Folk Music in The United States

Indian Music of the United States       

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Indian Music of the United States                                            37

forced amalgamation of tribes on special land reserved for Indians. Tribes who previously had had no contact with each other were now thrown together, and cultural interchange became inevitable.

One aspect of this pan-Indianism in music is the spread of two important religious cults through a large part of the United States. These cults made use of songs which penetrated the repertories of the tribes who took up the cults. One of them was the Ghost Dance religion, which arose after 1880 in the Great Basin area of Nevada and California. It was preached by a "prophet," Jack Wilson and held that if the Ghost Dance were performed, all dead Indians and buflEalo would return to life and the white men would be pushed into the sea. Such ideas appealed especially to the Plains Indians, who were having great diflBcul-ties because their native food supply, the buffalo, was being eliminated by the whites. The religion was preached to them and they accepted it enthusiastically, learning with it the songs and the style, which had come from Nevada, These songs were quite different from those of the Plains, as we have seen in the descriptions of some styles above. The Ghost Dance was thought to be a military menace by the United States Army, and it was outlawed in 1890. But the songs have remained in the repertories of the Plains tribes, and thus we have at least two styles in each of them, the aboriginal one and the native style of the Great Basin.

Another style was soon to be added to these, that of the Peyote cult songs. The Peyote religion, based on the mildly intoxicating buttons of the Peyote cactus, originated in Mexico and reached the United States early in the eighteenth century. It was introduced to the Plains tribes during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by way of the Apache, and its songs are related in a general way to the style of Apache music, which is again quite different from that of the Plains. Peyote spread much farther than the Ghost Dance, and it is the most important religious manifestation of the Indians today. The white influence, then, has tended to cause individual tribal styles to spread over vast territories and to create a variety of musical layers in these tribal rep-

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