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Song Catcher: 1916

Song Catcher: 1916

February 9, 1916. "Mountain Chief of Piegan Blackfeet making phonographic record at Smithsonian." The interviewer is ethnologist Frances Densmore. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Mountain Chief

Mountain Chief appears in the very good novel "Fools Crow" by James Welch, a Piegan writer. It's fiction, but a good account of what was happening to the Piegan and Blackfeet at the end of the 19th century.

Densmore Recordings

Available on the Smithsonian's Folkways label. CD, tape, or digital download.


Robin Williams!

Frances Densmore

Some of the original wax recordings were made available in limited quantities as audio cassettes in the 1970s. The Smithsonian published a bulletin of her research in its ethno series. In her long life, Frances focused mostly on Ojibwe [Chippewa] but also collected song material from several other tribes.

Song Catcher

We are here admiring the work of Ms Densmore.

I served with some Native Americans in the Army in the 1950s. They were just happy to get the 3 squares a day and look to survive until they could retire on a minuscule pension and then go home to some semi comfort for the rest of their lives. I wonder what happened to them after Korea and to the younger guys after Vietnam. Some were drunks but most were survivors. They were good company and in many cases good story tellers. I was a kid from the Bronx and they were as alien to me as Martians. Like a lot of other Americans they had legitimate beefs.

Wax Cylinders

I would hope that the Smithsonian would go through and make digital copies of these recordings.

Frances Densmore w/ audio

Minnesota Public Radio did a story about Frances Densmore's life work.

[Fascinating. I added a link to the caption. - Dave]


Were there a lot of these interviews done? Are they available anywhere?

[Good question. This one was recorded on a wax cylinder. - Dave]

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