What Is the History Behind Native American Music?

Native American music has a rich history that dates back centuries. It is believed that the music of Native Americans is as old as their culture and traditions. The music played an essential role in their daily life, from religious ceremonies to social gatherings.

Origins of Native American Music

The origins of Native American music are not entirely known. However, it is believed that the music has its roots in the natural sounds of the environment. The songs were often inspired by the sound of birds, animals, waterfalls, and other elements of nature.

Traditional Instruments

Native American music was primarily made using drums, flutes, and rattles. The drum was considered the most sacred instrument and played a significant role in religious ceremonies. The flutes were made from wood or bone and were used for both ceremonial and personal use.

The Role of Music in Native American Culture

Music played a vital role in Native American culture. It was used for healing, communication with spirits, storytelling, and expressing emotions. Each tribe had its unique style of music that reflected their cultural values and beliefs.

The Impact of Colonialism on Native American Music

The arrival of Europeans to America brought significant changes to Native American culture, including their music. Missionaries viewed traditional native practices like singing and dancing as pagan rituals and discouraged them.

The Revival Movement

In the late 19th century, there was a revival movement that aimed to preserve traditional Native American culture and its music. This movement saw the establishment of schools where traditional music was taught alongside other subjects like reading and writing.

Contemporary Native American Music

Today, Native American musicians continue to preserve their musical heritage while incorporating modern elements into their performances. Contemporary Native American artists like R.Carlos Nakai blend traditional instruments with modern sounds to create a unique fusion of music.


In conclusion, Native American music is an integral part of their cultural heritage. It has evolved over time and continues to influence contemporary music.

The use of traditional instruments and sounds from nature makes the music unique and reflective of their beliefs and values. The revival movements have ensured that the music remains an essential aspect of Native American culture.