American Indian Soundchiefs, an independent record label founded by the Rev. Linn Pauahty (Kiowa) in the 1940s, developed a remarkable model of Indigenous sound media that combined home recording, dubbing, and small-scale mass production. Alongside other Native American media producers of the same era, Soundchiefs built on earlier engagements with ethnographic and commercial recording to produce Native citizens’ media a generation prior to the Red Power era of the 1960s and 1970s. This soundwork provided Native music to Native listeners first, while also seeking to preserve a “rich store of folk-lore” sometimes in danger of being lost under ongoing colonial pressures. Pauahty’s label found ways to market commercial recordings while operating within what music and legal scholar Trevor Reed (Hopi) calls “Indigenous sonic networks,” fields of obligation and responsibility.
American Indian Soundchiefs: Cutting Records in Indigenous Sonic Networks
Josh Garrett-Davis is the Gamble Associate Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms at the Autry Museum of the American West. He is the author of What Is a Western? Region, Genre, Imagination (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), and received his PhD in history from Princeton University in 2020.
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Josh Garrett-Davis; American Indian Soundchiefs: Cutting Records in Indigenous Sonic Networks. Resonance 1 December 2020; 1 (4): 394–411. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.394
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