Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm

The notion of observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is quickly gaining momentum, and will probably soon eliminate Columbus Day altogether. Its first official celebration was, ironically, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, in 1992, in the form of a protest.

Like any other human culture, Native Americans have been making music for thousands of years. Sadly, with the decimation of their nations and people, there are only a handful of living Native American composers today. The good news is that efforts are being made to promote and encourage music by Native American composers, especially by the First Nations Composer Initiative, part of the American Composers Forum. One of the Institute’s advisors is Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, a member of the Chickasaw, who were among the tribes who walked the infamous trail of tears.

This work by Tate is a longer listen, but well worth it. The following description (slightly shortened) comes from Tate’s website:

Iholba’ (The Vision) is a work inspired by the composer’s native Chickasaw culture…. The musical material for Iholba is based on a Chickasaw Garfish Dance song and work is sung in the Chickasaw language. The text is original poetry by the composer…. The work is in two movements, entitled Halbina’ (The Gift) and Iholba’ (The Vision)…. Iholba’ is dedicated to my grandmother, Juanita Foshi’ Keel Tate.