School of Music


Master of Arts in Music and Worship (MA)


John L Benham


American Indian Music, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Ethnomusicology, Music Education Lessons, Native American Music, Powwow Music


Ethnomusicology | Music Education | Music Pedagogy | Music Theory | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


The Virginia education curriculum for fourth grade social studies requires the study of American Indian history and culture. Motivated by research questions, this project proposes a music education curriculum that enhances these social studies lessons through the inclusion of American Indian music. The music of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in Cherokee, North Carolina is appropriate for teaching students about this culture. The literature reviewed covers early American Indian history followed by the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Resources on the role of women are also explored in society and music. Literature examined on the powwow and its music revealed a fitting introduction to students to American Indian music. Limited resources are available on a multicultural teaching method and those few valuable resources are referenced. Seven learning-focused lesson plans demonstrate how the music of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians can be used to emphasize fourth grade Virginia Studies lessons. These lessons meet both music and social studies standards for this grade and include engaging activities that support each lesson. Students will experience both song and dance that cover a range of topics in American Indian culture including the following topics: • An introduction to the culture where students learn powwow dance steps. • Fourth grade students will construct Cherokee instruments while understanding how American Indians used their environmental resources. • Gender roles are addressed in Eastern Band of Cherokee culture as students are taught the “Corn Dance.” • Students learn a Cherokee legend and song in the Cherokee language. • Hunting and gathering practices are emphasized through performing the “Bear Dance.” • The Cherokee worldview is explored in understanding the influence of English settlers by singing “Amazing Grace” in the Cherokee language. • Finally, Eastern Band of Cherokee clothing is taught and students come together to perform the “Friendship Dance.” The research presented is not an ethnographic report but a cross-cultural music education curriculum which may be used as a foundation by future music educators.