In October, musicians from the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Lakota Music Project visited Washington, D.C. as part of PostClassical Ensemble’s Native American Festival. Founded in 2005, the Lakota Music Project is a collaboration between the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and leaders of the Lakota community, and features cross-cultural performances by the orchestra and musicians from Lakota and other tribes. In Washington, performers and speakers included Lakota elder Chris Eagle Hawk; Ronnie Theisz, professor emeritus of American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University; Lakota singer Emmanuel Black Bear; and Dakota cedar flutist Bryan Akipa. Concerts and talks took place at the National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. SDSO Music Director Delta David Gier says the Lakota Music Project aims to “address racial tensions in South Dakota and across the region of the upper Midwest” by bridging cultures. Emmanuel Black Bear said, “Racial issues exist because of ignorance and not knowing. By showing our way of life, they will understand who we are as a people. We sing a lot of old songs, and so does the orchestra. No matter what race you are … it’s the music.”
Caption: Musicians from the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Lakota and Dakota tribes outside the National Museum of the American Indian, where they performed in October. Photo by Tracey Salazar.