American Indians traditionally used ceremonial music to connect to a spiritual realm and summon aid from supernatural powers. In addition to its sacredness, American Indian music has evolved to become “an essential expression of American Indian identity,” according to Gary S. Fields, an American Indian flute player. Although American Indian music varies from one region to another, it embodies a style that is distinct from music of other cultures.
Unlike most cultures, American Indian ceremonial songs do not have a title. Instead, they are identified more by the celebration or ceremony for which they were created and the location of that ceremony, such as “Montana Grass Dance” song, “Mountain Spirit” song or “Plains War Dance” song.
Most American Indian ceremonial music is played on various drums and rhythm instruments, such as shakers or rattles. The percussion instruments are usually made from natural materials, including animal hide for drums and shells, animal hooves and pebbles for rattles. Many tribal dancers wear rattles on their ankles to enhance the trance-like rhythm of the ceremonial music. Drum hides often are painted with spiritual symbols.
The Sun Dance is a religious ceremony practiced by a number of Native American and First Nations Peoples, primarily those of the Plains Nations. Each tribe has its own distinct practices and ceremonial protocols. Many of the ceremonies have features in common, such as specific dances and songs passed down through many generations, the use of a traditional drum, praying with the pipe, offerings, fasting, and in some cases the ceremonial piercing of skin.
Although not all Sun Dance ceremonies include dancers being ritually pierced, the object of the Sun Dance is to offer personal sacrifice as a prayer for the benefit of one’s family and community.
This week let 3 Chics take you on a journey with our tribute to “FIRST NATIONS” people and Native American music. Through chants, drums, percussion, and dance, the music tells of their history of courtships, healings, meditation and spiritual rituals. With a mix of traditional, inter-tribal, and subgenre the transformative sounds and chants will definitely lift your spirits.
If you are of Native American heritage and would like to share lyrics, videos or chants, please feel free to do so. We love learning about artists, their instruments, and the contributions they’ve made to their tribes and our nation.