This traditional Cheyenne war song has been adopted by chapters of the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) throughout the land as the official one to be sung at gatherings, rallies and demonstrations. Sung around the big drum, it follows the traditional form of Plains war dances. The lead singer roars out a line which is then repeated by the rest of the singers. According to an article in SING OUT! magazine (Vol. 24, #5) from which we are quoting here, the difference between the style of the Northern Plains people and the Southern is that the northerners use a high falsetto while the southerners do not.
The whole group then sings part two in unison, and repeats it. During the repetition you can hear four heavy drum beats, which are called "honoring beats" to let the people assembled feel welcome and to let the singers know that the lead voice will come in again when the repetition is finished
When the lead singer comes in to begin the process all over again, he might make the pitch a bit higher and the beat faster. After several times through the song, a sharp break, indicated by heavy drum beats, is followed by one more singing through at a slower pace with even drum beats. We have reprinted the music and photo here from SING OUT! and wish to thank them for their co-operation in loaning the tape of the song. We also recommend their special issue on Native American music and urge you to subscribe to the magazine by writing them at 270 Lafayette St., NYC 10012. We especially thank Vernon Bellecourt of A.I.M. for saying that we could use the songs here.
The B.I.A. song is heard here through the courtesy of PERCEPTION RECORDS, and comes from their album by Native American singer Floyd Westerman. The balance of the album consists of solos by Floyd, songs inspired by the book by Vine Deloria, Jr. of the same name, "CUSTER DIED FOR YOUR SINS." Write to the distributor to get the album or to receive their excellent catalog of Native American music of every description. Their address is: CANYON RECORDS, 4143 16th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85016.