Indigenous Keepers of Traditional Songs

Indigenous keepers of traditional songs have enabled generations of their tribe to continue celebration of rites using ancient sacred songs. Moreover, researchers seeking knowledge about past ecological systems discovered that many traditional indigenous songs convey meanings that could provide clues in the studies of ancient culture and their environment.

Through the lyrics of traditional songs, researchers unraveled meanings that encoded history, as well as described proper and respectful ways by which humans should interact with non-humans and nature including those that they believe to exist in supernatural realms.

It is a known fact that some traditional music had been threatened, if not erased in the past by sanctions and laws of colonial governments. Still, many indigenous tribes found song keepers as efficient repositories for their traditional songs.

Many of such songs contained lyrics describing different aspects in their way of life. All of which were molded in accordance with the wisdom and guidance of their ancient ancestors.

The Kwakwaka’wakw People’s Traditional Song Keeper

The Kwakwaka’wakw people continue to live in their traditional territory in the coastal areas of British Columbia. Here lives Kwaxsistalla Wathl’thla Clan Chief who goes by the name of Adam Dick. He is also the keeper of hundreds of traditional songs describing the traditional life and times of the ancient Kwakwaka’wakw people

Aside from being the traditional song keeper, Kwaxsistalla Wathl’thla Smith represents the last of the culturally-trained culture specialist. He had received training as Clan Chief, for which he held four terms as chieftain; whilst assuming other responsibilities. As the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe’s ninogaad or cultural specialist) he also serves as the potlatch speaker.

Potlatching among North American tribes is one example of a traditional cultural celebration of displaying wealth, which owners are willing to give away or destroy during the opulent feast.