Song And Dance among the Native Americans

While the exact date of their arrival in the United States still remains unknown it is estimated that Native Americans came to the United States around 1000 years ago (Belz, 2005; Boyea, 2000). They originated from an area between Alaska and Asia in several waves and spread south and east. At the time of arrival of the Europeans in the North America, there were already over 1000 cultural groups each with its own language and different customs (Champagne, 2001; Diamond, 2008). Throughout their history, Native Americans have always incorporated music in their culture. While music was used primarily as a form of entertainment, religion and worship, it was also used to pass cultures and traditions from one generation to the next. This paper strives to support the thesis that the culture of folk music continues to blossom amidst the changes in technology in the modern America, even gaining momentum amongst other cultures (Keillor, Archambault & Kelly, n.d.; Kuiper, 2011).

Folk music continues to be appreciated in the Native American culture. It is often learned by rote and is accompanied by shakers, gourds and other simple percussion instruments that are, however, highly appreciated and given deep meanings (Cummings, 2008; McCarty, 2008). Their folk music was passed from one generation to the next and some communities are reluctant to teach their music to others (Perea, n.d.; Santelli, George-Warren & Brown, 2001).

The music has however still helped in the composition of other forms of music which are available in the public domain like the blues which have had a good reception worldwide (Patterson, 2002; Allen, 2013). The music continues to play a significant role in certain communities and has even been protected religiously to avoid its dilution and abuse. Native American folk and dance has had a lot of significance in the growth of the societies and the preservation of the communities’ cultural heritage (Smith, 2012; Tick & Beaudoin, 2008).

Research questions

  1. What has been the significance of song and dance among the native communities?
  2. How have folk and dance been altered since the immigration of Native Americans to the United States?
  3. What have been the effects of song and dance from the Native Americans to other communities?


Allen, L. (2013). 3 Native Americans who are masters of music. Inside Tucson Business, 23(10), 4.

Belz, M. (2005). Inclusion of Native American Music in” Silver Burdett Making Music K-8″. Bulletin Of The Council For Research In Music Education, 19–34.

Boyea, A. (2000). Teaching Native American music with story for multicultural ends. Philosophy Of Music Education Review, 14–23.

Champagne, D. (2001). The Native North American almanac (1st ed.). Detroit: Gale Research.

Cummings, D. (2008). Native American Flute Meditation: Musical Instrument Design, Construction and Playing as Contemplative Practice.

Diamond, B. (2008). Native American music in eastern North America (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Historical Overview of Native Americans and Their Music. (2013). ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Keillor, E., Archambault, T., & Kelly, J. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Native American music of North America (1st ed.).

Kuiper, K. (2011). Native American culture (1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: Britannica Educational Pub./Rosen Educational Services.

McCarty, T. L. (2008). Native American Languages as Heritage Mother Tongues. Language Culture and Curriculum.

Nettl, B., Levine, V., Burton, B., & Kurath, G. (2013). Native American music. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2251909

 Patterson, M. (2002). ‘Real’ Indian Songs: The Society of American Indians and the Use of Native American Culture as a Means of Reform. American Indian Quarterly, 26(1), 44-66.

Perea, J. (n.d.). Intertribal Native American music in the United States (1st ed.).

Santelli, R., George-Warren, H., & Brown, J. (2001). American roots music (1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: H.N. Abrams.

Smith, T. (2012). Ancestral imprints (1st ed.). Cork: Cork University Press.

Tick, J., & Beaudoin, P. (2008). Music in the USA (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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