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Product Code: Books
Availability: In Stock
Price: $22.95

By R.D. Theisz  $22.95 (Softcover)
8.5" x 5.5", 108 pages, 
45 color and 9 B/W photographs.
77 min CD in sleeve inside back cover,
19 Traditional Lakota Songs.
Lakota words with English translations.

Synopsis - This groundbreaking music teacher's guide was written in response to requests from teachers for assistance in introducing Native American music in general and Lakota music in particular into school music curriculums. The inclusion of numerous and sometimes lengthy commentary by well known Lakota singers will also make the book of interest to readers interested in the history of Lakota traditions, contemporary Lakota culture, Lakota secular music, traditional Lakota humor, musicology and ethnomusicology, traditional Lakota dream & vision interpretation, traditional Lakota storytelling as a teaching methodology, and the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education.

45 color and 9 black and white photographs of historic and contemporary Lakota singers and drum groups, various contemporary Lakota singing venues, contemporary Lakota and Plains Indian dancers and dance costumes, selected traditional Lakota musical instruments and articles of traditional Lakota apparel are included in the book.

The fundamentals of Lakota music theory and Lakota singing practices are clearly described in plain language to aid beginning students. In addition, the importance of honoring Lakota cultural norms relating to performance of sacred and secular music is emphasized and discussed in detail. Comparisons with western musical theory and practice and specific teaching methods for instructors wishing to introduce Lakota music to students accustomed to western musical styles are also provided.

A 77 minute CD, inserted in a plastic sleeve attached to the inside of the back cover of the book, contains examples, 19 songs in all, of all the contemporary Lakota social music genres discussed in the book. Also found on the CD are a discussion of traditional flutes and their role in Lakota musical tradition and two lengthy narratives by Calvin Jumping Bull and Nellie Two Bulls, well known Lakota singers.

These narratives describe the process by which each of them became singers in addition to discussing the functions and duties of traditional singers in contemporary Lakota society, all interspersed with songs appropriate to particular elements in each narrative. Mrs. Two Bulls also gives a charming recitation of the double-woman dream/vision she experienced as a child that led to her receiving the gift of song.

The Lakota words to each song, with English translations and an explanation of how and when each song is used, are provided within the covers of Sharing the Gift. The student or interested reader will be able to see the Lakota words and hear them spoken by native Lakota speakers. The English translations will aid non Lakota speakers in learning each song and in understanding how and when each is used.

A general Lakota Pronunciation Guide and a Glossary and Pronunciation Guide to Lakota Musical Terms are also provided to assist the student.

Writing with the insight of an insider who is both a credentialed scholar and an accomplished singer, and who has been a participant in these traditions for over four decades, Dr. Theisz has in this unique teacher's guide managed with unusual grace the challenging task of keeping himself in the background while letting Lakota singers describe Lakota traditonal music and explain it's importance and function in contemporary Lakota society in their own words. His efforts at laying out the fundamentals of Lakota singing practice and Lakota musical theory in plain language and in cultural context will make Lakota music in particular, and Plains Indian music in general, far more accessible to students and to the general public than they have previously been.

Even experienced Lakota singers may find things of interest in this book.

Author - Dr. Ronnie Theisz

Dr. Ronnie Theisz is currently professor of English and American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. He has previously taught at Fordham University and Sinte Gleska University, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal university. He has been an active traditional singer since 1963 and since 1972 has been a core member of Porcupine Singers, a widely recognized Lakota drum group. Among his other publications are: Buckskin Tokens. Contemporary Lakota Oral Narratives; Songs and Dances of the Lakota, with Ben Black Bear, Sr.; Standing in the Light. A Lakota Way of Seeing, with Severt Young Bear, Sr.; and Sending their Voices: Essays in Lakota Musicology. His contributions in the field of Lakota song tradition have been recognized by awards received from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, The Native American Heritage Association, and, in April 2003, by the Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Dakota Humanities Council.


Sharing the Gift - Reader's Reviews

Book Review: "Sharing the Gift of Lakota Song" by R.D. Theisz

By Serenity J. Banks
Lakota Journal Staff Writer

Teachers and educators will soon be provided with a unique approach to integrating Lakota culture into the classroom through the usage of a book written by Dr. R.D. Theisz called "Sharing the Gift of Lakota Song."

This book, published this month by Dog Soldier Press, was written by request from teachers in order to introduce American Indian music traditions into the curriculum, but also serves as a useful tool for anyone who is interested in learning about the music of the Lakota Nation.

It comes with an audio CD which contains a sound track for the songs featured in the text, as well as recorded interviews with American Indian singers who explain how they became involved with music and its role in Lakota culture.

"Sharing the Gift of Lakota Song" begins with an introduction detailing the effort to include Lakota music as an addition to school curriculums in order to enrich cultural knowledge. It explains the restrictions teachers are faced with when attempting to incorporate this music into the classroom. It also summarizes the basic characteristics of traditional American Indian music.

Next, the book explores the nature of traditional music and stresses the importance of studying this particular type of music "in context." It includes commentary by well-known and respected Lakota singers such as Calvin Jumping Bull, Severt Young Bear Sr., and Nellie Two Bears, all of the Oglala Sioux, and Howard Bad Hand of the Rosebud Sioux.
These figures discuss the importance of music in Lakota culture and describe their personal experiences through expression. Two Bulls tells the story of a vision she had when she was a young girl that inspired her to become a singer.

These testimonials provide contemporary insight into the essential nature of music. As Bad Hand states, "Singers are so important because we must have music."

The third chapter explains the different elements of Lakota music, delineating between sacred and secular music and why only certain kinds of songs are available for study and public performance. It stresses the importance of respecting sacred Lakota songs and gives examples of songs that are off-limits to the public.

It teaches the patterns of Lakota music through structure and renditions. The role of separate singing groups and the central nature of the drumbeat are described. Different categories of Lakota songs are listed and explained, such as songs consisting completely of vocables, songs consisting entirely of Lakota words, and songs combining the two.

This chapter then goes into the performance aspects of Lakota music, such as
the different roles of men and women during performance, methods of drumming to guide the song and the dancers, and vocal methods and influences.

The book also includes helpful sections on the pronunciation of letters in Lakota, definitions and pronunciations of Lakota musical terms, and classroom considerations to focus on different learning aspects of the music such as listening and appreciation, isolating music elements, song performance, cultural contexts, and dance performance.

Finally, the book provides 12 Lakota songs such as Lakota Flag Song, Honoring the Singer Song, and Love Song. These songs were selected because they were determined appropriate for classroom study and performance. Each song has its own introduction explaining its history English translations are also provided.

Overall, I believe this book is a helpful resource for people who want to begin to understand Lakota music. It's short-a little over 100 pages-and contains a wide variety of photos showing Lakota singers and dancers in different types of performances.

I think the focus of this book is more to instill in students an appreciation for Lakota music, rather than detailed knowledge. It provides an introduction to the world of American Indian song and dance, but by no means includes everything you'll ever want to know.

The commentary by the featured performers was very insightful and intriguing, and the photography offered an interesting look into different generations of singers and dancers.

R.D. Theisz is an English and American Indian Studies professor at Black Hills State University in Spearfish and has been a traditional singer for forty years. He has received several awards in recognition of his contributions to the field of Lakota music tradition.

"Sharing the Gift of Lakota Song" is available through the publisher, Dog Soldier Press, as well as and Prairie Edge Bookstore in Rapid City. Discounts are available for distributors, retailers, and educational institutions.

"Sharing The Gift is a well written, straight forward presentation of Lakota music, not only about its structure but also about its application within the culture. It is informative as well as educational, and it is easy to read. Designed for those with little or no knowledge of Lakota music, the reader will have a good foundation for appreciating the music once read completely. I recommend this text for the classroom of any level of education as an introductory course."

Howard Bad Hand
Lakota singer, composer and songkeeper
Widely recognized lecturer and teacher


"--- within the Lakota heart a universe is concealed. Music is a doorway into that universe. Herein Dr. Theisz and associates offer tools and insights that will provide students with the means to explore that universe and penetrate its mysteries. This work goes far to realize a personal dream of mine that the richness of the Lakota heritage will be more appreciated and that the visions, hopes, and dreams of the people, past and present, as expressed through music, will live! Hecel, oyate ki nipikte!"

Kevin Locke
Traditional Lakota flute player and teacher
Professional recording artist


"Based on many years of study and performance of Lakota music, Theisz's Sharing the Gift of Lakota Song presents a succinct and insightful introduction to Lakota secular music, designed especially for classroom use. The book and accompanying CD provide a rich variety of native voices and are valuable resources for the study of Lakota song and musical genres."

Dr. Raymond J. DeMallie
Director, American Indian Studies Research Institute
Indiana University, Bloomington


"Through this book and the accompanying sound track, several of the preeminent Lakota singers of the past half century tell their own stories about their lives and roles as composers, singers and caretakers of their songs and their musical traditions. Dr. Theisz's commentary and analysis provide valuable insight from the perspective of an insider who is both a credentialed scholar and an accomplished singer, and who has been a participant in these traditions for over four decades. All students of Lakota music, whether newcomers or veterans, will find this to be a book they can learn from and enjoy."

Tom Teegarden
CEO of Acoma Enterprises
Widely recognized Lakota singer and composer.


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