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Crash Course In Music From Indian Country

Nov 5, 2012
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now, we turn to the occasional series we call In Your Ear. It's Native American Heritage Month and this month we're having some bracing conversations about everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask.

We're having those conversations with Anton Treuer. He wrote a book with that title. He's a professor of Ojibwe history and language at Bemidji State University. And now here's his crash course on Native American music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUFFALO MOON")

BRULE: (Singing in Sioux language)

ANTON TREUER: Hello, this is Anton Treuer. And I'm listening to "Buffalo Moon" by Brule.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUFFALO MOON")

TREUER: I really love this group. They have a great combination of traditional Native music and dance repertoire, as well as lots of modern influences.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUFFALO MOON")

BRULE: (Singing in Sioux language)

TREUER: It's a great hybrid that speaks to exactly what it means living in two worlds as a Native person.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUFFALO MOON")

BRULE: (Singing in Sioux language)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAG RETIRE")

LITTLE OTTER: (Singing in a Native American language)

TREUER: And I really also enjoy listening to the group Little Otter. They among other things when they're not singing at pow wows, also come to the Ceremonial Big Drums in Mille Lacs and other communities and are some of the greatest singers we have around.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAG RETIRE")

LITTLE OTTER: (Singing in a Native American language)

TREUER: They have maintained a real strength of singing and ability to work together and have maintained traditional musical forms in a way that is kind of above and beyond what a lot of other powwow groups do.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAG RETIRE")

LITTLE OTTER: (Singing in a Native American language)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY LUV LIFE")

TREUER: And I'm also listening to Pipestone Singers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY LUV LIFE")

PIPESTONE SINGERS: (Singing in a Native American language)

TREUER: I really love to go to pow wows and Native American cultural events. And Pipestone is one of the groups that really has dominated that music genre, I guess among the top 40 of pow wow music today. And I know all of the singers really well. They are, you know, some of the most talented in all of Indian Country.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY LUV LIFE")

PIPESTONE SINGERS: (Singing in a Native American language)

MARTIN: That was author and Native American history and language professor Anton Treuer telling us what's playing in his ear, including "Buffalo Moon" by Brule, "Flag Retire" by Little Otter and Pipestone's "Crazy Luv Life."

To hear our previous conversations, go to our website at npr.org. Click on the Programs tab and hit TELL ME MORE. We'll be catching up with Anton Treuer throughout Native American Heritage Month, so please be sure to stay tuned for that.

And that's our program for today. You've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY LUV LIFE")

PIPESTONE SINGERS: (Singing in a Native American language) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.