Indian Songs

horseheader11.jpgGood Morning!

In keeping with Winnie’s theme yesterday, I thought I’d blog today about Indian songs.  For those of you who haven’t heard many Indian songs, you might wonder what’s so different about them.  In truth, though many Native American songs are like any other song, there are different considerations that attach themselves to Indian songs.

Here’s a good place to start, where you can listen to some pow-wow music — the drum (this is a group — called the drum — it’s usually several men who sit around a drum and drum and sing — it is called simply a drum) for the opening song is Thunder Hill — but you can listen to some different drums, as well.  Here’s the link:

drums_081This is a picture of a drum.  Some people might say “drum group,” but the usual language is simply “drum.”  Off to the right here are a couple of  pictures of a couple of young men dancing.golden_age_men_03109_adamnordwallspecial351  These pictures were gotten,by the way, from the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM earlier this year.  The photographer is Derek Mathews.

Here’s a video/music of round dance music — if you want to go and have a look:

09_drumrollcall91And here’s some incredible pictures of some of the singers in different drums.09_drumrollcall81  Many of these songs are passed down from generation to generation.  Some, however, are new.  Here’s some more pictures of these incredible singers.09_drumrollcall13109_drumrollcall28109_drumrollcall31109_drumrollcall21  All of these pictures,by the way were taken by Le Andra Peters andis from the website

Here’s some more pow-wow music:

09_drumrollcall71Now, just a little bit of info about Indian songs.  This is from the book, The Indian How Book by Author C. Parker, who lived amongst the Indians.  Every song has a purpose and no one sings outright for fear of awakening spirits that are attracted to the song you’re singing.  The scales didn’t necessarily follow what we know of as the chromatic scale, which follow our string instruments, more or less.  But songs were owned and no one could sing another’s song without permission.


Many of the songs made you want to get up and dance — and dance and dance.  Once again, referring to Arthur C. Parker and his book, The Indian How Book, he says, “It may be that these old Indians were pagans, whatever that word may mean, but certainly they knew how to make men feel that there was a Great Spirit in whom we lived and moved and had our being.  Oddly enough, I have known white men and women, who felt the same way about the songs of the red people, and they have returned again and again to the councils of the Indians to drink in this feeling of mystery, this sense of unseen powers.”


Whatever the reason, I know that I love to dance at pow-wows.   Something about the music gets into your soul and before you know it, you’re out there with the other dancers, dancing your cares away.

endtour1Hope you’ve enjoyed my blog today.  And now am hoping you will also come and join me at Face Book — I’ve only just taken out a page.  My book cover is my picture and you can find me under Karen Kay–there are several Karen Kay’s I’ve discovered,but just look for the cover of my book and you’ll find me.  Apparently, my name is not listed under Karen Kay yet, and so you may have to enter my email address:


Once there, you can enter my contest to win this book, Black Eagle, or oneof my other books.  Or if you’re not on FaceBook, simply leave a comment here, and you’re automatically entered into the contest.  I must add a few restrictions, however.  Because my books are hard copy, they cannot be sent over the internet.  Therefore, I must restrict the contest to the greater 50 United States and Canada.  This offer does not apply to those states where invalid.

But whatever you choose to do, come on in and let’s chat.  Did you listen to any of the pow-wow music?  And if you did, tell me your thoughts.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to for all contest rules.

72 thoughts on “Indian Songs”

  1. Hello, Karen, interesting post! We used to have drumming circles, or ‘drums’, at the school where I used to teach. A local Mi’kmaq elder came in to lead them, and they were magical. They certainly do make you want to get up and dance.

  2. Hi Kay, one of my favorite CD’s is called Hearts, Hands, and Hides, and is so terrific. One of the teachers I used to sub-teach for used to play this kind of music, subtly most of the school day. (2nd grade) I loved it so much she got me a copy. Think I’ll play it today!

    I love this post and all the great pictures. We had a pow-wow performance when I was in 8th grade. I loved it. oxoxoxo

  3. Very interesting blog, Kay. I have several albums of Native American flute music, but not sure how authentic they are. The music is lovely and soothing but may be more New Age than Indian. All I can do is enjoy.
    Have a great day.

  4. Hi Kay – loved all the pictures you posted today. I will check out some of those sites. Interesting how they refer to a group, simply by the term “drum”. We are friends on Facebook now! And friends everywhere else too! 🙂

  5. I work on an Indian Reservation and they have a pow wow up here every year. The building I’m in has an auditorium in it and the singers and dancers practice in there before the pow wow and I get to hear a lot of it.

    I don’t get to watch though. I’ve always wondered just how they practiced the druming. What does drum sheet music look like? It’s pretty complex. Cool to hear it.

  6. Kay, I can understand why this music speaks to your soul. It does mine also. There’s something really crisp and clear about the songs. Interesting that a person has to get approval before they can sing another’s song. I bet there would be repercussions if someone failed to ask permission.

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, my Filly sister!

  7. Hi Jennie! Thanks so much for your post. Yes, the music is inspiring. I haven’t been to a pow-wow in a while, due to being out of town so much, but I’m going to get back in the groove and start going again. Talking about the music has made me miss them. 🙂

  8. Hi Tanya!

    I’m not familiar with that CD — but I’ll look for it — I have several CD’s of Indian music and some I like better than the others and some are so inspiring. I particularly Brule and look for their music and usually buy it as soon as I find it. 🙂

  9. Good Morning, Elizabeth!

    Love the flute music also. Did you know that this is often how young men courted their girlfriends. They would have their special songs and when she heard him playing the song, she would leave to go and greet him. Fascinating.

  10. Hi Charlene,

    Thanks so much for visiting today. And thanks for friending me on FaceBook. Interesting how friend has become a verb, huh?

    Thanks for your friendship, Charlene. Yes, we are friends there and in life and I will see you at the RWA meetings, which reminds me that I don’t know when and where the LA chapter meets. Do you have their schedule?

    Thanks again Charlene for your warmth and caring. 🙂


  11. Hi Mary!

    I don’t believe that they usually put their music to paper. They practice on their own and there’s always a leader — he sings the first stanza (so to speak) and then the others come in and sing the same thing.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think it is usually put to paper. Like treaties and other important things of old, it is kept in the memory and passed down generation to generation. 🙂

  12. Hi Linda!

    Yes, it does speak to my soul. Just listening to the music last night as I was posting, was awe-inspiring. And of course it made me want to dance and be there.

    Dancing at the pow-wows is interesting because you are not dancing for yourself, but for others who might not be able to dance. I think the same goes for writing. We go out and have adventures and write about them and other things of our imagination for those who may not be able to go out and have those adventures. Similar principle, I think. Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. Hi Kay,I love that music,my great grandfather was 3/4 Cherokee an my mom says he used to just walk thru the woods all the time,ive been once to a Cherokee pow pow in NC on the reservation,its a soothing rhythm if you just close your eyes an let the beat soothe your soul,I wish I had more time an money to return again,an take the grandchildren,thanks for the memories for me when I was younger

  14. Hi Vickie!

    I read your post with great interest Vickie. Wonderful to have had a grandfather who walked through the woods. I used to do this, too, as a child.

    Thanks for friending me, also, on Face Book — interesting that friend has become a verb. 🙂

  15. Hi Wilma!

    I think, at first, that it’s so different, that it might not hit that spot. But if you go to a pow-wow and experience it first-hand,you’ll know what I mean. The music is very inspiring.

  16. Hello Karen,

    Thanks for this great post. Totally different from most I’ve been reading. I need to add this music to my to buy list. Thanks for all the info. Have a great day.

  17. Enjoyed reading the comments. I have a couple of CD’s by Carlos Nakai and some Navajo singers. I listen to their music often while I am reading.
    I would like to enter the contest.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  18. Mostly I have heard Native American music on cds and tv, but once when I was in Helsinki I had the chance to hear a live performance, although those guys weren’t from North America. Some of the songs I’ve heard sound to my ear a little bit like Lappish song, joiku.

  19. Hi Joye!

    You are indeed entered into the contest! Good Luck! You can find out more information on it on Face Book. If not, I’ll be drawing names on 4 January 2010. 🙂

  20. Hi Minna!

    I think going to the pow-wow’s or being around Native America makes this music come alive for you. I know it did for me.

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  21. I too am going to check those sites. My daughter and her boyfriend have been getting involved in sweat lodges and what it entails. A sun dancer has moved to our area because of a sacred white buffalo. Her boyfriend just received a homemade drum from a friend who has been doing leatherworking. It’s quite fascinating. I didn’t know about owning a song. Thanks for all the new info.

  22. Id love Indiana pow wow music its very soothing i dont listen to it much but when i do i get this sence of peace and tranquility

  23. I do enjoy listening to Indiana music it has just been a while since I listen to any. I am going to check out some of those sites as soon as I get a chance.

  24. Thanks for an interesting post Karen! I listened to several clips. The Eastern Bear Creek clip sounds almost like yiping animals at the beginning! Made me think of wolves or coyotes.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the YouTube or your facebook. I am having upgrade challenges with my computer! I am not on facebook so I’m not sure I could access that anyway.

  25. Hi Beverly,

    I feel the same way about Indian pow-wow music. It’s something I listen to when I’m not at pow-wows usually — but there is something about it that is soothing to the soul.

  26. Hi Martha!

    Don’t worry about the FaceBook if you’re thinking of entering the contest. When you make a comment her, you’re autormatically entered. 🙂

    Have a super Thanksgiving. 🙂

  27. Karen, loved the blog. I really must get you introduced to my favorite group,Brule. I know you would love seeing them but they are mainly here in the midwest. They do a concert every year at Mount Rushmore and have a dvd of their Concert for Reconciliation at Mounrushmore. The dancers and the drum, the colors and the sounds are wonderful.

  28. Kay,

    Great blog I love Pow Wow’s and the sound of the drum takes you to another place and time. Anyway it does me.

    The circle is a sacred place. You are dancing for the ones who have past on into the spirit world


  29. I would love to win this book. I am interested in all aspects of Indians and their culture. Please enter me.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  30. Hi, Karen,

    I like the Native music I’ve heard on a couple PBS specials, but I’d like to look into it more, so thanks for the links.

    I always enjoy your blog posts. 🙂

  31. We were introduced to Pow Wows via the Boy Scouts. My daughter joined an Explorer troop that danced. She became a fancy shawl dancer and we started going to pow wows. She had her own style and really was very good and that is not just my unbiased mother’s opinion. We went to a pow wow in Radford, VA at the college. Afterwards, one of the native american vendors sent a necklace over to her via his sister saying it was for her dancing and that she deserved to have won the competition. That necklace means more to her than the shawl ever could. (She learned a hard lesson about how some “competitions” are held and judged, but that is another story.
    Back to music and drums. We have gone to many pow wows and danced in a few. It looks easy, but even the women’s traditional and couples circle take stamina. Once the drum starts, it is hard not to keep in rhythm with it. One of these days we will make it to the Gathering of Nations. Just to be able to see the regalia and watch the different age levels compete is wonderful. A pow wow is one of the most colorful and vibrant things you can experience. If you ever get an opportunity to go, take it. No matter how large or small it will be worth the effort.

  32. I’m just back from listening to the Native American
    tribal music, following the links you gave us.
    I enjoyed the presentation very much!
    P.S. I missed Adam!

    Pat Cochran

  33. Went to the links. Had wanted to compare northern and southern drums. I remember our group always danced to northern drums. It is nice to hear the honor beat so clearly. The beats are different and personally the northern drum is easier to dance to. I noticed on the site that there are pow wow cruises. It is tempting to take the Alaskan one.

  34. Hi Connie!

    Actually, I’m very aware of the group, Brule — have two of their albums and am always looking for more. But thanks for mentioning them. They are, indeed, one of my favorites, too.

  35. Hello Patricia!

    Thank you so much for telling us the story of your daughter. The fancy dance is not only not easy to do — it’s very atheletic — to say the least (excuse my spelling).

    I, too, dance fancy dance — but I’m not a young chicky any more necessarily and so I dance in the Golden dances. 🙂

  36. I’ve never compared the northern and southern drum — that’s interesting that the northern is easier to dance to.

    Living here in southern CA — we have such a mix of Native Americans that I’m used to both drums, but I’ve never compared them. We also have gourd dancing here.

    The cruise sounds interesting.

  37. I like drum music but don’t have any of this kind of music in my collection yet.

    I’m not into Facebook so please enter me from here and thanks.

  38. I love the Drummina at Powwows. They speak to my soul but i alsolove the flute music. I have some awesome native cd’s that include nature sounds on them that atr relaxing and atmospheric. I play them in my Art Gallery as background music. How about addressing some of the contemperary native muisicians….Indigenous!!! OMG are they amazing with their rockin blues!! They are Nakota and are 3 siblings and a cousin. Or Brule! WOnderful!! I also love the group Red Thunder. Robbie Romero is the charismatic and strikingly handsome lead singer and their tape Makoce Wakan is one of my favorites. Now my ultimate favorite is Robert Mirabal. His music truely touches me and he is the reason why i had clarity of thought to have my daughter Aspen. There is a couple of cd’s i have by a wisconsin man who is Cherokee and his name is Michael Jacobs. His song They COme Dancing(also the title of his one cd) is aweinspiring and is the song i am having aspen dance her fancy shawl to at her 3rd grade talent show and 4th july talent show next spring/summer. And who cant love the Native AMerican Anthems “NDN Cars” and “Frybread Power” by the aniishinabe artist
    (Crap his name just flew out of my head and icant remember)but some of you may know who i am talking about. Well i have to go get ready for work. Love Native Music of all kinds….it puts your heart mind and soul in a really good place.

  39. Oops i cant spell…i meant Drumming at Powwows…not Drummina. Sheesh. My fingers aren’t as fasst as my brain i guess. Oh and last name of singer i couldn’t think of…Secola….first name still cant think of tho.

  40. Oh his name is Keith Secola! Yay i remembered. I also remembered the name of that movie about the lady adopted out only to find out she was navajo. It is called The Lost Child. Its nice when my memory works….lol. Have a great day everyone! See ya on Facebook Karen!!

  41. Hi Colleen!

    You are definitely entered into the contest. Drawing will be held on 4 January 2010 — after the holidays. Makes it a little bit easier on me during the holiday season. 🙂

  42. Hi Beth!

    Wow, thanks for all that info. I’m going to have to copy down some of these names and titles. I know about Brule — that’s one of my favorites, but some of the others I didn’t know.

    Also, I hope that Aspen does well with her fancy dancing. I, too, fancy dance, but then again,I’m in an different age category. 🙂

  43. Hi RobynL!

    Of course you’re entered into the contest. Anyone who has made a comment on the blog is entered — or who comes to Face Book also is entered. 🙂

  44. I have loved all of your books that I have read over the years. You are and always have been one of my favorite authors. I would love to be entered in your contest…taje care

  45. I have loved all of your books that I have read over the years. You are and always have been one of my favorite authors. I would love to be entered in your contest…take care

  46. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for novice blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

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