National Museum of American Indian Releases CD of Contemporary Native Music

July 24, 2008
News Release

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Celebrations with live music and dancing—especially at powwows or other community gatherings—have always been essential to Native peoples. The Indian Summer Showcase at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian continues these age-old traditions by featuring some of the most popular Native musicians in a series of outdoor concerts held each summer only steps from the U.S. Capitol.

In honor of the Indian Summer Showcase’s third season, the museum releases its first CD compilation of live music from renowned Native artists. The new recording, “Sounds of Indian Summer: Contemporary Native Music from the National Museum of the American Indian,” features award-winning musicians Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida) and George Leach (Sta’atl’imx), as well as new rock ‘n’ roll sensations The Reddmen from South Dakota, DiggingRoots from Canada and The Plateros from New Mexico, among many others.

“The music here will not only make you want to dance—it will inspire you to re-think the very definition of Native music,” said museum director Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche). “The album brings together the traditional and contemporary in a way that will demonstrate to listeners the astonishing creative ability of so many of today’s Native artists.”   

The album offers an array of indigenous musical traditions and vocal techniques, spanning from the Canadian arctic (Yup’ik “throat singing”) to the highlands of Peru (the percussive “quena,” “sicus” and “charango”). Blending electric guitars, drum sets, synthesizers and other modern items with traditional instruments, these artists are contemporary storytellers—infusing their music with themes of identity and cultural survival as well as experiences of racism and expressions of ethnic pride.

Co-produced by the museum’s Publications and Cultural Arts departments, “Sounds of Indian Summer: Contemporary Native Music from the National Museum of the American Indian” is available as a 79-minute audio CD for $15 (Smithsonian and museum members receive a discount). To place an order, visit and click on “Bookshop,” call (202) 633-6687 or send an e-mail to

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Eileen Maxwell

(202) 633-6615