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Heartbeat of the People


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The intertribal pow-wow is the most widespread venue for traditional Indian music and dance in North America. Now in paperback, Tara An insider's journey into the dances and music, the traditions and regalia, and the functions and significance of the Pow-wow

About the Author

Tara Browner is an associate professor of ethnnomusicology and American Indian studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a contributor to I See America Dancing, and has given papers (with demonstrations in costume and regalia) on pow-wow at the Society for American Music and other organizations. She is Oklahoma Choctaw, and currently dances in the Women's Southern Cloth tradition.


Browner aims to document the contemporary intertribal pow-wow for future generations of Native peoples and to "offer non-Indian readers an entry point into a richly textured realm of music and dance." A Native American ethnomusicologist who teaches American Indian studies at UCLA, Browner is both participant and observer. As a dancer herself, she had immediate access to the community of pow-wow participants, and as a scholar she brings a historical and critical analysis to a politically sensitive subject. The introduction includes a summary and critique of 19th- and 20th-century pow-wow research, describing both its value and flaws. Descriptions of the diverse dance styles, regalia, songs, singing styles, and the structure of pow-wow events are covered in chapters separate from interviews. Browner limits her treatment of the subject to pow-wows of the Lakota and Anishnaabeg peoples, and, within this limit, this is an accessible work for both Native and non-Native, nonspecialist audiences. Recommended for both academic collections and large public libraries. Faye Powell, Portland State Univ., OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"The most comprehensive and detailed source available on the pow-wow, including an excellent compiliation of information on its origins as well as its various styles of music and dance."

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