Table of Contents Arapaho Tribe Arapaho Music Arapaho Instruments Cherokee Tribe Cherokee Music Cherokee Instruments Compare & Contrast Work Cited
ARAPAHO The Arapaho Indians have lived on the plains of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas since the 17th Century. Prior to that, they had roots in Minnesota before European expansion forced them westward. At that time they were a sedentary, agricultural people, living in permanent villages in the eastern woodlands. However, that changed when they moved west and the tribe became a nomadic people following the great buffalo herds. The Arapaho lived in teepees made from buffalo skins that could be easily erected and taken down as the tribe moved from place to place. Becoming expert buffalo hunters, the buffalo provided them with virtually everything they needed. They also hunted for elk and deer, fished, and ate various berries, and plants. During hard times, they were also known to eat their dogs.
The Arapaho refer to themselves as ‘Inuna-Ina’ which translates to "our people.” Their language is of Algonquin heritage, as is that of their close neighbors the Cheyenne. The Plains Arapaho soon split into two separate tribes, the northern and southern Arapaho. The Northern Arapaho lived along the edges of the mountains at the headwaters of the Platte River, while the southern Arapaho moved towards the Arkansas River. The Arapaho are a very spiritual people, believing in an overall creator who they call Be He Teiht. As with many Native American peoples they believe in a close relationship between themselves, the animals of their world and the land on which they live. The Arapaho also have a deep respect and appreciation for the wisdom of their elders.
The tribe lived together in small bands, predominantly determined by birth. However, members were free to move between bands at will. Once a year all of the bands would congregate together for the Sun Dance festival, an eight day event at the time of the Summer Solstice. The festival preceded the great summer buffalo hunt. In the middle of the camp, a large open air Sun Dance Lodge would be constructed of wooden poles with the Sun Dance pole standing in the middle. Individual teepees would be erected around the lodge in a large circle. The participants of the dance fasted during the dance and painted their bodies in symbolic colors. Dressed in aprons, wristlets and anklets the dancers would stare at the Sun while dancing hypnotically before being impaled to the Sun Dance pole by way of tiny stakes punctured into the skin. The Sun Dancer was not to show any signs of pain during the ritual and, if able to do so, would be rewarded with a vision from the Great Spirit. The annual Sun Dance was their greatest tribal ceremony but they were also active proponents of the Ghost Dance religion when it was made popular in the 1880s.
Arapaho songs were and are passed on in a variety of ways: some are traditional and are passed on orally, some are learned from other tribes, and some are created by tribe members. Songs of the Sun Dance, Vision Quest, and of war are the oldest documented, although it is very likely there are many older songs. Many songs in Arapaho have meaningless syllables, but it is very important to realize that these are structured and standardized. In other words, they are not random syllables chosen on a whim by the singer(s).
Not only is Arapaho music complex, it is extremely important to the people. The music is not just used for entertainment as those in mainstream United States culture generally presume. All aspects of the music are significant and full of power, and cannot be divorced from the religion, culture, and history of the Arapaho.
SUN DANCE & HAND GAME SONGS Both men and women participate in the Sun dance, singing to the accompaniment of a large drum. The Sun Dance lasts for seven days of which three are used for preparation. The dance consists of a "pledger" who commits himself to sponsoring a Sun Dance in hopes to recover from an illness, promote war success, or honor the death of family member. "A song was sung repeatedly for about half an hour. The last rendition was treated in a specific fashion. The men stopped singing one, two, three phrases before the end and the drum slowed down to half of its previous speed. After four slow beats the drum stopped and the women finished the song alone.“ Eagle bone whistles are used in this dance along with drums and singing. "The songs were all begun by an old man in a loud voice and at a high pitch. After a few notes, other men joined in the singing, and, towards the end of each song, one woman or more. The song gradually fell in both pitch and volume until it died away. Thereupon the leader in the singing began again." (Nettl p. 20) The range of melodies is so wide that singers sometimes find themselves on a very low pitch at the end of the songs. One such song of the Sun Dance, the Morning Sunrise song, is sung at the end of the night when the dancers are preparing to rest. Sun Dance songs are sung with meaningless syllables. These groups of songs are some of the oldest in Arapaho repertory. There is no explanation as to the time of origin or place for.
Hand-game songs were sung before or while gambling by an individual or a team. A person would hide something in their hands, usually a bean or a button, while the other person would guess where it was hidden.
The following is the text of one hand-game song:
"When I am singing, When I am singing, I am hollering for the bean, For that bean" (Nettl 33)
Hand-game songs were actually forgotten by many Arapaho but experienced a revival during the Ghost Dance movement. Most of the hand-game songs are like those of the Ghost Dance, and the texts of both groups of songs make references to one another
GHOST DANCE & RABBIT DANCE In 1888, the Ghost Dance religion emerged. A prophet named Wodziwob, a Walker Lake- Walker River Northern Pauite dreamed of this dance. Following Wodziwob, Ta'vibo taught about the old ways of life and resurrection. Then another came, Wovoka, son of Ta'vibo, who took his father's teachings and brought Christian ideas to them. The Ghost Dance promised restoration of life, before the coming of the white-man in which the buffalo would return. The Ghost Dance was used in the treatment of the sick and to promote good health. No drum or rattle is used in the opening song of the Arapaho Ghost Dance. The entire melody is made up of four pairs of phrases. The structure of the dance consists of concentric circles formed by the tribe. The tempo of the song progresses faster and faster throughout the dance. Members keep in step moving one foot to the left while extending the right foot to drag along the ground. From this movement, a fine dust accumulates off the ground that is occasionally thrown high into the sky. Paired phrasing, a style of singing found in the Ghost Dance, and known to the Great Basin region, can induce hypnosis and trance-like states. "They fall into sections so symmetrical as to be startling in primitive material. This symmetry is achieved by the most essential feature of the style, a simple structural device, every phrase is rendered twice" (Densmore, 78).
The Rabbit Dance is a social dance of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. It was learned from the Cree Indians in about 1920. The dance much resembles a White American folk dance or "square dance." The steps in the dance are in accordance with "calling" by one of the drummers. Men and women dance in couples side by side, and women choose their dance partner. Today, the Rabbit Dance is not practiced due to the popularity of practicing other pan-Indian social dances like the pow-wow.
PEYOTE CEREMONY & VISION QUEST The Peyote Ceremony, often associated with the Native American Church, consists of a mix of native beliefs and practices along with Christian symbolism. God, Jesus, and Mary are offered prayers in addition to the peyote. Peyote allows members of the Native American Church to seek and obtain wisdom. It is also considered a sacred medicine. When a member of the tribe seeks the peyote, he receives characteristics that are part of the cactus, rebalancing with nature. Song and ritual are very important in the ceremony. Songs help the Arapaho receive the emotional, physical, and intellectual properties of the peyote. To begin, the leader, sings the opening song, while the man wit the peyote drum keeps a rapid, even drumbeat and sings along at his right. To the left of the lead, sits a man with a cedar branch. Moving clockwise, the drum and rattle are passed from one person to another, each of them singing the four ceremonial songs. Throughout the ceremony, groups of four songs are sung by every person present: Opening Song of the Peyote Ceremony, Midnight Song, Daybreak Song, and Closing Song. Rhythm and song texts of the peyote songs are simple and melodic. The rhythm of the songs is basic with count divisions chiefly composed of quarter and eighth notes. Vocables, paired phrases, make up the song texts of peyote, ending in "he ne ne yo way." In the past, all men past puberty participated in an individual quest for a vision which would guide them in their lives. Before any serious event, such as going off to war, a man would venture out in isolation, fasting and possibly torturing himself until he received a vision. The vision could be an animal or a person who blesses the man, gives him life advice, and teaches him a song. These songs that had initially been received in a vision quest can be performed and used either for certain ceremonies, at no special occasion in particular, or only at certain critical times, such as death and illness. If the sick person is cured or not depends in part on how well the vision-seeker remembered the song.
POW WOW & WAR MUSIC The Pow-wow began in the mid 1800s or possibly later among Plain tribes, originating in traditional men's societies and social/ceremonial gatherings. The pow-wow had its biggest increase in popularity after WWII when the soldiers returned from the war. In order to honor them, the warrior society dances of the 19th century were given new meaning. Pow-wows can be for fun, competition, or for honoring people; and they take place on a family, community, tribal, regional, or even national level. The pow-wow is for honoring ceremonies, naming and adoption ceremonies, reception of families into public life after a time of mourning, entertainment, and interaction among friends and family. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5UamOBAe_w&feature=related Before the departure of a war party and after its return, special songs and occasionally dances were performed. Sometimes they honored individual warriors and sometimes served to inspire the group in general. Most war songs were sung by women and men in groups, but also by individuals. Often the melody of a war song was retained while the text was changed to make the song more relevant. Also the text can be replaced with meaningless syllables. This is quite common in traditional Arapaho music. The music could be accompanied by dancing, such as the Contest Dance, which took place after the return of a war party. In this dance, the dancer-warriors acted out their experiences in battle and other dancers imitated these warriors. The contest determined who was the best pantomime.
ARAPAHO INSTRUMENTS siisíiyonoó (Rattles) Rattles cannot be understood as one homogenous group-different types of rattles had different functions and sometimes different symbolism. One type of rattle is the container rattle, a rounded rattle made of rawhide, filled with pebbles, and attached to a wooden handle. It is 8-12 inches in length with several inches of feathers as a decoration. Among its other uses, the Dog Society, one of the men's age-grade groups, used the container rattle to accompany singing while approaching an enemy. Another type of rattle is made from buffalo scrotom and decorated, like the container rattle described above, with feathers. It was carried in battle by the Spear Society and thrown at the enemy, which the warriors followed in a charge. A more recent creation, a rattle made of gourd and filled with glass beads is used only for the Peyote Ceremony. The sound produced is more swishy than the other two.
hó' éií (Drum) wóoteihó'oyóo (Drum Stick) The drum remains sacred within the Arapaho nation. The drum, according to the Arapaho, is an animate object. In other words, it is in a sense, "alive." The Arapaho use the same verb form when talking about a drum as they use when talking about people and animals. The drum is not given the same verb form as objects such as a table or chair etc. The Drum also represents a world of people, with the top being the land, the animal hide around it being the clouds, and the straps, people. Most drum sticks are about one foot long and 1/4 an inch in diameter. Three inches of the drumstick are wrapped with a thin cloth, although in the Ghost Dance the wrapping is thicker and decorated with feathers.
Bone-buzzer or hummer This instrument is used in the Ghost Dance. It is made from bone. The hummer istied to 2 strings and a wooden handle. The strings round around each other and then when pulled apart rapidly, they cause bone to rotate and produce a buzzing sound. ONE-TONE WHISTLES These whistles are usually made from an eagle bone; 4-7 “ long.It is used In Sun Dance and some age-grade ceremonies by dancers. During the Peyote ceremony it is used at midnight to mimic an eagle’s cry.The whistle used in the Ghost Dance is 2X the size of a standard whistle.Whistles are made of wood and decorated with carvings and feathers, and they are symbolic of thunder. Bullroarer This instrument is a boy's toy that is said to produce wind because it sounds like the wind.It is part of the Ghost Dance and is sometimes used to start the singing. The instrument should be swung rapidly in a circle by the handle to make a loud noise like distant thunder, the bellowing of a bull, or howling. The Bullroarer is made from a flat piece of bone about 2X4 in. attached to a piece of string and a wooden handle.
In 1951 in Ethete, Wyoming, three vision quest songs performed by Edward Grasshopper were recorded: the Skybird, Thunderbird, and Wolf songs. They are said to have been received by his grandfather, Yellow Calf, the last chief of the Northern Arapaho, during a vision quest. Here are the lyrics both in Arapaho and English of the three songs: Skybird Song (hixcebe’nii’ehiihiniiboot): Honoh’enoohobei’ee (hih)cebe’(h)entoonoo neneeninoo nii’ehiiMan look at us I’m up here I am the bird Wolf Song (hooxeyihiineniinoot):Hinee’ hiinoono’eti’ nee’eetetouuhunoo neneeninoo nenii’eheininoooOver in that cloud that’s wheremy roar is coming from I myself am the bird Thunderbird Song (Box’oonii’ehii’noot):Nii’ehii noo’useet niihooninoo’oo’ hono’ Bird has arrived the sky is turning yellow
CHEROKEE The Cherokees believe that they have always lived in Western North Carolina. Indeed, finely crafted stone tools and fluted spear-points confirm that ancient people lived here more than 11,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. Ancient Cherokee tales describe hunts of the mastodons that once foraged through the upland spruce and fir. More than a thousand years ago, Cherokee life took on the patterns that persisted through the eighteenth century. European explorers and settlers found a flourishing nation that dominated the southern Appalachians. The Cherokees controlled some 140,000 square miles throughout eight present-day southern states. Villages governed themselves democratically, with all adults gathering to discuss matters of import in each town’s council house. Each village had a peace chief, war chief, and priest. Men hunted and fished; women gathered wild food and cultivated ‘the three sisters’ corn, beans, and squash cleverly inter-planting them to minimize the need for staking and weeding.
This was life that realized harmony with nature, sustainability, personal freedom, and balance between work, play, and praise. The land furnished all: food in abundance; materials for shelter, clothing and utensils; visual grandeur still vivid today, and herbs to treat every known illness – until the Europeans came. For the first 200 years of contact, the Cherokees extended hospitality and help to the newcomers. Peaceful trade prevailed. Intermarriage was not uncommon. The Cherokees were quick to embrace useful aspects of the newcomers’ culture, from peaches and watermelons to written language. This last was single-handedly created by the Cherokee genius Sequoyah, who introduced his ‘syllabary,’ or Cherokee alphabet, to the national council in 1821. Within months, a majority of the Cherokee nation became literate.
But, by then, nearly 200 years of broken treaties had reduced the Cherokee empire to a small territory, and Andrew Jackson began to insist that all southeastern Indians be moved west of the Mississippi. The federal government no longer needed the Cherokees as strategic allies against the French and British. Land speculators wanted Cherokee land to sell for cotton plantations and for the gold that was discovered in Georgia. In 1838, events culminated in the tragic ‘Trail of Tears,’ the forced removal of the Cherokees in the East to Oklahoma. One quarter to half of the 16,000 Cherokees who began the long march died of exposure, disease, and the shock of separation from their home.
CHEROKEE MUSIC Cherokee music, like many other Cherokee art forms, has always been an integral part of special ceremonies as well as in daily life. Vocals are the backbone of Native American music culture. Unusual rhythms and sometimes off-key style of singing is used. No harmony is ever incorporated although many people may sometimes sing at once. Other times the vocals will be solo. The Native American vocals are passionate and are used to invoke spirits, ask for rain or healing and are used to heal the sick. In most cases the men and women of the tribes sing separately and have their own dances. The women normally dance in place while the men dance in a circle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VqoxOcEqpk&feature=related Researchers feel that Native American music is one of the most complicated forms of music performed. The tensing and releasing of the vocals combined with the various drum beats makes it a very intricate form of art. Every region of the country where Native Americans settled produced varying forms of music. The music is always unique to its group due to the many different tribes.
Cherokee men sang to lead dances in various traditional ceremonies. Their song were frequently made up of short sections comprised of phrases sung four or seven times, the sacred numbers of the Cherokee. During dances, the songs may begin or end with a shout or whoop. Some dance songs followed a call-and-response pattern with one person leading the song and dance and the rest of the group answering in short musical phrases. Other traditional uses for music included the singing of prayer formulas. The music of the Native Americans is as vast and diverse as those who create it. Each tribe has its own musical approach and style that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is the center of Native American culture and is used in religious rituals, for healing, accompanying work and games as well as social gatherings. Most Native Americans feel that music and song is not a human invention but rather something that is given to the by spirits to facilitate interaction between the heavens and earth. Lyrics are filled with symbolisms and singers sometimes use made up sounds to create the stories and rhythmic poetry. Vocals and chanting are very common in traditional Native American music. Flutes, drums and rattles are the most common instruments found throughout the tribes. Perhaps the most important element of their music is the voice.
SOCIAL DANCES & STOMP DANCE Cherokee Dances fall into two basic categories: Social Dances and Religious or Ceremonial Dances. Religious Dances always involved pre-selected dancers and complex choreography and steps, and also included at least one social dance at the end of the ceremonies which was open to all of the participants in a ceremonial dance. Social Dances are more prevalent in modern Cherokee societies and some of these dances were adopted as the result of contact with other Native American tribes. One example of this is the Cherokee Butterfly Dance, which is also known as the Ladies' Fancy Shawl Dance on the modern day pow wow circuits. The Cherokee have a legend explaining how this dance came to be, but the Crow also have another legend with their own version of this dance. In both cultures, it started out as a powerful medicine dance. The most important religious dance of the Cherokee people is the Stomp Dance. In a ceremonial setting, this dance is always preceded by a game of A-ne-jo-di, or Stickball, which resembles the European game of LaCrosse, but a competitive or social A-ne-jo-di game doesn't always include the dance. It depends on the intent of the gathering -- whether it is a religious, or social gathering. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKO1gxM7aIM
BUFFALO DANCE The buffalo is a symbol of abundance. Historically, Cherokee crossed the mountains to the north to hunt or trade for buffalo and bring back meat for the long winter. Like all Animal Dances, the Buffalo Dance is a celebration of thanksgiving. The hunter takes on the spirit of the buffalo he has hunted during the year. He thanks the spirit of that animal, and he asks for good luck for next year's hunting. A kilt is worn during Buffalo Dances. These dances are performed in winter. The Bear Dance, Beaver Dance, and Forest Buffalo Dances also employed masks which represented the respective animal portrayed. The Cherokee also have an Ancient Eagle Ceremonial Dance that includes elaborate 6 foot wings made from white or nearly white bald eagle feathers, which is danced mostly today for exibition purposes.
BOOGER DANCE The Cherokee used masks in numerous dances. One such dance, known as "The Booger Dance", was usually performed in the late fall or winter. It's intent was to make fun of and belittle the enemies of the Cherokee. The Booger masks were made to represent the faces of people who were the enemies of the Cherokee. In earlier times, they may have represented the Chickasa or Seneca people, who were enemies of the Cherokee before European contact. After interaction with the whites became prevalent and hostilities started, the masks began to resemble a bald man with a very round face, since many of the white men of this era wore their heads shaved, and generally had less angular features than the Indian peoples. Today, the Booger mask is a popular item produced for the tourist trade, especially in North Carolina. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63pK1x-eagg
CHEROKEE INSTRUMENTS Cherokee instruments from the past have included panpipes, flutes, whistles, drums and rattles. Flutes, made of river cane or the leg bone of a deer, were played to accompany processions of chiefs, to greet visitors and to encourage success in stickball games. Whistles, made from leg bones of birds, were sometimes blown by warriors to produce their war call, often a male wild turkey gobble.
DRUMS RATTLES Many rattles were made from gourds and contained beans, corn kernels or pebbles. The gourds were attached to wooden handles and decorated with feathers or rattlesnake rattles. Other rattles were made from turtle shells, attached to a leather strip and worn by women during dancing. They were tied just below the knee and produced a rhythmic accompaniment with the drumming and singing as the women danced. These women were called shell shakers. Percussion instruments (drums and rattles) primarily accompanied dancing. The water drum was most commonly used by the Cherokee and neighboring tribes. It could be tuned and was made from a section of hollowed log partially filled with water and covered by tightly drawn hide.
COMPARE & CONTRAST The Arapaho and Cherokee music is similar in many ways. Their music is a form of expression. It is used as praise, sorrow, for motivation, and as a way to get together socially. Both tribes had different forms of music for different reasons. It could be religious or for war. While both tribes used similar instruments the Arapaho relationships to their drums were intense. Even today you don’t leave your drum sitting. Meanwhile the Cherokee instrument of choice was their voice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEl-yJQvXaE The biggest difference I saw that women were not allowed to participate in Arapaho music unless it was a song that was for their ceremonies. It was disrespectful for a women to even sit by a drum. Women were allowed to sing and take part in Cherokee music. Cherokee music also took European instruments as their own. Arapaho music, between tribes, was similar but because of the vast separation, geographical isolation, and varying degrees of contact which has shaped the modern dance and music customs of the Cherokee groups occupying North America.
Densmore, Frances. Cheyenne and Arapaho Music. Los Angeles: Southwest Museum, 1936.
“Musical Cultures and Regions.” The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. 2001 ed.
Nettl, Bruno. Musical Culture of the Arapaho. Indiana: Indiana University School of Music, 1951.
Ramsey, Bonnie. Music and the Cherokee Indians. http://hubpages.com/hub/Music-and-the-Cherokee-Indians