"War Song"

by Chief Oskenonton

This is one of the most interesting records I've run across in my travels. The major labels did some recordings of Indian Tribal songs and dances during the early 20's. This is one of five that Mohawk Chief Oskenonton (born May 27, 1886 to the Bear Clan of the Canadian Mohawks, died 1955) recorded for Columbia, and was the second of those five, being waxed on June 6 1920. The Chief first explains the significance of the song, then performs it simply - his own voice and a single drum. Truly a remarkable recording. Though this copy wasn't played very much, it was played with a bad needle so there's some noise near the end - noise reduction treatment has helped reduce this to a tolerable level. (In 1918, Oskenonton's lifelong friend Henry W. Savage got the Chief to appear in a Jerome Kern musical he was producing on Broadway called "Toot-Toot" - details at the Internet Broadway Database - also, throught the thirties, the Chief apparently toured the English-speaking world demonstrating the American native dances and songs. A web site for Farnworth Grammar School, a school near Manchester England that is no longer standing, carries a description of one of the Chief's lectures in 1938 as well as a picture of him.)
<-- Home  | Click here to hear it | Next -->

On Facebook? Click Here and Become a Fan of this Site!