Native Americans Inspirations: From Spillville to Pine Ridge

An unprecedented 125-year overview of music inspired by the Native American experience.

Our topic is the controversial relationship between Native America and American identity — then and now.  

Our participants include:

The Lakota Music Project of the South Dakota Symphony, in its first trip east.

— Eminent Native American performers from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge and Sisseton reservations: flutist Bryan Akipa and singer Emmanuel Black Bear, also Oglala Lakota elder Chris Eagle Hawk.

We also exhume the “Indianists” movement in music — an attempt to use Native American music and lore to fashion a musical signature for all Americans. Its practitioners included the great Czech composer Antonin Dvorák, who in Spillville, Iowa, spent a month with Native American musicians; and Arthur Farwell, who as the leading Indianist undertook astounding explorations of Native American culture in parallel Bartok’s excavations of folk culture in Hungary.


Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm

National Cathedral (The Great Nave)

Musicians from the Lakota Music Project (South Dakota)
Cathedra conducted by Michael McCarthy
Bryan Akipa, Dakota flute
Emmanuel Black Bear, singer
William Sharp, baritone
Netanel Draiblate, violin
Emanuele Arciuli, piano
PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez

Introductory remarks by Representative Deb Haaland (New Mexico)
Native American music and dance
Antonin Dvorák: Larghetto from Violin Sonatina
Ferruccio Busoni: Indian Notebook No. 2 for solo piano
Arthur Farwell: 16-part a cappella choral pieces, songs, piano works
Curt Cacioppo: North American Indigenous Songs for chorus (DC premiere)
Jerod Tate: Shakamaxon for string orchestra (DC premiere)
Jerod Tate: “Resolution” from Standing Bear (DC premiere)


*Per venue guidelines, proof of vaccination (card or photo of card) or proof of negative COVID test within 3 days.

Other Events


Saturday Oct. 19 at 7:30 pm
The Center for Contemporary Political Art | 916 G Street NW

Free admission

Featuring eminent Native American performers Bryan Akipa and Emmanuel Black Bear, Lakota elder Chris EagleHawk, and other participants in the Lakota Music Project.

Join us for concert/conversation exploring Native America yesterday and today, with guests from the South Dakota Symphony, and from the Pine Ridge and Sisseton reservations.

Larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, Pine Ridge was the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 – the last major engagement between US forces and Native Americans. It memorializes the past and encapsulates the complexity of Native America today.

Hear a sample