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Ponca War Dance Songs Vol. 1 & 2

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  • Ponca War Dance Songs Vol. 1 & 2

    I know some of you know or knew the singers on this album. When this was recorded in 1967, what was the setting? Where they just singing to record the album or was it a dance of some kind?

    Was there any particular reason that these songs were recorded out of the many Ponca songs?

    I'm just curious. Any insight to these albums would be appreciated.


  • #2
    The best person to contact on that one would be Tony Issacs, the owner of Indian House records. He has his e-mail address on their website and he does respond. Also, Mr. Ruminator probably knows a great deal about those particular recordings.

    The expressed opinions above are not particularly the opinions of the author's friends, family, or employer.


    • #3
      Well, All I can offer is heresay....

      I was told that they were just sitting around practicing and having a good time when the recording was made. I do know, from looking at a few photos taken that same day, that there was no one else around (they weren't at a dance) and they were using an old tire for a drum stand. You can't see that from the photo on the front of the albumns, but it is clear in all the other pictures.

      Another person, besides Tony Issacs that could shed more light onto this is Lucy Crys for Ribs. She is the only member of that group still with us, and she still shows up to every Wardance.

      Good luck finding more info...


      • #4
        Originally posted by CEM:
        I know some of you know or knew the singers on this album. When this was recorded in 1967, what was the setting? Where they just singing to record the album or was it a dance of some kind?

        Was there any particular reason that these songs were recorded out of the many Ponca songs?

        I'm just curious. Any insight to these albums would be appreciated.

        I could probably give you more information than you want to hear so I'll try and be somewhat concise. A simple response is that it was a commercial venture. The only other companies recording and marketing traditional Indian music at the time were Canyon Records, American Indian SoundChief, and Indian Records, Inc. Tony Isaacs was always into making quality recordings as the material was preformed in the real setting versus a studio. Citing from an early document:

        "Recorded entirely on location both "live" and in special sessions designed to re-create a traditional sound, most Indian House recordings present in-depth performances of a single type of music on each album, much as it would be performed at a traditional event. In this way, the singers, uninterrupted, are able to "line up" their songs, setting a musical stage, building a mood as each song leads to the next, to make a much stronger musical statement than could be done with only a few songs."

        This is exactly what you hear on these two albums…a pure hethushka performance as it flowed from the minds of the singers. Listening to both albums, uninterrupted, you not only hear but you feel the performance build to a climax precisely as if it were an actual hethushka. The older Ponca singers have a saying regarding their music and the hethushka, 'When it reaches the point where you think it can't get any better, that's when you stop. That's when you end it. Make them want more so they'll come back'

        Someone mentioned here that the recording session was a practice session. They didn't need to practice. They frequently gathered in individual homes not to practice but to just sing for the joy and pleasure of singing. Someone might not be feeling well and a family would invite them to their home in hopes that the songs would make the sick person feel better. The singers invariably recorded many of their home performances for their own personal use and they often gave their recordings to people from other tribes. Many of these personal recordings still survive and people still enjoy listening to them.

        This particular recording was made at the old Giveswater Arbor which was right next to Albert Waters home. This is where the hethushka danced. About 300 yards south of Alberts home was where the original hethushka roundhouse or dance hall stood. It was one of four original roundhouses on the old Ponca Reservation. It was called the House of the Hethushka. I never saw it but I do have some old photos of three of the four roundhouses. Alberts home is gone and the Giveswater Arbor went through natural decay, however, it was recently rebuilt and the first dance was held there last month. There's a lot of history at that location for it was a perpetual gathering place for the Ponca people. This is not to say that dances were not held elsewhere but the Giveswater Arbor was a rather famous place.

        Most of the hethushka songs were originally composed for individual members of the organization. Their names are preserved in the songs. Long ago many of the individual owners placed their songs "in the drum" to become public property to be used anytime by the singers. The corpus of hethushka songs number in the hundreds. What we hear on these albums is a small part…but a good part.

        There's a lot more background that can be said about these recordings but I'll stop because I initially said I'd try and be concise. I also said the recording was a commercial venture but bear in mind that nobody got rich. The singers became well known outside of Oklahoma. They traveled all over the US singing at various dances. Singing was their job and in some cases their primary source of income. These albums put Ponca music in the limelight.


        Cat & Dog ...Another white meat.


        • #5

          For the record...when I said they were practicing....that was intended to be tonge-in-cheek. Those men need no practice.

          Thanks for all that other background info, Mr. Ruminator.


          • #6
            Mr. Ruminator,
            Again...many, many thanks for sharing.


            • #7
              Mr Ruminator,

              Thank you for all the wonderful background information. It is much appreciated. You are a talking history book!


              • #8
                Well, as other people said, Mr. Ruminator, thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom. I really appriciate the history. I believe it helps us all understand how Ponca ways become so popular. Thanks.


                [This message has been edited by travelingmocs (edited November 13, 2000).]
                If I do not know the answer someone else will!!!!
                Also forgive me, this system does not have a spell check so forgive the bad spelling


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