The Power of Kiowa Song
Many Kiowas believe that song is a gift from God. Its power, argues Luke E. Lassiter, rests in the many ways that community members hear, understand, and feel it: "Song has power. As I begin to understand what this means for my mentors, I am just beginning to understand what this means in my life. They are not just singers. They are vehicles for something greater than all of us. Indeed, I now understand that I am not just a singer. But . . . I will sing until I die." As a boy, Lassiter had an early fascination with pow wows. This interest eventually went from a hobby to a passion. As Lassiter made Kiowa friends who taught him to sing and traveled the pow wow circuit, serving many times as a head singer, he began to investigate and write about the pow wow as an experiential encounter with song. "The Power of Kiowa Song" shows how song is interpreted, created, and used by individuals, how it is negotiated through the context of an event, and how it emerges as a powerfully unique and specific public expression. "The Power of Kiowa Song" presents a collaborative, community-wide dialogue about the experience of song. Using conversations with Kiowa friends as a frame, Lassiter seeks to describe the entire experience of song rather than to analyze it solely from a distance. Lassiter's Kiowa consultants were extremely active in the writing of the book, re-explaining concepts that seemed difficult to grasp and discussing the organization and content of the work. In a text that is engaging and easily read, Lassiter has combined experiential narrative with ethnological theory to create a new form of collaborative ethnography that makes anthropology accessible to everyone. This book is designed for anyone interested in Native American studies or anthropology, and it also serves as a resource written by and for the Kiowa themselves.
270 pp ~ illustrated — ©1998