For centuries, the indigenous people of North America have been plagued by white encroachment. People of European descent have come among Native Americans in almost every form imaginable. They have been treasure seekers, soldiers, bearers of horrific diseases, liars, rapists, murderers, missionaries, anthropologists, government workers, doctors, and teachers. In the summer of 2004, in spite of my own reluctance, I became part of this historically menacing group. Still, I am somewhat different than the others I’ve already mentioned–I came as an ethnodoxologist.
Other ethnomusicologists have come among the Lakota people to study music and culture including Frances Densmore, R.D. Theisz, William W. Paige, and William K. Powers. Nonetheless, I may be one of the first non-Native ethnomusicologists whose research focuses primarily on Lakota music and culture in the context of Christian life and worship. It is this focus that sets ethnodoxology apart from secular ethnomusicology. (The efforts of Richard Twiss and Dr. Gerald Yellowhawk–who are both Lakota–could also be considered ethnodoxological.)
Since I am one of the first of my kind, this work is an attempt to lay groundwork for other ethnodoxologists that may follow my lead. Using the data from eleven in-depth interviews that I’ve conducted with Will Peters–Lakota father, musician, traditionalist, teacher, and believer in Jesus Christ–I attempt to answer the following question: How should ethnodoxologists act when they come to live among Native Americans and what attitudes should they most appropriately harbor inside?