of Native Americans and their music.

Consequently, there is a great need for our students to learn the real story of the Native Americans and learn to respect the Native Americans’ music, culture and traditions. This unit is created for students to learn about the music and cultural traditions of the Native Americans, both past and present. The unit is also created to assist students with acquiring factual knowledge, separating what is myth and what is real. Out of respect for the culture the students will be composing original poems and songs in tribute to the Native American youths of today accompanied on hand-made instruments created by the students. In addition, a spotlight on a living Native American musician, artist or scholar or a non-Native American with expertise on Native American traditions will be included in the unit.

My great-grandfather was a slave who fought as a soldier in the American Civil War 1863-1865. Both of my great-grandmothers were Native American descendents. One of my great-grandmothers was of the Lenape origin born in Delaware and the other was of Cherokee Indian origin born in Georgia. Because of my diverse background I can perceive the dichotomy of being a Native American in our society, both loved and hated. Sometimes the experience is happy and jubilant and other times it is tragic and sad.

This cross-curriculum unit titled Native American Music and Living Legends is designed to assist middle school students in grades 5 through 8 with learning about Native American music and cultural traditions of some of the tribal nations. In addition, Native American current social and political themes will be discussed to better understand contemporary music trends of Native American youth.

This cross-curriculum unit will not only contain discussions about Native American music but include the history of Native American people, some ceremonial traditions involving song and dance and focus on contemporary artists and scholars I met through the Native American Voices program at University of Pennsylvania. Highlighted in an interview Spotlight on Native American Living Legends section are a Native American musician, composer and dancer, Vaughnda Hilton, founder of Native Nations Dance Theater. In addition, a Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape artist, Denise Bright Dove Dunkley, will be highlighted in an interview and a scholar and caretaker of Native American artifacts, Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, anthropologist will also be interviewed. This section is very important because today we need to learn about Native Americans who are living in our own Delaware Valley. Also, we need to learn about non-Native Americans who are influenced by the Native American culture and have made it their mission in life to honor, respect and preserve the artifacts and traditions of the Native Americans. This curriculum unit will link with the prescribed School District of Philadelphia music curriculum program because it will include the following skills the students will perform:

  • Perform a variety of songs from diverse genres and cultures, using acceptable tone quality, good intonation and clear diction in world languages
  • Perform individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres.
  • Play, in classroom groups or performing ensembles, music of diverse genres, styles and cultures with expression appropriate to the work performed.
  • Improvise rhythmic and harmonic accompaniments to songs and recorded music.

Objectives

The students will be able to determine three main objectives about this unit. First, students will be able to identify supporting details about Native American history and music in order to determine the main ideas or central concepts of the unit. Second, students will be able to combine many facts or clues from the text with prior knowledge and/or experience in order to draw appropriate conclusions. Third, students will be able to identify and analyze musical elements in order to draw conclusions about the music.

To address the first and second objectives, students need to evaluate their resources to ensure the source used to describe or interpret Native American culture and music gives a factual and reliable description and does not distort and stereotype Native American culture and music. Many traditions of the Native American have been distorted by the European American culture because of their lack of knowledge of Native American traditions.

In regards to the third objective, we have to be careful that we do not continue these myths or distortions. Therefore, if we use the European approach to analyzing the music elements to Native American music we may incorrectly decide to use terms such as “primitive” or “simple melodies” which downplays the beautiful, mesmerizing, melancholy sounds we hear today in listening to traditional Native American music.

Music stems from the natural sounds of nature in traditional Native American music. The rattles may be constructed from turtle shells. The drum can be created from animal hide and wood. Depending on the natural elements available to the Indian the flute could be made from various woods. With some Native American nations, the drum represents the heartbeat or soul of a people or village. In addition, with some Native American nations, at social or ceremonial gatherings, the drums and vocals were traditionally performed only by the men. However, in contemporary times during tribal and inter-tribal ceremonies the females may perform vocals and percussion instruments.

Strategies

This curriculum unit will be divided into multiple lessons and give a panorama view of the Native American music experience for the student. Each lesson will have multiple objectives. Instead of focusing on only one specific tribal nation or tradition the mini-lessons will provide differentiated instruction strategies on various aspects of the Native American music experience from Native Americans belonging to different tribal nations. Throughout all the lessons, collaborative learning strategies can be implemented in pairs, small and large groups. Each lesson will start or end with the students learning to perform a traditional Native American song. Each lesson will begin with a Do Now and vocabulary list and include a What Do You Hear activity.

The first lessons emphasis will be on the student learning the true history of the Native Americans through direct and guided instruction practices by the teacher. The students will read articles and informational text on the history of the Native Americans and on famous Native American musicians like Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Canadian-American Cree musician and activist. In addition, through using multimedia literacy, the students will view videos or films highlighting the Native American’s culture and music experience. The third lesson will be the students reading a series of interviews conducted by Dr. Cynthia Lee with musicians, artists and scholars who live in the Philadelphia area in order for the students to understand the Native American’s cultural music experience is alive and thriving in our society. This activity uses explicit instruction through awareness, explanation and application strategies. In the fourth lesson the students will learn about traditional music percussion instruments, their use and how to make them by explicit instruction. During this lesson students will apply their knowledge of percussion instruments by creating their own hand-crafted percussion instruments.

The final lessons will include the strategies of guided instruction, modeling and gradual release in order for the students to learn. The classroom activities will include the students through gradual release connecting the past traditions to the present by creating their own songs and musical instruments in tribute to Native American youths.

Student will also be able to learn the final lessons through informational text and video films how Native American contemporary music has blossomed into various art forms including classical, jazz, rock, country and western and hip-hop styles of music. The student should be able to see how the development of the Native American Music Awards and other venues such as Canyon Records has helped preserve and provide great significance to the music contributions of Native American music. Finally, the student should be able to create their own original songs and poems accompanied by percussion instruments hand-crafted and made by the students.

Classroom Activities

This unit on Native American Music and Living Legends by C. C. Lee can be completed in up to 10 multiple lessons. The duration of each lesson is 60 minutes. The lessons can be taught in any order. However, I plan to teach my lessons in the following sequence.

Day 1 – Native American History and Traditional Songs

The teacher will guide the students through the true history of the Native American highlighting the true story of Pocahontas in contrast to the Disney musical film version of Pocahontas. An overview of the history of the Native Americans during pre-colonial times, during colonial times and after colonial times up until contemporary times should be discussed through guided instruction. Lessons on Native American languages and state name origins are useful for this lesson. Students need to read and analyze key details of interviews by Dr. Lee with Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, anthropologist, and Vaughnda Hilton, Native American musician, composer and dancer, in order to learn about contemporary issues of Native Americans. The lesson should begin and end with a Native American traditional song performance by the students taught by the teachers. The lesson should always include Pair to Pair – partner or small group activities. Graphic organizers on the readings and song analysis should be used. By the end of the lesson through gradual release methods the students should be able to complete the activity independently.

  • Students will be able to identify supporting details about Native American history and music in order to determine the main ideas or central concepts of the Native American history and traditional songs.
  • Students will be able to perform Native American traditional songs individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres.

 

Vocabulary: steady beat, ostinato, melody, Indian sign language, Pocahontas, Powhattans

Materials Needed:  Songs are 1.“Go My Son” from www.gomyson.com;  2. “Navajo Happy Song” from http://musicnotes.net/SONGS/03-NAVAJ.html;  3. “Steady As A Beating Drum” from Pocahontas Disney musical; “Disney musical film – “Pocahontas”. Books  are 1. Treuer, A. (1984). What is the real story of Pocahontas. In Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask (p. 35). St. Paul, MN: Historical Society Press. 2. Fletcher, A. (1915, 1994).  Indian games & dances with native songs. Boston,  MA: C.C. Brichard.  Interviews (see appendices) with Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, anthropologist and Vaughnda Hilton – Director of Native Nations Dance Theater.

Day 2 – Native American Contemporary and Crossover Music

The teacher will guide the students through contemporary and crossover music by Native Americans and non-Native Americans. Students need to gather information online from the Native American Music Awards association and be able to explain the different music styles, genres and categories the awards are given in each year for Native American Music. Students can discuss, debate or write a persuasive essay whether contemporary Native American composers and non-Native American musicians’ music songs can be considered authentic or not.

  • Students will be able to perform Native American traditional and crossover songs individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres.

 

  • Students will be able to listen, identify and analyze musical elements in order make comparisons and to draw conclusions about the music.

Vocabulary: crossover music, NAMA, contemporary, traditional, Native American musician, non-Native American musician, authenticity

Materials Needed:  Songs are 1. “Up Where We Belong” by Buffy Sainte-Marie;             2. “Colors of The Wind” from Disney musical Pocahontas; 3. R. Carlos Nakai. Cycles. Canyon Records. 1985. CD.  Books are 1. Nakai, R. C. & DeMars, J. (1996). The question of authenticity.  In The art of the Native American flute. (pp. 109 – 114).  Phoenix, AZ: Canyon Records Production.  2. Gombert, G. (1994). A guide to Native American music recordings. Summerton, TN: Book Publishing Company.  Online:          1. History of Canyon Records. (n.d.).  Retrieved on April 11, 2014 from https://store.canyonrecords.com/index.php?app=cms&ns=display&ref=about+canyon     2. Native American Music Awards website is www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com/

Day 3 – Native American Religious Music

The teacher guides the students through traditional educational practices of Native American youths being forced to attend the Christian and government boarding schools beginning in the late 1800’s. The film The Only Good Indian is a good resource. Also, the use of YouTube to listen to performances of the song, “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee and other Native American languages is also a good resource. The students need to analyze music elements of songs in order to identify music as Native American religious music.

  • Students will be able to listen, identify and analyze musical elements in order to draw conclusions about the music.
  •  Students will be able to combine many facts or clues from the text with prior knowledge and/or experience in order to draw appropriate conclusions.

Vocabulary: Cherokee, Lenape, Huron, religious, boarding schools, traditional

Materials Needed:  Songs  are 1. “The Huron Carol” from http://www.songlyrics.com/christmas-carols/the-huron-carol-lyrics/ ; 2. “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee  on YouTube  3. “Amazing Grace” in Lenape on http://www.talk-lenape.org/stories.php  4.  “Silent Night” in Lenape on http://www.talk-lenape.org/stories.php

Day 4 – Native American Education and Marching Bands

The teacher guides students through further history of boarding schools, marching bands and education. Education chapter on p. 138-141 in book by Treuer is good resource. Have students read article Native American School Band Rocks The Oldies and the Ancients online from http://www.americanindiannews.org/2009/12/music-oldies-and-the-ancients/ Also, article by Mike Anton Native American Marching Band Distracts a New Generation from Blight in the Los Angeles Times January 7, 2007 another good resource. Students need to listen to the marches of John Phillip Sousa and discuss late 1800’s American culture compared to American culture of today and marching bands of today like in the film Drumline. Discuss similarities and differences and explain the reasons why Native American Marching Bands have not remained as popular today as they were during the late 1800’s.

 

  • Students will be able to combine many facts or clues from the text with prior knowledge and/or experience in order to draw appropriate conclusions.
  • Students will be able to listen, identify and analyze musical elements in order to draw conclusions about the music.

Vocabulary: Mojave, missionaries, Sousa, marching band, conductor

Materials Needed – Book is Treuer, A. (1984). Education. In Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask. (pp. 138-141). St. Paul, MN: Historical Society Press. Film O’Connell, S. (Director). 2012.  Sousa on the Rez. United States: Public Broadcasting Company.  Article: Anton, M. (2007,  January 7). Native American Marching Band distracts a new generation from blight. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/01/07/native_american_marching_band_distracts_a_new_generation_from_blight/

Day 5 – Student Performances and Debates on the topic of “The True Story of Pocahontas:  How Do We End Distortions and Myths?”

The teacher reviews the readings and activities of the week comparing the Disney musical version of Pocahontas’ story to Treuer’s true historical version of Pocahontas being kidnapped and forced into marriage with an English captain. Have students take turns performing songs based on a performance rubric they created. Give students a choice board of activities or choices to debate or write persuasive essays on the topic how do we end distortions and myths about the Native Americans? Students can create a timeline on history of Native American culture and music and also deliver an oral report.

  • Students will be able to perform Native American traditional songs individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres.
  • Students will be able to determine and orally speak or write about steps to end prejudice and distortions of Native Americans in order to gain historical knowledge and social awareness of Native American issues.

 

Vocabulary: solutions, social awareness, distortions, myths, performance rubrics

Materials Needed:  Songs  are 1.“Go My Son” from www.gomyson.com ; 2. “Navajo Happy Song” from http://musicnotes.net/SONGS/03-NAVAJ.html; 3.  “Steady As A Beating Drum” from Pocahontas Disney musical; Film: Walt Disney Pictures (Producer). 1995. Pocahontas.  Book – Treuer, A. (1984). What is the real story of Pocahontas. In Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask (p. 35). St. Paul, MN: Historical Society Press.  Interview with Vaughnda Hilton – Director of Native Nations Dance Theater.

Day 6 and Day 7- Native American Percussion Instruments

The teacher guides the students through articles on Native American percussion instruments. Then the students create their own drums and shakers. Students need to read, analyze and give key details to lives and careers of Denise Bright Dove Dunkley, jewelry maker, who was interviewed by Dr. Lee and information on Mark Barfoot, music instrument craftsman, who makes drums and cedar flutes. Music listening to R. Carlos Nakai flute music is good here because he is Denise’s favorite Native American musician. She listens to R. Carlos Nakai while she creates her jewelry. Also, Buffy Sainte-Marie music listening is good here since Mark Barfoot has created percussion instruments for her.

  • Students will be able to play, in classroom groups or performing ensembles, music of diverse genres, styles and cultures with expression appropriate to the work performed.

 

  • Students will be able to improvise rhythmic and harmonic accompaniments to songs and recorded music.

 

Vocabulary: powwow, drums, rattles, shakers, elkskin, cedar wood, flutes

Materials needed: Book: 1. Carlson, L. (1994). More than moccasins A kid’s activity guide to traditional North American Indian life. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.         2.  Fletcher, A. (1915, 1994). Indian games & dances with native songs. Boston, MA: C.C. Brichard. Images: See Figures 7 and 8. Article: Native American music traditions, how stuff works. Retrieved on February 8, 2014 from http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/10-native-american-music-traditions.htm/printable   Music : 1. R. Carlos Nakai. Cycles. Canyon Records. 1985. CD  2. R. Carlos Nakai. Changes. Canyon Records. 1983. CD. 3. R. Carlos Nakai. Spirit Horses. Canyon Records. 1991. CD. 4. Buffy Sainte-Marie. The Best of Buffy.1970.  CD. 5. Buffy Sainte-Marie. Up Where We Belong . 1996.  CD.  Song: Buffy Sainte-Marie. 1996. “Starwalker” in Up Where We Belong. CD.

Day 8 – Native American Songs, Poems and Political Activism

The teacher will guide the students through a discussion of the Native American Indian Movement (AIM) by readings and YouTube excerpt of famous speech by Russell Means to Congress. Students need to read, analyze and give key details to article on Buffy Sainte-Marie folk singer and activitist. Also, lessons can be found on Native American history on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Cradleboard Teaching Project curriculum website: http://www.cradleboard.org/main.html

Lyrics or verses to songs written that distort Indian images such as “Little Mohea” http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Little_Mohea.htm  need to be analyzed for students to understand stereotypes in music, song, poetry and literature. Poem selections from Rising Voices poetry book need to be read and analyzed by teacher and students in guided and small group instruction. Also, poem by Parris Butler “Incantation to Dispel New Age Dogma” page 152 of Native American Voices by Lobo et al needs to be read and analyzed.

  • Students will be able to identify supporting details about Native American history, music and poems in order to determine the main ideas or central concepts of the Native American history and traditional songs.
  • Students will be able to identify stereotypes in music song or poetry lyrics in order to determine the use of music to continue stereotypes in literature concerning Native Americans.

Vocabulary: cultural inferiority, colonized, oppressed, prejudice, discrimination, genocide, stereotypes

Materials Needed: Books: 1. Hirschfelder, A., & Singer, B. R. (1992). Rising voices writings of young Native Americans. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. 2. Lobo, S., Talbot, S. & Morris, T. (2010). The Pocahontas Perplex The Image of Indian Women in American Culture In Native American Voices (3rd ed., pp. 159-165). Boston, MA.: Prentice Hall. Videos:  1. Orchun K.  (2009). Native Americans (Bury my heart at Wounded Knee). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUTUQ7_TFW4

  1. Means, R. (1989). American Indian Activist Russell Means Powerful Speech, 1989. (1989). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVYShOZkZGs

Song:  Buffy Sainte-Marie. (1964). “Universal Soldier “  in It’s My Way. CD. Book Review:  Zoladz, L. (2012, December 2). Illuminations: A biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie [Review of the book Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way, by Stonechild, B. 2012.] Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/illuminations-a-biography-of-buffy-sainte-marie  Poem: Butler, P. (1997). Incantation to Dispel New Age Dogma. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from Page 185 http://faculty.ithaca.edu/kbhansen/docs/namindians/navracismstereotypes.pdf

Day 9 –  Song, Poem and Rap Tributes to Native American Youths

The teacher will allow students to work independently or in pairs to create a 16 to 32 line verse, rhyming or non-rhyming poem, rap or song in tribute to the Native American youth of today.

Optional: With parent and principal’s permission students’ poems and song lyrics can be mailed to local, state or federal politicians and Native American schools to help increase social awareness of Native American cultural social issues of today and let them know there are students who support their culture.

  • Students will be able to create original songs, poems and raps in order to perform individually and in ensembles using their own rhythmic accompaniments on percussion instruments.

Day 10 – Student Performances – “Native American Voices Rising Today.”

The teacher will allow students to work independently or in pairs to create a 16 to 32 line verse, rhyming or non-rhyming poem, rap or song in tribute to the Native American youth of today. Then after practice students will present performances and presentation.

  • Students will be able to perform individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres.

 

  • Students will be able to play, in classroom groups or performing ensembles, music of diverse genres, styles and cultures with expression appropriate to the work performed.

 

  • Students will be able to improvise rhythmic and harmonic accompaniments to songs and recorded music.

 

Sample Lesson One: Let’s Explore Native American Song as a Way of Communication

Music is considered by some theorists to be a universal language and means of communication among all cultures of the world. Native American music involves understanding the vastness of the Native American culture and languages. Would you try to write an article on the music or languages of Europe? This would be complex task because there are many countries, cultures, languages and dialects spoken on the continent of Europe. Although this attempt has been done we must understand that hundreds of Native American tribal nations spoke thousands of languages and dialects in North American before the Europeans came in the 1500’s.

Today only several hundred tribal nations are recognized by the United States Federal government. Although each tribal nation has its own language, culture and customs, the role of music in each Native American tribal nation seems to transcend into an important role for healing, spirituality and social ceremonial purposes in their culture. The use of the human voice as a solo or group chant instrument, the use of the percussion instruments, drums, rattles and rasps, and the use of the whistles or flutes provide support to the linear texture of the Native American songs and vocal musical sounds.

Native Americans devised many different ways of communication besides written and spoken languages. They used smoke signals, drums and sign language as other means of communication. Indian hand sign language was practiced by many tribal nations, particularly in the plain states.

Today we are going to learn to sing a song titled Go My Son written by a Navajo and a Ute Indian and learn to use Indian sign language. This song is written by Arlene Nofchissey Williams (Navajo) and Carnes Burson (Ute). The music arrangement used at many schools is done by Linda Williams. You can go to gomyson.com and see the words and hear this version. Amazon sells a MP3 version for 99 cents. Tantararerecords.com sells a CD and Sheet music on it. The textbook only shows that Nofchissey -Burson as who wrote it.

Source:  Music Connection a Series of Music Textbooks
gomyson.com (A Navajo site)

Unit Title:  Native American Music – Let’s Explore Song as a Way of Communication

Grades 5-8:

Educational Objective:  The teacher will be able to introduce the students to the Navajo Indian culture and music traditions.

Behavioral Objectives:  Students will be able to analyze music elements and words in Native American song in order to determine the composer or songwriter’s purpose. Students will be able to perform Indian sign language to song in order to demonstrate non-literary vocal skills. Students will be able to perform Native American traditional songs individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres and providing rhythmic accompaniment on percussion instruments.

Standards: Pennsylvania Department of Education and Humanities

9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music Theatre and Visual Arts

9.2 Historical and Cultural Contexts

Anticipatory Set: Have you every tried to speak to someone who is deaf or seen someone who is deaf communicate? Based on your prior knowledge of music and history can you explain what hand sign language is and what purpose does it serve?

Pair to Pair – Share your findings with another student and be prepared to discuss your findings in class.

Activities:

  1. Listen to the song Go My Son and analyze the combination of the voice and percussion rhythmic elements. Explain what the central theme of the song is and how the music elements enhance the composer’s lyrics.
  2. Next learn to sing the song in English using the sign language. Did you find it easier to learn the song with hand movements? Complete the sign language activity handout and share your findings with a friend.
  3. Sing the song again choosing student volunteers to perform on percussion instruments-drum and rattles. Discuss rhythm as an important force and element in the music. Discuss Native American traditions in performing music.
  4. Next listen to Go My Son in the Navajo dialect and compare the song to the English version. What are some of the similarities and differences you hear in the music performance? Explain which version you like the best? Give 3 reasons why you prefer that version.
  5. If you were a Navajo youth today what do you think your educational experience would be like, if you lived on a reservation? Based on your knowledge of American history, would education in the past be a good or bad experience for a Native American?
  6. View movie video The Only Good Indian. Have class complete questionnaire handout about movie video.

Summary:

  1. Have class perform song Go My Son by themselves using sign language
  2. Have students explain music elements of song and central theme and idea of song.
  3. Have students tell about the experiences of Indian youths in being educated in America in the past and today.
  4. Exit ticket – Show me how to say or sing a phrase from the song Go My Son demonstrating Indian sign language.

Materials Needed:

  1. Go My Son song lyrics (Silver Burdett Grade 6 textbook if available)o r download from the Internet: gomyson.com
  2. Go My Son music recording in English and Navajo

Navajo recording available in local music store, can be downloaded.

  1. Movie video The Only Good Indian
  2. 1 large drum and rattles or shakers

Sample Lesson Two: Let’s Explore Heritage – My Winter Count Story

Grades 5-8:

Educational Objective: The teacher will be able to show students the importance of oral history traditions in Native American culture and compare it to contemporary traditions of preserving family history in order for student to understand importance of history and social studies and different ways of preserving family history.

Behavioral Objective: Students will be able to explain the Native American Winter Count tradition in order to create their own count of their own family tree or personal history through a pictograph and song. Students will be able to perform Native American traditional songs individually and in ensembles, using good intonation and blending vocal timbres and providing rhythmic accompaniment on percussion instruments.

Anticipatory Set: What is www.ancestry.com and what is this website’s main purpose online?

Winter Count Activity I – The teacher needs to read the following biography of Dr. Lee aloud to the students or have the students Pair to Pair in partners read the story to each other:

 

  1. LEE’S WINTER COUNT STORY

 

I come from a large family. I have four older sisters and three older brothers. I liked to listen to music since I was a small child. I am the great granddaughter of a Black American slave who fought in the Civil War. I am also the great granddaughter of a part Black and Lenape Indian woman and the granddaughter of a part-Black and Cherokee Indian woman. I have always associated my heritage with the African American cultural side of my family. It is not until now, when I am enrolled in a course at the Teacher’s Institute of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania titled Native American Voices, that I ever thought to venture into researching the Native American indigenous side of my ancestry. How does one begin to find their heritage when it has been lost?

I began by researching my family tree through the United States Census records and by speaking to family members. Although my oral family history pointed to both Black and Native American descent, I could not specifically find any written documents that confirmed my Native American tribal ancestry. I came across a tradition practiced by some tribal nations like the Lakota of orally telling the history of important events of their villages or drawing pictures of what happened during the winter months. This was called the Winter Count. Some of my family history was full of happy events and some events were sad. In music when we hear happy music we call it major key sounding and when we hear sad songs we call this music minor sounding.

CAN YOU LIST 10 IMPORTANT EVENTS THAT OCCURRED IN DR. LEE’S WINTER COUNT STORY AND BIOGRAPHY. CAN YOU DRAW A PICTURE TO REPRESENT EACH IMPORTANT EVENT.

Dr. Lee liked music as a baby

She came from a large family

She is a Lenape Indian descendent.

She is also a Cherokee Indian descendent.

She is also a descendent of an African slave.

She is also a descendent of a Civil War soldier.

She researched her family tree.

She found some Native Americans have a tradition of a Winter Count Story.

She created her own Winter Count story.

Winter Count Activity

  1. After the class has read Dr. Lee’s biography the teacher with the whole class needs to determine what the important events in Dr. Lee’s family history were and then practice by drawing pictures to represent important events that happened to Dr. Lee since childhood. (See list of events provided).
  2. Then the students need to independently create a timeline, write a short autobiography or list 10 important events that have occurred in their life since childhood. Next each student needs to draw a series of pictures about 10 important events that have happened to them this past winter or since your childhood.
  3. Next the student should show your Winter Count drawing to a friend and try to get them to decipher your Winter Count story through the pictures they drew.

Winter Count Activity III –

Major and Minor Song Activity

Review singing The Navajo Happy Song and the Huron Carol with the students using percussion instruments to provide steady beat accompaniment. Discuss the music elements and meaning of the lyrics. Then read articles on the history of the Navajo or Huron tribal nations. Research on the internet, if possible where the Navajo lived and where the Huron lived. Compare and contrast the information about each tribal nation and using a graphic organizer analyze and list the similarities and differences between the Navajo and Huron traditions. Next do a Winter Count Activity story on the Navajo or Huron history. Be prepared to share your information for both activities.

Homework or In class Activity: Take your Winter Count pictograph story and create a poem or 8 song verses about your story. Be prepared to perform your poem or song in class tomorrow.

Materials needed: Songs Go My Son and Huron Carol can be lyrics retrieved from the internet online (See references). Dr. Lee’s written biography, 4 sheets of plain white paper and pencils. Articles on the history of the Navajo and Huron Native Americans.

Annotated Bibliography

Fletcher, A. (1915, 1994).  Indian games & dances with native songs. Boston,  MA: C.C. Brichard.

A wealth of songs, games and dances from various Native American tribal communities.

Gombert, G. (1994). A guide to Native American music recordings. Summerton, TN: Book Publishing Company.

Provides a list of two hundred recording companies and distributors contact information and record listings for recordings by authentic Native American musicians.

 

History of Canyon Records. (n.d.).  Retrieved on April 11, 2014 from https://store.canyonrecords.com/index.php?app=cms&ns=display&ref=about+canyon

This is the website for Canyon Records a recording company created in the 1950’s in Phoenix, Arizona to preserve authentic Native American songs.

 

Lobo, S., Talbot, S. & Morris, T. (2010). The Pocahontas Perplex The Image of Indian Women in American Culture In Native American Voices (3rd ed., pp. 159-165).

This book is an important resource for explaining the history, economic, legal and social issues of the indigenous Native Americans including Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada.

 

Nakai, R. C. & DeMars, J. (1996). The question of authenticity.  In The art of the Native American flute. (pp. 109 – 114).  Phoenix, AZ: Canyon Records Production.

This book is a valuable anthology tool for explaining the music compositions and the history of R. Carlos Nakai’s original flute works from 1983 until 1995. The book includes flute selections from some of his original compositions along with fingering for the Native American flute. There is a nice beginning chapter that explains the Native American Music tradition. In addition, to a later chapter that discusses authenticity in Native American music.

 

Treuer, A. (1984). What is the real story of Pocahontas. In Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask (p. 35).  Education. (pp. 138-141).

Very informative book explaining traditions, trends and myths in being a Native American today. Highly recommended to Natives and non-natives.

Teacher Resources

 

Anton, M. (2007,  January 7). Native American Marching Band distracts a new generation from blight. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/01/07/native_american_marching_band_distracts_a_new_generation_from_blight/

This is an article about how a Mojave Tribe march band survived during a period of time when most native American tribal bands were dissolved.

 

Barfoot, M. (2014). Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://markbarfoot.com/MARKSTORE/                                                              Photograph Courtesy of Mark Barfoot,Wolf Creek Art.

This is a wonderful online ordering resource for Native American percussion instruments with beautiful photographs and descriptions of hand-crafted Native American drums and flutes created by Mark Barfoot, Onondaga.

 

Barfoot, M. (2014). Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://markbarfoot.com/MARKSTORE/index.php?route=product/category&path=59 Photographs Courtesy of Mark Barfoot,Wolf Creek Art.

This is a wonderful online ordering resource for Native American percussion instruments with beautiful photographs and descriptions of hand-crafted Native American drums and flutes created by Mark Barfoot, Onondaga.

 

Bierhorst, J. (1979). A cry from the earth, music of the North American Indians.          [CD FA-37777].Washington: Folkways/Smithsonian.

A collection of 33 short Native American songs from across the United States.

 

Bureau of Indian Affairs. (2014). Retrieved on April 11, 2014 from http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OIS/TribalGovernmentServices/TribalDirectory/

This directory lists the names of Indian Tribes recognized by the United States Federal government along with the chief’s name and address.

 

Butler, P. (1997). Incantation to Dispel New Age Dogma. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from poem on Page 185 about Native American issues. http://faculty.ithaca.edu/kbhansen/docs/namindians/navracismstereotypes.pdf

 

Carlson, L. (1994). More than moccasins: A kid’s activity guide to traditional North American Indian life. Chicago Review Press: Chicago.

 

Hawkins, C. Forgotten but not gone. Retrieved on April 29, 2014 from http://airc.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/forgotten-but-not-gone.html

Article about psychological, social and economic impact on tribal nations not recognized by the Federal government and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

 

Native American School Band Rocks The Oldies and the Ancients (2009). Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://www.americanindiannews.org/2009/12/music-oldies-and-the-ancients/

Good article on the contemporary trend of Native American Marching Bands with a history from boarding schools in the late 1800’s.

 

Native American music traditions, how stuff works Retrieved on February 8, 2014 from http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/10-native-american-music-traditions.htm/printable

Excellent short article on purpose of Native American music trends and use of the drums, flutes, rattles, chordophones, secular and sacred music and music use at ceremonies.

 

Native American Languages. (2014). Retrieved on April 11, 2014 from http://www.native-languages.org/pennsylvania.htm

Excellent website that discusses languages of the original Native American tribes and the tribal nations still in existence today.

 

Native American Music Awards webpage: www.nativeamerican musicawards.com

The authentic website for the Native American Music Awards organization.

Lists the Hall of Fame awardees and various genres, styles and categories of Native American Music in recordings that annually receives music awards.

 

Navajo Happy Song. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://musicnotes.net/SONGS/03-NAVAJ.html

This is a music store online service to purchase music to songs.

 

Pennsylvania Department of Education Music Standards Grades 6 -8. Retrieved on     June 6, 2014 from http://www.pdesas.org/Standard/Views#113|795|0|0

The draft of the latest Music Common Core Standards as written by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for 2014.

 

Sainte-Marie, B. (1997). Cradleboard teaching project. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://www.cradleboard.org/main.html

This is a wonderful resource to teach students the true history of the Native Americans created by Native American musician and songwriter, Buffy Saint-Marie, a Canadian Cree artist and social activist. The core curriculum includes courses about geography, social studies, history, science and music at each of three grade levels: elementary school, middle school and high school grades. All units are developed to give a Native American outlook about each subject to all students. The Cradleboard Teaching Project now works with Native Americans from various tribal nations to give a holistic perspective on education.

 

Stonechild, L. (2012). Illuminations: A biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie. Fifth House: Ontario, Canada.

 

Williams, L., Wierzbowski, W., & Preucel, R. W. (Eds.).Native American Voices on Identity, Art, & Culture Objects of Everlasting Esteem. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

A beautiful picture book of Native American artifacts actually housed in the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Very nice writings by Native Americans concerning artifacts or experience of being Indian.

 

Zoladz, L. Illuminations: A biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/illuminations-a-biography-of-buffy-sainte-marie

 

Student Resources

 

Hitakonanu’laxk. (1994). The grandfathers speak Native American Folk Tales of the Lenape People. New York: Interlink Books.

Wonderful collection of Lenape Myths and Legends. Great to use to act out stories with students in classroom.

 

Hirschfelder, A., & Singer, B. R. (1992). Rising voices writings of young Native Americans. New York: Ballantine Books.

A book of poems by Native American youths from various tribal nations about being a Native American tribal member growing up in the American society.

Multimedia

 

Carmody, T. (Producer), & Willmott, K. (Director). (2009). The only good Indian [Motion Picture]. United States.

 

O’Connell, S. (Director). (2012).  Sousa on the Rez [Film]. United States: Public Broadcasting Company.

 

Orchun K.  (2009). Native Americans (Bury my heart at Wounded Knee). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUTUQ7_TFW4

 

Means, R. (1989). American Indian Activist Russell Means Powerful Speech, 1989. (1989).  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVYShOZkZGs

 

Song Books/CDs/Recordings

 

“Amazing Grace” in Cherokee on YouTube

 

“Amazing Grace” in Lenape on http://www.talk-lenape.org/stories.php

 

Burnett, M. (1975). Dance down the rain, sing up the corn. Lippincott: New York.

A collection of Native American songs for children from across the United States.

 

“Colors of The Wind” from Disney musical Pocahontas

 

“Go My Son” from www.gomyson.com

 

“Navajo Happy Song” from http://musicnotes.net/SONGS/03-NAVAJ.html

 

“Silent Night” in Lenape on http://www.talk-lenape.org/stories.php

 

“Steady as a Beating Drum” from Pocahontas Disney musical; “Disney musical film – “Pocahontas”.

 

“The Huron Carol” from http://www.songlyrics.com/christmas-carols/the-huron-carol-lyrics/

 

  1. Carlos Nakai. Changes. Canyon Records. 1983. CD.

 

  1. Carlos Nakai. Cycles. Canyon Records. 1985. CD.

A very nice collection of musical compositions by R. Carlos Nakai performed on cedar flute.

 

  1. Carlos Nakai. Spirit Horses. Canyon Records. 1991. CD.

 

Buffy Sainte-Marie. 1996. “Starwalker”  in Up Where We Belong. CD.

 

Buffy Sainte-Marie. The Best of Buffy.1970.  CD.

 

Buffy Sainte-Marie. Up Where We Belong . 1996.  CD.

Appendix

Interview with Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams

This telephone interview of Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, anthropologist and caretaker of Native American artifacts at the Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology was completed on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. The interview lasted about 20 minutes from 9:00 pm until 9:20 pm The interview is for the purpose of Spotlight on a Native American Artist section of Cynthia Cozette Lee’s curriculum unit on Native American Music and Living Legends for the Teacher’s Institute of Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania course Native American Voices.

Lee: My first question is could you tell me a little bit about your background and how you became an anthropologist and an expert with Native American artifacts?

Williams: I grew up in a town where there is a New Hampshire college, Dartmouth College that had a Native American mascot. I recall my parents discussing the issue about the Native American mascot being used. This does not explain why I do the work I do, but this is a backdrop of my experience of how I became interested in the Native American culture. I did have a very strong interest of Native Americans as a kid, but I did not have opportunities to really meet with the Native American people. It was not until I decided to go out west to New Mexico where I could go to school and actually be taught by a Native American instructor in person. I went to the University of New Mexico where I could work with a man by the name of Alphonso Ortiz who was a Pueblo and amazing professor who taught Native American religion. He was a really amazing scholar, and so I had to go out west to actually meet Native American people. I knew for a very long time that I loved to look at things and different cultures. I used to always visit my museum where I lived and when I grew up I decided to move out west to receive an internship in a museum where I learned about Native American cultures and traditions.

Lee: Wonderful.

Williams: I pretty clearly sort of followed my passion and at that time it was for Navajo weaving. And at that time I really wanted to meet some of the Navajo people. I decided to go out there and obtained a job. I received my Masters and decided to come to Penn and then decided to work in the museum at Penn. I transferred from New Mexico to Penn. This comes from a long history of wanting to learn more about the Native Americans traveling from New Hampshire to New Mexico and then back to Penn.

Lee: Okay. That is really interesting. My next question is I know you have been all over the United States even to Alaska and you have seen all kinds of tribal traditions. My question is could you tell us a little bit about your travel experience and do you have any memorable experiences that you can share with me.

Williams: Sure, do you mean who are in Alaska?

Lee:  Yes. That is wonderful if you could share about your experience with the Native Americans who are in Alaska.

Williams: Okay. Yes. I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel, I would say 5 or 6 times to Alaska which is really incredible. And I feel so thankful to have had that opportunity. Basically I have been invited to come to potlatch ceremonies which are Native memorials or funeral ceremonies. A potlatch is a ceremony that takes place one year after an individual dies. Because we have important objects in the museum collection that belong to the Tglingit people who live in southeast Alaska. We have important collections that were acquired by one of our early curators who was a Native American Tlingit. At that time his people were selling artifacts because they really needed money and they were changing to Christianity. Because they were encouraged to become American citizens and to drop their own practices, so it was a real time of change. Luckily he was able to secure some of these artifacts to the Penn Museum. I have been invited to these kinds of funerals. I have been asked to carry cone hats which are important family objects that belonged to the Native Americans for these events.  It has just been an incredible experience because these events last usually up to 24 hours. This is an all night event usually with dancing and celebration. Basically the family members of the person who died are given the opportunity to thank all of the people who have helped them get through the grief and sadness of the year. Having lost that loved one, the role of these objects I bring might have a special meaning to the family history. The people show their gratitude that they really appreciate me bringing these objects to them.

Lee: Interesting.

Williams: One of the highlights was, one of the communities actually adopted me and gave me a Tlingit name. This was a way of thanking me for coming all of that way. That was a very special moment and I was given my Tlingit name in front of the whole community and I was given an official blanket that I have in my house right here on my bed. It was nice. By being adopted I have a special relationship. I told them I was worried I could not always come to these events because of my distance. They told me not to worry about this and I really remember this because it was a special occasion.

Lee: Were there certain songs and dances that were performed at these functions?

Williams: Yes. There is actually one in particular at the beginning of the ceremony it is for the grief and sadness part of the ceremony where they actually sing their clan song. It is a really sad song. It is not only sung at death, but when they are morning. Those songs seem so sad and part of it is because so many Native Americans people are standing around you who are sad. After that the ceremony marks the end of the one year morning and this is the time you are suppose to stop grieving as a family. This is now a time when you are to turn upwards and be happier to put that grief behind you. Then they will have faster pace, I would say happier songs. They have softer paced songs for death as well. I would say the mourning songs really have a sadness quality sound about them. I wish you could hear them because I am not a musical person. They dance through the whole evening and morning. Death is an important part of this ceremony. The dancing is for how they feel.

Lee: When I was in our Penn course I recall you bringing a rattle to one class session. What type of musical percussion instruments were being played when you were at the potlatches?

Williams: There were two. The drum which was a wooden hand held drum with a tightly wrapped hide, on one side of the drum with a drum stick. Then the lead singer who sang the song, a man or woman would beat the drum. Then there is some kind of rattle. I have seen some rattles with the family emblem. Coho rattle with a salmon figure used by the lead singer also. I have seen that used as well, so there are very few instruments I have seen in fact. Most of the group knows these songs. I believe actually there is a singing group who is responsible for kind of leading the songs. This may be a group of 5 to 10 people who are the singers. Sometimes everybody sings, but there is a singing group.

Lee: That is really very, very interesting.

Williams: Yes.

Lee: Currently at the University of Pennsylvania Museum there is an exhibit going on Native American Voices and I would like to know what artifacts you have there that are musical instruments? Could you share with us about not only the instruments, but what other artifacts you have there that the students may be interested in learning about?

Williams: There is one large drum as you come in an entrance on the right. That is a Pueblo drum from New Mexico and it is turquoise colored. That is a big drum maybe about 3 feet high. It is carved from a tree trunk and is hollowed out. The drum head consists of a tight piece of rawhide. This drum is very modern. I actually purchased it in Pueblo ten years ago. It is made by a craftsman whose name is Gide Trujillo. He is a well known Pueblo drum maker. He lives just north of Albuquerque by about 30 miles or so and that drum is used by the Pueblo people on their special occasions. That involves a group of male drummers. Maybe a group of 10 men would always be holding a drum like that and they would have it strapped around their waist. It is a pretty heavy drum actually. They would hold it on their left side of the waist with their arm down and they would beat on the drum. Performing with them a group of male singers, maybe 20 men of all ages would sing at ceremonies. They would sing at a couple of ceremonies I have gone to at least on the plaza and they would sing while the whole community would be dancing. In the summertime it is the corn dances and in the winter time it is the bear dances. They would perform with different kinds of dances that would celebrate and honor the harvest, or particular animal or that kind of celebration.

Lee: Oh.

Williams: That is a beautiful, beautiful drum and it is painted turquoise. In most communities you are told you are born into your mother’s side in either the color of turquoise or pumpkin. So you are either turquoise or you are orange. Those are your colors.

Lee: Oh, interesting.

Williams: Turquoise or the blue one definitely is owned by a man who is a central part of the Native American community.

Lee: That is so fascinating. We have young people who are interested in becoming someone like you an expert with Native American artifacts or perhaps one day in wanting to become an anthropologist like you. What advice would you give to that young person who is interested in pursuing a similar career like you have being an archeologist?

Williams: I am not an archeologist. I am a cultural anthropologist. I work with living people where archeologists generally are doing excavations and digging into the ground learning about the people of the past.

Lee: I am so sorry I called you an archeologist when you are an anthropologist.

Williams: While I am interested in that…that is not the kind of work I do. I do more like field work going into communities, talking to people and studying things about their music or religion or what is happening in communities today about health issues or education, or studying their material culture or traditions that way.

Lee: Oh. Thank you for explaining the difference.

Williams: For the advice of the students I think that anthropology definitely is the study of  people and human cultures around the world both in the past and the present. I think that if you are a person that is really interested in that and interested in things like tradition and languages and how people hold on to their traditions, then a lot of that is done in social studies and probably history also.

Lee: Yes.

Williams: Then I would follow your passion. That would be my definite advice to you. When something is interesting to use as a certain kind of art or a certain kind of music or dance, I would try to think about where it comes from. Think about the people who have influenced and created that kind of artistic tradition or cultural tradition and learn more about them. And try to go for the authenticity, so try to seek out persons who actually might have that cultural background. Then if you cannot find a person then you can probably find a book about it or something on the internet about it or you could go to a place like a museum. Try to investigate the culture and I would not hesitate for a moment to try to go to people like that who do that kind of work. Then offer yourself to help in any way. Ask if you could help out in any way either by volunteering or by asking them if they would have any job opportunities. I would definitely recommend someone do that and not be shy about asking or expressing your interest to people. Once people know you are interested they will really become excited usually.

Lee: Oh, that is so fascinating and thank you for sharing this information and completing this interview.

Interview with Vaughnda Hilton – Native Nations Dance Theater Director

 

This telephone interview of Vaughnda Hilton, Native American musician, dancer and composer and director of Native Nations Dance Theater was completed on Saturday, May, 26, 2014. The interview lasted about 20 minutes from 6:00 pm until 6:20 pm. The interview is for the purpose of Spotlight on a Native American Musician section of Cynthia Cozette Lee’s curriculum unit on Native American Music and Living Legends for the Teacher’s Institute of Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania course Native American Voices.

 

Lee: How did you become a Native American musician, dance and composer?

 

Hilton: I started when I was very young. My mother would take me to the powwows and learn about putting the music together by watching the drummers. My mother was actually instrumental in teaching me the music. I learned to play classical flute, the piano and so I am very well taught as a musician.

Lee: That’s wonderful!

Hilton: I started dancing at age 4 or 5 years old.  I also studied classical dancing and went into powwow dancing when I was very young when I probably was about 7 years old. I started dancing and learning all of the different types of dancing then.

Lee: That’s incredible. Would you say your mother was a very strong influence?

Hilton: Absolutely.

Lee: Can you tell me a little about your background as a Native American. When I spoke with your mother when you performed at the opening Native American Voices exhibit at the Penn Museum she said she had married a Blackfoot Indian man and she was Seminole.

Hilton: Sure. My mom is Seminole Creek from Florida and my dad is Blackfoot and he is also part Israeli. They met at Florida A & M. They both met a college in Florida and that is both of their hometown. That is my background. People ask me what are your tribal nations and I tell them I am Blackfoot and Seminole Creek.

Lee: Oh, interesting. My next question is when you are performing songs and dances are you only performing Seminole or only performing Creek traditional songs? Are you performing music from different tribal nations?

Hilton:  We are performing music from different tribal nations because as the director of Native Nations Dance Theater I want to sing and see the dancing and hear the music of many different tribal nations to try to explain to people that there are many different nations that are thriving today.

Lee:  Yes.

Hilton: So I try to learn the different songs and I get permission from the tribal groups to sing their songs. I have my own songs I compose and sing as well.

Lee: Oh, wonderful.

Hilton: We try to get the point across that there are many, many, many different tribal nations. There are 566 in America to date that are federally recognized. There are tribal nations in North, South and in Central America. There are nations that are not recognized by the government; however, we still recognize them just the same as Native Americans. We try to give a well-rounded view of what is out there, who is out there and the difference in the sound and music.

Lee: Could you tell us a little about the Native Nations Dance Theater and how it was founded? What your mission is today and what you mainly do as a group?

Hilton: Native Nations Dance Theater was founded in 1991.  I founded and directed it for many years and still do. It is a Native American Dance Company that is to preserve the culture of the dancing and the songs that go with the dances. That is what we do and we are also a traveling dance company and we have been all over the world sharing Native American stories, histories and legends, songs and the music that goes along with it.

Lee: I noticed when you performed at the University of Pennsylvania opening exhibit of Native American voices you had family members involved in your Native Nations. Could you tell me a little about this if you do not mind sharing?

Hilton: Yes. Native Nations Dance Theater is a family based group. However, we do have other people, friends and family members that come from different nations join us from time to time. My mother was with me at the University of Pennsylvania at the opening of Native Voices. My mother, Pauline Songbird, and my grandson, Andrew Buffalo Stand Strong. My grandson’s name is Andrew Buffalo Stand Strong. That is the Native name he was given.

Lee: Oh, that is beautiful!

Hilton: He was given that name when he was about two years old. He tried to stand and walk and he did it in such a particular way that we said,”Hey, he looks kind of like a buffalo when he stands up!” And so we decided he stands so strong and before he stood up to take a step, he would just stand up and hold his ground. That is how he got that name.

Lee: Oh, that is really fantastic.

Hilton: My other grandson was there and he has been singing before he could walk. Singing the dance songs led by Vice Chief Levy Newell, III of the Cherokee Confederacy of Pennsylvania. His Native American name is Flying Eagle and he is Cherokee. He was with us and my son, Andrew Tomahawk…And his father is from the Caribbean and so he is part West Indian. Actually he is part Caribe Indian.

Lee: Oh, that is so fantastic. When I saw you at the Native American Voices exhibit I noticed you where wearing what they call a jingle dress and your mother was wearing a beautiful dress…was it white leather and a white shawl?

Hilton: Yes. It was white buckskin. It was white deerskin.

Lee: Now do you make your own dress wear?

Hilton: Yes.

Lee: Oh, that is so incredible.

Hilton: Yes and I make the regalia for my family members. We all make regalia. We all learn how to sew at a very young age. My mother had 11 aunts and they are all seamstresses. They all made regalia and made dresses. They had shops in Florida. All that, so we learned how to sew and make our clothes from a very young age. Therefore, I have been making regalia for a long time since I was a young teenager. My son also does beads…he does beading work. My grandson is still learning the process of how we have this regalia and how to treat it and take care of it so that we will have it for a long time.

Lee: Yes. Absolutely.

Hilton: I did make the jingle dress. It takes me about 2 months to make myself because most of my jingle dresses have 365 cones which represents every day of the year and 7 rows which represent ever day of the week.

Lee: Oh.

Hilton:  It is a medicine dress for a medicine dance. The dance when it is performed is to bring about good feelings to people.

Lee: Oh, that is so incredible.

Hilton: That dance is from the Ojibwa people who are another nation’s dance that we share.

Lee: This leads to the next question. I know music traditionally in Native American tribal cultures have different purposes. Are you mainly concerned with preserving the traditional music or since you are a composer yourself, are you incorporating contemporary music into your own style? What currently are you performing?

Hilton: What I do is I sing the traditional songs and I kept the traditional songs and share them with everyone when I present in the schools. I let them know that these are traditional songs that have been out there and have existed for hundreds of thousands of years.  Also, when I am singing songs that I have composed I let them know that these are more contemporary because I created them. However, they may have a traditional sound and have a traditional language. Or I may be singing in a traditional language or I may be singing in a vocable. What a vocable is…well, you know in traditional English music they use the syllable la, la, la…

Lee: Right.

Hilton: In a vocable phrase it is still a phrase that makes you want to have a good feeling or used just to add a good sound to it. I explain that when I sing traditional and I sing contemporary so that people know the difference. That is the only thing we do in Native Nations Dance Theater is that we try to educate and explain concepts so people understand that we are keeping our tradition, but also we are moving forward in time with our tradition. We are evolving as a people as we go into the future.

Lee: Yes.

Hilton: Just like any other culture that progresses, we also progress so our songs will progress with us. We sing about things that are happening around us today. Hopefully, we will show some type of progression as we keep our culture and bring it into the future with us.

Lee: That is very interesting and fascinating.  I know you have traveled all over the world as a performer and director of the Native Nations, do you have any memorable experiences that you could share with us?

Vaughnda Hilton told Dr. Lee there are many, so many memories. One experience was when Native Nations was scheduled to go to Abu Dhabi which is in the Middle East. They were requested by the foreign minister to go there and perform at an event called Summer in Abu Dhabi and Native Nations went to the airport and got all of our bags together. They were requested to bring artifacts of musical instruments, regalia and things that you would need for 56 days. When they got to the airport their suitcases were overweight and so they had to return home to repack their luggage and board another plane a few days later. However, when Native Nations arrived in Abu Dhabi the experience was beautiful. The people were very nice. They performed on a program with groups from other countries including South Africa.

Native Nations does present song, dance and lecture programs for the schools. Their contact information is: Telephone (770) 769-6974                                                                                Email: vaughnda@batuveweb.net or wanbiliwi@aol.com

Website: www.nndt.weebly.com

Interview with Denise Bright Dove Dunkley

This telephone interview of Denise Dunkley Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Artist was completed on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The interview lasted about 45 minutes from 10:15 am until 11:00 am. The interview is for the purpose of Spotlight on a Native American Artist section of Cynthia Cozette Lee’s curriculum unit on Native American Music and Living Legends for the Teacher’s Institute of Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania course Native American Voices.

Lee:     My first question is how did you become a Native American Lenni-Lenape arts and crafts expert?

Dunkley: I have put some thought into this question. The most honest answer is I believe I think it was somebody else’s purpose.

Lee: And what do you mean by that?

Dunkley: I just didn’t wake up one day and say you know I’m going to focus on my culture and being an artist. I went to school for criminal justice. I have a degree in criminal justice, sociology and criminology. I went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick and have a bachelor’s degree in that area. I pretty much went on a full academic scholarship. I only had to pay one thousand dollars and when I finished everything else was academic.

Lee: Okay.

Dunkley: But it is funny how things work out because a lot of people ask me this question. Like how did you go from that to this? All I can say is that I believe it must be up to the creator because when I finished school I started traveling abroad with my husband. My goal was to continue on to law school. I had applied to different law schools on the East coast and these schools are very demanding on the East coast. Some people had suggested that I need to apply for the West coast schools because you would be a shoe-in over there. While awaiting admission, taking the LSAT again to increase my score, I started working as a para legal. After a year, I was expecting my first child and joined my soon to be husband in Europe. While there, in my free time, my creativity began to grow.

Lee:  Oh.

Dunkley: I always loved art since high school. My first encounter with Indian art was through an elder in the tribe that gave me my Indian name.

Lee: Okay.

Dunkley: The elder actually pulled me aside because I went into the tribal office one day and wanted to buy some earrings. This was about at the age of fifteen. I wanted to buy some earrings and she wouldn’t allow me to buy them. I asked what do you mean because I wanted to take them back? She said you should learn how to make them yourself. I had wanted to learn how to make Indian art but did not know anyone who could teach me. The elder said I want you to come to my house on this day and I will teach you how to make them. I have been beading ever since then. She taught me how to make one pair of earrings. I made that first pair and I gave it to her.

Lee: Interesting.

Dunkley: One day I visited the Tribal Center and it was like someone else’s plan. I asked my beading tutor (the elder), what kind of thread to use to make more. She sold me a spool of thread, and I’m talking about way back in the eighties; this big spool was $25. I bought it anyway and still use it to this day.

Lee: Right.

Dunkley: I said it’s okay. Is that the kind of thread I should be using? She said yes, so I said this is okay, give it to me anyway. I still use that spool today. Twenty-five dollars was a lot of money back then. I just feel like I was being guided by somebody else. When she told me it was the correct thread, that’s all I cared about. Not the cost. Even then, I had the foresight to want to use good quality materials.

Lee: Oh, interesting.

Dunkley: So when I had this lapse of time between college and law school I just picked up beading again. You have more time on your hands and time to come to that peace of mind that I come to when I am not overwhelmed. I start looking at things and start feeling creative. Then I want to bead. I can really find — how can I put this — I am able to find a personal peace when I am by myself and I really get creative.

Lee: Yes.

Dunkley: You know how some people like to be surrounded by other people?

Lee: Right.

Dunkley: I find like I’m more, well I am not like an introverted person, but I am okay when I am alone. That is when I am most creative.

Lee: Okay.

Dunkley: Before and during our marriage my husband did a lot of traveling. I would travel with him. I started getting an interest in my culture and would try more things with beading. I would read more about my culture. I was just fascinated with Native American art. Anything I read then I would try to go and make. I would try creating pictures and artifacts. I would spend a lot of time studying objects; planning steps one to the end. I had an opportunity to get quality raw materials from abroad. After all, that’s where things were initially gained from trading.

Lee: Okay.

Dunkley: Just on a whim. It is funny because when I began entering a lot of art competitions and they would ask me what media do I like to work in?

Lee: Right.

Dunkley: I loved all sorts, a mixed media because everything captures my attention. I started to collectively sort of all put it together. Over those years, I got married and started having children. And then the next thing you know I am creating more stuff in my down time and it just took off from there.

Lee: Oh, great.

Dunkley: Other instances I can recall was when I was a teenager and I would sit with my mom and her friends and we would *craft* all the time. So I always had a history of sitting with elder women and listening to them. They taught me to tie ribbons and make general crafts. I developed my talent and they would give me positive reinforcement. They would say, We really like that and you should make some more of them and we will put those items up for sale. A lot of the stuff we did was not typical Native American art, but any technique learned can develop and build another. A few years ago, I spent two weeks crafting with elders in Oklahoma and it felt like home. Just the fact of having sat with elders long ago prepared me for what was to come today.

Lee: It was your own individual creation?

Dunkley: Right. It would be like when a holiday came up in Bridgeton, New Jersey. I remember the Nanticoke-Indian Lenape tribe there. I grew up in a time where our parents’ generation was taking their reigns in making us known as a tribe.

Lee: Yes.

Dunkley:  My generation was still struggling with gaining validity among the naysayers amongst the town. So when I was in high school for example girls would ask me what are you? What is your background? All of these things contributed to me about wanting to be knowledgeable about myself. Because when I was in high school a lot of people would say Indians do not exist. My cousins and I would have to say we are Native Americans and we have to leave school for programs and most people would say Indians do not exist and what you are saying is not true. I do not know why you guys are making up lies because you do not want to say you are Black.

Lee: Oh.

Dunkley:  That is what I heard most of my life. And then the students would question me and say well you have good hair, so what do you have in you? I would answer them, well according to you nothing.

Lee: Oh.

Dunkley: But the studying and all of the things I did for myself in order to make myself more knowledgeable and more powerful about who I am. At the age of forty-one I have come to the realization that you give off a certain presence. I learned that when you have knowledge about your culture then it is very hard for people to challenge you and question you. I found that then they have nothing to argue about. However, when you are fifteen and you do not even know you exist and I was just starting to learn in the history classes about Native Americans that the books information was all wrong. Now I really know information about my culture and can argue back with them. In fact now, my daughter wants to go to college and major in history.

Standards

Pennsylvania Department of Education and Humanities Music

9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music Theatre and Visual Arts

9.2 Historical and Cultural Contexts

9.3 Critical Response

9.4 Aesthetic Response