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Wrinting songs in languages you do not know..

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  • Wrinting songs in languages you do not know..

    BPlenty replied to a post in another thread and I think it merits its own topic so here it goes.

    There are many drums out there who are "writing" songs without the proper knowledge of what they are doing and even worse, they are writing songs in languages they do not know.

    You can only go so far with a Lakota/English, Muscogee/English, Cheyenne/English etc etc dictionary. I would personally be insulted if I was a powwow and I heard a drum singing songs in hacked up Muscogee, then come to find out noone in the gorup can speak the language.

    Not only are you disrespecting your drum but also the people who that language belongs to. Out here in the East its easier to get away with it. People out here wont know the difference but there are people who will and thats where you dont want to get with your...mouth open.. spewing words you yourself do not understand.
    A Warrior without character is nothing more than a brute.

    I have lots of freinds, you just cant see them:)

  • #2
    True! I agree! Folks should learn from the composer if they can before they sing a song in public. This happened with my drum. We were taught songs from old Lakota and Dakota folks, and one of our drum members got all antsy to sing new powwow songs, and he started just makin up words.. I told him that we sould go find a Blackfoot or Cree person to translate some of the songs he was tryin to sing, before we would sing them at the drum. we also a member who was a "know it all" attatude guy, and he fought me on it.. Thats why Iam takin a breaky poo right now
    I sing once in a while these days, but not as much as I used to. Sometimes me and my buddys from the old drum sneak off to a powwow and sing our old songs, and we hope the trouble makers dont show up!
    Folks who want to start a drum should ask for help with the songs.. If they can find an elder or experianced singer to help them that is great. are things goin? havent heard from ya in a while..
    Take care


    • #3
      As some are aware, I sing with a group of Chilcotin youth from on of the isolated rreserves I work with...I am well known for composing many songs, some I translated from Cree to their language, but the majority of songs I composed for this drum was done in consultation with their elders.
      First of all Chilcotin is a Dene language, almost identical to Navajo, it is like chinese when comparing to Cree.
      The songs we composed and put words to tell of the bands and tribes sacred areas, legends, past leaders, chiefs and warriors and significant cultural and social events...and they are all in Chilcotin.
      Learning to sing in this language was the greatest challenge as Pow-wow style does not favor this language when singing.
      To this point we have 16 songs in the Chilcotin language which we claim the rites to. They are 2 Eagle staff songs, 2 crow hops, 2 round dances songs, 1 vicotry song, 1 retiring the flags song, 1 shake, 1 sneak up, 2 honor songs and 4 intertribal songs.
      We may ask the band to fund the recording of these songs to acknowledge the youth and their efforts.
      I have also translated songs from Cree in Secwepmecw(Shuswap) for funerals, wakes and sweat. This was done to help members of this tribe to connect to singing and feel more part of the ceremony..shuswap is not much easier than Chilcotin...but it sure feels good to hear them singing or trying to in ceremony!



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