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Title:Choctaw Indian musical cultures in the twentieth century
Author(s):Levine, Victoria Lindsay
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nettl, Bruno
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:The Choctaw are a large Muskhogean tribe of the Southeastern United States. In the nineteenth century, the tribe became geographically separated; the musical culture of each group subsequently changed in different ways. Ethnomusicological fieldwork was undertaken among Choctaw communities in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi, to compare the processes and products of musical change in each of the three communities. They manifest three distinct forms of musical revitalization.
Most traditional Choctaw performers in Oklahoma belong to the Choctaw-Chickasaw Heritage Committee of Ardmore. Heritage Committee members are the descendents of a full-blood kin group that migrated intact from Mississippi in 1903. Their history reveals that the Ardmore Choctaw regularly performed traditional songs and dances in the context of the ball game cycle. In 1937 they discontinued performances, but they revitalized their musical culture in the 1970s. The revitalization movement was led by Buster Ned, a traditional elder. Mississippi Choctaw musical culture became moribund by the 1960s, but they also initiated musical revitalization in the 1970s, assisted by Minnie Hand, an Anglo-American school music teacher.
Comparison of these two musical revitalization movements indicates that in each, Choctaw musical culture was reshaped, reinterpreted, and redefined. Each group reshaped its tradition by reorienting performances toward new social contexts. They reinterpreted their traditions by modifying the structure of performances and ascribing the repertory with new symbolic meanings. In redefining the tradition, each group established new criteria for determining the essential qualities of their song repertory, musical style, musical concepts, and performance practices.
By contrast, the Louisiana Choctaw completely realigned their musical culture with that of their neighbors. In the nineteenth century, many Louisiana Choctaw joined the intertribal communities of central Louisiana. Historical sources suggest that they participated in a Southeastern pan-tribal musical culture that developed in the intertribal communities. Louisiana pan-tribal music was performed until the 1940s but has since declined.
The Choctaw illustrate three different but related musical responses to the acute, rapid social changes of the twentieth century. Musical revitalization, in its various forms, may prove to be a typically American Indian response to twentieth-century musical and cultural change.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Levine, Victoria Lindsay
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026252
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026252

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